Peace in my heart, that’s where it starts. With pigs, too?

The coffee and pig news first, then the ramblings.

We finally had the majority of our coffee from the past season dry milled. This was Bea’s Knees Farm’s fourth season. So far, the yield had been improving every year. This past year, we were at 84% of the previous season’s green coffee yield. I attribute it to two very dry months in a row, some picking labor issues, and coffee leaf rust.

Pigs … we had a reliable group of three, not so little, pigs regularly visiting for months. But recently I was commenting to hubby that the pigs are noticeably getting larger; we can see it on the cameras. But hubby later surmised that there’s a new group visiting, and one pig is particularly big. Then he saw two very young, hamster-sized piglets. And one evening we saw nine pigs of various sizes at once. So, steady-state has changed. The pigs are more destructive. Humans are still winning with the kitchen compost Earth Machine. Yay, humans! Last week I woke up in the middle of the night to pig squealing when hubby was apparently awake and throwing rocks from the lānai. His aim is improving with all the practice he gets.

Bea (Mom) must be getting weary of my pig complaints or feels sorry for us. She has even inquired about the cost for an electric fence, generously offering to help pay for it. It’s not the cost (well, we don’t know what that is), but getting over the inertia and taking action. In many situations I reflect on intention, motivation, and implementation. What does it take to just do it? I just saw a 4th grade classroom’s illustrated papers posted outside their room on the theme of procrastination. They mostly wrote about cooking, doing laundry, and pet care. Wow, the kids start young with household chores.

Changing subjects … every once in a while I look on Craigslist for various things like plants and items I don’t mind buying used. Yesterday I noticed that Happy Heart Kona is selling their entire cafe and brand! I’ve always appreciated the creativity and energy the cafe emanates. I laugh at the menu where they say, “Everything on our menu is dairy-free & vegan, except for the meat!” (That’s also on their website.) Their food is good, there’s a great vibe at the place, and they’re nice people who believe in sourcing locally. I was happy when they opened in the middle of COVID; it was such an optimistic action. Now they’re selling (moving to the mainland) less than a year from opening.

There’s another local cafe, HiCO, different vibe, that’s “opening soon” in Kealakekua, across from the Pineapple Park Hostel and CarQuest Auto Parts store. The existing cafe is in Kailua near Umeke’s and the Kona Brewing Company. It appears this new one will have a drive-through lane. I imagine that’ll be popular. I hope the sit-down cafe part will be inviting and thrive. That should help our collective creativity, right? (see last week’s blog post).

A cafe next to the Aloha Theatre in Kainaliu showed signs of activity months ago, and I was hopeful something new would open. New white tables and chairs, a cafe bar, but it seems to have stalled. Decades ago, before streaming, before VCR tapes, I remember going to see Japanese films with English supertitles on the big screen in that theater with my aunty.

Nearby Kaya’s cafe is ever-popular. There’s live music at times and plenty of parking. I still haven’t scored a Sunday cinnamon roll.

I just like to see local businesses do well. Here, and anywhere. They support community, in-person. I think it’s great we have online communities and possibilities to connect and relate, but live, real-time, person-to-person interactions are basic and special.

I read this article about the history of coffee cake, which included a recipe. Instead of filing the recipe away, intending to make it some day (possibly never), this is an example of what weird thing it takes for me to implement an intention. (1) The recipe called for buttermilk and we actually have buttermilk, and (2) I had a group of people I could share the cake with. The coffee cake was good enough, but didn’t meet my expectations from the article. I did skip the coffee glaze, however, since the cake already seemed sweet enough without it. I brought it to share after weekly temple cleaning. The food sharing ended during COVID but finally restarted just in April, although it has morphed into a simpler affair. People joke that they clean the temple for the food. Ah, community.

A peace ceremony was held Saturday at Daifukuji Temple, to dedicate the new peace pole (donated by the Rotary Club of Kona Sunrise), plaque, and cranes and pray for peace in our families, in our communities, and in our world.

The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see

— Gilbert K. Chesterton

I heard on the radio today that visitor arrivals are back to pre-pandemic levels. I tried to find a website that substantiates that, but the relevant governmental website isn’t coming up today for some reason. More and more it feels like life is getting closer to “normal,” pre-COVID. Masks are no longer mandated indoors, outdoors, or even on most planes (suddenly), and the Hawai’i Safe Travels program has ended.

