My favorite flower is the peony. The first time I heard of a peony was while playing a Japanese card game called hanafuda. The twelve suits, one for each month, are represented by different plants…mostly flowers. In Japanese peony is botan and it is a treasured and admired flower. I guess that’s true everywhere. But I lived in Hawaii. Peonies need a frost to bloom and we don’t have that. It was through this card game that I was introduced to these special botanicals of Japan.

I’m not sure when I saw my first peony in person…probably in a hotel…drinking wine…at the bar. But I fell in love. I love their color and layers and delicate petals. My friend, Ewa, said, “What is it about them???? That they captivate so many (me included)? These garish colors, and yet, just this very unapologetic – should I say, brazen – splash of the bright, common hues… total splendor!”
Kris spoiled me with them…buying them when they were in season at the wholesale florist, Watanabe Floral. Back in the 90’s they were no bargain, but, boy, they have shot up in price.
During the recent hurricane scare, we purchased a fair amount of water and we dropped the bottles off at Watanabe’s for Island Movers to ship to the Big Island. They are shipping canned goods and water to assist the people in Puna who are still without power and water. It’s a disaster. They were really hit hard by Iselle. We have friends who are among those without power or water. Before leaving the Big Island we delivered a hundred pounds of ice to them as they are living off a generator and have limited power. It’s a good thing the people in Puna are a pretty hardy stock…many never had electricity and they all have catchment water systems. A power supply is needed to pump water into their homes. The electric company is working hard to get power restored as quickly as they can, but there were a huge amount of power lines knocked out by falling trees.
Since we were at Watanabe’s, we splurged and bought a garnet peony for $9 – one stem! They are shipping them in from Holland. I believe it’s late in the season for the US mainland.

Peony
I love flowers and I try to bring flowers in from our yard when possible. On the Big Island, we have the luxury of having locally grown flowers – alstroemeria,gerbera daisies, dahlias, gardenia, cymbidium orchids…not to mention all the fabulous tropicals. It’s a little harder to find wide varieties of locally grown flowers on Oahu at a reasonable price.
Peonies in our house has been a guilty pleasure of mine…once a year…not too bad. We don’t even get them every year as peony season is also our busy season so we’re often out o town.
When I’m on the road in peony season, I’m always looking for these beauties. Once in Venice, I bought a bunch at the farmer’s market and just kept them on the night stand. This was in 2004, after our first job with a very special client.

On our nightstand in Venice - 2004 after our first job with Autodesk.

On our nightstand in Venice – 2004 after our first job in Europe.

 In Laguna Niguel, Trader Joe’s sold bunches for $10 each. I had them around my hotel room in water bottles and any container I could find to use as a makeshift vase. This was during a really fabulous program where we rode on a yacht to follow a sailing regatta.

Peonies in my room in Laguna Niguel.

Peonies in my room in Laguna Niguel.

This was in 2009 and our cocker spaniels, Latte and Mocha, has just passed away a few months before so I traveled with their photos and set up an altar.

A peony on my alter in my room in Laguna Niguel. Vase from the room service tray.

A peony on my alter in my room in Laguna Niguel. Vase from the room service tray.

Last year when traveling with my good friend, Hnoi, we found a wonderful flower shop in Paris. It was like stepping into another time zone. We traveled back in time in this marvelous flower shop called Georges Francois. Of course, I bought peonies for my room there.

Georges Francois in Paris.

Georges Francois in Paris.

So now a single peony in a special bud vase from Kris is a treasure. Not having them readily available in Hawaii, make them more special and precious when I do find them.

Selfie at Georges Francois in Paris.

Selfie at Georges Francois in Paris.

Hurricanes

Hurricane Iselle and Julio are on their way to the Hawaiian Islands. Iselle is scheduled to hit the Big Island this afternoon and Oahu tomorrow morning. I’m concerned about our single wall cedar cottage in the rainforest on the Big Island. It’s old. I think about the statue of Buddha, table on the deck, the roof on the deck, the chimney. We’re not on the island to secure these things, but our dear friend, Ginger, has moved the chairs that were on the deck into the house. The table is too heavy for her to move and we really haven’t got a place to put it.
We had excavators clearing the site and there are huge ohia tree trunks lined up on the ground.
There are so many things that could happen…so many possible dangers. I’ve joked about the fact that we’re stocked up with champagne, but I can’t help but recall the loss of property on Kauai in the last two hurricanes, Iniki and Eva. Some of the businesses have never come back. I’m not talking about small shops…there are hotels that haven’t reopened. Those hurricanes were in 1982 and 1992.
Here’s a situation completely out of our control. Sure…we can stock up on water and canned food. But there is no way to secure our roof. On Oahu we have a house with single wall construction and most of the homes in Hawaii do. Because we don’t need to worry about extreme weather most of the time, this has been the way we’ve built our homes. You never know what might be overlooked and become a potential projectile. It’s so important to keep your home and neighbors safe.
Murphy and Maddy were crate-trained as puppies and they’ve always eaten in their crates. We wanted to make sure they were comfortable and knew that their crates were safe places. Maddy will hang out in hers. She knows it’s her safe space. Murphy is not into it, but he knows which crate is his. This was done for the sole purpose of having a safe space for them in case of emergency. I just did a search on the internet and closest pet-friendly shelter is at Castle High School, my alma mater. Hopefully we won’t need to go there. We’re planning to stay at home no matter what. I think the only thing that would bring us to a shelter is if we ran out of water and our house was gone. Without a roof, I believe we could live in our house for a short time. Anyway, it’s impossible to imagine everything that could happen.
Even though this situation is really serious and poses a tremendous amount of potential danger and loss, it also brings the community together. Sometimes when we go about our daily lives, thinking of the next thing we have to do, worrying about something that happened in the past, we forget that we share this planet with a lot of other beings. We get so stuck in our heads. I’m saying we, but I really mean me. I become self-centered and self-focused. The wars away are so far away and when you are bombarded with the news of bad stuff, you can’t help but become a little hardened to the reciting of statistics and horror. It’s a constant barrage and we need to numb ourselves somewhat in order to function.
People I’ve met in the water aisle of the grocery store and in line buying storm “necessities” have been nicer than usual as we commiserate on the arrival of the impending hurricanes. A lady with her daughter that I met in the water aisle and I shared the last of the water at the store. A man saw me look at my phone and asked for the latest update. Some of the most interesting people-watching can be found in the line at the grocery store. I love to see what people consider essential. It’s kind of like the Burning House site where people photograph the things they would take if their house was burning. Here is my version6784960341_c349d09bce_b
It’s very interesting stuff – shopping carts prior to a hurricane.
We’ve received calls from friends and family on the mainland and lots of concern on Facebook. Facebook is great for keeping people connected. I guess it’s big news on the mainland when Hawaii has bad weather. We do live in a place with perfect weather. It’s wonderful that people have stopped to let us know that we are in their thoughts.
We’re off to fill our gas tank and get eggs and cream. I’ve been avoiding coffee, but I think coffee and hurricanes are a good pairing. Need cream.

