Our Chickens Came First. And Then The Eggs.

chickensWe got chickens a week or two ago, and I am just loving the whole thing. I am a first-time chicken owner, and I’m surprised at how much I’m enjoying them.

We bought six hens, and transported them home in two travel dog kennels. There we set up a coop for them, with feed and water and nest boxes, and a couple branches up high where they roost at night.

We kept them in there for a few days, so they’d know that was their laying place and night home, but now they are ranging free during the day. They are fun to watch. I can’t explain why — they are, after all, just chickens — but it is satisfying to watch them roam around and explore our place, and strut and peck and make their occasional noises and take short, noisy flights over the flume.

We save our food scraps in an old margarine tub — the bread crusts my daughter sometimes peels off her sandwiches, and all the leftovers, as well as any food the cats and dog didn’t eat the day before — and I take them out in the morning and they eat it all. (Well, there are still peels from red- and white-striped beets on the ground, but they have eaten everything else.) And we give them poultry feed twice a day, and a bit of scratch here and there, too.

They also like liliko‘i, ulu and avocados, which we have growing in abundance. They are fat and happy, I think.

eggsOur six girls had been giving us anywhere from two to five eggs a day, most often three to four. But, suddenly, we are only getting two eggs a day. And both yesterday and today, we found one egg in an unexpected place. I sent my daughter on an Easter egg hunt in case the girls have “gone rogue” and are laying in the wild, but if that’s the case we have not yet found their spots.

The guy we bought the chickens from, who has been great about letting me email him with questions — he has been conducting our instruction in Chickens 101 — said this might mean we need more nest boxes. They will wait for awhile, he said, but if they really need to lay the egg, they’ll lay it anywhere.

I will get another box tomorrow and see how that goes.

For Christmas, we gave my daughter’s kindergarten teacher and also the teacher’s assistant pretty lauhala baskets tied up with fancy red bows — and filled with our fresh, organic, free-range eggs. Is that weird? I know it is.

I told them, “This will be the quirkiest gift you get this year, but we hope you’ll like it.”

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I liked giving them eggs because not only is it neat to have fresh eggs, these are consumable — no clutter — and then they can either use the basket, or wrap a gift in it and send it along. They seemed to like them.

We are having so much fun getting eggs from our own hens, and watching them strut around and live their lives.

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Refreshing

How refreshing.

I was driving in Kea‘au, stopped at a light, when three middle school-age kids in their dark green school t-shirts, two boys and a girl, walked across the street in front of me.

They’d obviously just come out of McDonald’s because they held McDonald’s bags and cups. As they got to the other side of the street, laughing and talking, they tossed their trash to the ground.

Oh, the thoughts that raced through my head: “What is the matter with them?” “WHO RAISED THEM?” “Why doesn’t one of those kids call the others on it?” “When my daughter is older, will she speak up if her friends do something stupid?” “Can I raise her so she’ll say, ‘That’s not cool’ if her friends do that?” And more.

It was just a couple moments later — because you know how fast thoughts can flit through your head — that those kids stopped, turned around, and picked up their trash. And then they moved on. 

That’s cool.

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Groundhog Road

Every morning I drive my daughter to school, and every morning we deal with the road work on Hwy. 11 as we motor up the hill toward Kea‘au. It’s been going on at least since before her July summer program at the school.

roadworkTo the construction company’s credit, they have been keeping the road open (at least during the morning rush hour; I don’t know about the rest of the day), though it does slow and narrow to one lane at places. It could be worse.

But it’s never fun to drive through all the mess of road construction — big machinery everywhere, orange cones all over the place, rough and uneven driving surfaces — and I’ve been looking forward to it being finished.

I couldn’t believe it yesterday when I read in the Hilo paper that the new paving doesn’t meet Department of Transportation standards, so they are going to have to remove it and start over again. I actually laughed in disbelief when I read that. They are going to remove pavement from, and repave, the same three miles of highway they’ve been working on for the last I-don’t-know-how-many-weeks.

