Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Kainoa Aqui

It's all in the name.

My grandson, Kainoa, emphatically punctuates the first sentence of today's post.

His name, after all, is just that:  THE NAME.

That's what his Hawaiian name means:  THE NAME.

On Sunday, December 26, 2011, the day after Christmas, on his 8th birthday, Kainoa was a name boldly announced and not easily forgotten.

As the golden-armed quarterback of the Raiders, Kainoa led his team to victories in both the semi-final and championship Play Sports Hawaii youth flag football games at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.

Not bad, considering his only practice the previous week was playing catch with my brother-in-law, Wayne, and--yours truly--Kainoa's proud grandpa.  During that time, I was amazed at how well Kainoa threw the pigskin.  His short and wiry 7-year-old build belied an incredibly strong and accurate arm.  Like a Gatling gun, he tossed perfectly spiraled bullets that led me to believe there was a bull's eye painted on my chest.

More than once during our game of catch, I thought:  If he's this good now, what's he going to be like in high school?

I'll just have to return to Hawaii a decade from now and find out for myself.

For now, thanks to the efforts of his dad (and my son), Richie, I get to watch some spectacular previews of Kainoa's athletic prowess on YouTube.

I swear, you'd think I was watching the Super Bowl.

#11 Kainoa leads his team to the Play Sports Hawaii 


Rain Over Hanalei
(Photo courtesy of my son)

The incessant rain on Kauai underscores the need for improvisation and flexibility.

Last night, I made plans with my family to attend a Monday morning session in the Fifth Circuit courtroom of Judge Kathleen Watanabe in Lihue, the county seat of Kauai.  Judge Watanabe, the first female to hold that position on Kauai since Hawaii became a state, was appointed to the judiciary by Governor Linda Lingle and confirmed by a Senate vote five years ago.

Judge Watanabe also happens to be my sister.

Understandably, her appointment was a huge event for all of our family members.  I looked forward to someday sitting in her courtroom gallery and witnessing her preside over legal procedures.

Today, I realized my goal and thoroughly enjoyed watching my sister in action.

Because I've followed several of the cases in The Garden Island's online version, some of the courtroom players' names were familiar to me.  It was interesting to witness the interplay between judge, attorneys, defendants, and deputy sheriffs.  Although it was only a short morning session, maybe an hour and a half in length, I found the proceedings intellectually challenging and socially rewarding.

Judge Watanabe demonstrated fairness, firmness, compassion, and respect with all parties in the courtroom.

Behind the scenes, I witnessed how well she treats her staff.  I met the three principals who provide her with tremendous support-- her court clerk, law clerk, and judicial assistant.  Their warm greetings and friendly banter with my sister were evidence of their aloha and appreciation for her.  I am very grateful for the significant help and moral support they've given Kathleen.

I was privileged and awestruck to be invited to join my sister in her chambers.  Family photos adorned   a good portion of the magnificent judicial office.  In addition, I noticed a large and beautifully framed photograph of a sea turtle that one of our brothers had given her.  Another brother's floral picture was mounted on another sectiot of the wall.  Almost every square inch of her chambers was a tribute to loved ones.

A spirit of aloha fills Judge Watanabe's chambers.  Aloha for family.  Aloha for community.  Aloha for Kauai.  Aloha for the State of Hawaii.  Aloha for a Sovereign Deity who has blessed her with the opportunity to serve in a high ranking judicial position.

It was perhaps fitting that a magazine insert in The Garden Island on this very date carried a feature article on Judge Kathleen Watanabe.  Cosmic alignment never ceases to amaze me.

The experience of observing firsthand my sister at work was truly an honor for me.  The dual perspective of watching a prominent judicial official carrying out her professional responsibilities while reminiscing about our early years of growing up under humble and often challenging circumstances created huge emotional and spiritual waves within me.

I managed to surf each wave to a shore of prayerful thanksgiving.

John Grisham Courtroom Collection (The Pelican Brief / The Client / A Time to Kill / Runaway Jury)

Judges on Judging: Views from the BenchJudges on Judging: Views from the Bench

Broken Trust: Greed, Mismanagement, And Political Manipulation at America's Largest Charitable Trust (A Latitude 20 Book)

Hawaii State Court Judges: James Aiona, Nelson Doi, Steven H. Levinson, John Lanham, Walter Meheula Heen, Samuel Pailthorpe King, Ronald Moon

Thursday, December 23, 2010


The spiny lobster ('ula in Hawaiian) was given its name because of the spines pointing forward on its carapace (thick, hard shell) and antennae.  Readers of this blog who are more familiar with the huge-clawed Maine lobster will note that the spiny lobster lacks this formidable appendage.

