Earthquakes herald the dragon year

Happy Year of the Dragon! I’m sharing my Mauna Loa photo one more time here, since this is the start of dragon year.

This was taken on my iPhone XS on 11/29/22. A day or two later a friend asked for one or two eruption photos to share with her friend. Almost two weeks later my friend shared that she had also showed the photos to Reverend Jiko at Daifukuji, and Reverend Jiko saw a dragon. Sure enough! I didn’t even see it when I took the photo, or when I looked at the photo. It took others to help me see.

Jumping forward to now … here are a few photos of the cherry blossoms at Daifukuji taken yesterday, 2/9/24. The blossoms’ ephemeral beauty represent the fleeting, impermanent nature of life.

This was just about a half an hour before the 10:06 am earthquake. The group that cleans the temple and grounds on Friday were gathered in the social hall, about to enjoy late morning snacks together. A big shake happened. Then another one, lasting longer.

The USGS information statement said, “a magnitude-5.7 earthquake occurred 2 km (1.25 mi) southwest of Pāhala on the Island of Hawaiʻi at a depth of 37 km (23 mi) below sea level. The earthquake had no apparent impact on either Mauna Loa or Kīlauea volcanoes. Numerous aftershocks have been felt and are expected to continue. This earthquake is likely associated with lithospheric flexure caused by the weight of the Hawaiian Islands on the oceanic lithosphere. “

It was longer than a “usual earthquake” and a little stronger, but nothing alarming. Smaller ones centered closer by can feel similarly. No known damage at the temple or at home/farm. Just a few hanging picture frames were a bit skewed. That’s not to say there wasn’t damage elsewhere, closer to the epicenter. It seems that damage was minimal, however.

I wish you all good dragon power this year!

Up a creek without a paddle

I hail from California and Bea still lives there, so I’ve been paying attention to the atmospheric rivers that have been happening. Some excerpts from the National Oceanic Service, “Atmospheric rivers are narrow regions in the atmosphere that transport much of the moisture from the tropics to northern latitudes. … A well-known example of a strong atmospheric river is called the “Pineapple Express” because moisture builds up in the tropical Pacific around Hawaii and can wallop the U.S. and Canada’s West Coasts with heavy rainfall and snow.”

Weather … from us to you folks out there on the west coast. Take appropriate precautions and stay safe. Bea shared that she’s digging a ditch again (again??!!) to direct any potentially flooding backyard water away from the living room. This lady in her 80’s is digging a ditch!

This reminds me to share this amazing story (in the February newsletter from Daifukuji) of two centenarian friends who shared a friendship over 90 years and recently passed away just one day apart. Daifukuji is a participating organization in the Blue Zones Project. This article, “Hawai’i Has the Longest Life Expectancy in the Nation, But Not for Everyone” touches on some of the nuances to Hawaiian life expectancy.

Changing subjects, many months ago a friend sent an odd request via email. A friend of his was looking for other countries’ and cultures’ ways of expressing “Up a creek without a paddle.” The meaning is “someone is in a difficult situation, with no way of getting out of it.” He was interested if Hawaiians or Norwegians had similar expressions.

Idiomatic expressions can be very amusing. A transplanted French-speaking Swiss friend on the East Coast once told me about the little animal, the log, in the back of his wooded backyard. I was so confused. Eventually we discovered the confusion came from “sleep like a log” and the French idiom, “dormir comme un loir.” A loir is apparently a large European dormouse, a rodent. log ≠ loir.

And then there’s “take the bull by the horns,” meaning to deal with a difficult situation in a direct and confident manner. Hubby says the Norwegian equivalent, translated, is “grab the lion by its tail and swing it.” Hmmm… now this is interesting. After I failed to find anything to confirm this, and I just double-checked with him, NOW he said, “You’re looking for an official Norwegian saying, right? Not just mine.” He’s still researching and hasn’t yet answered. All these many years I thought it WAS an “official” idiom.

I’m not native Hawaiian, but I love the proverbs. The Hawaiian proverbs tend to be encouraging, inspirational, motivating, and community-based. I couldn’t find any with the sentiment “up a creek without a paddle,” which is basically just a resigned observation. The Hawaiians tell you how to be prepared, brave, persist, etc., so you won’t have to end up expressing such a paddle-less creek sentiment.

I then had a fun exchange with a Hawaiian friend, and she kept sharing by text all kinds of great proverbs from an out-of-print book she has. But none quite matched. In the end she made her own, “When we no have paddle, gotta use da hands or swim um.” So even she was just trying to solve the problem, encourage and persist, not just remark, “uh oh. I’m in a tough situation.”

To the theme of optimism, I’ll close by sharing two articles. This is an excellent article I read from the Hawai’i Seed Growers Network, “Hawaii’s Home Gardeners Can Adapt to a Changing Climate by Increasing Resiliency.” And this article talks about sustainable coffee in agroforestry.

I’m sure some of you realize that I left you hanging about the Hubby bull/lion idiom. He did finally get back to me. “I can’t find it. Maybe it’s just an expression that I use.” 😵

People, we have a holiday lighted boat parade!

