Our precious aina (land)

Believe it or not, a lot of progress has been made in the last week. The construction tent is gone and we can use our garage. The wall in front of the house is complete and the work table is gone. Now we have a blank canvas to work with.

The Meyer lemon buds are blossoming and smell divine! Fern shoots in different stages are unfolding. During the week, I was in Maui so I missed the first magnolia bloom, BUT this one:

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These are the two views of the front…they don’t look much different than they did last week.

The changes were small and subtle: Magnolia buds, small green oranges, a FIG!!, and the Meyer lemon blossoms have grown.

We had to clear a lot of the forest to build our home. Now that our house is complete, we plan to plant a garden to fill the area and make it healthy again. Here are two views of the area in front of our house.

IMG_3474IMG_3469Pretty barren except for the citrus trees Kris planted a few weeks ago. There’s a navel orange, Meyer lemon, yuzu,, and makrut (better known as kaffir lime). The yuzu came with fruit and I’ve harvested about a dozen. It’s the most fragrant citrus and I don’t think there is a substitute for it. Here is the last of the fruit that was on the tree…you can see new growth and we’re hoping it will be a healthy, happy tree.


The Meyer lemon has tiny buds and I can’t wait for juicy fruit. Meyer lemons are the best.

IMG_3476I just love finding subtle and not so subtle changes. Plants offer that endlessly. Here is the beginning of a fern frond. It will unfurl and become a huge feathery leaf. And this hau tree poked its branches out of the forest and started blooming…its blossoms are brilliant yellow.


And this lichen…so beautiful.


It’s been so long since I posted to my blog that I wasn’t sure if my account was still active. It is. Thank you,!

It’s been so distressful to watch the news on Facebook. I thought I’d try a return to actually writing stuff instead of 140 character or less posts on Twitter and Facebook. I do love Instagram…just photos, no text. 

We moved up to Volcano full time and love being on the Big Island. Murphy has adapted to the rain and will actually go out in it to do his business. Maddy loves running in the rain and all over our lot. It’s been a challenge living and working in our 900 square foot cottage with most of our stuff in storage. The back bedroom that is designated my office is so cold and damp that we can’t really work back there. It’s so humid that we can’t store envelopes there. Kris’ temporary file cabinet (the cardboard kind) has collapsed from the humidity. 

The good far outweighs the challenges. We’re in rural Volcano Village, just five minutes from the entrance to Volcanoes National Park. Everyone on the East side of the island outside of Hilo is on a water catchment system. We rely on rain for our water supply. Because we have no mail delivery or trash pickup, we go to the post office daily and drop trash weekly. It’s quiet here…birds, crickets and an occasional vehicle down our street. We live in a rainforest with hapu’u (native tree ferns) and ohia. Kris has taken out most of the invasive ginger and he’s planted a few anthuriums and cymbidium. I’m able to pick orchids, camelia and anthuriums for the house. Alstroemerias and calla lilies grown in Volcano are always available at the Farmer’s Market on Sunday. 

Hopefully, the house we’re building will be ready soon and we’ll have a nice big office. My kitchen is looking amazing and I’m looking forward to trying out the new stove. More to come.

We’re still traveling a lot for work. Yesterday we returned from a trip to Cabo San Lucas where we worked to support the photography team for a large software company. It was a little strange for us to just be processing photos and not shooting. I enjoyed it, but I think Kris missed the shooting part.

It feels good to write my first post. I missed having this to return to. If you haven’t given up on me and still follow this blog, please comment. I need all the encourgement I can get!

Ohia lehua…beautiful native.

Alstroemeria…one of my favorite flowers and I can get them in Volcano.

Murphy looking out at the rainforest.

I thought I’d end this weekend of Easter, Passover and Buddha’s Birthday (coming up) with one of the last photos taken of the nest of apapane. Kris got this shot yesterday before we left. I wish we could have stayed to see these fledglings take off.
They changed a great deal in the three days we were in Volcano. That’s survival. Gotta be quick for some things in nature.


Ohia blossom

Ohia blossom

In flight.

In flight.

During my morning ritual of coffee and writing, the most amazing sight greeted me. I noticed a clump of small dried branches on an ohia tree near our front door…a nest! The orange yellow beaks demanding food were barely visible. I grabbed a long lens, not to photograph them, but to get a better look.

Three three babies...mouths wide open

Three babies…mouths wide open

Feeding time.

Feeding time.

Two adult birds tending them.

Two adult birds tending them.

We live in a rainforest of native Hawaiian ohia trees and hapu’u on the slopes of Mauna Loa. Most morning red native honey creepers called apapane sing and do whatever these guys do. They sure sound happy!



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.

