Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Dollhouse

Miriam and Alice set up the dollhouse and the doll store in the attic, with all the dolls, furniture, dishes, and many items for the doll owner to sell in the store. For more, see this post at the story blog.

Friday, August 29, 2008


Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess,has been very busy this year. On our recent trip, we went to Volcanoes National Park to see the new lava vents that have opened up. The location of the lava flowing into the sea has moved out of the park, and is now more accessible. Visitors still leave little offerings to placate Pele: flowers, fruit... I threw a few potato chips towards the offerings depicted above.

We arrived in the late afternoon, and stayed until it was very dark, enjoying the changing light and the cascades of lava that became more and more dramatically visible.

Inside the park, we followed the ranger's advice and walked a short distance to some spectacular lava formations such as this mushroom shape around 30 feet high:
In the crater, a major lava vent also opened in spring, and we saw the steam and sulfur clouds billowing up. At night, when we came back from the seaside fireworks, we visited this vent one more time, and could see the glowing red lava at the base of the smoke plume. The vast amounts of sulfur and particles cause Vog, or volcanic fog to cloud the skies in Kona, where Blue Hawaii is not in evidence this year!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ann Arbor's Best Recreational Activity

Fifteen years or so of garage accumulation is now at the Ann Arbor Dump. We were having so much fun that the woman at the gatehouse said "I wish I could just hang out with my husband today like you are doing."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Abraham Lincoln

For several days, I have been reading Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. I finally finished all 754 pages. Some parts are too long for my taste. The detailed biographies and character sketches of each of Lincoln's rivals, who became cabinet members, were often very repetitive. However, I learned a great deal about the civil war and about the greatness and skilled leadership of Lincoln. One character trait he displayed is not often mentioned in modern pols: his kindness.

It's amusing to read about the 1860 Republican Presidential nominating process and convention while watching the current Democratic Convention in process. Embedded in the rituals of this week's selection process is clearly a slight pretense of doubt. Historic precedent seems to overwhelm common sense in this day when every delegate, every commentator, and every TV watcher knows what will happen. Also, modern communication has rendered much of the give and take of an old convention irrelevant. If anyone is making deals, it doesn't show.

During the conventions that nominated Lincoln for his two terms, he was not present at all. In 1860, he was at his home in Springfield while the convention was in Chicago, waiting impatiently for the results because he was definitely not at the top of anyone's list of winners-to-be. In 1864, he was in Washington; the convention was in Baltimore. Candidates didn't attend the convention until some time in the 20th century. Lincoln spent part of the nominating day in 1864 waiting at the telegraph office, as he often did when waiting for war news -- there was no telegraph in the White House.

Obama last night appeared by remote video -- another example of how technology has changed everything about the process. Not to mention amplification of speeches, also invented long after Lincoln.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Many Fish Photos

Well, even the laundry is done, and our gear is all put away until we can get back to the ocean, the dive boats, and the beautiful beaches.

For a more complete web collection of photos from our trip to Hawaii, check HERE.

I'll be working on a post of lava and other volcanic activity from photos I haven't gone through yet... And don't forget for reports and photos on Hawaiian restaurants, ancient Hawaiian food, and dining tips from our trip.

Another "Most Beautiful Beach"

"Shoreline Public Access" allows everyone to see the private beaches in Hawaii -- a very enlightened policy. This is the beach at the Four Seasons Resort. Like so many others, it's also a historic site for ancient Hawaii, with a number of informative signs explaining what was there before.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Winding Up the Vacation

Yesterday we snorkeled again at "Two Step" the beach next to the National Historical Park at Honaunau -- also called "place of refuge" because it was a safe haven or asylum for Hawaiians who had defied the taboos of the ancient kingdom. The photo shows me beside one of the numerous wood carvings in the park.

Turtles are protected on the beach beside the reconstructed temple: two are basking in the next photo. The turtles along these beaches are amazing. This morning on the very last snorkeling of the vacation we saw five turtles at the beach next door to our condo. They were in very shallow water -- very low tide. Their shells, facial markings, and sizes were all very distinct. (We weren't taking photos.)