Because of disregard for local laws and heavy fishing pressure, large spiny lobsters are no longer common.  To protect the species, harvesting is prohibited during the months of May to August.  Bruddah Charlie, my go-to guy for fishing Hawaiiana, shared with me that the local way to remember when one can legally catch lobsters is to fish for them only in the months that have the letter R.

Photo courtesy of Silas Kaumakahia Aqui
Spawning is an interesting process.  The male spiny lobster--stimulated by the female's pheromones--attaches a packet of sperm to the area near her reproductive opening.  A female spiny lobster produces up to a half million orange or reddish-colored eggs.  As the eggs leave her body, they become fertilized.  The resulting egg mass is held under her abdomen by unique appendages called swimmerets.  These swimmerets are also used to fan and aerate the growing embryos.

Female lobsters carrying eggs are called berried females.  It is against the law in Hawaii to capture egg-carrying female lobsters. 

Although the eggs will hatch in only a month's time, it will be almost a year before the widely scattered larvae begin to look like lobsters.

There are two main methods of catching lobsters in Hawaii.  One way is to dive for and grab them by hand.  Lobsters live on the reef or in protected shelves exposed to surge.

One can also set lobster nets.  As a young boy, I remember with great fondness my father taking my brothers and me down to the beach.  His targeted spots were areas that were shallow and only a few yards away from shore.  He would find an open channel--a sandy area with minimal wave action--and secure each end of the net to the rocks bordering each side of the channel.  As I recall (and this is going back fifty years, dear readers), the length of each net was approximately 60 feet.  I remember this because this is the distance between each base in Little League baseball.

Lobster nets were set in the late afternoon.  My father used both heavy rocks and metal hooks to anchor the nets.

Early the next morning, we would pull the nets in.  In the late '50's and '60's, we would average a harvest of forty to fifty pounds using three  to five nets.  Enough to feed our family for a few days and sell to others for some side money.

Photo courtesy of Silas Kaumakahia Aqui
The net itself was usually only 4 feet tall.  Lead weights at the bottom; wood floats on top.  To save money, my father smelted his own lead, using scrap metal he had found on the island.  Case in point:  the remnants of a movie theater that had been demolished in a hurricane.  He cut down hau bush* saplings and cut them to four-inch lengths and drilled holes down their core to construct floats.  (I have personally observed my father using an electric drill, approaching the core from both ends of the float, but Bruddah Charlie told me recently that he witnessed our father using a red hot metal rod to create the hole for the rope to pass through each float.)  Both lead and floats were spaced equidistantly about a yard apart along the length of the net.  The eye of a lobster net was larger than the eye of a fishnet.  Each eye, diagonally measured, was approximately four inches.

*     copyright 1994 - 2005 by Lynton Dove White

My father sewed his own nets.  With string, thin rope, and bamboo sewing needles purchased from a local fishing supply store, and using a measuring rectangular device made from either wood or metal, he would diligently work on each net following a long day at his regular job as a sugar plantation laborer (and, later, as a police officer).

As a young boy, I marveled to see how my father patiently crafted the net from a skein of string to the finished product--a strong and well-crafted lobster net--in just a few days.  My best recollection is that he had approximately a dozen of these nets.  He would rotate the usage of these nets depending on how many needed to be patched because of holes created by normal wear and tear, sharp reefs, crabs, and--I dared wonder--maybe even sharks?

On a recent evening when the Kauai sky was brilliantly illuminated by a full moon, Bruddah Charlie added to my admittedly limited knowledge about lobsters.  He said that lobsters are reluctant to crawl when it is too light outside.  They prefer foraging for food in the darkness.  So the best time to set lobster nets is when the moon is small.

Photo courtesy of Silas Kaumakahia Aqui
And what do lobsters eat?  Like many people, I thought lobsters were scavengers, eating only dead fish or scraps from another predator's dining.  In my research, I learned otherwise.  Lobsters actually enjoy the fresh seafood that coexist in close proximity to them.  They enjoy fish, mussels, clams, oysters, crabs, and--yes!--other lobsters!  Lobsters just love other lobsters...apparently, in more ways than one.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010


The heavy rainfall stubbornly accompanies my wife, young adult son and daughter, and me on this, our third of a dozen days in Hawaii. The irony doesn't escape us--we left an unusually mild and sunny Seattle only to enter an extremely wet and somewhat flooded Kauai.

