Looking for a Paintbrush

In my photo pot I mentioned the “Hawaiian paintbrush” and I promised to write a little bit more about it and include a couple photos. The screwpine produces a pineapple shaped fruit that is listed as “edible”. Most Hawaiians don’t eat the screwpine fruit – the sweet fresh fruit tips were only eaten as famine food by the early Hawaiians. Children would break open the mature keys (the drupes) and eat the nut-like centers. The Hawaiian word for the screwpine is Hala or Pū hala and is sometimes referred to as Pandan. This is because the plant is from the Pandanus family including Pandanus fatuhivaensis, Pandanus filiciatilis, and 7 others. The tree comes as a male and female, with the female producing the fruit and the male hala producing a highly fragrant and attractive floral display. Hala is one of the classic picturesque coastal trees of the South Pacific. Hala have thick aerial roots known as ulehala. The early Hawaiians used hala extensively and planted them near houses.
It was used medicinally as a laxative, to treat colds, chest pains, low energy, urinary tract infections, and red eyes. A mixture with sugar cane and other plants was used as a tonic for mothers weakened by childbirth. It is said to be rich in vitamin B.

The fragrant male hala flowers were made into beautiful lei. The wood was used for house construction, canoe rollers, and occasionally for bowls. Wood centers of branches were hollowed out and used for pipes to channel water from one taro pond to another. Where it was abundant the leaves were used for thatch on roofs. The soft aerial roots were used as cordage. The leaves were used in plaiting pillows, mats and mattresses. The Hawaiians also plaited the leaves for hats, house ceilings, canoe sails, baskets, sandals for walking on rough lava, and fans to cool themselves.

The dried keys were also used as brushes for stenciling and for perfuming kapa (bark cloth). And this is where the paintbrush comes from.

Or tour driver “cousin Kimo” suggested we could pick up a couple if we were interested. I was very interested and grabbed two thinking I’d give them as a gift to my artist friends. Now I’m feeling greedy and want to keep them and try them out! They are about 2.5 inches long and the base is about the diameter of a quarter. Online someone on Etsy is selling them saying they are perfect for toddler hands.

Looking to Relax

On David’s blog, the Skeptic’s Kaddish, he hosts this week’s poet of the week, Suzette Benjamin. Her challenge is to write a Haiku or Tanka on the theme of “a favorite way to relax/unwind”. I used to love the Haiku. I used to write Haiku. But the funny thing was that the more I wrote and learned the less satisfied I was with my results. So I stopped writing them. I had been playing around with the Haiku again. Then this prompt. I took it as a sign that it was time to give Haiku another shot.

Pull tedium’s thread
Unravel the mind and heart
Breathe in love’s perfume

And because it is how I roll, a little explanation: When I’m really stressed and need to unwind I like to do a little visualization. I imagine the worry is a knitted sweater. And I find the thread and just pull. I also wind the yarn into a ball and then toss it away. To finish my “unwinding” I find Sparky and get my hug quota. I can smell love. I can hear the words “I love you” in each heart beat. Yep. That’s my relaxation.

Looking Excited

I’m so excited! It is a race. Will I be healthy enough to go to GeoWoodstock??? Sparky is finalizing our plans for attending this year’s GeoWoodstock! We registered to get our packets (Name tags, t-shirts, pathtag, geocoin, and a little more swag) and made our hotel reservations ages ago. Now it is all about packing and making sure we’ve loaded all the geocache coordinates. I’m looking forward to traveling with saintvi and likely meeting up with some other geocachers. I’m especially hopeful that I can meet a fellow blogger and geocacher Patti Aliventi!

