Hawaii Pics; or, the last burn day of the season and I have huge piles of pine needles so I have a massive migraine

When’s the worst time to write about a beautiful Hawaiian vacation? Why, when you have a raging migraine, of course!

Here we are, a whole week and a half since I’ve been back stateside and what have I done? I’ve been inspired to paint, but haven’t picked up a paintbrush or prepared a canvas or even glanced at the acrylics I have stashed in my special toolbox I chose just for my art. I’ve plodded away on my beautiful sweater that I started last year with all the enthusiasm of…well, plodding. I’ve finished the body and now I’m working the sleeves. Sounds exciting, right? Who am I kidding! I’m ashamed to say that most of this time has been spent in a blue funk, moping. It doesn’t help that I’ve uploaded all my Hawaiian and Bahamian pics on my Chromecast screensaver to remind me where I’m not and what I’m not doing.

Besides the obvious – I shouldn’t be writing a post about beautiful Hawaii while I’m suffering from a migraine – this appears to be the only time I can sit down in front of the computer and write. Don’t get me wrong! I live on my damned computer, but I’m generally not writing prose, and in this case, categorizing pure fustian. In the spirit of cutting short the rant, we won’t elaborate on the reef snorkeling and wild dolphin sighting outing that was cancelled because of weather, nor will I digress about the aborted Mauna Kea visit because road conditions were unmanageable past 9000′ even with a four-wheel drive auto, and any discussion is right out regarding the earthquake we experienced sitting on a washed-up log while enjoying the black sands beach in Waipi’o Valley. LOL! While these snidely remarks make me appear ungrateful, I am not. Reading about how someone had a beautiful time in a paradise is generally a deadly dull undertaking. Hearing about the travails in a personal Shangri La panders to one’s schadenfreude, a lowly endeavor, indeed, but commonly espoused by most writers of fiction and non-fiction. I mean, how freakin’ boring would most movies be without it? Hm?

Fear not, dear readers. All is not lost. Another basic part of story structure is called the denouement, or resolution. We did do many cool things and see many splendiferous sights, the most amazing was the cabin in which we stayed. Let’s not forget the “Ring of Fire” helicopter ride.* I was able to put my tootsies in black sand, get up close and personal to the pahoehoe and trip on the aptly named a’a lava rocks! (note to self: don’t wear sandals on lava rock!), get drenched, multiple times, in a tropical downpour, witness a cool photoshoot on dramatic cliffs, experience the climate diversity in the interior valley between the two dormant behemoth volcanoes, snap pics of absolutely gorgeous flowers, be lulled to sleep by the croaking frogs and legions of insects indigenous to rain forests and much more. So, yea, we had a great time, and because of the wonderfulness of air miles, we have already booked another Hawaiian vacay for next year on the North Shore in Oahu. I don’t how we’ll be able to afford it even with that flight being taken care of, but, eh. We’ve got cancellation insurance.

But wait – let’s make this more interactive. I will post a poll of activities that will push my comfort zone. The one that gets voted the most, I will do, document and post next year! I’ll remind everyone periodically to vote, and close the poll around Thanksgiving so I can make arrangements. I will NOT do anything dangerous nor incredibly expensive, but if you see something that would make for a good laugh, you may include it as an option on the poll.

In the meantime, here’s way too many pics from around the Big Island. Enjoy!

*For the first time in 35 years, there are no active lava flows on the Big Island; nevertheless, this was FUN! I know, I know, after reading about my fear of flying, you’re probably thinking What is wrong with this woman? For me, it’s not the same as flying in a big, impersonal commercial airliner. If we had made the 2,668 mile trip in a Piper or Cessna puddle jumper, not only would it have been epic, but it would have been way more comfortable for me, if not a tad long. For me, helicopters fall in the same realm of comfortable.