Still, it has been a wonderful complement to the inclement island weather to spend indoor time visiting with loved ones, some of whom I have not seen for twelve years.

In the case of my beautiful grandsons, yesterday was the first time I had ever met them.

Eleven-year-old Keawe (kay-AH-vay), tall and slender with handsome features leaning more towards his mother's Japanese heritage, has a gentle and settled disposition. His lively soon-to-be-8-year-old sibling, Kainoa, darker-complexioned and equally becoming, reveals the rest of the ethnic mix on his rascal facial canvas--Hawaiian, Portugese, Filipino, and Okinawan...each ancestral link evident to the careful observer depending on Kainoa's current emotion.

From left to right:  Kainoa, Dylan, Amber, and Keawe
(Photo courtesy of Ryan)
For several years, my son, Richie, a Hawaii resident, has faithfully sent me photos of my grandsons. I have cherished each and every photo, simultaneously marveling at how these beautiful children are growing up while pining over missed opportunities to see them in person.

Yesterday, then, while the rain diligently fell over the emerald Garden Island, I finally got to meet the grandsons I had fallen in love with over a decade ago.

Honoring the pre-pubescent shyness of Keawe, I occasionally asked him questions about school, favorite activities, interests, and if he had a girlfriend. His answers were short as he concentrated on finding the shy housecat that had been eluding his brother, cousin, and him.  His broad shoulders and long feet were evidence of the growth spurt he is currently experiencing. When next I see him, he may very well be taller than me.

There was one moment when I caught Keawe by surprise, picked him up, put him over my shoulders, and swung him around for a few seconds. It was at once a meager attempt on my part to make up for a million grandpa moments and the culmination of a million I love you, firstborn grandchild! sentiments.

Outside, while the incessant drizzle continued, Kainoa and I tossed the football to each other.  I had seen Kainoa in action as a youth league quarterback on some YouTube videos Richie had sent me, but now I was able to experience firsthand the exhilaration of catching his surprisingly tight spirals.  He has an amazingly strong arm for his diminutive frame.  And his accuracy is immaculate.  He moves with a quickness, fluidity, and grace that is evident on athletes much older than him.  I shudder to think what results will emerge in just a few years.

"Who taught you to throw like this?"  I asked him in awe.  Without hesitation, he replied,  "Dad."  I was touched by and impressed with Kainoa's response. 

I was happy to observe my son and daughter engaging in conversation and fun activities with both grandsons.   It delighted me to see this interplay.  There was healing.  There was forgiveness.  There was joy!

From left to right:  Dylan, Keawe, Ryan, and Kainoa
(Photo courtesy of Amber)
The rain has momentarily stopped as I come to the end of this post.  Overhead, the sky is opaquely gray and promises to weep again at any moment.  I am familiar with this grayness.  It has indelibly marked my heart over the last five-plus decades. 

Finally, however, I sense a patch of blue that is both promising and hopeful. 

It is my earnest prayer that the azure will soon overwhelm the gray.

Hidden Kauai: Including Hanalei, Princeville, and Poipu (Hidden Travel)

my Grandson Photo Frame

The Keawe Name in History

YouTube and Video Marketing: An Hour a Day

Friday, December 17, 2010


Hanalei River
(Photo courtesy of Ryan)
In Greek mythology, the epic tale of Odysseus involved, in the aftermath of the ten-year war depicted in Homer's The Iliad, a return trip home to the protagnist's castle and queen that was fraught with tremendous adversity, challenges, and temptation-laden distractions.

This blog is a humble and light-hearted (albeit bittersweet) attempt to chronicle a similar trek home following decades of errant choices and behaviors.  The war Hawaiian Odysseus wages has more to do with inner conflicts.  It is not directly spoken of or even alluded to in his writings.  Nevertheless, the intuitive reader may at times sense the tone of sadness and loss that are interwoven within the thematic fabric of each post.

Not unlike the manner in which an oyster produces pearlescent beauty  as a result of struggling against an internal irritant, Hawaiian Odysseus discovers that there is redemption and grace in the cathartic  experience of writing one's truth.

Perhaps the best that can be expected and--yes--even hoped for is that there is triumph in the journey itself...that the mere ability to pick oneself up just one more time than one has fallen is evidence enough of the undeniable spirit of man.