Three of the turtles this morning were eating the lettuce-like plants that grow on the rocks, and two were swimming. They use their front fins to steady themselves, and use their mouths to turn over the rocks while grazing. They sometimes swim face down, like a diver going down towards the bottom. The underside of the turtles' shells is light yellow.

Yesterday's turtles:

The last photo of Honaunau is taken from The Coffee Shack, a restaurant up on the hill with a stunning panoramic view. The park occupies the point where waves can be seen breaking, in the center of the photo. The Coffee Shack is very popular with both tourists and locals. It serves breakfast til noon, lunch til three -- we got there a few minutes after lunch began, and had salad, a Reuben sandwich, and some of their famous pie.

We don't want to leave! Our plane is at 9:15 -- checkout time is 11 AM.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Last Day Diving This Trip

Our boat came back this morning after other divers had already made one dive. They had found two tiger sharks, which of course were the highlight of the dives that Len went on after we joined them. Here is the new camera rig he's been using -- a Nikon D80 in a special housing.

The day's best fish:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Surfing Pele's Volcano

Today on the dive boat the driver, named Nue, told me how he accompanied his cousin, a professional surfer, to ride a surfboard to the boiling water where the lava is going into the sea! I wrote it up for the story blog, but I'm putting it here too, as it's really neat.

Nue is an expert at surfing with a long paddle, and so is his cousin. On their adventure, Nue was in a kayak, his cousin on a surfboard. The water was boiling hot as they approached the lava flow.

The surfers first made an offering to Pele of a ti leaf with some fruit or flowers. In this video, you can first see him walk up with this offering. There are also other parts about riding a surfboard with a long paddle. Nue is very good at doing this too.

A news story about Nue and CJ Kanuha appeared in a Hawaii newspaper. The picture shows Nue, as he was telling me this story while we were on the dive boat today:

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dolphins from the dive boat

If you click on this photo, you can see a dolphin breaching -- the pod swept past us as we were going out on the boat this morning.

The second photo shows Tom, boat captain. I have been asking him about gardening here, as he said he grew fruit and vegetables.

Amazing Creatures

Today I saw large schools of fish of various kinds. At one point, there were so many silver fish swimming across the shallow water that I couldn't see the bottom. I saw two teardrop butterfly fish and two barracuda, as well as pyramid butterfly fish among the many sergeant majors.

While I was snorkeling, Lenny was diving with Earl of Aloha Divers and two other photographers named Mike and Bonnie. He took photos of quite a few different kinds of things. The one just above, that looks like a flower, is actually a photo of the eggs of a Spanish Dancer. A few more follow -- the last fish is a mystery: we can't identify it. UPDATE: he's a ring-tailed wrasse.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Hawaii Reading

I love to read about Captain Cook. My selection this trip is Captain Cook: Voyager Between Worlds by John Gascoigne. Reading in the exact location that Cook spent his last few weeks and seeing the sites of his last hours, gives an immediacy to the historic narrative.

I am imagining the people who lived in this place 250 years ago. I try to picture their society, and with the author of the book, to grasp how Cook saw them and they saw Cook and his ships.

Several ancient Hawaiian houses stood on the exact site of our condo complex. A few ruined foundations of ancient houses stand in between the apartment buildings here. The elite of that society appreciated a beautiful view as well as anyone today, I suspect. The population of this area was probably larger in pre-European-arrival days than it is now.

Of course, it's also sad to see how history has been disrespected, but on a large tract of waterfront land between the condos and the next hotel, a major archaeological reconstruction is ongoing.

As for the historic reading: I think this is around the fourth book on Cook that I have read. It's different from the others, more of a social history. From the first chapters -- which I read at the beach -- I learned quite a lot about his early life and the part of England where Cook came from.

Morning at the beach

Friday, August 08, 2008

Conditions: A bit rough

The wind picked up a bit today, but Len -- with Mike's guidance -- still found some interesting and rather rare fish to see. First, two views of a bandit angel fish. Then two little cleaner shrimp; were they waiting for someone to show up and be groomed? Finally, a tinker's butterfly fish. Meanwhile, I was snorkeling, and saw 3 different moray eels, including a large zebra moray. (I don't take photos.)

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Fish Photos

This is a close-up of an octopus eye. What strange creatures octopi are!

There are too many other good photos to post them all. Here are a few: