Saturday, December 17, 2011

My niche has an itch.

It’s my place of well being. I can laugh here even at my own silliness. It’s more like a giggle. I was in Izhevsk Russia where the Kalashnikov gun was invented and my sister visiting me – her childhood dream to come to Russia and attend the Bolshoi Theater, which she did - who is much like me, and when I showed her a china plate which had the Norataki emblem on the back, she said, smiling, “I know that!”, and giggled just like I do. So, if you can imagine an unexpected surprise in a place as different from where you are presently and the flower field along the ‘yellow brick road’ to the Wizard of Oz kingdom where suddenly you find something that is altogether as familiar as something in your own home as a child - a Norataki china plate which you have, as a girl set on the table for dinner a thousand times - you will appreciate the niche of happiness and well being that I am talking about, and how important it is to itch it every so often.

And it seems so important to do so - itch you niche - when there is so much around you that needs to be itched as well. But, there is very little you can do to itch the elephant in the room, when it is so huge. That is why you must settle on the important task of just itching you own niche and giggle at the funny things in life that you can find and remember in fondness.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


My grandfather was Sioux. Actually 1/2 Sioux. Shelby Hogan. He was a CPA with a very traditional Native American upbringing and his demeanor was definitely rooted. He was smart and intelligent way beyond all and could easily 'fit' into our American society. Because he excelled in math he choose accounting. He opened his own office in Albuquerque. I am pretty sure that his only sanity for intellectual sharing was with my Grandmother, Helen. ‘Mimi’ -as us grandchildren would call her. Mimi had moved to Albuquerque at the end of the Depression. Her former husband, Hess, during the depression had died. He was very rich. Lost it all and his health and without any money died in a hospital.

Mimi moved to Albuquerque with her daughter and met Shelby, a CPA and worked for him. Married him. Mimi's daughter from Hess was Jean, my mother. Jean graduated from High School and went to the University of New Mexico. Jean met my Dad, married him, had three children.

As a child in Albuquerque I rode my bike every weekend down to Mimi and Shelby's house about 6 or 7 blocks away to lay on the floor in their living room, next to Shelby, also laying on the floor, playing two deck solitaire. Fire going in winter. Mimi sitting in her rocker knitting next to the fire. The grandfather clock in the corner with the coo coo at every 15 minutes and it's full repertoire on the hour. Sometimes Mimi would let me 'wind' the clock. Pulling the three chains under her supervision. I always made a point of staying till noon just for the clock. Mimi and Shelby would be carrying on a conversation between the two of them like cuddle birds of the same flock. Mimi occasionally reprehending Shelby with his name prefaced by an ‘Ohhh’. But always with a smile for his wit. Shaking her head back and forth inwardly thanking God that in her day and in her age she could have found such a wonderful person to love and live with.

But if you didn’t know that I had been born out of this normal dissidence and just thought logically that if Shelby was my Grandfather I’d of been, you know, one-eighth Sioux and you made the mistake of calling me Sioux, (me thinking you said, ‘Sue’) I might smack you. And I am not Sioux but something deep in the marrow of my bones has been set to a different tone having walked through the Sangro de Christo mountains watching the hawks fly, listening to the scampering jackaloobs and the hissing hornytoads. Sometimes the distant rattle of a snake. But mostly listening to the sound of the dessert ‘just breathing’ in a very natural cadiance. You wouldn’t hear it unless you knew to listen for it. Shelby and I would come to some vista and look out and over the southwest and take it all in. And I did.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Snap or Pop

Jackie is not her real name. She sat down in the beach chair in my yard with a white towel wrapped around her hair and head. You know, turban style, like every woman does with long hair. She crossed her legs and took a bite of watermelon while collecting her thoughts.

I sat, pen and pad in hand a few feet away. Ben, also not his real name, stood next to the other beach chair leaning forward while eating his watermelon.

"Yummmm!" Jackie grinned from ear to ear as the cold watermelon juice drooled down her chin. "This is so good. Thanks!".

“Your welcome. Hits the spot after surfing. Doesn’t it?”