You just couldn’t even make something like that up. Does that really happen? I guess it does. Oh, well. We will all survive.

photo: dreamglow  

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My Vog Article in Honolulu Magazine

I wrote about vog recently and the article is out in the current (August 2009) Honolulu magazine.vog

Here’s how it starts:

It comes on the Kona winds—the dreaded yellow-brown haze of vog that makes eyes burn and lungs protest. On the Big Island, of course, it has done far more damage. How bad could it get? And what do we really know about vog and its effects?

Three-thousand, eight-hundred people lived on Miyakejima, a small island off Tokyo, until one day in September 2000, when the Japanese government ordered the island evacuated because of extreme volcanic activity. As directed, people delivered their pets to the port by 9:30 a.m., packed some belongings and a lunch and then boarded a city bus for the ship. 

It was more than four years before they were allowed to return home. (Read the rest here)

That was some pretty extreme vog they had there. When researching this article, I learned that our Big Island vog — when it was at its worst last summer — was only a tenth of what they experienced on Miyakejima. The lesson? I don’t know what the lesson is. But remember this: It could actually be worse! 

It’s hard to remember when our air looks so thick it seems you need to push your way through it with your hands.

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Four Mile Drive Into The Past

Local excursion #2 of our Summer of Exploration was a slow, winding drive down the four mile, scenic route that diverts from the highway and runs along the coast, more or less, between Pāpa‘ikou and Pepe‘ekeo.

This used to be the main road, I told my little girl. This is the way people used to go to get to Hilo town a long time ago, I said, and we talked about how the road is smaller and much more winding, and how they must have driven much slower than we do now.

I told her that what’s now Highway 19 used to be railroad tracks, where trains ran up and down the Hāmākua coast carrying sugar from the sugar mills to the harbor, where the big sacks of sugar were put onto ships and sent to the mainland. “To California!” she piped up. Yes.

And also people rode on the train, I told her, and we talked about how there were railroad stations up and down the coast where you got on and off the train. I told her that when my grandmother, “Tutu,” was her age, she used to take the train to go to town with her mother. We both thought about what a different time that was.

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At least to my eyes, it is still a bit of a slower, older time along that four mile drive. I like it. It is quiet there — and while certainly there are probably people along that route living busy, 21st century lives, you don’t see much of that from the road. Mostly you see families living in houses where there families lived for a long time before them, eating fruit from the same trees their grandmothers picked to make jam, playing in the streams.

“Papa’s grandparents were married in that church,” I tell my daughter every time we pass the little church near the Pāpa‘ikou end of the scenic route. Once when we visited new friends near there, we learned that the woman was the priest’s daughter. She recognized my husband’s name and showed us his grandparents’ names in the book her father had kept his records in.

I donʻt know why I feel compelled to tell that to my little girl every time we pass, but I find that I do. Someday, when she looks at that church, she will think about that. Maybe she already does. It will be one more place she has a small connection to, and two people who came before her might feel a little bit more real.

Even aside from its wonderful history, the marked “heritage route” is a beautiful drive. Luxuriant jungle, bridges over streams and rivers, waterfalls right alongside the road…

I told my daughter about the Onomea Arch — a rock formation over Onomea Bay that you used to see from the road, until one day when it fell and was no more. Some artists painting it nearby saw it go.

Lots of things are gone now. But while we live and enjoy our lives here in the present, with what’s here right now, we will remember some of them and take them with us into the future.

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Place Names of Hamakua

We live on the Hamakua coast, a little ways outside of Hilo, and almost every time I drive into town I think about my grandmother, my Tutu, telling me offhandedly once that her great-grandfather had known every twist and turn of that road.

Even when he was in his 80s and 90s and fully blind, she told me, he knew where he was by the turns and feel of the road, and he would call out the name of every small bit of land as they drove by.

