Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Creative pursuits

I THINK this will be a relatively quick post (given that it’s ME who’s writing. Who knows, my fingers seem to have a life of their own.)

Having time off in between chemo treatments has afforded me a chance to pursue some new creative pursuits. I’ve been musically inclined for years, but will admit to laziness about pursuing mastery of instruments. I’ve got a half-way decent voice, and performed for a number of years, but it was too much work. I've exercised well-received efforts in song-writing, but it’s hard to go anywhere with it without backing myself up on an instrument (other than the kazoo.)

I love color, and have been told I have an unusual color sense. (Sometimes, the word “unusual” covers an effort to be polite…I’ll choose to take it otherwise.) A friend and several magazine articles turned me on to art journaling, and one thing has led to another, as I’ve dipped my creative toes into drawing, painting with acrylics, and other mixed media efforts.

These are newborn efforts of maybe 2-3 months, and sharing these publicly is kinda scary, but one of my recent projects (while in Hawaii) was focused on setting aside fear as it relates to creative experimentation. It’s hard, as the perfectionist in my lays out obstacles before I even try! Dumb! So, tho’ I sat down to share another image, I’ll share my “Fear Has NO Place” journal page first. The story is that I’ve wanted to experiment with drawing faces, but wouldn’t try because I didn’t want to deal with the anticipated first failures. So, YES, the gal in the image looks like she has a moustache, but that unfortunately is reality for many of us anyway! I also found that I was being too damn prissy about not getting paint, ink and art mediums on my fingers, so that’s another of the fears listed. I’m not sure that the page is done, but it’s fine for now. (Big step, Linda!)

The other image is one I’m very happy with. I call it “Postcard from a Yard.” I started by creating a background using gel transfer of a photo I took of an iris. (If you see text out of place in my blog, I’m doing battle with Argentine ants…you don’t EVEN want to hear the words running around in my HEAD!) Anyway, I also used a photo my hubby took in Hawaii (he didn’t know he’d captured a beautiful spider web!), an image from a magazine, gauze from the medicine chest, and a free-be art paper (the postcard.) Added a bit of acrylic paint and some ink…and voila. I think this one is done!

Now, I’m on a roll, and had to play around with a photo of my lovely head (I changed my profile pic). OK, Linda, do some housework. (I HAVE been in bed for 4 days, and DO have some catchin’ up to do!)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Aloha, from California

Aloha from California! I'm getting re-settled after a 9-day trip to see da’ family in Hawaii. This gave me 7 days on the Big Island, and 2 days to travel.

I belched out a blog of frustration upon arriving in Hawaii and finding several problems with my rental. Most of you didn’t get my usual e-mail notifying (or warning) you about my post. You didn’t miss anything uplifting. Since I rent little apartments, relocating isn’t so easy, but I’m glad they were able to find another home available a few miles away, where I stayed for one night until the property managers could clean the rental and restore power to the refrigerator. I did lose some food that I couldn’t keep cold enough to trust eating (including a scarily warm Costco-sized package of chicken thighs), but most of the rest of the trip was much better!

It’s tough only seeing my granddaughters 2 times a year. At 2 years and 4 years old their changes are rapid and profound. Hearing those little voices call out “Nana!!” with excitement when they see me is THRILLING, though! We made as many memories as time and energy allowed…a couple of beach trips, a hike at the north tip of the island, and sharing some fun, goofy family times including prolonged games of “Babies”
(just add imagination)
and endless (painfully so to adults) Knock-knock jokes. (You don’t want to get me started.)

The afore-mentioned hike, to Polulu Valley really tested my endurance. We were at least able to rest on this lovely bench at the bottom before starting back up the trail. I think it was good for both my younger daughter, Karen, and I to change places, as she did a GREAT job taking care of me on the way up!

I did indulge in some solo time, including attending my first luau. I’d never been to one before, as I thought of them as too commercial, but was referred to “the most authentic luau on the island” through a young local fellow I met. I’m GLAD I went! Here’s a link to an abbreviated clip of some of the dancing…loved the power of the male dancers. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYo64_PCSyE

I was also able to spend an art day with my older daughter, Lauren, thanks to her mother-in-law taking care of the little ones. Lauren showed talent in sketching (particularly facial portraits) from an early age. What with the responsibilities of raising little ones and limited space in her little house, she doesn’t have much of an opportunity to indulge her creative side. It was a wonderful day for both of us, and it FLEW by! The screened-in lanai at my rental proved a lovely space to indulge.

On my last night in Hawaii, the family met at Bubba Gumps (which my younger granddaughter pronounces as “Bubba Dumps.) While it might seem funny to eat at a chain when in Hawaii, it was my 2nd meal there on this trip. The food IS good…and we had a lot of fun together. Here’s a pic of my younger daughter, Karen, and her boyfriend, Dakota.

I flew back home on Saturday, and have settled back in, unpacking and making up for lost sleep. On Monday, I went in for another PET scan, got the results on Monday, and had my regular chemo on Wednesday. I’m back in the groove, so to speak. I loved seeing the family, but it is really wonderful to be home again. It does help that I’ll be seeing my granddaughters and one of my daughters in about 2 months, when they come to the mainland for a wedding.

Friday, July 9, 2010


July 8, 2010---Is it really possible that I woke to my alarm in Del Dios at 5:30 this morning? Because it sure FEELS like at least 48 hours have elapsed since I boarded the flight leaving San Diego, bound for Kona, at 10:30 AM California time. It is now after 10:30 PM, Hawaii time, (making it truly after 1:30 AM by my California internal clock) so I’m bound to be loopy…but the story goes a bit deeper than that.

(I’m unfortunately unable to post any pictures, because I haven’t picked up the parcels, including my camera dock, which I shipped over to Hawaii.)

I’ll wait to extol the virtues of my first-ever first-class flight. There was the icing on the cake of the inhumanly prompt transition from disembarking at Kona, to changing into my island togs, to finding my luggage already circling the carousel…only 3 minutes after the scheduled landing! And, of course, I was ecstatic to see my daughter and granddaughters after 9 months. We met at Costco, where I stocked up, in between hugging, kissing and playing with the granddaughters.

While I have previously stayed only in Kona, I decided on this trip to move north of Kona, where the VOG, or volcanic smog, doesn’t impact the air quality. As usual, I had arranged to rent an ohana unit, a “granny flat” type of rental which offers kitchen facilities, and which is more quiet and private than in hotels.

Since my daughter had to head off to work, I left Kona at around 4:30 PM, intending to get my Costco-sized packages of chicken, cheese and salad greens into the refrigerator, before heading back into Waimea to get additional foods. The 45 minute drive into North Kohala was beautiful, with the skies clearing and the horizon expanding the further north I headed. As I followed the provided directions to head uphill and eastward (or mauka, as it’s known on the Kona-side), I felt I’d really discovered the perfect place for me to stay. The grasslands climb up to the sky, the homes are widely spaced, and native Nene plod down the road. I even passed an unexpected botanical garden about 2 miles from my rental. I felt almost giddy!

I managed to find the rental around 5:30 PM (Hawaii-time) after a few false starts (due to inaccurate and incomplete directions.) This unfortunately turned out to be the first of several bumps in this road.

Continuing to follow the directions, I parked the car and entered the screened lanai, only to find that the unit had not been left unlocked, as promised. I was concerned about reaching Debbie, the property manager, since it was after 5 PM, but successfully did so, and she was able to direct me to a hidden key after making a quick phone call. I was becoming more concerned about keeping the food purchases cold, particularly the chicken.

As I opened the door I was disheartened to find the refrigerator unplugged, propped open and pulled partially away from the wall. The electrical receptacle behind the fridge was inaccessible to me, with a scant 2 foot space behind the fridge, and a wall and counter blocking either side. (My arms are not as strong as they used to be, and I was afraid if I managed to climb in there, I might not be able to get out.) I called the Debbie back, and insisted on getting some help. She said she’d try to find someone.

While waiting, I walked throughout the rental. It unfortunately became obvious it had not been cleaned prior to my arrival, nor in any recent time. Dusty insect carcasses (cockroaches and a 4” long centipede) littered each room. There were cobwebs throughout. Due to the amount of rainfall and leaf-litter here, I KNOW that both cockroaches and centipedes are to be expected, so it wasn’t necessarily their presence that concerned me…it was the fact that I could tell they’d been there a while. Another call was made to Debbie. She offered me the first night free and said they’d sent someone the next day to vacuum.

I’ll pass on entering into additional descriptive details of the status of the room, because what emerged was that a mistake was made: somehow communication failed between the room-booking department and the cleaning department of the rental agency. This, coupled with the fact that the apartment had only recently become a vacation rental, meant it had also been quite some time since it had been cleaned.

I turned on the A/C unit in the bedroom, and placed the perishables in front of it, while I waited for Debbie to find someone to bring ice, plug in the fridge and bring a broom. (She was on the mainland, and the property owner lives on the other side of the island.)

Debbie’s daughter/business partner, Leilani arrived around 7 PM. She and her friend Koa brought in some ice and plugged in the fridge. As I shared my discoveries about the condition of the rental, she immediately agreed with my concerns, saying would NOT want to stay there, and she didn’t want me staying there until it was cleaned.

It is our human nature to make mistakes, but Leilani saw to it that they made right by the errors. It is now morning--I was MUCH too tired to stay up to finish this story last night! The tale of how Leilani made this right is another story, which I’ll share with you in my next blog. For now, I am starving, so I’d better rustle up some grub!