A Wiccan Wedding

Today, I accompanied my daughter to the wedding of one of her middle/high school friends. The weather was beautiful. The setting, in a stone and wood pavillion overlooking part of a state park in the Finger Lakes, was lovely. The bride and groom were glowing, just as you would expect with a young bride and groom.

What was different was the ceremony, which was Wiccan. Having never been to a Wiccan ceremony, I was curious about how it would unfold. Wicca is a nature-based religion, so the ceremony included elements of nature. There was a lot of focus on the symbolism and blessing of the rings. The rings were blessed with earth, fire, water, and air, each of which also represented one of the four directions. The vows focused on mutual love and care, as the rings were exchanged. The final element of the ceremony was a literal tying of the knot, as woven cords representing the two families of origin were draped around the hands of the couple and tied to symbolize their union.

During the couple’s first dance, a mother sparrow flew into the pavillion with food in her beak. She alighted only a few feet away from where they were dancing, remaining there for about thirty seconds, before flying up to the rafters and over to her hungry chicks in a nest hidden in the base of a lighting fixture. Another blessing from nature.

Decalogue For a Reader

I appreciated this post. I was particularly amused by number eight.

Attenti al Lupo

  1. You have the right to read                               oldbooks
  2. You have the right to read whatever you want
  3. You have the right to stop reading a bad book
  4. You have the right to stop reading a good book
  5. You have the right not to like a famous book
  6. You have the right not to like any book
  7. You have the right to reread the same book
  8. You have the right to be bored by Moby-Dick
  9. You have the right to not understand a book
  10. You have the right to read sitting on the toilet

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Safely home

We made it back safely from Hawai’i. Now, I have to attempt catching up on two weeks’ worth of mail, chores, appointments, etc. This is not fascinating stuff but will probably keep me from posting much in the next week or so. I’m hoping by the time I post again, there will be something interesting rather than mundane that is Top of JC’s Mind.

Diamond Head and Dole

We all got up early this morning to arrive at the beginning of the Diamond Head trail around 6:30. We chose today to climb because the trade winds have finally returned, ending several days of hot. muggy weather. We were all equipped with our sturdy shoes and water bottles and a couple of cameras. The trail is eight tenths of a mile and includes a number of switchbacks, a short tunnel, and several flights of stairs, for when the slope is too steep to manage any other way. There are several lookout points along the way for taking photographs and – more importantly for me – resting a bit before the next uphill segment.

There are two routes to the summit; we choose the less stair-intensive one, which approaches the old civil defense post/observation lookout from outside. The view from the top really is worth the climb! Looking inland, we could see Manoa Valley, where the University is, and Kaimuki, the neighborhood in which my daughter and son-in-law live. Along the coast we could see Waikiki Beach, with all of its attendant hotels and stores and Kapiolani Park beside it. We could see Diamond Head Lighthouse further along the coast. And, of course, we saw a great expanse of the Pacific – white lines of breaking waves near shore and deep blue waters beyond with an occasional ship heading to or away from port.

We descended by going through the old civil defense structure, which involves descending a spiral staircase and passing through a concrete structure to reach a very long, steep flight of outdoor stairs. We were glad we had decided to take the alternate route up, as descending the stairs was less daunting than the prospect of climbing them. The descent was a bit quicker than the ascent, although we had to be even more careful with our footing. The rock path was often slippery, as there was a thin layer of dirt that had been transformed into mud by the rain the night before. Still, the front that brought the rain had brought the cooler, drier air that made the climb doable for me, so it was a fair trade.

We rewarded ourselves for all our hiking with a nice breakfast at one of Beth and Larry’s favorite neighborhood restaurants. We had eaten an early breakfast before our hike, but banana pancakes with coconut syrup were certainly tasty for second breakfast.

We headed to the leeward side of the island to go to the (very commercial) Dole plantation. It was the original site where Mr. Dole started growing pineapples, which grew to more and more acreage, a huge cannery in Honolulu, and lots more acreage on Lana’i, before contracting to a much smaller footprint in the Islands. The treatment of workers was glossed over in the signs and presentations, as one would expect from a company-run enterprise. We did get to see how pineapples are grown, plus bananas, cacao, coffee, and other plantings. We all had a delicious Dole Whip treat. Dole Whip is pineapple soft-serve, with the bonus of being lactose-free. I had mine as a float with pineapple juice. Yum!

Mother’s Day – Part 2

We had eaten dinner at noontime, so we had lots of time this afternoon for a drive around the windward (eastern) side of the island, stopping at various scenic points, both looking inland at points like Koko Head and out over the ocean at the waves, shoreline, and small islands. We returned to Honolulu via the Pali Highway, which crosses the island with the help of a couple of tunnels, with a stop at Leonard’s for baked treats for supper, which will be part two of our Filipino food feast, because there is still so much delicious food left! Yum!

Update:  The treat from Leonard’s was malasadas, part of the legacy of Portuguese immigrants. I had a cinnamon one and a guava-filled one. I’m sure there are no guava malasadas in Portugal!

Mother’s Day


Today, I am celebrating Mother’s Day 5,000 miles from home.

For the first time in a number of years, I won’t be spending Mother’s Day with my mom and mother-in-law. They, along with my dad, however, enjoyed a special brunch together at GSV, the senior community where they live.

Even if you haven’t been following along on my previous travel posts, you may have guessed from the picture above that I am in Hawai’i. The orchid lei I am wearing was presented to me for Mother’s Day by my Honolulu resident daughter and son-in-law, right before we went in to St. Patrick’s Church, their neighborhood parish where we celebrated the wedding in November 2012. They sing in the choir for 8:30 Mass. Sometimes, Larry plays organ, but it wasn’t his turn this week. Beth did cantor, which was nice to hear, as we did so often in our home parish.