Hawaii

When life gets too good, one questions life

With only a few days left before we depart, dear readers, I have a confession to make.  The recent gift that fell onto my lap last month, (again, thank you, Danielle Cotton!), may cast me in the light of a most vacuous, shallow and unworthy person, but I assure you, that’s not the case.  At least, I hope not…  When I found out that I had won a trip to the Bahamas, my husband, Rick, and I, were already planning on going to Hawaii.  The Big Island.  I love the geology, black sand beaches, pineapples, coffee and the general lush foliage that comes to mind when I think of these enchanted chain of volcanic islands.  I’ve written a few posts about Hawaii and tiki.  So, yea.  I’ve always wanted to go, and I’ve made no secret of it.

https://nittinninja.wordpress.com/2015/07/17/change-of-schedule/

https://nittinninja.wordpress.com/2015/08/11/shrug-finished/

https://nittinninja.wordpress.com/2017/03/28/for-the-first-time-in-over-30-years/

Packing to go – not staged at all! LOL

You may wonder why I felt it necessary to make a side trip to the Bahamas, and I would counter: The Trailer Park Boys.  I wanted to go hang out, have some fun, and hopefully meet them.  As much as I am looking forward to Hawaii, the unadulterated thrill of fandom was something else, if not a little embarrassing at my age – but I don’t care.  It was too fun!

A niggling worry has beset me these last few weeks.  I believe it is a valid concern, but maybe some good will come of it.  What is it? you ask.  I’m afraid that the rest of my life will seem very dull in comparison with these last few months.  However long, or short, the rest of life will be remains to be seen; you get the point.  Has this ever happened to anyone else?  It has with me already, several times.  The upside?  I’m saving for next year’s excursion, be it with the Trailer Park Boys, or an expedition to Antarctica.  You only live once, and as time flies by, the tired, old cliché of a mid-life crisis starts to make sense, although, I think “mid-life” may be optimistic on my part!  And that last sentence was cram packed with tired old clichés (I may have to write a post on the importance of clichés and why they’re needed)!

Next time I write an entry, be prepared for a glut of pictures and a paucity of words.  Aloha!

Good Times, a Parking Ticket and Farewell to a Dear Friend

 

On Worldwide Knit in Public Day, June 10, I made the 100 mile round trip trek to the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento to knit with a friend of mine that I hadn’t seen for awhile.  Last Knit in Public Day event I had been to was in 2015, and we were outside where I had to sit on some hard ground. Well, it was the well manicured lawns around the capital building, but ground is ground and it can be hard on these middle-aged bones! Being indoors with air conditioning during a heatwave was a welcome relief and I didn’t have to constantly shift my weight for pressure compensation.  It was a pleasant affair and I did enjoy myself immensely.  We closed them out at 2:00 pm, and my friend and I walked to our metered parking spots where I discovered –

A parking ticket.  I had been very careful to choose the time I wanted and paid up with a debit card and was unhappy.  I’ve disputed the ticket, and now I’m in ticket limbo.  Fun.

On a sad note, I had to put down my beautiful baby boy, my chocolate labrador retriever who was 12 years old, on June 29.  We were there with him at the vet’s office when he passed peacefully.  I’ve been crying on and off for the last few days – in fact, I just finished a crying jag.  I have a Queensland Heeler and a Chihuahua mix rescue doggie, and they’re adorable, but they’re not my Mario.  He was my 24/7/365 companion.

I’m not having a good year.

What’s happening with everyone else?

Sad News

Necessary mittens
Necessary mittens

It’s February and this winter has gone on forever.  Normally, I’m a real fan of cold weather.  I look forward to having a crackling fire going in our stove or playing outside in the snow and having an excuse to knit or crochet almost nonstop.  Of course, this month is generally when the blahs kick in and I can’t get excited about anything, but this year the constant rain and darkness and worry is creating a different feel to my usually scheduled February lassitude.

On Sunday, my mother-in-law passed away (see Of Flooding and Exploding Dryers).   That was way ahead of schedule.  My husband was shocked, naturally, but also because he had just talked to his mother only a few days ago and she hadn’t indicated things were any worse.  As to the why my husband and I had this erroneous notion that her death was in some mid-long distant future, I can’t really say.  Maybe because she appeared to be relatively healthy and mobile when we saw her last month, or maybe, truly, we just didn’t want her to go.  Since this notion created a warped sense of of time, preparations that should have been made earlier were all of a sudden upon us.  We’ve spent the last several days making travel arrangements, funeral arrangements, buying clothes and so much more that I can’t think straight – and there’s still a lot more to do.  As I lie here in bed, typing this entry in the dark, I hear the wind whipping up the trees and hope this won’t delay any travel plans for tomorrow because I am ready for this to be over.