Travels with Odysseus: Uncommon Wisdom from Homer's Odyssey

Three Simple Truths and Six Essential Traits for Powerful Writing: Book One - Novice

ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income

Create Your Own Blog: 6 Easy Projects to Start Blogging Like a Pro

Thursday, December 16, 2010


You just knew it was going to be a good day whenever he sang in the shower.

As he was growing up, from the time he was old enough to take a shower on his own, he was singing. 

Contemporary ballads, light rock, classic Christian hymns, contemporary Christian, top 10.

If he heard a song he liked, he learned how to sing it almost immediately. 

That crystal talent extended itself to his attempts at playing instruments--alto sax, piano, guitar.  He would hear a song he liked, memorize the exact key, find a single resonating chord, and then painstakingly search for accompanying chords until, amazingly, he could recreate the song at will.

He was our son, and so we took much of that observable behavior for granted. 

In retrospect, his efforts bordered on musical genius.

But he never flaunted his talent.  On the contrary, he would often thank God for the special gift.  Mother would frequently tell him to not put a bushel over his talents.  She encouraged him, instead, to find a way to give back.

In high school and later at the university, he formed Christian groups that witnessed by way of music to hundreds, maybe thousands, of students, faculty and administration, families, and friends.  He and his group may very well have been instrumental in restoring wayward hearts to Christ.

We won't know this side of heaven what impact our actions may have had on others.  The chronicling nevertheless goes on...

There were times he admittedly didn't understand why he had such a passion for music.  There were even times when he honestly felt burnt out on the whole scene.

Still, he had this compulsion.  Like there was a personal guardian angel playing on his harp and puppeteering my son to make music.

I've not always been a good example to him.  In fact, there were many times when I loused the whole fatherly example-setting responsibility up.

Still, I've had my moments.  And like a son who refuses to give up until he masters the song, this stubborn fool refuses to give up until he masters the fathering. 

Because, the truth be told, my heart has been touched and mended and shown the way home via Ryan's ministry of music.

Like I said, I've had my moments.  The writing of this post is one of them.

God bless you, Ryan.  May you have thousands of days on this earth and thousands of years in eternity of singing in the shower.

(Clicking on the above link will provide you with access to eleven Five on Fire live contemporary Christian music video performances at Walla Walla University.)

(Clicking on the above link will provide you with access to four live secular music video performances at Walla Walla University.)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Our guest blogger today is my brother, Charlie, all the way from the island of Kauai.  This is his very first attempt at blogging, and I think he did a standup job.  Way to go, Charlie!

(Photo courtesy of Charlie A.)

Joe, the picture says 40+.  Actual weight  is 41.5 lb. white ulua caught at Kahalani Beach, Wailua, Kauai.

The next picture with Ryan and Kai is of a 8.25# bluefin trevally.  Hawaiians call it omilu (papio, under 10#).  Aliomanu Beach, Anahola, Kauai.  Both fish were caught with tako (octopus) arm.

(Photo courtesy of Charlie A.) 
That's my nephew, Kai (brother Gerald's son), on the left, and my son, Ryan, on the right.)

I have a story about this fishing trip.  It started out being a picture perfect day.  My sister-in-law and my niece and nephew were visiting from the state of Washington.  Brother Gerald planned an outing down at the beach.  Mom and I, along with Gerald's family, chose Aliomanu as our destination. 

I can remember this day like it was yesterday. 

I rigged up my brand new Kelstar blank ulua pole with an extended 4/0 Penn reel.  Only a month of training on how to cast a conventional reel added some pressure when casting in front of the whole family.  If you're familiar with conventional reels, if you don't cast it correctly, you can mess up the line badly in the spool (it's called a bird's nest).  What happens is that the line comes out of the spool too fast and it bunches up, making all kinds of knots in the spool (a headache to untangle), and instead of getting a cast of 20 yards or more,  you end up with  5 feet or less. 

As I made my cast, I looked back, and everyone was watching as I made one of the biggest bird's nests of my life.  The lead and tako arm landed less than 10 feet in front of me.  It was one of the most embarrassing moments of fishing I have ever experienced. 

So, there I was, standing on the rocks trying so desperately to untangle my huge bird's nest so I can make up for that horrible cast. 

When I untangled the last knot,  the line was so bad it broke. 

