The definition of hyphenated

The definition of hyphenated according to Merriam-Websterof, relating to, or being an individual or unit of mixed or diverse background or composition.

Since the pandemic, for various reasons, off-island family hadn’t visited until January. My sister-in-law and husband from north of the Arctic Circle arrived a few days after Bea & braddah (mine, not Bea’s) departed. It was quite some effort for the in-laws to come from their home to here, involving five airports and two hotel stays over two days. Norway is 11 hours ahead of us during winter (12 in summer), and when they left they had daylight approximately from 9am-3pm. Days rapidly get longer until the point where they have days with 24 hours of daylight. [Have you seen the psychological thriller movie “Insomnia?” There’s the original 1997 Norwegian film and an American remake in 2002. The Norwegian film ended with a little more ambiguity, which I preferred. ]

Contrast a place with the year ranging from days of all darkness to days of all daylight, to Hawai’i. We don’t observe daylight savings time, and the longest day in June is about 13 hours and shortest day in December is about 11 hours. Weather in those parts might range from 26-61F, and here it ranges 68-87F.

The differences seem great. But their location in Norway and Hawai’i both have dramatic coastal nature and a culture around fishing. There are some beaches in Northern Norway that look amazingly beautiful on a sunny summer day. Beaches with no or few people, sparkly turquoise, clean water, white sand and … very cold water, maybe 59F in the summer. God’s joke on Norway. I laugh because you often can identify the local swimmers here in the winter since they’re the ones wearing wetsuits (the ocean temperature is around 77F in the winter, 80F in the fall).

Anyway, back to here and now … we were fortunate to be able to visit the Doutor property again (see last week’s writeup), thanks to Reiko and her friend. Reiko even presented her friend with her craft creation. That’s when I realized that basket was considerably larger than I had imagined. I thought it was about 10 inches high from the photo in the middle. That’s the problem with photos of a single object with nothing to give it perspective.

Another interesting part of being friends with Reiko, who’s familiar with Japanese, American, and Hawaiian culture, is she’ll occasionally mention things I hadn’t thought of. My understanding of Japanese and Japanese-American culture is rooted in when my great-grandparents immigrated and how their offspring grew up. “Hawaiian” culture (in the general sense, not ethnically-Hawaiian culture) is so heavily influenced by all its immigrants, sometimes I don’t know if a word’s root is based on Japanese, Japanese-Hawaiian, or Hawaiian pidgin. It’s not the same culture or language as Japanese who immigrate now. And many who immigrated three generations ago were farm workers, not, e.g., a Japanese engineer who came here for graduate school and/or high tech work.

For example, take the word kotonk. It’s not Japanese. It seems the word’s origin came from WWII times, when the Hawaiian Japanese Americans (buddhaheads) were distinguishing themselves from mainland Japanese Americans (kotonks). I just found an article “Kotonks & Buddhaheads” that’s very close to my background, except I have a Chinese American layer on my story, too.

US immigration is fascinating. A friend of ours with Norwegian roots grew up celebrating Christmas Eve with lutefisk (lute=lye, fisk=fish, dried cod rehydrated in lye, think Drano) and homemade lefse (soft Norwegian flatbread often made of potatoes, tortilla-ish). Her relatives who immigrated had to make lefse if they wanted that staple from the mother country. Rune grew up buying lefse. I think it’s similar in that most Americans wouldn’t think of making tortillas when good ones can so easily be found at the store. But probably the first Mexican immigrants made them.

I truly digress. This is a coffee farm. We grow and sell coffee. I’m a kotonk, or half kotonk. For me, moving here for this endeavor was always about so much more than “just” coffee. I think that larger story and what immigration means is amplified right now because of these family visits. Hubby is himself an immigrant and recent citizen, since Norway finally allowed dual citizenship. And when Mom visited, old stories came out, especially when we got together with the ‘ohana. Mom’s big brother, Number One Son, UH to me, lived and worked in California all his working life before retiring here. He will have a milestone birthday next year. My cousins shared a funny story about our deceased aunt (not my cousins’ mother), who was the youngest of the six kids, 18 years younger than UH. UH was going to college at UH in O’ahu and he had come home for vacation or something. Our aunty, a youngster at the time, told her mom, “There’s a man at the door.” … “That’s your brother!”