Hamakua, Place Names of Hawaii

In the old times from which he came, place was so important, and every small area of land was known and labeled. Things have changed for most of us; I mostly just know “Papaikou,” “Ka‘ie‘ie,” “Pauka‘a,” and a handful of other place names still marked by signs or street names. But there are, of course, so many more places with their own names and characteristics and stories.

Tutu told me about this one day long ago. It was when we passed a place she told me Kamehameha Schools had considered, before deciding to build their Hawai‘i Island campus at Kea‘au. At that time, they were using the old Hawaiian name for the potential Hamakua site, one that hadn’t been used for a very long time.

“I hadn’t heard that name in absolutely decades,” Tutu told me — not since the 1920s and early 30s when her great-grandfather Nalimu had ridden that route and named every individual place along the way.

I wish we could ride along with Tutu Nalimu, and hear and learn all the names. I want my daughter to know about this place where she lives, including the Hawaiian names and their stories.

We’ll have to find a book or an old map that shows us the names, and talk to people who might know, and look up some of the old stories. I’m going to start working on this now as part of our Summer of Exploration.

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It’s The Summer of Exploration

Between everybody being sick recently, and lots of working and starting school and such, there hasn’t been enough playing around here lately.

falls

We have not been taking advantage of living on this beautiful island, and so I hereby declare this The Summer of Exploration.

My 5-year-old told me the other day, “Let’s just go driving and look around and see new things.” If there’s a better attitude toward life than that, or one I’d rather foster in a young child, I truly don’t know what it is.

So even if some are just short excursions, we are going to go explore this island we live on this summer. We’ll learn the Hawaiian names and what an area is known for, and go see what it looks like and what we can discover about it. We’ll take picnic lunches and find a good place to spread out our green and blue picnic blanket.

Stay tuned and I will share some of what we discover right here.

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Beginning Ukulele Class

Macario will teach a continuing Beginning ‘Ukulele class at the East Hawai‘i Cultural Center starting Saturday, June 6.

The series of 1.5 hour classes, which will meet on five consecutive Saturdays at 10 a.m., cost only $25 total for the public and $20 for EHCC members.

Macario's Ukulele Class in Hilo

“You don’t have to know anything about the ‘ukulele,” says Macario, who played music professionally in Honolulu and on the mainland for 16 years. “You need to have your own ‘ukulele and bring a pen or pencil, and that’s it.”

He says he will teach some basic theory and chord structures so students will have the tools to go home and continue.

“I try to keep the class really simple so people can really understand how the notes and chords work,” he says. “I’m trying to give them a roadmap so they can look at their ‘ukulele’s fret board and figure out where the notes and chords are. That way, with a few simple instructions they’ll be able to go home and figure out what the chords in a song are.

“Most Hawaiian songs are really basic, really simple patterns,” he says. “Once you hear those and learn those simple patterns, you’ll start to recognize them everywhere.”

Students who know a little bit about ‘ukulele are welcome, he says, and he’d be happy to go over subjects slightly more advanced if appropriate, but mostly it’s a class for beginning ‘ukulele players. “I want to keep it simple; a simple class to get beginners started on their way to understanding the music, so they can learn more on their own and progress.”

Currently Macario works as a photographer; see his website here. He also runs an online magazine called Macario’s Big Island.

To enroll in Macario’s five-week Beginning ‘Ukulele class, call the East Hawai‘i Cultural Center at 961-5711. The East Hawai‘i Cultural Center is located at 141 Kalakaua Street in Hilo.

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Wayfinding Through the Storm: A New Perspective on the Controversy at Kamehameha Schools

I just received this press release and am very interested to read this book. What an important story, and what a brilliant idea to put all these people’s accounts of it together in one place. Can’t wait to read it.