Kris has an amazing green thumb. I really think it comes from the consistent care and attention he gives to the plants. I guess we all need that, huh? Even though we travel a ton, he makes a huge effort to see that the yard and garden are watered and fed.

We came home to the bounty in our garden. I harvested broccoli, a red bell pepper and limes. I love picking the broccoli when the stems are thin and tender. You can eat the leaves, too. It spoils me and I have a hard time with the thick woody stems you find in the market. The lime tree was dropping limes because it was so full and I love lime or lemon in water…so refreshing!


I love broccoli with garlic, chili and anchovies with pasta and the thin stalks from our garden would be perfect for the dish. I saute the garlic, chili and anchovies in olive oil until the anchovies break up. Then the cut up pieces of broccoli are added until they turn a bright green and are cooked to your liking.Image

I’ve been on a gluten free diet and we tried a corn pasta. The one we tried last night was Mrs. Leeper’s spaghetti made with corn. I love, love, love pasta and eating gluten free pasta is a stretch for me. I haven’t really been willing to experiment with pasta without gluten as I think it’s perfect WITH gluten. If it wasn’t for the fact that the back and hip pain that was waking me in the middle of the night is gone, I would not be continuing this diet.

Mrs. Leeper’s was very chewy. The package said 8-9 minutes and I started checking it at 7. At 7 minutes, I couldn’t bite into the pasta. It was beyond chewey.¬† At 9 minutes the pasta was cooked and al dente. The texture was a lot chewier than pasta made with wheat, but it was passable. We’ll keep experimenting.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m in love with my iPhone…really it’s the iPhone camera. I use my Canon 5D Mark II for jobs, but in between jobs, my go-to camera is the one that is built into my iPhone. I find it really versatile. Okay, it lacks the lens options for telephoto and macro and in low light, the image quality is terrible. But it shines in many ways. The biggest thing about the iPhone is that I always have it with me so I can capture those moments that catch my eye. The quality of the digital file is great and I’ve been able to make prints as large as 15×15 that I’ve been really happy with. The endless number of apps to play with make it fun and a person can try limitless numbers of versions on one image with them.

Because I always have the iPhone with me, I’ve been able to keep a sort of loose journal. The Photos app automatically sorts the photos into events by date which makes it easy to view my photo journal. I import my photos directly from the phone into a Lightroom catalog set and leave it there organized by date. Now I can view all the photos taken on my iPhone by date.

Kat Sloma of KatEye Studio hosts a monthly Photo-Heart Connection event where people post an image they took the previous month that speaks to their heart-eye. I thought I’d take off on that by sharing my favorite photos taken in September since I don’t have the discipline to narrow it down to one…what about the really cute one of Murphy or the cool app treatment on that one or that special spot that I want to share?

Sooooo…here they are…my September favorites.

This was taken in a courtyard at the Honolulu Museum of Art one day when I was there for lunch. I will always have a hard time calling it by its new name….it will always be the Academy of Arts to me.Image

We take Murphy and Maddy for a walk in the neighborhood every morning. Our home is in an old subdivision of track homes where I’ve lived most of my life.


I never, ever tire of waking up to the magnificent Koolaus every morning. Even the telephone wires and rooftops, don’t obscure it’s incredible beauty. We are always in its shadow.Image


Then there’s the ever cute Murphy, cocker spaniel. It’s my blog and I can be as sappy as I want.Image


To try to solve the problem of the lack of lens options, I ordered the PhotoJojo set of three lenses. There are two versions of iPhonelenses that I know of. One is the Photojojo set and the other is the Olloclip. I didn’t want a piece that mounted on the phone so I chose the Photojojo version. It comes with a wide angle,/macro, fish-eye, and telephoto lenses. It’s a lot of small parts – easy to lose (especially for me).

FisheyeMurph-8589.jpgI’ve always wanted an extreme fish-eye lens and this is fun to play with. Here’s a shot of the fountain at the Four Seasons Wailea.

FisheyeFSW-8775.jpgI went out of my comfort zone to cover a group on a horseback ride at Mendes Ranch in Maui. It’s kinda scary when the horse knows you haven’t got a clue. But I got this great shot of my horse, Capone and the view.


After Maui, I moved on to a job on the Kona coast at the Four Seasons Hualalai. I got this shot of the wiliwili tree in bloom and spoke to the landscape guy about their efforts to save the wiliwili trees on property. They are endangered…almost extinct because they are being attacked by a wasp from Africa.


I’ve had a ton of fun with an app called ImageBlender that allows you to blend two images in layers and adjust the opacity to your liking. Here are two images I played with.

InstaEffect-8649 ImageBlender-8655.jpgIf you have favorite apps on your iPhone, please share them. Our support really helps the developers of these apps.