The other activity that was going on was the search for some furniture for son#1. He was still looking for a bigger dresser. We went to several estate sales and a couple garage sales hoping to find one that fits his criteria. We hadn’t had any luck until just before the vacation. He wanted one in the same style as his bed (1930’s parquet veneer), having at least 5 drawers (a “high-boy”), and must not exceed 4′ long. And of course, his price range is $120 or less. I’m pleased to say that our search for his other furniture needs have been successful. His desk (he allotted $150) was found for $20 and it is a massive solid cherry affair with tooled leather on the top and a big heavy glass cover to protect it. He wanted a work table for next to his computer at a maximum cost of $75 that I was able to find for $2.50. On a whim we detoured to an estate sale and managed a score – a dresser that fits all of his criteria for only $25! We cleaned it up and it looks great!

We are also planning a trip to visit the maritime provinces of Canada. Saintvi will come too and it will likely take a good 3 weeks. I’m hoping we can get all our ducks in a row as Sparky wants to take this trip in July! So much to do and so little time! That trip will involve passports and vaccinations and COVID testing (though I’m hoping by the time we actually arrive it won’t be as much of an issue).

And on top of that, I’m wondering what son#2 has up his sleeve. It will be 1 year that he and the GF have been dating as of June 25th. Will he “put a ring on it”? Will he wait until we get back from the trip or will it all go down while we are out of the country? Such excitement in my future! What are you excited about??

Looking for the Hum

The living
Hear it, feel it
The hum electric
Transfer from heart to skin
Universal vibration
Conduction through touch and through sound
Some call it love others name it lust
Primal imperative, a new life formed

Our crabapple tree in the front yard has finally leafed out. The little red tinged leaves have expanded to an acceptable size to entice the tree frogs to take up residence again this spring. I love their constant chorus as they trill their love songs. Each evening as the sun sets, the wooing begins. They drown out the chirps of crickets, overpower the fading sparrow tunes, and even the lone cicada is silenced. The air is alive with the blended frequencies of each male frog making his case for love. As they take a breath, the females send out their tentative responses. By the time I’m in bed their songs have faded as they pair up. Only the forlorn solo voice of the unmated remains. A sad tune but now the only sound vibrating through the night time hours.

And if you are wondering, this is an Etheree. That is a syllabic form of 10 lines. The first line is one syllable and each line following adds a syllable until you conclude with a 10 syllable line.

Looking Tumultuous

This is my W3 poetry prompt entry for this week. The Poet of the Week, Punam, has challenged us to write an acrostic poem using one of the 5 words provided. I chose Tumult, as that has been a close companion for me this week. Between the thunderous coughing, the sudden gushing of liquid from my nose, and my seeping eyes all the world is in tumult! I was able to get an appointment at the “Furi” (pronounced Fury not furry) clinic. The good news is that I have antibiotics for the sinus infection and bilateral “pink eye”. The bad news is that I tested positive for COVID (after 2 negative tests at home). The good news is that my isolation period is over but the bad news is that the window for antiviral treatment has closed…

Try to ignore the rumbling thunder
Under dark clouds split asunder
Make no mistake the rain a pattern soars
Uproar to punctuate need to shelter indoors
Like lightning spiders in sudden spike
Thunderstrike we clutch each other

And since I wasn’t suffering enough, I did a little playing around with the rhyme so that it is reflected at the end of one line and the beginning and end of the next… and no it isn’t perfected but it was fun…