It was Good Shepherd Sunday, which was a happy co-incidence for Mother’s Day, as the care and concern of a shepherd mirror the care and concern of a mother for her children. We also got to sing some hymns that I don’t often get to sing, such as “This Is the Feast” and “Hail Thee, Festival Day.” Before the dismissal, there was a lovely blessing for mothers of all generations and varieties, including foster mothers, godmothers, and mothers-to-be.

I am happy that, for the first time in a number of years, I am able to celebrate with both of my daughters and, for the first time ever, with my son-in-law, who made Filipino food for Mother’s Day dinner. That’s another first, as I had never had Filipino food before. Dinner was so delicious! We had pork adobo, which was pork marinated in soy sauce and vinegar, chicken afritada, which is a tomato-based stew, pancit, which was thin noodles with vegetables, including snow peas, cabbage, carrots, and baby corn, and rice, because all Filipino meals must have rice!

Despite all the firsts, the constant has been my husband of almost 32 years, without whom I would not be a mom. Thanks, Brent, for your love and support that have made it possible for me to be the best mom I could manage to be for the last 28 years.

First attempt at including photos!

As anyone who has been reading Top of JC’s Mind probably knows, I am a bit of a slow learner on the tech front. I also want to make sure that I don’t violate anyone’s copywrite. But now I have a couple of picutres of our own that I will try to post while I am with my much more tech and blog savvy daughter here to help me. Wish me luck!


We made sure to put the flower behind my left ear to signify that I am taken!
We made sure to put the flower behind my left ear to signify that I am taken!


My first aloha shirt!
My first aloha shirt!

Yay! I think it worked!

Byodo-In Temple

Yesterday, Beth took us to the Byodo-In Temple in Kahaluu, north of Honolulu. It was finished in 1968 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawai’i. Located in a multi-denominational memorial park, it was modeled on the 900+ year old temple in Uji, Japan. You can read more about it here.

Before entering, Beth and Trinity together rang the large bon-sho (sacred bell) to create the proper mood for meditation. Next, we went to the meditation pavilion, which is set among little waterfalls and beautiful plantings. The temple grounds are non-denominational and it was nice to have a quiet space for the many prayer requests that are on my mind among family and friends. To enter the temple proper, we removed our shoes in order to visit the golden Amida Bhudda.

Then, we progressed to the other side of the grounds, which had ponds filled with carp. We also saw resident turtles and black swans.  On shore, a large peacock was strutting about. There were sign warning that peacocks are not tame and should not be approached. Brent spotted the peahen off near some bamboo plantings at the edge of a clearing. With her were three young peachicks, who were so well camouflaged that we could not spot them unless they were moving.

I have never been to Japan, so I’m grateful that a piece of Japanese heritage is so beautifully re-created on O’ahu.

The Bishop Museum

We spent the day at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu. We had never been there before and were glad we decided to visit.

It is chock-full of artifacts, reproductions, and information from all periods of Hawaiian history. I especially liked the textiles, leis, and feather-work. I appreciated learning how the Hawaiians used the phases of the moon to keep time, with a name for each night of the lunar cycle. The moon governed activities such as planting crops and fishing. Attached to Hawaiian Hall is Pacific Hall, which examines commonalities among the peoples of Oceania.

There was a calendar overflowing with presentations by staff members. We attended a talk about native plants and a fantastic storyteller, relating a long tale of one of Hawai’i’s many gods. We saw a planetarium show about how the Polynesians used the stars to navigate, along with winds, currents, and birds, to find their way among the tiny islands in the vast Pacific. Brent and I went to a lava demonstration, where we got to hold various kinds of lava rocks, including the incredibly dense pillow lava from a deep underwater volcano, and see lava pour from a 2,000 degree furnace.

I even had a typical Hawaiian lunch at the museum’s cafe, featuring kalua pork and cabbage.

There was more to see than time allowed. I hope we will be able to visit again when we come back in the future.

News from back home

I was awake early today, which usually happens when I know I have a morning flight. Because we were ready early, I called my mom, which, on Eastern Daylight Time, makes her six hours later than on Hawai’i Standard Time. (Given its latitude, Hawai’i has no use for shifting its daylight hours later.)

That morning, my mother had heard back on some tests that she had had done. It turns out that she has giant cell arteritis, a condition that often occurs with polymalgia rheumatica, for which she has been receiving treatment with steroids for about a year. This link has further information on both conditions.

A few days before we left for Hawai’i, I had been thinking how lucky we were that my dad, who has had a number of medical issues in the part year, was doing well. That same day, my mom had an appointment with her family practice doctor, who was concerned that her sed rate wasn’t staying down. She had had a couple of instances with difficulty chewing crunchy foods and he was concerned that she had developed giant cell arteritis. He wanted her to see a rheumatologist, have more blood work, and see a surgeon for a temporal artery biopsy. She wanted to wait to do the biopsy after we returned, but it turned out that it was arranged for more quickly, so she had it taken last Friday, with the results coming today, Wednesday. It was a bit of a shock to us when the biopsy came back positive, because the only symptom she had had was the very occasional jaw pain. No visual problems, no headaches, no sensitive temples or scalp. Given that it was caught early, there is little chance of any lasting damage.

Mom’s doctor is about to retire. We were joking that he wanted to go out with a bang, diagnosing a serious condition early on minimal symptoms. It shows the value of having a good family doctor looking out for all aspects of your health. Even though he is retiring, my mom will be in good hands, with care provided by her new rheumatologist and one of the younger doctors from the family practice who has been her back-up provider in recent months as her long-time doctor has been cutting back his hours to ease into retirement.

Now, nothing else is allowed to happen on the medical front, at least until we get home from our second week, now in Honolulu…