mochi ice cream!

When I visited with daughter E in Honolulu for five weeks last year, one of our favorite treats was mochi ice cream, a Japanese-style bon bon made of pounded sticky rice wrapped around ice cream. The shops in Honolulu had many different flavors, a number of them tropical fruits.

When I returned home, I tried to find mochi ice cream. I finally found some green tea ones at Wegman’s, but my body doesn’t react well to tea, so I did’t buy them.

Yesterday, I happened to walk by the case and there were vanilla and strawberry mochi ice cream available.

I bought a box of strawberry and ate one after dinner last night.

It was delicious, but the memories of eating them with E made it all the sweeter.
*****
This post is part of Linda’s Just Jot It January. Join us! First here first:  http://lindaghill.com/2016/01/25/just-jot-it-january-25th-prestidigitation/

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SoCS: Is it really almost over?

Is it really almost over?

I have been AWOL from One-Liner Wednesday and Stream of Consciousness Saturday for the last several weeks as I have been visiting my daughter in Honolulu. Her husband has been away doing research for his PhD dissertation in London, as well as visiting his family there.

My husband came out with me for the first two weeks, during which time we stayed in a hotel. Then, he had to return to go on a business trip. I moved to my daughter’s apartment and have been staying with her for almost three weeks.

It is less like vacationing and more like living here, which is cool! I have been blogging about it, such as this post about settling into the Kaimuki neighborhood where she lives, but there are others to check out at Top of JC’s Mind, if you are interested. (Shameless plug!)

I fly out on Tuesday, but I’m having trouble wrapping my head around it. Just a few more days and I’ll be back – and six-hours-of-time-change jet-lagged – in upstate New York. Back to the stuff that is filling up my calendar back home – appointments and meetings – and the catching up on mail and errands and visits.

I’m not sure I’m ready – but it is what it is.
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Linda’s prompt for this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “is” Please join us! Find out how here:  http://lindaghill.com/2015/07/03/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-july-415/

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Food – leeward – food

Yesterday, E started a four-day holiday weekend, so we decided to go on an excursion to avoid the crowds that are sure to be huge over the holiday.

We started with breakfast at Town, one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants. E had polenta, greens, and egg and I had baked French toast.

Fortified, we set out on the H1 for the leeward (west) side of O’ahu. I had never been to that side but E and L had a short honeymoon getaway there and sometimes go there to visit the beaches. As I have mentioned, driving in Hawai’i is an adventure for me, but we made it through the day safely, despite some slowdowns. The weirdest thing on the road was passing my former rental car. Earlier this week, some warning lights came on in the Honda Fit, so it got swapped for a Toyota Corolla. E spotted the license plate of the Fit as I passed it on the highway. I’d say small world, but small island is more applicable in this case.

As we got away from Honolulu and its suburbs, we drove through terrain that reminded me of part of the Big Island – red soils, exposed rock, sparse and dry vegetation. In Hawai’i, the leeward sides of the islands tend to be dry. It’s common to see cactus and other plants that don’t need much water. The higher elevations as you go inland tend to be wet, some with annual rainfall of 400 inches (1,000 cm) or more. The highest peaks in the younger islands even get snowfall during the winter.

We parked close to the series of lagoons and beaches that the hotels that populate the leeward coast in Ko Olina had built.  We walked along the path behind the lagoons, enjoying the breeze and the views. Then, we went to get a smoothie and an acai bowl for lunch to cool off.

We headed back to E’s apartment before the traffic got too bad and to make sure we were here for our dinner reservation. The executive chef/owner of Town has recently opened a new restaurant kitty corner across the intersection from Town. It is named Mud Hen Water, which is the literal translation of Waialae, the avenue on which it is located.

Mud Hen Water specializes in small plates that fuse local ingredients and cuisine with more modern food trends. E and I shared:
*  pa’i’ai, which is taro pounded and fried, in a seaweed wrap so you can pick it up to eat
*  a beet salad, which was prepared similarly to poke. E was happy because she wanted me to experience poke style, but I don’t eat raw fish, so doing it with beets, which I love, was a great alternative.
*  A mutligrain risotto with peanuts and greens
*  lawalu, which was opah (a fish) wrapped in green banana leaves and cooked buried in coals, served with various grilled vegetables
*  a upside-down pineapple polenta cake, served warm with vanilla gelato
*  butterscotch-miso rice pudding with lacy ginger wafers
Everything was super delicious! We will have to go again the next time we visit. I’m sure we’ll go to Town also. We love to support the local businesses of Kaimuki!