Jackie nodded, looking forward and down. “And there’s the spot. See?”
Ben and I both laughed as Jackie pointed to the spot, a wet drip running down her chin as she whipped it with her napkin.
“Well, as I was saying, I was born here. My mom left my father when I was three months old and took me to the mainland. We traveled to Florida and stayed with my parents. They, my grandparents, adopted me when I was about two years old. It was a bitter separation and divorce during which time my mom revealed how she was abused by my father.”
Jackie got up and started looking around for a place to dispose of the watermelon rind. “Where is your green waste trash?”
“Oh here, let me take that. Feel free to use the sink over there.”
I walked over to the big green waste bin by the fence and threw it in. I came back over and sat down and Jackie joined me having rinsed and dried her face.
“Where was I? Oh yeah,” Jackie continued. “We spent a few years in Florida at my grandparents home until my mom got on her feet. We then moved to Texas where I went to school and eventually to college. A few years ago I moved to Hollywood and started my new career in the fashion industry. During this whole time, my father never once tried to contact me. My mom told me he was into drugs and not a good person. It was never easy talking to her about him. She knew I was curious about ‘my dad’ but, this was always so painful for her to go back and recollect those memories.

I was about 13, when one evening we sat at the table in our kitchen after dinner, just the two of us. She told me everything I am telling you now. She had tears in her eyes. She was fifteen when she hooked-up with this guy who was a lot older than her. She had thought he was ‘so cool’ ‘funny’ at the time. I knew when I got up from the table that evening; it was going to be the last time we would ever talk about ‘that’ subject again."
There was another pause and Jackie was reflecting back.

"I have always wondered about him and the place, this place, where I was born. About a year ago I made the decision to come here and look at the home where I was born and this beautiful beach of which I had only seen pictures.” Looking at Ben now, smiling, “Ben said he would join me if I came here. Yesterday when you saw Ben and me strolling along the beach, we had just walked past the home in which I was born and where I spent my first three months of life.
By the way Craig, it was so nice of you, really to loan us surfboards to go surfing yesterday and today. You gave me something that really connected me to here. Thank you so much.”
“Your welcome”, I blushed, a little. “I’ll tell you more about this place some day.”
“Thank you! I’d like that.”
“Being here these past few days, I have tried to find out about my father. My father's parents owned the house in which I was born. They sold it in the mid to late eighties and apparently stayed in a care facility or old folks home after that. They have both since died. Ben and I talked to some of the neighbors here and we got some information my father is still on the island and living in the Makaha area.”

Jackie again paused. “If I had had any illusions about my Dad, these people have confirmed what my Mom had told me all those years ago. He's been in jail from being in and out of trouble his whole life.

Ben and I went out to Waianae and Makaha and tried to follow some leads but we came up empty-handed. Now, we have to leave to go back to work.”

We both sat quietly for a moment as I wrote her information down.

“It’s possible I might be able to find him,” I told her, “I know a lot of the people here and I have some police officer friends that might lend me a hand if I ask them to help me. Did you go by the store down the street and talk to them?”

“The one just down the street here? Yeah, we stopped there. But, the young man we talked to there told us we should see his mom and she's only there in the evenings.”

“I’ll ask her. She and her family have lived here their whole lives and they know everybody.”

Jackie smiled. “That would we great. Here, let me give you my e-mail.”

She took my pad and pen and wrote it down then handed it back to me.

“Okay! I’ll do what I can. Umm, I guess the question I have is this. If I do find him, what do you want me to do?”

Looking at me seriously, “Tell me what you think of him. Let me know what you think I should do.”

Now she had me thinking, “Okay! I will.”
Jackie and Ben collected their belongings and we said our farewells. I took a picture of them.
Checking my e-mail that after noon I received this: ‘Hi Craig, So nice meeting you and getting to chat with you. We just got to the airport and are about to take off. I think I might have left my sunglasses in the bathroom. They are gold Ray Ban aviators. If you find them please let me know.

Thanks again for everything!’

Reply: ‘Got um! If you want um, you have to come back. …Just kidding! Give me your address and I’ll mail them to you.’
That late afternoon I went down to our local Beach Store.
“Hey Janet. Howzit?”

“Hi Craig! Good! What’s up?”

“Humm, interesting you should ask that. I want to rack your brain a bit.”