I did not blog last week because I was participating in the Rohatsu sesshin, sometimes called a Zen retreat, a time of intense meditation in celebration of Buddha’s enlightenment. Here, Dec. 1-8 we meditated daily at 6-7 am and 6-7 pm (not too intense). I try to pare things down to basics for the week. I tended to our coffee business, and tried to keep to just one activity in the day — a swim, yoga session, or walk. Eating and cooking take up a surprising amount of time. I’d like to be able to turn off the need to eat sometimes. No TV, no stereo. I didn’t read online news. And no superfluous usage of electronic devices.

I had one major unanticipated deviation, since my friend and I somehow spontaneously decided to use our cat as an accent to some yoga poses. It was quite amusing. It was another friend’s birthday, so I sent her a shot to go along with a happy birthday wish. It turns out she and her husband did goat yoga (!) that day, so she sent photos. We then had to try and mimic those. A cat is not a goat, though. Anyway, I had to post some shots on our cat’s Instagram page. Not quite in the spirit of the retreat, but I had to seize the opportunity since my good friend was visiting only for the duration of the retreat. Plotting out poses and photo shots and managing Mio’s willingness and attitude was great fun.

It’s not quite feasible to put the coffee business on hold in the first week of December. A Norwegian customer (no, not family) already put in his order in September (!) before we had coffee. In a previous year he had bad luck with shipping (both here and there) and Customs, so he wanted to get it ordered ASAP. He contacted me by email with a subject line, “the dark tastes of inner earth.” Norwegians, based on some of the movies and music videos I’ve seen, reference the old myths and can come across with an epic, dramatic, and mythological worldview. Ha! Kind of reminds me of Hawai’i, myths and living earth.

In any case, mahalo nui loa to so many of you for all your coffee orders. I know many of you share coffee as gifts. I am truly grateful.

After life on hold for a week, it’s back to the holiday season. Yesterday late afternoon we went down to Kailua for some of the festivities. Nāpua Greig, five-time time Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award winner, from Maui gave a free performance for an hour. She has a fabulous voice, and she has a fun personality. There were several performances by talented dancers of various ages from two of our local hālaus.

After that, there was the eighth annual lighted boat parade. Last year, the first since COVID, there were five boats and one canoe. I thought there’d be more this year, but there were four boats and one canoe. Fewer than last year! I think there are two categories — boats and human-powered (canoe, kayak, paddleboard), and they give prizes three deep. The best boat gets $1000, and the best human-powered gets $200 or $300. We learned that from the KAPA radio DJ announcer.

There were so few participants, it made you feel and act kind of silly. You wanted to whoop it up. It was supposed to start at 6:00, but they started at 6:15, so it’d be a little darker for the entries to make their two loops near the pier. The KAPA DJ did a great job working the audience and sharing her humorous pidgin commentary.

Talking to people at the pier this morning, many people didn’t even know the event was going on. I could only find this little blurb about registering for the parade, and there’s no mention in it of a contest:

The Kailua Village Business Improvement District invites sailboats, powerboats, canoes and kayaks to be a part of the festive holiday celebration.

Registered boats and canoes line up near Kailua Pier and wind their way around Kailua Bay. Spectators can view the parade of lighted boats from anywhere in the village, including the seawall.  To register to be part of the parade, email or call 808-936-9202. Entries are due by Dec. 5.

Well, there’s an awareness and promotion problem. Those in the know, know, (all five of them) but others … ???? If you’re local and have a boat or friends/family with a boat, think about it for next year. Apparently, you can register as late as one week prior.

Delicious yet invasive plants; luxury yacht; coffee & sleep

We are back on island. We brought some dried local fruit and some frozen lychee to Mom. But we ate a lot of fresh tropical fruit at Mom’s, grown by Mom. She’s a lifetime member of the California Rare Fruit Growers. I found this excerpt in their Our Roots page: “CRFG considers rare fruits to include the unusual and unappreciated, fruits difficult to grow by reason of climate along with extraordinary and superior forms of conventional, temperate zone fruits.”

Her strawberry guava trees, one red and one yellow, had a lot of ripe fruit. They were about 1 inch big. They are so delicious and perishable, so it might not be easy to find in stores in case you’re wanting to try them. I kept wavering whether I liked the red or the yellow better. I know they’d grow well here in Kona. They’d grow too well, and that’s the problem. They’re one of the worst trees to grow here. That’s why I had to enjoy them in California. This is the entry for strawberry guava on plantpono.

If you live in Hawai’i and don’t know about the plantpono website, bookmark it. I always check it before accepting any plant. There have been various fruits, flowers, plants good for tea that I’ve not bought nor accepted as gifts because they’re invasive.

On another note, this super luxury yacht has been anchored below us, gone maybe a few days, for almost two weeks. It’s strange to see what sort of looks like a lighted Christmas tree out the window at night. You do a double take, because our night ocean view is mostly dark, with just a few known property lights between us and the ocean. With our binoculars we can see it has a helicopter pad on it. Someone on NextDoor shared this link about the $100M yacht Anawa. Hubby and I were hypothesizing why they’ve anchored there. It’s not like we often (ever?) see parked yachts there. We guess that if they do go on shore by smaller watercraft, maybe they use Keauhou Bay, which isn’t too far north. There’s a lot of undeveloped land between us and the ocean, so they shouldn’t have shoreline hotel guests or condo owners using their telescopes and binoculars like paparazzi. They live different lives.

I’ll end with sharing a few coffee-related articles:

I recently browsed this article about, “A study involving hundreds [of] men working in financial trading suggests an interdependency between drinking alcohol and caffeinated coffee can develop in order to self-regulate sleep.”  This other article talks about coffee or a nap making up for sleep deprivation.

And one more article to share, about music and coffee making brains work better. Make sure and drink a cuppa if you decide to read the full study link they provide at the end.

You won’t be the only gaijin in Japan

We have been on vacation. I just skimmed my last post. What a wild one. Crazy pig. That story ended up in our local paper a few days after my post. Somehow I suspect (was told that?) the reporter might have read my blog post before getting more details for her article. Now I am jet-lagged, I feel subdued, and I can’t motivate myself to do much on my to-do list. I’m in a different mental place now for a variety of reasons, not to be elaborated on here.

While we were gone, another big coffee picking effort happened. We returned and there are already raisins (cherry that missed getting picked and have now turned black), and there are more berries turning red. In 1-3 weeks we will probably have our season’s first green coffee to be roasted.

Over the past month we have been harvesting a lot of Japanese pumpkins, kabocha, from two main plants, one was from our Master Gardener seedling experiment and the other is our neighbor’s (the ‘ulu co’op), part of whose vine is well onto our property. We aren’t sure if the co’op even intentionally planted their kabocha.

We gave one to visiting friends from California who had never eaten one. They had very low expectations as they hacked away at it, cutting it, and trying to get the skin off. It was so brittle and hard, they didn’t think it’d be possible for it to be tasty. They loved it and were surprised at all the flavor. They made a soup with half, and they roasted the other half. By the way, you can eat the skin. It’s nutritious, and kabocha cooking prep is a lot easier if you leave it on.

We recently returned from Japan. We ate a lot of amazing food (including quite a few dishes with kabocha, a fall season ingredient). Bea and Bro (my bro, not hers) farm-, house- and cat-sat while we were gone. Interestingly, Bea noted daily rainfall and the coffee crew’s activity almost exactly the way I do on a calendar, and I hadn’t even shown her my calendar. Is it in the genes, or had I learned it from her? While we were away, unlike with previous house-sitters, I’d get pictures of plants instead of the cat. I had to ask for a cat photo. Ha! Plants thrive under Bea’s care.

It has been 21 years since I’ve been to Japan; it was Hubby’s first time. It was a totally different experience now that there are cell phones, navigation apps, translation apps, a weak yen, and now that I’m older and have more money. I have all kinds of thoughts and reflections, but that’s not for this blog. We saw many Doutor coffee shops, what I call the Starbucks of Japan. There were also Starbucks and Tully’s (also born in Seattle) coffee shops.

My friend had prepared me, but I saw first-hand that many Japanese have a fascination for Hawai’i. One of the restaurants at our hotel was decorated in a Hawaiian theme. I also saw a big fascination with Halloween there and elsewhere.

Today it is estimated there are nearly 2 million people dancing hula in Japan – a figure greater than the entire population of Hawaiʻi. 

The quote above is from Lehua Films who created a documentary, Tokyo Hula, which I still haven’t seen. “In TOKYO HULA, an examination of tourism, economics, and a love for all things Hawaiian fueling this cultural phenomenon is revealed by focusing on the personal stories of Japanese sensei who have started their own schools and Hawaiian kumu hula who are now living and teaching in Japan.”

The current population of Japan in 2023 is 123,294,513. With the weak yen and pent-up travel demand, there are a lot of tourists now, too. It’s crowded. Coming from the Big Island, I got overwhelmed and over-stimulated with the big city of Honolulu. Tokyo was out of this world. I looked up some numbers for 2022 or 2023. Maybe they aren’t exactly correct, but it gives you an idea. This is population density in inhabitants per square mile:

Big Island49.8
Hawai’i state221

Hubby likes taking photos of people taking photos. He often takes pictures of tourists here in Kona, all lined up taking their sunset photos. Here are a few showing a famous temple in Kyoto and one of the lanes leading into it. The people in kimonos aren’t “real” geisha/geiko. They’re just Japanese and foreign tourists who rent kimonos to stroll around town and take selfies or have photos taken of themselves. Renting kimonos is a big thing.

I’ll close with one photo showing the start of the fall colors. We were there prior to the peak. I guess certain areas of Japan will be even more crowded in the next weeks.

The Kona Coffee Cultural Festival starts next week on November 3. I WILL get back to more coffee-centric writing…