As I was looking into the water where the bait landed, I saw this fluorescent blue.  I looked again and I couldn't believe my eyes--the omilu papio was eating the tako arm! 

Quickly, I made a blood knot.  As soon as I had completed the knot, the fish took off!  I was in disbelief, screaming for Gerald to get the gaff. 

As the fish made a run towards the shore, Gerald gaffed it and the rest was history.

Wow!  And the fascinating thing about this fish tale is that it's true.  The bird's nest catch was Charlie's first success at fishing for papio.  The top photo is a reflection of how much progress he eventually made, and continues to make, fishing for giant trevally, or ULUA (ooh-LOO-ah).  Thanks, Charlie!  Looking forward to future posts from you.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


When my 18-year-old daughter was a little girl, she would occasionally announce to her mother, brother, and me that she and the neighbor girl were soon to be performing their latest dance routine.  We were encouraged to be on time and comfortably seated on our lawn chairs as soon as possible. 

The stage?  Our family trampoline in the backyard.

We would arrive just minutes ahead of Alicia's grandparents, our landlord neighbors.  Sometimes, a neighborhood kid or two would also be part of the sitting on the grass only audience.

For the next fifteen minutes or so, we were mesmerized by the surprisingly gifted choreography that both little girls had prepared for us.  Part exercise protocol, part cheerleading, part acrobatics, and part dance, their well-practiced, very creative, and wonderfully in sync routine provided us with engaging entertainment that would not soon be forgotten. 

A rousing ovation sprinkled with cheers of delight would follow their wonderful performance.

It wasn't So You Think You Can Dance. 

It was definitely better!

This proud daddy marveled at the miracle God had packaged up, pretty in pink, beautiful like her mom but also unique in her own right.  Like having so much familiarity and so much otherworldly stranger all mixed into one. 

And I was blessed and spoiled to be my little girl's biggest hero!

Those days don't last forever.  I wish a future me could have lovingly warned me that little girls grow up all too quickly...and that in the rock and roll upheaval known as adolescence, the staunchest of heros can sometimes be zeros.

Until a moment arrives when all the gifts of those little girl memories come rushing back in full fruition...

Case in point:  This wonderful video of her ministry at her high school.  She is the choreographer as well as the principal performer.

What you see is the recently emerged young adult.

What I see, indelibly inscribed in my heart, is a little girl dancing on a trampoline.


(Photo courtesy of Silas Kaumakahia Aqui)

Once again, I am beholding to my brother, Charlie, for sending me a couple of pictures that feature his favorite sea catch--octopus--but also piqued my curiosity about the UHU (pronounced OOH-hoo), or parrotfish, the top fish in the  photo above.  (By the way, the octopi and fish were photographed in the kitchen sink.)

The one thing I've always known about the uhu is that it is a delicious fish.  My mom made a wonderful soup with it.  We also ate it raw, chopped up and marinated with chili peppers, salt, and seaweed, a concoction known as poki to the locals.

But what's fascinating are the things I learned about it just today after doing some casual research.

The uhu I remember seeing in my youth were approximately 10 to 12 inches in length.  But a lot of these reef fish can grow to three feet in length.  Amazingly, there is a South Pacific species of parrotfish that measure up to six feet.

The uhu in the photo is most likely an adolescent.  As it matures, it metamorphosizes into a beautiful aquamarine-hued fish.  Adorned in magnificent greens and blues, the uhu is easily one of the more striking inhabitants of the coral reef.

While primarily a herbivore, the uhu's parrot-like fused teeth are used like a rasp to scrape and ingest morsels of living coral.  A collection of plates in its throat--pharyngeal teeth--grind the coral into microscopic pieces, later eliminated as a fine powder by the uhu.  True to the natural order of balance in an ecosystem, the uhu is thus an important reef eroder as well as a significant producer of sand.  In fact, it is estimated that a large uhu can, in its lifetime, create a ton of sand.

My father, brothers, and I employed a form of fishing known as torching.  Equipped with a Coleman lantern seated on a wooden platform which we wore on our chests, and armed with trident spears, we would walk the reefs at night and spear several species of fish from above. 

The uhu is a diurnal (active during the daytime) creature and sleeps at night.  It secretes a mucousy substance that envelops it like a coccoon.  Some scientists believe that this chemical masks its scent and thus protects it from night predators.  Other researchers posit that this mucous serves as an anti-parasitic agent, thus protecting the uhu in a different kind of way. 