Our new fur baby, Nicky, playing with his recently adopted brother, the chocolate lab, Mario.
Our new fur baby, Nicky, playing with his recently adopted brother, the chocolate lab, Mario.

In the meantime, life goes on.  I’ve managed to make a few more hats for sell, make our new little rescue fur baby a doggie vest and I’m working, slowly, on a pair of mittens.

What are you working on?  I need some good news, dear readers!

*Name changed for privacy.

Ain't he a little stinker?
Ain’t he a little stinker?

Of Flooding and Exploding Blow Dryers

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We’ve all heard the expression “When it rains, it pours.”  January was a monsoon for me.

It actually started mid-December with the news of my mother-in-law’s stage IV stomach cancer diagnosis.  With a six-month timeline, Elke* has opted to receive hospice care.  All her life she’s dealt with cancer.  It started in her late 20s, returned in her 40s, again in her late 60s, and with this last bit of news, she said she’s done.  Prognosis was not good to begin with, and she just didn’t want to go through the “cure” again.  Her husband, John*, has been displaying signs of dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease.  He had to be reminded who we were, and yet, most cruel, he’s aware of it right now.  They live in Texas, three and a half states over, and timing was not good.  But it had to be done.

The journey back to Texas was odd.  Any road trip I’ve taken before has always been a good thing.  My husband and I made the most of it, since it was three days hard travel.  My sister, who lives in Bakersfield, was gracious enough to let us use her place as flop house.  We literally spent less than 15 minutes talking to her before we headed for bed, and then in the morning, we hugged one and another and moved on, both going and coming back.  The second day out, I wrote some errant thoughts.  Those long drives gives a person way too much time to think.

January 4, 2017, Wednesday

When the sun is rising, the errant contrail casts a shadow on the higher clouds

Driving east along Interstate 10 to Texas

Don’t know how to feel

Sedimentary, layered mountains Las Cruces

Texas landscape out of El Paso flat

Scrub brush

Minimal traffic

Can use cruise control – indefinitely

Occasional butte, rolling hills

Road stretches out in front of you in gentle, undulating waves

Cerulean sky, painted with high altitude stratus clouds

Harmless, no rain

When sun is setting, the color of the western sky shifts from blue to lavender, then gradually to a dusky plum, all but obscuring the horizon, then gradually, deep purple to the black of night.

Headlights

On the third morning of our visit, I was drying my hair, when my blow-dryer of at least 10 years decides to go out with a bang.  Sparks flew and I had to unplug it to stop the sparks from turning into flames.  The acrid smell of burnt electronics filled our hotel room for at least a day.  I felt it was appropriate, somehow, that it should happen at that time; however, I had spent the night before crying, so it was possible I was just upset.  Saying good bye to something else, even something as replaceable as a minor appliance, really set me off.

When driving back, we ran into the storms in Northern California that we’d been monitoring even before we left.  It was an eye-opener to see the areas around Sacramento, flooded by water that had overrun the bank of the Cosumnes River.  Sacramento has the American and the Sacramento Rivers to deal with and the levies around the city are monitored more closely.  What I photographed was the Cosumnes River gone a bit wild, just south of Elk Grove, a suburb of SacTown.  And then from Highway 99 North to I80 East, up around Applegate, the trucks were pulled over because the road over Donner Pass was closed due to snow.

I was so grateful to be home…because our garage was flooding.  We got some more sandbags (don’t ask) and cleaned up what we could.  Thanks goodness the foundation is concrete, and no real damage was done.

On a lesser, but more immediate note, my husband’s car has stopped running.  The money we would have used to fix that was spent visiting his mother.  It sits in the front of the house, ads running on Facebook, Letgo and Craigslist with no results.  I guess no one wants a mechanic’s project at this time.

There is more to the story, but I will leave it.  Sometimes it’s good not to tell so much, and this is one of those instances.