“Does the last name Zackery (not their real name) name mean anything to you? They lived here in the early eighties to maybe the late eighties.”

“Yeah. Mrs. Zackery was a hula instructor. My older sister went to her halau for years. So did several of the girls who lived around here. They used to live down… by you, but that was years ago.”

“Yeah, I know. I just met their granddaughter.”

“Their granddaughter! They have a granddaughter here?”
“Not now, but she was here all last week from the mainland trying to find her father.”

“No kidding! Wow! Wait, let’s see, who was the father?”
“Rodney Zackery was the father?” She is looking at me with big eyes in disbelief, open mouthed.”
“Yep, according to Jackie.”
“That’s her name, Jackie? Does she know about Rodney?”
“She knows from her Mom that he was funny, cool, older and into drugs. That he was later abusive. Enough so for her Mom to leave him.”

“Yeah, he was trouble for sure. Weird, a little.” Janet said, tilting her lifted palm back and forth. “If you want to know about Rodney, you should go down and talk to Corbin. Do you know Corbin?”

“You mean the guy who rides around on the golf cart?”

“Yep, that’s him. He can fill your ears with stuff about Rodney.”

“So, when was the last time you saw Rodney?”

“Sheeez, years ago.”

“So you haven’t seen him since then?”

I left the store and rode back towards my house which goes right past Corbin’s house. As I approached the house Corbin was in his cart talking to his son in his drive way.
“Hi! Corbin, right? My name is Craig.”

“Hi, What’s up?”

“I was just talking to Janet and she suggested you might recall someone I am trying to find out more about. The other day a girl came in here looking for her long lost father. Rodney Zackery. That name strike a bell?”

“Oh Geez! It was a nice day! Rodney’s daughter? He has a daughter?”

“Yep! She’s twenty-eight. She was born here and her mom took her at the age of three months and moved away to Florida. When Jackie, was thirteen, her Mom told her all about this Rodney character. Drugs, trouble and more trouble.”

“You got that straight. I told that guy once, that if anything went missing, I would know were to find him.”

“Interesting! So….what became of him?”

“Haven’t seen him for years. His Mom had a Halau here for years. They were nice folks. She must have taught hula to half the girls here on Oahu Beach.”

Corbin basically told me exactly what Janet has shared. Hadn’t seen or heard of him for years.

Being on Facebook, I posted a caption as follows with a photo: ‘Jackie Swan was born on Oahu Beach in 1983. She is now twenty-eight years old. She moved to the mainland with her mom when she was three months old. Her boy friend, Ben, and her are in the picture here in my yard. This last week, the eleventh through the eighteenth of September, they were here on Oahu and specifically right here at Oahu Beach. It was the first time she's returned to the place of her birth.

She went surfing.’

One of my good personal Facebook friends asked me for more details. Rick and I grew up together in Kailua and he is now with a district attorney's office in California. By that afternoon I had Rodney’s address and phone number. Rick also confirmed the character background.

I called Paul Scott who was a life-long friend of mine and who had just retired a few years back from the Honolulu Prison. He was a corrections officer. Paul listened to my spill and when I got to ‘Rodney Zackery’ I heard him say: “Wait, wait, wait! What? Rodney Zackery?”

“Yes, Rodney Zackery.”

“Stop! Stop right there! Have you contacted him?”

“No. I just now got this information and was going to call him this evening.”

“No! Do not contact Rodney Zachery! He is a drug addict and he is big trouble. Did you say he's never tried to contact his daughter? What’s her name, Jackie?”

“No, as far as Jackie knows, he's never attempted to reach her.”

“There's a reason he's never contacted her. Listen very carefully Craig, although it really doesn't make any difference what the real reason is. He does not want any contact with her. If you go and contact him about her, you may find out the hard way. Just think about this for a second. He's never contacted his daughter and he has obviously never paid any child support. Do you have any idea how much back-money he owes for a child who's been to college?”


“Craig, a person on drugs is missing a few snaps that connect continuous logical thought. He may think you are someone there just for that reason and… where there was once a snap is now a pop!”

“I knew there was a reason I called you.”

“Are you coming over on Sunday?"


“Bring the beer!”