Honolulu vs home

Being here in Honolulu for a few weeks has highlighted some differences from being at home in upstate New York, other than driving:
*  Today, there was the monthly test of the tsunami warning system. E’s neighborhood is higher in elevation, so she lives above the evacuation zone. When we were staying in the hotel in Waikiki, the first several floors of the hotels were mostly dedicated to parking. This allows them to keep people safely on the upper floors in case of tsunami.
*  A heat wave here is not as hot as in most of the rest of the US.  We have been having a heat wave with some records tied or broken, but it is only 88-91 degrees F. (31-33 degrees C.)
*  There are microclimates everywhere, but they are much more noticeable here. For instance, in E’s neighborhood, you can be walking in what seems to be a rain shower – while there are no clouds overhead and the sun is shining.  The rain is falling in the  Palolo valley and being blown into Kaimuki.
*   At home, I’ve never had a tiny chameleon show up in the bathroom, matching its color to the bathmat.
*  There is much more coverage in the news on climate change and renewable energy.  Despite Hawai’i being the most remote islands in the world, the effects and the threat of more effects are real.
*  Because the angle of the sun is higher here, solar panels can often be placed on more than just the south-facing slope of a roof.
*  Unlike home, there is almost never a basement here. It ‘s strange to me to see water heaters just sitting outside under the eaves.
*  There is a lot more discussion and coverage of homelessness and affordable housing.  Rents and real estate prices here are very high and there are many people who can’t afford them, even when they are employed. While there are single people who are homeless, there are also many homeless families.
*  The tension between the indigenous Hawaiians and the state is obvious. There are demonstrations almost daily against development of certain areas. While these problems are also present in New York, they are much more hidden.

Honolulu driving

I do drive on a regular basis on town, small city, and highways routes. Generally when we travel, B does most of the driving, but for this trip to Honolulu, because I was staying for the duration of the trip and B had to leave after two weeks to go back to work, we rented the car in my name. (We did wind up adding B as a second driver when I got sick, so I got a few days reprieve from driving.)

Driving here has been an adventure! Back home, it helps to hop on the highway. Here the highway, the H1, tends to be very slow and congested a lot of the time, so we only use it if we are going somewhere at an obscure time of day – or if we are going to/from the airport. It makes me chuckle every time I see an interstate sign – because the H1 can’t go to another state! It can’t even go to another island.

The bigger challenge is driving the Honolulu streets. It dawned on me that Honolulu is the largest city in which I have ever driven. I am not used to being on a two lane road that suddenly morphs into a one-way street with five lanes. Well, I’m also not used to needing five lanes in one direction! Many of the main streets are named for members of the Hawai’i royalty, so there are lots of streets that begin with K and have four or five syllables. You need more than a quick glance to read the street signs, which is hard to do while keeping an eye on five lanes of traffic and the county buses.

Fortunately, E is good at warning me which lane to get into in plenty of time and, by now, I’ve learned some of the common routes I am driving like between E’s apartment and her work.

I guess things were getting a bit too routine, because on Sunday the maintenance light and the low tire pressure light on the Honda Fit I’d rented both went on. The maintenance looked like just an oil change, but the low tire pressure was a concern. I was afraid I might have a bead leak. This morning, after bringing E to work, I went to the car rental agency in Waikiki, as I really did not want to trek to the one near the airport. They offered to swap for another car, so now I have a spiffy Toyota Corolla.

I drive a 2003 Corolla at home, but this new one is much more deluxe. And confusing. It took me a minute just to figure out how to get it out of park. There is a touchscreen! And a back-up camera! I do appreciate the back-up camera, but it is a bit disorienting to use when you are not accustomed to it. I’ll probably get used to it just in time to turn the car in next week.

Until then, I’ll keep driving extra-carefully here in Honolulu.

Settled into Kaimuki

I am still in Honolulu, which probably seems to be the longest vacation ever, but it is really an extended visit with family.

It started out looking pretty vacation-y with B and I staying in a Waikiki condo/hotel, although he was working via Internet part-time and I managed to get sick for a while, which cut down on some vacation-like activities.

The real reason for the visit, though, was to spend time with our elder daughter E while her husband is away doing PhD research.  After B went back East to travel for business, I moved into E’s apartment which is in the Kaimuki neighborhood, mauka (toward the mountain) from Waikiki. Kaimuki is one of the oldest neighborhoods of Honolulu and the house in which she lives, now broken into several apartments, is old enough to apply for status as a historic home. Fortunately, that doesn’t preclude its having solar panels on the roof.

It is a mostly residential neighborhood, but includes some churches, schools, restaurants, and shops. Having never lived in a city, I am unused to neighborhood identity, but I’m glad that E and L live here because of the sense of community. President Obama’s sister lives in the neighborhood, although he doesn’t come to visit her when he comes to Hawai’i because the security would be a nightmare on the somewhat narrow and hilly streets. (I’m sure she gets to go visit him and his family, though.) When Ruthie Ann Miles won the 2015 Tony for best feature actress in a musical for her role as Lady Thiang in The King and I, E immediately knew that she was from Kaimuki. E and L were married at St. Patrick, the Catholic church in the neighborhood, where they are active in the music ministry.

I have been learning my way around and doing what I can to help out. I bring E to work and back with the rental car, which gives her a break from her usual bus routine and shortens her commute time by half an hour each way. I also do some of the shopping and chores while she is working so we have more time for visiting and relaxing when she is home.

So, I’m not really on a five week vacation – just lucky that, for now, my daughter lives in Hawai’i!

King Kamehameha statue

One of the traditional ways to honor King Kamehameha Day is to drape his statue in the historic district of Honolulu with leis.
Kamehameha and justice bulding
The statue is located in front of Aliiolani Hale, which is the home of the Hawai’i State Supreme Court.
Kamehameha with leis
The statue is draped with plumeria and ti leaf leis, some of which are forty feet long. The plumeria leis are made by volunteers using donated blossoms.
Kamehameha's cape
The leis are draped over the arms of the statue, not around the neck because leis are not ever placed over the royal feathered cape. Here, the cape is represented in gold leaf.