It’s an unusual situation to live in a place that regularly has a lot of tourists. You always see visitors from elsewhere. Most tend to be concentrated at certain places and sights. Locals enjoy many of those places, too. I try to enjoy popular places, here and in places where I’m a vacationing visitor, at “off” times — maybe off-season or non-peak times like dawn or dusk. It feels really special to be the only ones on a trail at Volcanoes National Park at dawn, hearing only bird song and wind blowing through the trees. Hawai’i also has (human) winter birds, people who live here during the cold months of wherever else they live. There are people with second homes here who regularly visit, frequently enough that they’re assumed to be local.

Hubby and I ate at a restaurant in Waikoloa one time, and when the server brought us our check she said, “Enjoy your vacation.” There are certain places where we’re regularly asked where we’re from. Now? Where we last lived? Or where we were born and raised? Someone sees you, hears your accent, and quickly wants to make broad generalizations/conclusions about you. At a shave ice place I happened to be wearing my Kamehameha Schools t-shirt that has “Ho’ōmāka’ika’i” in big font, so the lady assumed we qualified for the kamaʻāina (Hawaii residents) discount. I didn’t even know they offered one. My cousin felt miffed since she has shopped at Waikoloa many times over many years, and one time was offered a kamaʻāina discount, whereupon she realized some stores were even offering such a thing. Had she been missing out up to then?

We all make assumptions. We have to. Take something neutral, like citrus here in Hawai’i. There are green skinned citrus that are lemons, not limes. There are yellow-skinned limes. There are orange-skinned lemons. Numerous times I’ve cut a citrus expecting one thing and smelling another. If we remember it’s human nature to jump to conclusions, when we find ourselves experiencing negative feelings about others, maybe we can cut them some slack.

An article I read a while ago says “unplanned interactions with close friends, casual acquaintances and complete strangers” can be a catalyst for creative thinking. “Not Spending Time at Coffee Shops Can Drain Our Collective Creativity.” For various non-COVID-related reasons, we haven’t been hanging out at any cafes lately. Maybe that’s why I’m not creative. Ha ha.

I’m not as creative as I’d like to be, but I’m appreciative of others’ creativity. One friend, a regular customer, got into making latte art at home during the pandemic, and now his wife is experimenting, too. They shared some of their recent creations made with our coffee and whole milk just for this post. Thank you! Maybe it’s something you’d be inspired to do. There’s a longer history to latte art than I realized.

I love unplanned interactions, but I’m not always putting myself in situations to increase that likelihood. Time for us all to poke our heads out of our snail and honu shells and get out there. And be a traveler, not a tourist.

Bread, booze, liqueur, and the microwave

Today, I’m just sharing links of topics I found interesting. Coincidentally, these are all from Perfect Daily Grind.

Do you enjoy toast with your morning coffee? Artisan bread complements specialty coffee in various ways. This article addresses How are artisan bread and specialty coffee linked?

Then there’s bread and cheese paired with wine. In the specialty coffee world, we often compare growing coffee to concepts people might be familiar with from the wine world. This article fleshes that out, including whiskey, too. Comparing coffee and alcohol production.

If wine or whiskey aren’t your thing, maybe making your own coffee liqueur appeals to your creativity. Make your own coffee liqueur at home.

Maybe none of that is interesting. Do you tend to get busy after making your cup of coffee and then you microwave it to warm it up? Maybe you feel like going into the weeds on the topic, Should you microwave coffee? (You can go to the end for the summary).

Beas like to buzz by plants

Bea safely returned home. She arrived a bit before midnight, and already the next morning she ran two miles at 5:30AM (that’s 3:30AM Hawaii time!), like she usually does every morning she doesn’t hike. I think she was eager to return to her usual routines, but I didn’t expect her to start back that quickly.

While she was here, I tried to make outings to places with interesting plants. Two places we visited were Paleaku Gardens Peace Sanctuary in Captain Cook, not too far from the Painted Church, and Doutor Coffee Mauka Meadows.

Paleaku has a laminated sheet so you can take a self-guided tour. (It’s the same as this one available online). It’s geared towards the variety of shrines they have that represent the world’s major religions. If you aren’t a plant person, the tendency is to hit the numbers on the sheet and to simply enjoy the fabulous view. Galaxy Garden, check. Ikaika Wahine, check. Buddhist shrine, check. Labyrinth, check. You might completely miss the wealth of interesting plant varieties on the grounds. Many aren’t labeled. I had been looking forward to walking there with my mom and learning. It’s a fun place to visit at different times of the year to see what’s in season or blossoming. I see new things every visit.

For example, now the mgambo tree (AKA, Hawaiian pussy willow, velvet seed tree, among its many names) is popping for me, there and many other places. What were “just” green-leaved trees, are now calling out to be noticed. From a 2016 article in West Hawaii Today, “The mgambo produces panicles with dense clusters of tiny light green, fragrant flowers that develop into three-lobed seed capsules. When the fruit splits open, the plant becomes a show piece. The pod reveals a bright red interior where round dark grey velvety seeds are nestled.”

There were blue jade vine flower clusters that look other-worldly, pods on the cacao trees, and a plethora of fruiting and flowering trees and plants. I enjoy seeing and admiring how they prune huge trees like mangoes. Uncle Harold has planted many mango trees on a modestly-sized lot. He weighs young branches with cans full of rocks hanging from wires, to strengthen the branches and to encourage them to grow more horizontally. His philosophy is that no mango tree should grow higher than the roof of their house. His other technique is to talk to his plants/trees.

We think he needs these “sausage” fruits from the sausage tree to weigh down his mango branches. The fruit are surprisingly heavy. The stems supporting them are super strong.

The other location we were fortunate to visit was Doutor coffee farm, thanks to our friend Reiko. I gather Doutor company might be like a Japanese Starbucks. Gotta love this Japanese English on their home page: “We provide with peace and energy to people through a cup of delicious coffee.”

Doutor Mauka Meadows primarily caters to Japanese tourists. There’s even a Yelp entry for this spot, but no company has claimed it. Can you imagine Starbucks not claiming their Yelp page? Japanese COVID policies are so strict for their citizens returning, it has basically killed Japanese tourism here. So right now Doutor’s tours aren’t offered.

Reiko, born and raised in Japan, seems to know everyone here, especially if they’re Japanese. I could write a post on her alone. She has called Hawaii home for about 25 years. She’s very interested in Hawaiian culture, dances hula, plays ukulele, makes Hawaiian crafts, swims and takes underwater photos each swim, etc. She’s great for bridging Japanese, Hawaiian, and American culture. She often knows the name of a plant or fish in all three languages and maybe the scientific name, too. She’s also very thoughtful and generous, including with her time and knowledge. I often start with her when I want to identify something, and then I research more from there.

Since the pandemic started, she started daily blogging at https://konahawaii.hatenablog.com/. It’s in Japanese, so I use the Chrome web browser and Google’s translate capabilities. I follow it because she takes great photos (many of her photos have been featured in West Hawaii Today’s “Island Life,” on page 2), and I’m just interested in the variety of things she writes about. A Japanese-fluent friend said it’s a bit stream of consciousness.

I think a lot gets lost in translation. For example, I think many pronouns like “he” or “she” become “I.” Once I thought SHE had sat next to someone at Christmas who turned out to have COVID, but it was another friend she was referring to. She gives names to some of the characters she refers to. Like “Uncle Octopus” for the kupuna (senior) who knows how to find octopus. I think she sometimes refers to me as what gets translated to “bikini unnie” (I wear a 2-piece when I swim). I had asked her what a “unnie” is, and apparently she means “wahine” (woman), but Google Translate doesn’t quite get it. (From Googling, it appears that unnie might be a Korean expression used like “auntie” in the Hawaiian culture.)

In any case, Reiko knows the gardener/caretaker at Doutor, so we were able to tour the grounds. The few signs are mostly in Japanese. I could tell there were many interesting varieties of, e.g., citrus, but they weren’t labeled. There were cherimoya, jaboticaba, loquat, all-spice, and many other fruit trees. None of those were labeled. Generously, they allowed us to pick fruit for our consumption (no commercial harvesting). Reiko also found a large palm frond she wanted for a craft project. I had no clue what she was going to do with it.

Part of the property we toured had coffee trees. The sign said 10,000 trees over 17 acres. The majority of their Kona coffee is grown on other nearby properties. Some of the coffee trees had labels. Apparently, some trees were labeled to honor some accomplishment of various specific Japanese Doutor cafes. And some trees were sponsored by individuals or groups. You can pay some, assumedly high, fee, and that tree is then under your sponsorship. It reminded me of Masumoto Farms in California, where you can adopt a peach or nectarine tree. Unlike Masumoto, your tree’s fruit aren’t yours for that season. Making trees available for sponsorship might be a way for small scale farming to be financially viable. So, I found the marketing interesting.

I also noticed that they had stumped several of the coffee trees like we do. But it seemed a bit random, not by row, or block, or every 3rd or 4th tree. The coffee caretakers weren’t on hand, so no one could answer questions. Maybe they were demonstrating stumping to others or practicing the technique, or they stumped some trees with a lot of beetle or rust.

If you ever get a chance to tour Doutor Mauka Meadows, check it out.