Fiftieth Kona Coffee Cultural Festival

“For the first time in fifty years, the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival is celebrating Kona’s famous roast in a whole new way. This year, the Festival brings the community together with in-person events that have their own charm but also in keeping with the times, a brand new online experience.” — from the paper booklet for this year’s festival.

We picked up the booklet, a hardback coffee cookbook, collectible button and several pairs of lauhala slippers at the iconic Kimura Lauhala Shop in Holualoa. Lauhala slippers were a staple at Grandma and Grandpa’s house for anyone to put on when they were inside the house. Indoor slippahs. They’re great to wear around the house; they keep your feet cool and clean. A friend who grew up on the East Coast always laughed when we said slippers in a beach context. To him, they’re the furry, frumpy house slippers you wear for warmth and comfort. I guess that’d be pantoffeln in German or tøfler in Norwegian.

Last year, 2020, should have been the big 50th celebration for the festival. This button is a 2020 collectible for the festival that didn’t happen. The festival got postponed to this year. We know how last year and this year have gone and why. I like the positive spin as to the reason for offering blended events: “In keeping with the times.” I am a fan of in-person events, as I’ve shared here several times. But I can still recognize that virtual and online events have their advantages, too, and can reach a different audience or the usual audience in a different way.

Maybe you can’t make it to Kona, but maybe you can still participate in some events that appeal to you. My favorite events are the coffee tasting and stroll in Holualoa village and the Ho’olaule’a, a Hawaiian celebration or festival, where there’s dancing, food, leis, and a large gathering of people. Those can’t really be virtual. I’ve attended a few Zoom celebrations and I find them so awkward. They’re especially so if the attendees don’t necessarily know each other. I appreciate people’s attempts to work with the medium and do what they can. Milling around, making small talk and perhaps engaging more with a few individuals is really difficult (impossible?) to replicate virtually. I find it so awkward and socially painful.

Another change to the festival is that it doesn’t last so long. It’s only November 4-7. It used to be ten days long, which I felt was too spread out.

A coffee competition is part of the festival. Someday I’d like to enter our coffee. This isn’t the year. There’s a virtual class on cupping, what the professionals do to rate different coffees as objectively as possible. This article offers a nice overview or coffee cupping guide. (Beware, it has a lot of embedded ads).

We’ve had our coffee professionally cupped for our own information, and we plan to do it again another year/season to see what has changed. This article talks about what producers can learn from having their coffee cupped.

And to throw in one more educational link, here’s an article about the evolution of the coffee tasters flavor wheel.

The Moral of the Princess and the Pea(berry)

We just roasted peaberry this morning, so peaberry was on my mind. Peaberry is about 5% of our harvest. When I looked over my list of possible blog topics and reference articles I’ve saved up, I saw this peaberry myths and the reality article from the Perfect Daily Grind that I meant to share. It brings up a few more nuances I haven’t mentioned in other posts relating to peaberry. And then my blog title just sprung to mind based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. Somehow, in my mind, they relate.

A young woman’s credentials (claim of royalty) are tested by her sensitivity (to a pea under a stack of mattresses).

What’s the moral of the fairy tale? One blogger said: “Perhaps the fairy tale is intended to be a mockery of those occupying a comfortable position in society, whether royal or aristocratic, and their over-sensitivity to small details which the great unwashed (i.e. the rest of us) don’t have time even to notice, let alone be bothered by.”  … “perhaps ‘The Princess and the Pea’ is meant to ridicule those people who are incapable of understanding true suffering. This is seen as a sign of one’s nobility and good breeding …”

The Wikipedia entry included a commentary, “… Andersen “never tired of glorifying the sensitive nature of an elite class of people.”

Third wave, specialty coffee is sort of elitist. For those who drink this quality coffee, it’s a small luxury. Compared to my grandparents who labored hard with Kona coffee and drank Folgers instant, I’m a coffee snob. But we are far away from Californian coffee at $200+/pound.

It’s interesting to reflect how attitudes change. My mom shared that in the old days people thought of peaberry as “kuzu,” abnormal rubbish coffee. The size was smaller and there was only one bean in the berry. UH (Uncle Harold) thinks it’s a modern day marketing gimmick to claim special flavor of peaberry coffee beans. You’ll have to try peaberry for yourself. If there’s a market for it, simply because of its relative scarcity, peaberry will command a higher price.

It reminds me of the changing attitudes about lobster. In the 1800’s & earlier, these crawling, bottom-dwellers were plentiful and considered “the cockroach of the sea.” They were fed to servants, migrants and prisoners.  Indentured servants had contracts stating that they wouldn’t be served lobster more than three times in a week. Lobster itself hasn’t really changed over time, but rather attitudes and perceptions of people towards lobster have morphed. Nowadays, it’s one of the most expensive food items and you might enjoy it on special occasions. 

At this point I have to make a shout out for Kona Cold Lobsters. Years ago our good friend introduced them to us by bringing lobsters (and abalone and kanpachi) for us to share with the in-laws. We discovered one live lobster tried to make a run for it in the fridge. Don’t be misled by the company name to think Kona has its own native lobsters. You can visit their website and learn their story. We actually like to get oysters and kanpachi there rather than posh sea cockroaches. I like one of the “junk” cuts best — the kanpachi kama (collar).

So, peaberry, fairy tales, lobster, and food trends and culture. It is truly amazing where one’s thoughts can go, just starting from coffee.

Meandering Back in Time, Along Our Mamalahoa Kona Heritage Corridor

For two years I have been wanting to write a post on this “ten mile trip back to Old Hawai’i, where coffee farms and nature flourish on the cool mauka hillside.” The signs have been in place designating this byway for years. I found this old blog post from 2009 sharing that this was Hawaii state’s first scenic byway. It did go on to become a national scenic byway.

Bea’s Knees Farm is about half a mile north of this, on the makai (ocean) side of the road.

For a while there were brochures available detailing its sights and significance; maybe there still are. I recall last seeing them at Kimura’s Lauhala Shop in Holualoa. In this day and age, if there’s a brochure available, surely that is also available online in PDF format, or there’s a website for whoever produced the brochure. I wanted this post to link to that. But I couldn’t find it, so I thought I’d wait and check again later. But I still can’t find the brochure online. So I’ve taken photos of it and included them here.

Bea’s Knees Farm is in the south section of this heritage corridor (the bottom of the bottom half of the map), where Honalo junction, more commonly referred to as Teshima junction, is. This is the Y-type junction where many a tourist coming from the south (e.g., Kealakekua, Honaunau or Volcano) has unintentionally traveled our corridor because they went straight instead of taking the curve and remaining on the main Belt Road.

This junction, looking in the south direction from the byway sign, is famous to locals because of Teshima restaurant, the red Daifukuji buddhist temple, and the utility pole. There have been many collisions, injuries, and two fatalities in the past seven years at or near this utility pole. Just last Thursday, they replaced the wooden utility pole with a giant, metal pole. It almost seems to say, “try and bring THIS down!”

I think this junction keeps UH (Uncle Harold) alive. Improving safety and traffic flow here is his pet cause. He used to work for the California Dept. of Transportation before returning to his roots in Kona. He has written letters to the editor for our local paper, attended many meetings and provided timely comments (& encouraged the ‘ohana to comment) to the Hawaii Dept. of Transportation. He knows how state bureaucracy works.

Today I’ll close with a scene seen on the north end of this byway, as we were heading south. Pau hana. Finish work. End of a productive work day on Friday. Each bag holds roughly 100-150 pounds of coffee cherry.

A Cup of Coffee Memories


The coffee harvesting season mandated that the summer vacation for Kona schools coincided with the “coffee picking season,” to the chagrin of all the students whose parents were farmers. All family members were depended upon to harvest the crop. August, September, and October were the endless coffee picking days of summer. So, we became very astute at finding excuses to steal away a few hours to have fun. But our parents were even more astute to not fall for the daily ploy to escape the work. However, there was one guarantee that never failed to grant our great escape — it rained often during the coffee season! Looking back to those young-kid-days brings back such pleasant memories of family members working together to advance the family economics and fellowship that strengthened the ties that have bonded each family for generations.

“Uncle Ray”

This is an old postcard from United Airlines. The postcard description on the back says, “School vacations coincide with harvests so the youngsters can help to pick coffee beans.”