*names changed for privacy

Departures

I have an adult daughter who lives with us.

She is my only child.

Yes, I’m sure she’s spoiled and she knows it.

For the last five years she’s been saving money from her work to go to Europe.  I’ve never known a person to work so hard and be so dedicated to her craft.  Really.  Every bit of extra money has been squirreled away at the expense of the small luxuries most of us in America appreciate.  Only recently, with her tickets purchased, has she allowed herself to deviate from her strict budget and spend a weekend with friends at the beach, throw a really big party in honor of her aunt, and eat out at a restaurant or two.

Rachel’s original plan had been to stay where she could work for her lodgings and some meals with the intent of spending her hard-earned Rachel 09-04-2016cash on being a tourist during her time off.  There are many places that offer that arrangement.  She would probably have been there for months, if not a year or more.  But things change.  Several months ago, she was offered a position at a local business that she felt she couldn’t refuse.  Well, let’s modify that.  She did refuse the position, but was pursued until she accepted.  *proud mother*  So, from a wandering vagabond freestyle kind of plan, she goes to a tightly scheduled and regimented tour of a month.  She’s still excited though.  She leaves tomorrow.  And I look at her from across our rusty outdoor mesh tabletop and see how she’s just waiting…and I’m trying my damnedest not to think of hydraulic failure, terrorism, theft, military coups, getting stranded – even bad restaurant service.

*sigh*

Change of Schedule

Yuuup.  That's me all right!
Yuuup. That’s me all right!

In my last post I announced I was looking for a group of crafters to do a Crochet-A-Long on a simple afghan. Something easy.  I received a few likes, but no comments.  I took that to mean a  group of polite onlookers, which would be cool also; but, summer is bearing down upon me and I’ve found myself in a Hawaiian mood.  No, I’ve never been, and yes, I want to go.  I want a plumeria lei and a hibiscus tucked behind my ear, to take the pineapple field tours, walk the beautiful black sand beaches at sunset, go to a luau and drink cocktails with pretty umbrella toothpicks.  I want to be at the peak of Mauna Kea and see the curvature of the earth as the sun peeks over the ocean horizon and to pay incredibly inflated prices at the local McDonald’s because everything is shipped from the mainland.   And let us not forget the muumuus and brilliantly colored Hawaiian shirts.  I even want to hear the strains of Don Ho complementing the relaxing sounds of the waves susurrating as I recline on the beach in the middle of the day…underneath a huge umbrella with layers of SPF 50 sensitive skin lotion still shining whiter than my legs with its zinc content.  But most of all, I want to see the Kilauea Volcano erupt its low silicone, high basaltic lava and create the a’a rocks, so named because the natives cut their feet on the sharp edges of the cooled surface.  I also want to see the pahoehoe lava, so smooth it looks like a pudding set in the shape of ropes.  I want to see the lava drip into a steaming surf from a recently created shelf.  I. Want. To. Go.

Returning to reality, the odds are that I will never make it.

Yes, my shoulders slumped forward as I thought of this.

But that won’t stop me from being inspired by the tiny island state with a big heart that has stolen mine, sight unseen.  (Pictures don’t count!)  In choosing the yarn, I thought of the personality of the state, and the first thing that came to mind was:  relaxation.  I don’t know about you, but knitting something inspired by Hawaii could not be done in wool.  There are a few island nations where this does apply, of course, such as Great Britain and Iceland.  Wool is highly recommended there.  Hawaii?  It had to be one of three choices:  cotton, bamboo, silk.  For economy’s sake, I went with cotton.  No more $60 tank tops here…ahem.  If I stopped making those, maybe I could afford Hawaii!

Progression of color scheme
Progression of color scheme

When it came to colors, I wanted to stay with the relaxed personality range and I used my “go to” colors, blue and green, added some purple and a bit of white.  Continuing with the serene, easy-going theme, I have decided to make this a simple box – no ribbing, no shaping, no sleeves, with a little twist.  How I’m going to accomplish the one aspect of this is beyond me, but I’ll manage.

In the meantime, I will keep the afghan on the back burner.

Aloha!