Looking Back at Hawaii

I’ve finally got my act together (as well as some of the photos from the trip). We spent the first and second day in Honolulu where we went to a luau and geocached in Waikiki (my phone didn’t like the twilight or the fire and motion so no photos), Diamond Head, and a couple city parks. That was an eye opener! The homeless population is out of control! (A tour guide mentioned that there is a State program to return some of the homeless to their families on the mainland. Seems people come to Hawaii, lose their employment and end up on the streets without the money for a plane ticket home.) While strolling through the parks we saw several tent cities. The feature of the parks that makes them a magnet is the outdoor showers. Designed to rinse off sand and sea water for the surfers, they are the hot spot for the homeless to clean up! We saw an older woman strip down and wash. Of course the homeless people were not concerned with 2 tourists poking around in the greenery… We took the inter-island cruise that left from Honolulu, Oahu. Our first stop was Kahului, Maui where we enjoyed took a bus tour on the Road to Hana. This was a white knuckle jaunt on a very narrow (as in one lane) dirt and gravel road interspersed with a few stretches of pavement! We did get to see waterfalls but unlike some of the people on the tour we did not jump in and swim. The water was very cold. One of our tour mates commented, “You don’t really feel the cold after your skin goes numb.” Thanks, no thanks! The second day in Maui we rented a car and drove to Lahaina. We got several caches and a couple Adventure lab caches. We learned about all the feral animals that are destroying the habitat. The mongoose and the rat, the goats and the cattle, and the deer and the chickens. Lordy the chickens were everywhere! Then it was on to “the Big Island” where we stopped in Hilo where we rented a car and drove to Volcanoes National Park. We were smart enough to bring rain ponchos. As we ascended to slopes to the park we had about 15 minutes of sun before we were in a deluge! (Sorry no photos – I have pictures of the volcano that are a few leaves and then just grey clouds, fog and mist.) The next stop was Kona, Hawaii. We took another tour and had some fun – Sparky enjoyed the coffee plantation with a bonus of free coffee samples. Our next port was Nāwiliwili, Kaua`i. There we rented a car and did some geocaching and sightseeing. Kauai is the “Garden Island” and it didn’t disappoint! So many flowers and birds! Then it was back to Honolulu on the island of Oahu where we took a tour of Pearl Harbor. Did I mention we were geocaching the whole time?
Without further ado – the photos – first up the food. The main courses were ho-hum but the desserts and appetizers were top notch!

Next up is the vegetation. There was such a variety of plants and flowers – so many orchids!

The first photo is a Hawaiian Screwpine the fruit is barely edible but the seeds once they degrade become “Hawaiian paintbrushes”. Sort of a cool thing!
    These are Banyan trees and they are everywhere! They were introduced from India. There are trees that are African in origin as well.

And lastly some points of interest (at least for me):

A lava tube cave and a black sand beach. Both amazing! (And yes Sparky had to wade in and get his shorts wet!)

This little unassuming house sold for $22 Million – Location location location!
Above is St. Benedict’s Church – the inside was covered with paintings done by a young priest from Belgium.

The palaces of Hawaii’s last ruler. She lived under house arrest after being deposed as the US annexed Hawaii.

The Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. I didn’t expect to be so overwhelmed by the memorial – glad I had tissues.

Looking Under Rocks

Sometimes to find out what’s going on you have to look under rocks. Shortly after beginning my job (way back in 1991) I discovered that the big boss was a predator. He liked to hire young single women that he could manipulate. He called me into his office and started asking me very inappropriate questions. I let him know that his lines of inquiry were not appreciated. In the next couple of years I “rescued” a woman who needed a ride after work and had been told that the boss would gladly drive her to her class. After the first time, she was in tears dreading having to get into a car with him – I provided the ride instead. This pattern repeated itself until he made a fatal error. He targeted the wrong woman. She was smart and resourceful and very wily. I don’t know for sure what she had on him (photos? video?) but whatever it was, he was soon persona non grata and lost his job, his reputation, and nearly his marriage.

I survive by grace
You invade my space
Everyday I am beset
You explain my lack
I pick up your slack
Understand I’ve got your back

I escape your ire
I avoid the fire
Recommend another drink
I provide the room
Guarantee your doom
Engineer the drunken wink

You deny your guilt
Your defense will wilt
Understand a bully’s fate
Once again a groan
For misdeeds atone
Chauvinist’s power deflate

I produce photos
You appear sans clothes
A baboon has more finesse
Picturesque blackmail
Afternoon in jail
I remain employed, I’m blessed

This is an Alouette. A form created by Jan Turner. The name means skylark and is meant to mimic birdsong. It is a syllabic and rhyming form having a minimum of 2 stanzas. Each stanza has 6 lines with a rhyme scheme of a/a/b/c/c/b and a syllable count of 5/5/7/5/5/7. The metrical preference is to have the accent on the 3rd syllable of each line.