Full disclosure: I have written a couple books for Watermark Publishing. But I’d have been interested in this book if it was published on the moon:wayfinding2

Watermark Publishing announces the release of Wayfinding through the Storm: Speaking Truth to Power at Kamehameha Schools 1993 – 1999, offering a new perspective on the Bishop Estate controversy of the 1990s.  Edited by author-historian Gavan Daws in oral history form, this is the story of the ordinary people at the center of the controversy, who looked deep inside themselves and found the moral courage to risk everything, to come together and stand up for what they believed in—to speak truth to power. 
Over 150 voices—young students, respected alumni, movers and shakers, rank-and-file school employees, novice and seasoned teachers, Native Hawaiians, kama‘aina and fresh faces from abroad—share their experiences of the crisis that erupted at Kamehameha Schools and came close to destroying a historic educational community. In the early 1990s, Bishop Estate and Kamehameha Schools were flourishing. Within just a few years, however, a new all-Hawaiian board of trustees found itself embroiled in micro-management and dubious schemes hatched behind closed doors that erupted in public scandal—ethical, moral, sexual, financial, political and legal—and crossed the line into indictable crime.  Introduced by Daws, Wayfinding through the Storm traces these events through interviews with Nä Leo O Kamehameha—the voices of Kamehameha, including faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents and friends—along with court transcripts. The text is supplemented and augmented graphically by a wealth of historically significant photographs, cartoons and documents.  

Scheduled Book Events:

Friday, May 22
Book Launch Celebration
Kamehameha Schools, Kawaiahao Plaza
567 S. King St., Kaiona Room
(Hale Makai, 1st floor near Courtyard)
5PM – 5:30PM — Program
5:30PM – 7PM — Book Sale & Signing
Free and open to the public
 
Saturday, May 30, 1PM – 2PM
Book Signing with Nä Leo O Kamehameha
Barnes & Noble, Kahala Mall
(808) 737-3323
 
Saturday, June 6, 1PM – 2PM
Book Signing with Nä Leo O Kamehameha 
Barnes & Noble, Ala Moana
(808) 949-7307
 

Saturday, June 13, 2PM – 3PM

Book Signing with Nä Leo O Kamehameha 
Borders, Ward Centre

(808) 591-8995Gavan Daws is the author of 14 previous books, including the best-selling Shoal of TimeHoly Man: Father Damien of Moloka‘i; and Land and Power in Hawai‘i. He is also the recipient of several international awards for his documentary films and has been named a Distinguished Historian by the Hawaiian Historical Society. Wayfinding through the Storm: Speaking Truth to Power at Kamehameha Schools 1993 – 1999 by Gavan Daws and Nä Leo O Kamehameha is priced at $24.95 in softcover (ISBN 978-0-9821698-3-4) at bookstores and other retail outlets, online booksellers, or direct from the publisher at www.bookshawaii.net.  Contact Watermark Publishing, 1088 Bishop St., Suite 310, Honolulu, HI 96813; (808) 587-7766; toll-free (866) 900-BOOK; fax (808) 521-3461; sales@bookshawaii.net. 

 

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I’m at Alltop.com

Look where I landed! 

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Online mogul Guy Kawasaki describes his alltop.com this way:

The purpose of Alltop is to help you answer the question, “What’s happening?” in “all the topics” that interest you. You may wonder how Alltop is different from a search engine. A search engine is good to answer a question like, “How many people live in China?” However, it has a much harder time answering the question, “What’s happening in China?” That’s the kind of question that we answer.

We do this by collecting the headlines of the latest stories from the best sites and blogs that cover a topic. We group these collections — “aggregations” — into individual web pages. Then we display the five most recent headlines of the information sources as well as their first paragraph. Our topics run from adoption to zoology with photographyfoodscience,religioncelebrities and hundreds of other subjects along the way.

It’s really pretty cool. Look up any topic you’re interested in here. You’ll find tons of sites you didn’t know about — guaranteed. And if you look on the Hawai‘i page now, you’ll find me!

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