As brilliantly colored as this fish is, the mucous could not protect it from us diligent reef fishermen.

Friday, November 12, 2010


It is a quarter of five on this very chilly autumn day, and I am writing this while enjoying a Starbucks venti mocha, seated comfortably on a brand new coffee-colored sofa. This particular Starbucks kiosk is located in the recently renovated Safeway grocery store at the corner of Martin Luther King Avenue and Othello Street in the Rainier Valley of southeast Seattle.

I am dressed appropriately for the evening, warm in my black sweater with the white artificial fur collar. My long-sleeved Hawaiian Fire shirt, a gift from my son, Richie, who lives in Honolulu, overtly hints at my ethnicity.

The Rainier Valley has a large black and Asian population. With the introduction of a Sound Transit Link light rail and attractive pastel-colored townhouses, the area is gradually undergoing a gentrification as droves of upper middle class white Seattleites, disgruntled with the traffic jams, sirens, increasingly expensive urban parking, and burgeoning homeless population migrate to this area.

Having lived in this community for the last year and a half, I have come to love and appreciate the ebb and flow of its heartbeat. Like me, it struggles with atrial fibrillation. This traditionally high crime area has slowed down somewhat, but every now and then, there is a major hiccup. Fairly or unfairly, depending on one's perspective and blogging persuasion, the area is still generally perceived by Washingtonians as the least ideal place to live. On a weekly basis, one still reads or hears about the latest shooting, stabbing, or robbery. But even with the mostly gang-related and domestic violence incidents, from an inside looking out point of view, there has been a noticeable settling from the historical unease and restlessness that once pervaded this valley like a dense fog that refuses to move on.

I like to think of it as an inevitable rite of passage...a weariness, as it were, of all that is funky and irrational and just plain stupid. It's a phenomenon not unlike the similar experience of the old cons in prison--the penal dinosaurs, as they're referred to with great deference from the general population as well as prison staff. You hear the legends and the layer upon layer of exaggerated feats of daring, but you miss in the here and now the overwhelming exhaustion that overcomes those who, for decades, chose to live against society's grain. If it's true that the universe will continue to bring back the same lesson until one finally gets it, then we're talking about a very patient universe and a very stubborn and/or ignorant recipient. Until one day when that person wakes up and realizes just how tired he is of resisting...and finds some comfort in the relief of letting go and simply being.

A parallel maturing experience is going on in the Rainier Valley. As a private citizen, I feel safer. As a writer, I am passionate about observing firsthand and recording my observations. As a resident, I am very proud of my neighbors and their collective efforts to ensure that this valley is all about reinforcing the true and compassionate ideals of family and home.

It's now a quarter of six, and with this past Sunday's advent of daylight savings time accentuating the effect, it is already very dark outside. I have about a three-quarters of a mile walk back to the house, but a year and a half after having moved into this neighborhood, I walk with greater confidence that I will arrive home safely.

The universe, you see, has more final exams in store for me.



Thursday, November 4, 2010


Charlie A. with 9.5 lb Prize Catch
(photo courtesy of  SKA)

Hey, folks, today I want to feature my brother, Charlie, ten years my junior. When he was a young boy, he showed no interest whatsoever in anything Hawaiiana--no fishing, no eating of local food, a complete lack of participation in the island culture. He was so anti-native that we used to mercilessly tease him about being haole and, as if that wasn't cruel enough, added that he had been left on our front doorstep when he was just an infant. Flash forward 3+ decades and--surprise, surprise!--Charlie has emerged among us four brothers as the premiere Hawaiian fisherman and follower of the ancient customs. Speaking for myself, he sure put me to shame!

Anyway, I am so proud of his transformation into a genuinely appreciative and respectful kanaka.

One of Charlie's talents is his keen eye for concealed octopi. The tentacled sea creatures are adept at camouflaging themselves according to their natural environment. Still, there are certain hints that the trained octopus hunter's eye picks up...for example, the octopus habitually creates a ring of coral pieces that serve as its portal gateway. The neat arrangement of coral stands out as a dead giveaway to the veteran octopus hunter.

In the islands, octopus is usually referred to by its Japanese name--TAKO. A surprisingly tasty delicacy, tako eaten raw in a special miso (soy-based) sauce is an island favorite. Most islanders boil the tako. It can also be dried and eaten as a jerky.

The Hawaiian name for octopus--and I just learned this two weeks ago--is HE'E.