Looking Obsessive

We are home. I am exhausted. We got in late yesterday. As soon as we opened the door and got everything into the house, we literally fell into bed. As you can tell by the time this posted, I was up early. You see, I have a deep seated need for order. I’m driven. I obsess over putting everything away. I managed to find my toothbrush last night which was a blessing. But this morning I must, absolutely must, get everything unpacked and the suitcases stowed. I’m typing this as the first load of laundry is in the washer. The following things will be done:
1. Shower and dress as soon as I finish this post.
2. Put all the toiletries and shoes away.
3. Switch the laundry (only 4 loads to wash and dry).
4. Write out the menu for the next 2 weeks.
5. Make a grocery list and go grocery shopping.
6. Come home and put the groceries away.
7. Switch the laundry.
8. Go to Sparky’s sister’s house and pickup Mochi.
9. Give Mochi a bath (she has been with 2 big slobbery dogs who like to drool over her).
10. Switch the laundry and add the dog towels.
11. Record all the geocaches on the website (geocaching.com).
12. Switch the laundry.
13. Clean the toilets because they looked bad after 2 weeks of just sitting there.
14. Go get the mail from son#1 who was collecting it.
15. Put all the clean laundry away.
16. Try to take a nap. But I’ll probably just stare at the ceiling and think of more things to do.
17. Make dinner.
18. Come back here and frantically answer comments on my posts.
19. Attempt to catch up on all your posts I missed as the guilt mounts.
20. Catch myself nodding off in front of the computer and crawl into bed.

Yes, I know in my rational brain that not all of this needs to be done today. And yes I will pause and actually tell myself that. But – my irrational obsessive brain will hit the over-ride switch and I’ll charge full speed ahead until it’s all done. At least no one can accuse me of procrastination!!

Looking at Evil

I had a very deep and meaningful conversation with my sister. We don’t often speak about religion. Mostly because we both moved away from the faith in which we were raised. During our weekly phone chat she told me that she had been listening to podcasts done by a Catholic Priest. Which considering her preferred denomination was quite startling. Even more so is that she is leaning into the Catholic Church as it appeals to her more conservative point of view. We talked for almost 3 hours. The discussion ranged from school shootings to political machinations to racial violence and poverty. She went on to say that she had had an overwhelming feeling that she needed to pray for protection against the forces of evil. I shared a prayer we use at church every Sunday (St. Michael the Archangel). When we prayed it together, she said she immediately felt a sense of safety and love surround her…

Prayers for protection breathed
Into the night air
“Protect my family from all evil prowling”
Mothers call on angels
“Guard them while they sleep”

All the angels and saints
Close ranks, take up arms
Demons are loosed, Satan seeks the unwary
They defend innocents
Keep their gaze on God

Danger stalks day and night
Mothers’ pleas rising
“Wrap my children within your protecting wings”
Sighs, “Steer them to safety”
The angels obey

This is a Double Ennead, a syllabic poetry form invented by Colleen M. Chesebro. It consists of 3 stanzas and each stanza has 5 lines with a syllable count of: 6/5/11/6/5 for a total of 33 syllables per stanza. This results in a poem of 99 syllables. Punctuation and rhyme are up to the individual poet.

Looking at Birds Flying

Spring is really here. At least that’s what the birds are saying. We used to have a bird feeder but between the squirrels and the feral cats we decided that it was more a “bait station” than a bird feeder. However the neighbors have installed a rather large bird feeder in their backyard. So far it has been a loud morning affair. The starlings and sparrows take offense at the robins muscling their way in. If ever birds cuss, the starlings and grackles have foul (fowl?) mouths! It has been so loud that it wakes me up. Before the alarm. At the crack of dawn!

Last week I was awakened by the feathered throng and wandered down to the kitchen. I observed the sky turn dark. It seemed all the birds in the world were flying over my backyard. Once the sky lightened all but one bird was gone. The only remaining bird was a very large hawk. It was perched in the walnut tree and surveying both backyards… I showered, dressed and checked on the visitor – still there and not a bird in either yard!!