“What are you not going to do?”
“I am not going to call Rodney Zackery”
E-mail: ‘Jackie….

What would you do if you were me? What would you do if you were in Jackie’s shoes? I told Jackie, in my e-mail, who you know is not really Jackie, but someone who you probably know because you read this magazine, that I was going to have to bow out under sound advice.

If you were ‘Jackie’ what would you do?

Addendum: Rodney Zackery was 36 years old when he got Jackie’s Mom pregnant. Jackie’s Mom was either 14 or just 15. Jackie’s Mom was a student hula dancer in Mrs. Zackery’s Hula Halau (dance troop). I have no idea what exactly occurred but maybe something like this:
Let’s call Jackie’s Mom Cheryl. One day Cheryl came over to Mrs. Zachery’s Halau having been dropped off by her Mom and she found out from Rodney, her son, that the lesson’s today had been cancelled. Mrs. Zackery had gone to the Big Isle to attend a funeral for a family member. Cheryl had come to know Rodney, a kind of cool older guy always cracking jokes and goofing off. She liked him. He was always smiling at her and made her feel good. Now he was inviting her inside to ‘hang out’ for the next two hours until her Mom would pick her up…
Cheryl is catholic. Abortion was not even a consideration. Move? Place charges?
And then there is Rodney. What sort of life do you think he has had? When I got his address information it included that he had been 'on the move' with no permanent residence since... well the records went back only 10 years. So we now know what the probable reason for his disappearance. He is probably guilty of statutory rape. Hawaii's age of consent is 16.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Lot's Boys!

I received the following true story from my buddy Rick Helin which in itself is a ‘great’ story. But when you read it you will discover why he sent it to me.

Now I know why I found these ‘pictured’ golf balls on Ewa Beach. The connection….

Rick’s story:

“I used to live on the 12th fairway of the Mid-Pacific Golf Course in Lanikai/Enchanted Lakes. All the kids in the neighborhood used to love to play about five holes (12th-17th Holes) late in the afternoon after school till it was about to get dark. We'd do our best to get back home before the gardeners came out to cut and water the greens. Once in a while they'd almost catch us in their trucks, but we'd run off. Some of the members used to complain about us during their board meetings, not because we were punks, but because none of us were members and we were trying to play without paying.

Then, one day, all the dog and cat play with the gardeners stopped. The gardeners stopped chasing us for some unknown reason. In fact, they actually became quite friendly to us and would wave and smile at us kids. We thought it was all a trap to lure us in and then they'd catch us and call our parents and police.

I didn't find out the real reason until my Senior year. I discovered the truth from my neighbor who was a member of the club, but who didn't have any kids of his own. I mentioned the story to him one day and he laughed. He sat me down and explained what had really happened. Apparantly, during one of the Member's Board Meetings, one of the most unpopular members stood up to whine about us kids for the millionth time. Like all the times before, it wasn't because we were doing anything wrong... ut was just because we were "playing without paying" and monthly fees were expensive. After all, it was a private club and us kids were flaunting the rules. I remember he said the asshole's name was "Harry".

Finally, one of the more respected members had enough. He stood up and told "Harry" to "Shut the fuck up!" He explained to the Boardmembers that all we were doing was playing five holes of golf about two or three times a week, at a time other members had already gone home for the day. It wasn't like we were vandalizing the course.

He explained to this wiener that us kids were the club's greatest vandalizing deterrent. That the club had the choice of making us kids their friends, or having us become their mortal enemies. He suggested if they took the hard-line approach, us kids might take our revenge out by vandalizing the fairways or greens. By doing nothing to us and letting us play a few holes now and then, he said it allowed us to feel like we have "a vested ownership" in maintaining good relations. And doing so allowed us to continue to learn the game. Also, he explained, most kid's allowances can't afford memberships to expensive golf clubs and by letting us learn the game and build an appreciation for that particular course, when we did grow up and have the ability to become members, we'd chose Mid-Pacific because of all of the wonderful memories we had built-up as kids. He saw it as a "win-win" situation. In addition, we kids would become the club's eyes and ears and might be more inclined to snitch should we learn of other kids who don't golf and have the same kind of appreciation for the game, and who might have a tendency to do actual vandalism.

It all made sense. For the most part, thieves normally steal from strangers and not from their friends and family. Somehow, it allows them to justify their misbehavior by creating a misperception of their victims being complete jerks. It's kind of like, "Well, they're assholes and they had it coming to them", rather than "I'm a jerk and no one has a right to steal from anyone no matter who they are."

In essence, without ever realizing it, Dwight's goodwill helping kids has probably been transferred into goodwill for Silva's Market. I would venture to guess that store could have been robbed, vandalized, etc. ten times more than it probably has, just because Dwight's humanity shines through because kids aren't stupid. They know who their friends and family are. They know who to respect. The Spirit of Ohana is very strong in Hawaii. Your landlord neighbor would do well to remember that.”

---Rick Helin

What prompted this shared story by Rick was this. I have been living on Ewa Beach at ‘Empty Lots’ surf spot for a little over a year.

When I moved here I know that Ewa Beach had a bad reputation. In fact, Peter Wade a now retired Corrections Officer and very close old friend of mine, said they had a whole crew of ‘Ewa Beach Boys’, who were not to be taken lightly.

When Natalia and I moved back to Oahu from the Bay area, we found a place, right on the beach. Right in front of a surf spot. We rented this place and have gone surfing every day.

I waved and made friends of the locals who eventually returned the waves with smiles. I did repairs for some of them on their surfboards.

Silva Store in here on Ewa Beach. It is run by Ivy and her son Dwayne. Dwayne is a surfer here having grown up here. He is about thirty. He took it upon himself to do what I followed up with by doing repairs and even giving second hand boards to the local kids. His philosophy: ‘I’d rather the kids be surfing than hanging out on the streets bored to death.’

So with his example and my good natured ness I loaned boards and boogie board to the kids. When they needed repairs, ‘Hey, let’s get that fixed!’

But I discovered a problem. My landlords who live on the same property, next door, did not want these kids on the property at all! I suddenly was even threatened with eviction. Now I know there are two sides to every coin and I have tried to understand this position. Actually, I can’t understand it but I must accept it and respect it as it is their property, even though I am the one renting it.

So, no more loans. No more repairs. No more access to come and say ‘Hi Uncle Bob’. No more wax! Sorry!...and no more rinse off with the hose – even when I offered to pay for it. Nope!

I have tried to discreetly share this situation with the kids and they understand and seem to just let it go. Another stab.

Monday, August 29, 2011

And the Berlin Wall came down

I love to travel. I should do it for living. I wish I could do it for a living. I love to travel, write, paint and surf.

Have you ever traveled by yourself? It’s a good way to learn about your self.

About twenty years ago, I was living on the island of Maui, the owner of my own business that had come about by some good karma on my part at the right time and the right place.

I was living in my own house, which I designed and built on a four plus acre lot of which I had designed and created as part of a thirty four acre - ten lot subdivision with friends and neighbors that liked me, and then surrounded me.

You would have thought I was the happiest person. Good health. A nice wife, two healthy nice kids on this slice of paradise. Business was good. Yes, for all the reasons standard among mankind, I was a successful person.

But! … There I said it!

But, some chapter of my life had gone missing. A chapter that I had in my memories but not in my active conscious. And it became an itch that needed to be scratched.

I told my wife one day that I wanted to take a trip, by myself, to the Holy land. We had gone there in 1975 and I had seen something’s I wanted to explore. It would be a two week trip. She said ‘okay’. I said ‘Cool’!

I booked a flight and stayed in the Avalon Hotel in Jerusalem, which was the same hotel I had stayed at in 1975. I checked in and walked to a restaurant just a block or two away. It was around 5PM Israeli time. It was the opposite time from Hawaii. I had slept on the flight but the fact as we know it, any flight over 6 hours turned you into a zombie.

As I entered the restaurant I saw a family I had seen on the plane from NY. They had been sitting together in the center isles, just opposite me. A father, mother, son and daughter. They had smiled at me on the plane and now as I entering the restaurant, I received the same smile and to my surprise a gesture to join them. They seemed as surprised and happy to see me as I was to see them. So, I joined them. Kamran and his wife, Neda. I don’t remember the kids’ names but they were polite and seemed so happy.

No, actually they were very happy and content. It was a very nice good family with lots of love. Much like my own I had left on the other side of the world to be here.

We sat and eat dinner while talking. They were from Canada. Their original home had been Iran which they had left to go to Canada after the overthrow or abdication of the Shah in seventies. I told them about myself. They were going to be doing a local tour of the sites of Jerusalem and then heading up to Haifa to stay for a ‘Baha’i Pilgrimage’ for ten days. I told them that I was also going to Haifa in two days and staying at the Dan Carmel Hotel. They both laughed and said: “Well!, See you there!” “What?”, I responded. “We are also staying at the Dan Carmel.” Now the chances of meetings, after the plane and staying in the same Hotel in Jerusalem, the Avalon, and then going to Haifa at the same time and staying at the same hotel was becoming to much of a coincidence.

They asked me what was my agenda for the next two days in Jerusalem. I told them I was going to retrace my steps of ten years previous by going on the path of Jesus through the stations of ‘Christ’ and then the next day going out to the Dead Sea and to Masada.

They said that they were on a package tour and were not sure exactly where they were going. They thought they were going to the Dead Sea the next morning.

We continued chatting as we walked back to the hotel where I immediately crashed.

The next morning, waking to the sound of a mosque calling Muslims to prayer, I bought a ‘walking guide’ for Jerusalem and after a continental breakfast included in the Avalon room fee, struck out on foot for the ‘Stations of Christ’. I had half expected to see the Canadians at breakfast but they were not there. After a lunch of hummus I went to the Wailing Wall and to the Church of the Ascension. I eat dinner not far from the Avalon and went to my room.

The following morning I rented a car and headed out to the Dead Sea and Masada. I was not going to make the same mistake twice and go swimming in the Dead Sea. The alkaline percentage is so high that even a drop of it in your eyes will be a horrible experience. The ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’ were discovered here along this area in some caves. Arriving at Masada after going through the pillars of Salt was just as breathtaking as I had remembered. It was just as amazing to walk through this fortified fortress I had remembered it before to be. The well system for drinking water, the gardens and the defense system from attack. The views of the Dead Sea and Jordan across the valley… They were all breathtaking.

By now I was recovering from my jet lag and when I returned to Jerusalem late in the afternoon I was feeling good and energetic. I was now ready to go to Haifa and explore those places I had traveled half way around the world to explore and understand.

I paid my bill at the front desk since I was going to be checking out early the next morning and catching my bus. Standing there at the desk I suddenly heard the two young kids of Kamran and Neda calling me and running up to me.

We eat dinner together at the same restaurant where I discovered that we would be on the same bus to Haifa in the morning. Of course!

The next morning on the bus greeting them again I sat separately to read about the area of Haifa and in particular about the city across the bay from Haifa called Acre or Akka depending on weather you were Arab or Jew. An ancient city with a history that went back to the eons. From Mount Carmel in Haifa you can look at this small port city across the bay. It’s white and light brown buildings sparkle above the blue Mediterranean Sea. That was the place I had come half way around the world to see.

We arrived in Haifa in mid day and checked in. I throw my bag on the bed and took a walk down the road where I was very anxious to see the view of Haifa and Acre across the bay. The Dan sits on the top of Carmel Mountain and I knew I could walk to that place were I remembered standing and looking down a terraced stair case descending to the foot of the mountain.

Approaching this same place now I was anxious about it, because I had held it in my memory only. Would it be the same? Standing there I followed with my eyes the straight path down this terraced stair case and the avenue at the bottom out across the Haifa Bay to that city of brilliant white and brown. I must have been intensely studding it as I did not hear the approach of a park guard. He suggested that I use the telescope to view what I was staring so hard at ten or twelve miles distant. I said thank you and walked over to the mounted telescope on it’s pedistal. I dropped a few shekels and now it was clear and up-close. As I was staring at it the guard, when I exhausted my shekels worth, came over and asked me what I found so interesting. I told him I had been here on a tour ten years earlier and had stood right here at this exact spot and seen that city across the bay. I have never forgotten it and if I told you it is the reason why I am now standing here now, you may laugh. But the truth is, that’s why I am here. I want to go there. I have just a few minutes ago arrived.