This, then, is my tribute to my 48-year-old little brother, Charlie, with his prize 9-1/2 lb. he'e.


Thursday, July 22, 2010


Seagulls pepper the Seattle waterfront sky. They have no air traffic controller...and yet you never hear on the 6 o' clock news about a midair collision between two or more seagulls, one of whom might have ingested a Red Robin napkin saturated with the remnants from a margarita cocktail glass. No, in some ways, seagulls are smarter than we humans who daily get into freeway collisions and other mishaps. Maybe that's why seagulls soar on jetstreams high above the cityscape...they're watching us on their bird's eye view version of the 6 o' clock news.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Columbia Center Building
Seattle's Tallest Skyscraper
(Hawaiian Odysseus photo)

Today, I wanted to treat myself to a Caramel Frappucino, venti size, and I wanted to engage in my blog activities while reveling in the magnificent view from the 40th floor of the Columbia Center, smack dab in the heart of downtown Seattle.

From this vantage point, I can see the details of the underbellies of incoming planes as they maneuver through their approach flight patterns, eager to touch down at either Boeing or Sea-Tac Airports. For a moment--and a fleeting moment, if you will--I reluctantly flash to the newsreels that played over and over and over again on our television screens on that fated September day a little over 8 years ago. At the speed of light, I thank God that the giant silver birds that pass over me this idyllic Seattle afternoon are manned by friendly pilots.

Somehow, the magical perspective from this lofty site makes me forget about the dismal sports seasons the Emerald City has suffered through the past couple of years.

So what if the occasional (um, okay, chronic) drizzle cloaks this city in eerie black and white film noir apparel?

It's just me, my laptop, this delicious frapuccino, and the musings of a vagabond lifestyle that color this Pacific Northwest metropolis as night covers it with an ethereal blanket.

An hour from closing time, I am waiting for my four auctions on eBay to end so I can record the necessary information and prepare the packages for mailing.

Meanwhile, I want to share with you that my son and I had a gmail chat this afternoon (his midnight). He's been very busy taking beaucoup photographs in gorgeous Florence, Italy. He added that he'd get back to his blog sometime in the next few days. Speaking of which, I really like how he's added the amazing European landscapes, architectural and sculptured classics, and lively portraits to his blog. He certainly has a photographer's vision.

Back to the eBay theme...

What am I selling? Some of the best fly tying/fishing hooks out of Korea and Japan--respectively, the Dai-Riki and Tiemco brands! Ten years ago, when the general populace was uncertain as to whether or not Y2K was going to be the most awesome and ominous computer plague to hit the planet, Rita and I opened up a Mom and Pop business on the burgeoning internet auction giant. At first, I was selling fishing flies that I had begun crafting in the early 90's. But it got to be such a pain in the neck (really, the long hours spent with one's neck at an unnatural angle is certainly an invitation for early arthritic onset), that I decided to go to a least labor-intensive practice--that of selling fly tying materials and supplies to other fly tyers. The fly tying hooks just happened to be our highest volume commodity.

It's a humble venture, but it's helped pay for some of the smaller family expenses as well as contributed to the fine Christian education of both of our children. In addition, it's been an adventuresome and educational foray into online entrepreneurship. How wonderful to have customers from every state of the Union as well as from every continent of the globe. Most importantly, it has set an example for my children about the good things that can happen when diligence, sacrifice, and perseverance fire up our dreams.

Just this morning, I was musing about our 100% positive feedback rating from almost 5000 unique customers. We serve a wonderful God who blesses in such sweet and mysterious ways.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tropical Rainbow

Tropical Rainbow
bending across the sky--
a bridge that God and angels walk on by;
Tropical Rainbow
weaving a lei of dew--
a symbol of the love I give to you.

When a passing island shower
throws kisses to the sun,
their love affair will blossom
with colors on the run.

Tropical Rainbow,
miracle that you are,
you'll linger on to greet the evening star.

When a passing island shower
throws kisses to the sun,
their love affair will blossom
with colors on the run.                                                                                             

Tropical Rainbow                                                                                  
weaving a lei of dew--
a symbol of the love I give to you,
a symbol of the love I give to you.

Words and music by Hawaiian Odysseus
Copyright @ 1973

Saturday, January 9, 2010


Seems like it wasn't very long ago when I was so elated that I could drive a car down the road all by myself while my mom was doing such a lousy job of hiding the anxiety in her large dark brown Okinawan eyes. Seventeen, and I ruled the world in our family's blue station wagon.