Our triangle palm

Our triangle palm

You tower above everything…standing tall in the far corner of our lot in Kaneohe. Your trunk is now thick and rough from years of growing in the sun.
I remember when you arrived. We bought you at Star Garden Shop in Mo’ili’ili – it’s now a Walgreen’s. Triangle palm, you were a hot item on the landscaping circuit and the store manager recommended that we take you home. Your whispy silvery leaves fanned out of the plastic pot you came in and there wasn’t even a hint of a trunk. At twenty-five dollars, you were a high ticket item for us. We got married that year – it was twenty-two years ago.
Slowly your truck grew a bit and the triangle base of your fronds showed themselves for that is how you and your kind were named. We never put you in a fancy pot…your light colored fronds were fancy enough. You stood on a plate on Kris’ ice blue carpet…the carpet that I spilled a jug of oil on sometime before we sold the place.
Two years after you arrived, we purchased a home in Kaneohe. Kris nurtures plants – he truly is a plant whisperer – lucky you. You came along with the other plants he had, some before meeting me. The variegated ficus, a fishtail palm and some other plants came with us as well…I didn’t know their names.
In Kaneohe, you lived indoors at first. You had grown to over five feet in height. For the first year you stayed in the living room on our white Berber carpet. There was a lot of light streaming in from the jalousie windows. The fact that I never purchased any drapes helped let the light in.
Then we brought Latte home. She was my first dog ever, a buff and white Cocker spaniel, and I adored her. She taught me everything I know about unconditional love. And she was the cutest terror ever…racing around the house biting and chewing everything in sight, including us. We had to find a place for you outside to save your life.
In the covered patio we found you a place with the ficus, bird’s nest fern, and mother-in-law’s tongue and you continued to thrive. We added a water garden with white water lilies and lavender water hyacinths to the area.
When you outgrew that patio, Kris found a place for you in a corner garden – you were the focal point. It must have been a good move because lots of little palms sprouted from the seeds that came from the giant pods you produced. You tower at over forty feet. Now many generations of palms from your seeds are all over the island in new homes.
In a year or two we plan to sell the house and move. Sadly, you won’t be able to come with us. Until then, I’ll appreciate seeing the beauty in you and be grateful that I’ve been able to enjoy you for as long as I have.

Maddy and Murphy have enjoyed running around in a grassy park with trails and a fabulous view of Mount Olomana. While we were in Volcano the first part of the year, rain flooded the area and it’s been unusable until a week ago.
The area is not really a park. We’ve heard different stories about it, but I think the land is owned by the nearby golf course and it’s a flood control area. They can’t use it and don’t maintain it.
A few volunteer dog people have worked on cutting and maintaining trails. Lots of people who use the park don’t know this…these kind people do what they do selflessly.
Kris worked on a small part of the trail we’ve called Maddy Lane. She is happiest running crazy in this park. We’re so happy to be able to return to it!

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This day started badly for me…disappointment with the way a meeting went with a group I cherish. Apprehension about facing a much loved family member with fear. With the help of friends and space, things can turn around. I found this poem by Thomas Merton on the On Being blog .

“There are days when I am convinced that Heaven starts already, now, in this ordinary life, just as it is, in all its incompleteness, yet, this is where Heaven starts. See within yourself, if you can find it.
I walked through the field in front of the house, lots of swallows flying, everywhere! Some very near me. It was magical.
We are already one, yet we know it not.”

~Thomas Merton (via crashinglybeautiful)

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Photo from above Hilo. I love flying above Hilo.

One of the best things about making corned beef and cabbage for Saint Patrick’s Day is having the leftovers to make red flannel hash.

Sauté chopped onions, celery and fennel. Then add blanched, cubed potatoes, cooked cubed beets and cut up corned beef. Add herbs to taste.

It’s fantastic served topped with an over easy egg!

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