He didn’t smile or laugh but said to me, it’s very interesting that you should make that observation. This stair case and terraces was built to point directly at Acre. I was suddenly surprised. I looked up and now across the bay following the path and stairs in minute detail. Yes it did. If pointed directly like an arrow at it.

The guard said that actually the path and stair case pointed directly at Acre and a place that was also in line with this same straight path called al Bahja, just a couple of kilometers beyond Acre. If you look again through the telescope you will see a very verdant green cluster of trees just past the dry arid port city of Acre. He dropped two coins into the telescope and said, ‘Here look!’

Sure enough there it was, an oasis of green trees and some sort of a building in it’s midst, directly, as he had so in detail told me. Now I looked through the telescope and elevated it from the avenue below to straight out to Acre and then just there immediately above Acre, al Bahja.

The coins expired, my view went blank and I turned to him and said, “What is that place?” He looked at me and said, “You should go and see for yourself! I think it is important for you.”

“Why so mysterious? What is it called? Al Bahja?”

He smiled and said: “It is not that I am deliberately trying to be mysterious, but it is really something, as it is for anyone, to discover for their selves. I could tell you what I know of it, but until you see it for yourself, it will not have any real meaning. And isn’t it the reason why you are here? Because you needed to discover this for yourself?”

Now I was smiling. “How do I get there?”

He asked me, “Where are you staying?” I said at the Dan Carmel. He said to just check on the bus schedule with the front desk.

I stood there and again returned my gaze to the city across the bay and that spot of green just above it. I told the guard thank you and walked over to the railing and took in the whole panoramic view of Haifa. It had grown in ten years time. Haifa port seemed to me larger too.

I went back to the hotel and walked past it to a café. I eat and strolled around the top of Carmel looking at the various shops and stores. I felt a little sleepy and went back to the hotel. I booked a morning bus tour to al Bahja. They said I could catch a bus from there to Acre every 15 minutes and then back to Haifa also.

The next morning I eat and met the tour bus to al Bahja in front of the hotel. The two hour ride was interesting along the swing of the bay. Lots of aqua marine fishing farms, apartments and the bay to the inside with the ever blue Mediterranean beyond. As we approached Acre I could see the port entrance and made a note of it’s location so when I came back I could go there. It was beautiful with the back drop of the Mediterranean. We drove through gum and eucalyptus trees and then turned into a huge parking lot with olive trees set in rows with towering stately gum and eucalyptus. A beautiful building like a mansion set in the middle with tiled roof. Under the olive trees were manicured gardens surrounding the entire estate. It was absolutely beautiful. I had no idea. I felt like I was in the Vancouver Rose gardens, but this was much more expansive and far more beautiful. The space and veneer was serene to the eyes. A true paradise. I was indeed surprised. The Carmel Mountain guard had not let on at all what I would find.

As I walked along the paths as they circumambulated the gardens and the majestic mansion in the middle I came upon a lady sitting on a bench. She was crying and holding her head in her hands. I didn’t want to disturb her and quietly tried to go past her. She suddenly looked up. It was Neda! I was so surprised as she obviously was too. She asked me to have a seat. She said this was a very holy place for her and she, Kamran and the children had come here to this place. She asked me how I had come here. I told here. She looked at me and broke into a teary smile and asked me to do her a favor. She asked me to go into that room, as she pointed, and to please read these prayers for some of her family and dear friends. I was shocked and asked her why and what is this place?

She said, you will find out. I asked her, why can’t you do this? She said she is not ready to go into the shrine yet. I asked her, “Shrine?” She said, “Yes, but you will find out.” I looked at the book she was handing me. It was cloth covered and embroidered. It had maybe a dozen markers in it. I asked her, “You want me to go into that shrine and say these prayers for these people?” She said, “It would make me very happy if you would.”