Forty years later, I've exchanged places with my mother--figuratively speaking, of course--as I wake up anxiously each day way before dawn, frantically searching my gmail inbox to see if my 23-year-old son, Ryan, has emailed me. Italy is, for better or worse, nine hours ahead of the Pacific Northwest time zone, and so--with 7 parts fatherly concern and 3 parts meddling buffoon, I fling the bedcovers off and, fumbling idiot in the dark that I am, scramble for my laptop, carefully raise the top, and find and press the circular device on the upper right. I close my eyes and desperately try to convince myself that doing so gives me a few more seconds of alpha sleep (I lie!). I groan as I see the LED display on my clock radio read: 4:15 AM. Sleepily--no, make that lazily--I do the math and determine that it is a little after 1 PM in spaghetti world.

Meanwhile, the irritating musical notes Microsoft implanted in this high tech machine I have only just recently become acquainted with--okay, so I'm a baby boomer caveman (if it fits, I'll wear it)--signals that it, too, is struggling to wake up. Just as I hit the g button that cues the words in my browser's drop down menu, the screen goes black on me. Cursing the idiocy of it all (with me at the top of the list), I realize that my battery has died. What this means, of course, is that I have to get up from my half sitting/half reclining state, step onto the cold thinly-carpeted floor (my landlord is a slum lord, I swear!), freeze my buns off, and blindly grope for the light.

It pierces my eyes, and it's a few seconds before I can adjust to the hurtful brilliance of it all. I rush to find the cord for the laptop, attach it to the machine, and plug the other end in. I plop down on my bed, my brain now losing battery power rapidly, and wait for the laptop to come to life.

Ryan, my handsome, bright, and talented 6'2" son (who hasn't a clue that I still view him with a split/frame perspective: the tall young adult on one side, and the cute little toddler on the other side) is thousands of miles away on the European continent, and I am dying to hear from him. Where did the yearsgo? Two decades ago, some kind soul told me, "Cherish this time. They grow up so fast!" No kidding! (No adulting?) Seemed like only yesterday when I was pushing his stroller up and down the sleepy sidewalks of the southeast Washington bedroom community of College Place.

Now here he is, four times graduated--first, from kindergarten; second, from 8th grade; third, from Walla Walla Valley Academy; and fourth, from Walla Walla University. He now attends graduate school at Cal Polytech University in San Luis Obispo, CA, studying for a dual major in Mechanical Engineering and Business Management. For his second quarter of grad school, he was blessed with the opportunity to study abroad at the University of Milan.

My wife, Rita, and I saw Ryan off at Sea-Tac Airport on Wednesday, December 30, 2009. He had a long but safe flight to London and enjoyed a great evening delighting in the splendor of the Queen's Empire. After that first delightful and relatively stress-free night, however, Ryan began encountering challenge after challenge. What I am greatly inspired and encouraged by is how he evolved from ranter and complainer to wise old soul--he turned the emotional corner when he was in the deepest of valleys, confronting himself to stop whining about his situation and making a decisive choice to start having fun. It was like the proverbial lightbulb turning on.

Which brings me full circle back to the light being on and things coming to life.

This baby boomer dinosaur has learned to SKYPE! Ryan turned me on to this wonderful and innovative high tech tool a week or so ago. I was at the Ballard Library when I decided to click on the lime green icon at the bottom right of my laptop screen. I'm glad I did because I came across my wife and Ryan having a great conversation. Quickly, I typed an instant message to Ryan, asking him to invite me to a conference call. He immediately responded.

Wow! It was great to hear both Rita's and Ryan's voices! And the wonder of it all was that Ryan sounded like he was right in front of me. Thank God for Bill Gates and Paul Allen and all the subsequent high tech geek clones whose brilliance resulted in figuratively shrinking this globe to the size of a grapefruit.

I am very thankful to be living in this amazing era. Yes, we see growing evidence each day that the angels are straining and steadily losing ground in their efforts to hold back the winds of misfortune and suffering. Even so, it only means that we who believe and trust and live our lives accordingly will soon be in a better place.

Until then, let us endure the gentle tugs at our hearts when we come to that juncture where we let our children go, thanking Him for the short yet glorious season He allowed us to have them.

I only ask one thing of Him as I meditate on how I will cope with this time in my life. Lord, whatever You do, let me have my split screen image of Ryan.

ps Thanks for the Skype!