As for Reiko’s project, she had to cut that frond to a size that would fit in her bath tub. She had to soak it two days before she continued. What creative vision and dedication. I found a website that makes other craft works similar to what Reiko made: https://www.hawaiianpalmbaskets.com/

After four long years, the Queen Bea visits again

“The bee is more honored than other animals, not because she labors, but because she labors for others.”

St. John Chrysostom

It has been quite some time since Bea has been on island. Bea, AKA, Mom, or NTB, as my cousins text shorthand for Aunty Bea. She’s content buzzing around her own territory and amongst her plant kingdom, and she isn’t fond of traveling. Her last visit was after we had done our first block pruning in 2018. Her Bea’s knees were in my very first blog post. The land sure looked devastated — at the time we had so much extraneous growth that had to be removed.

For the first time she’s seeing firsthand all the coffee land after all blocks have gone through their stump and growth cycles. She can see all our boundary lines now. I’m glad she’s seeing the land after we’ve had some rain, and the trees look better than they did after parched October/November. When we walked through the land, she was pulling weeds everywhere she went (there is a lot of growth that doesn’t belong). Pulling weeds is a never-ending, futile job! My cousins often comment how their parents would always pull weeds on their way out of the coffee land, too.

I snuck this photo in last week without calling attention to whose ʻōkole (bottom) that was in the lower left corner. There she is, pulling weeds while Rune’s showing the wind-downed African tulip.

Though Bea would probably be happiest with the plants, since she hasn’t been here in so long, we did more sightseeing than we might normally do. A fair amount of our sightseeing did involve seeing plants, but I won’t elaborate on those here. I’m getting pretty far from coffee in this post, but this is my mom and the person our farm name honors. Indulge me!

The day after she and my brother arrived, we hiked down to Captain Cook’s Monument in Kealakekua Bay. If you aren’t familiar with the walk, it’s a two mile hike down and a tough climb back out, about 1300 feet of climbing. She’s in her 80’s! She also found a “longevity stick” at the bay and carried it back up for some meditative exercises she has recently started practicing. The next day she wasn’t even sore from the hike.

She hadn’t been to Volcano since the dramatic changes in 2018, so we visited Volcano National Park (VNP) and cruised around the Puna district a bit.

The newest part of VNP is the Kahuku Unit, which is just north of Na’alehu. “A rolling, pastoral landscape on the slopes of the largest volcano on the planet.” I’ve been seeing the new-ish Volcano National Park sign for years and have wanted to visit, but the gate was almost always closed. During the pandemic, it has been even more hit and miss. As we drove by this time, the gate was open! So we seized the opportunity, despite drizzle. We were prepared for possible rain anyway.

The ranger at the visitor center seemed really eager to greet anyone who drove up. Shortly after we walked in, a tourist entered right after us. He thought he was at THE Volcano National Park. His GPS had led him astray. I quickly gathered this was his first trip to the Big Island. It’s still a 50 minute drive to Kīlauea Crater. We knew this area was ranch land and had hiking, and we knew it’d be a totally different experience than the usual trip to VNP. He probably thought he was on his way to the erupting volcano.

We ended up doing a hike to the Forested Pit Crater, which turned out to be a similarly difficult hike as the one to Capt. Cook’s Monument, but uphill first, then downhill back (the photo shows an easy downhill section). It was described as an arduous hike, but I think it was just to impress upon tourists that it’s not a quick walk to the pit crater. We saw the elevation, distance, etc., but I messed up and thought it was a 2-mile hike total, not one way. Oh well. We were the only ones there. On the way up we debated whether the end-destination, the pit crater, would be worth it. We were all prepared to be underwhelmed, but we all thought it was worthwhile visiting. To me, the best part was hearing all the birds that were in there. Keep in mind that we all have gone to VNP (Kīlauea Crater) multiple times over decades. Visiting Kahuku might be underwhelming for first-time Hawai’i visitors.

Lastly, a few photos of what we could see at the “usual” VNP. Brief eruption overview: Kīlauea erupted from 1983-2018. Activity at Kīlauea summit started again in December 2020. It stopped in May 2021, then resumed again in September. We had one night to see what we would see. For us, it was a lava lake in Halema’uma’u Crater inside the larger Kīlauea Crater, with some sputtering, no fountaining. This view was from the ‎⁨Keanakākoʻi Overlook, ⁨a mile walk along Old Crater Rim Drive. And the walk itself was pretty spectacular for star gazing. We’re on an island in the middle of the ocean — not much light pollution, and the full-ish moon hadn’t yet risen.

Time and bees fly! Queen Bea is already returning to her dog and plant babies. Come back soon! Four years is far too long!