I looked at the prayer book. I looked at the shrine. I looked back at her, “Your not going to tell me what this place is?” She smiled and that was all. I said, “Ok, This place is fascinating. I am curious about it. In that room, where do I go?” She said there is an inner garden. Find a place to sit and be comfortable.” “Ok!” I got up and walked along the path and then turned into the main path that went directly to this shrine. There were lots of shoes outside and I took mine off. I opened the giant door and as I stepped in. I saw people sitting and kneeling along this entrance corridor. I closed the door behind me. Some of them were reading from their pray books but all in silence. It was an atrium with a inner garden just as Neda had said. There was carpeted corridors around this oriental garden with roses and a small leafed tree. Tiny leaves. Almost lacy. A curtained section of an annex room and there, more roses in vases of exquisite décor and design. Birds of paradise, nightingales just beyond a thin vale which you could easily see through. I walked along slowly and found a place next to the garden and sat down with Neda’s prayer book. I looked around. Everyone seemed to be in various states of emotional continentment. Some happy, smiling through their tears others in deep reflective thought. I looked in detail at this garden with this tree rising up toward the top of this atrium with glassed in windows on the sides. A few of the windows open allowing the breath of winds to flow through. It was cool and comfortable. The air was very pleasantly perfumed with rose water. It was a delightful fragrance. Now I looked at this prayer book and turned it over in my hands. I opened it to the first indexed paper and saw a hand written note for six or so names. I read it. I moved to the next and like wise read it for each of the noted persons. Beautiful prayers. Very touching. To the next. This prayer had like twenty names. I sat reading their names line by line and suddenly a very curious thing happened. I tiny leaf from this oriental tree floated down and nestled into the fold of this prayer. I would never have picked it. It was a gift. I read this prayer and then moved on to the next and the next and the next. Finished, I looked around to see all the people which had been in the room, when I came in were now gone. There were just two others than I. I started to get up and faltered. My legs had gone to sleep and I had not noticed it. I stretched them out and waited for the pins and needles as the blood began to flow through them. Finally subsiding I got up and backed out of this room. I put my shoes on and looked in the direction of where Nada had been. She was still sitting in the exact location. I walked back out this path and then turned to where she was. As I approached she was beaming with a smile. I again sat down next to her and handed her, her prayer book. She was looking into my eyes the entire time. As I did she put her hand up as to say no. I looked with a question as to why. She said to me, “It would be a great honor for me if you would accept this as a gift. It can be for you a souveiner for your search and journey. I want you to accept it as a gift of our friendship, please!”

What was I to say? I looked at her and knowing that she was very serious about this, I said, “Thank you! But can you please tell me what is this place? It is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. How come I have never heard of this place?” She continued to smile and said to me, “It is a place of timelessness with no connection to anything or anyone. It is holy and sanctified. It is here and yet it is not. It is the essence of faith and love. The name al Bahja, means ‘light’.” I looked at her and just stared. Trying to absorb what she had just conveyed. It became etched in my memory and remains to.

Suddenly she said she must go and got up, saying “God bless you! Take care of yourself!” I stood and thanked her. She walked off toward the shrine now and I watched her remove her shoes and before she stepped in she looked up and waved at me. Then she stepped in and closed the door.

I sat there in the eucalyptus and olive trees. Gardens of flowers set in ‘some eight pointed stars, spread around. Finally I went back out the way I had come and walked to the bus stop. I got on the bus to Acre and there walked out to the port entrance which I had seen. As I was famished I found a restaurant and eat a hummus lunch while overlooking the sea, the bay, Haifa across the bay and Mount Carmel.

After lunch I walked around and found some incredible places. Camel barnes. Structures that were pre Christ. All of it was so beautiful. I came around the corner and saw again the port from the other side and looked across the bay to Haifa and Mount Carmel and could make out the rising stared path ascending to the top of Carmel. The calm sea laping on the shore. Boats rocking on the gentle swells.

I saw a storied building with a open restaurant and went up. Got a drink and walked over to the balcony. I had a clear view of Carmel and exactly opposite the gardens of al Bahja. I was right in the path.

I went back to Haifa and to my hotel. I eat dinner and retired early. Before I retired that night I opened Neda’s prayer book to that prayer of which the leaf had floated down and nestled into the crease. I closed it and went to sleep.

For the next week and a half after breakfast I would walk to the top of the stared path descending Carmel and follow it down and then out across the bay to Acre and that green spot just on the other side, called al Bahja. I explored Haifa with some tourist spots, Elijah’s Cave and its monastery. The Arab quarter and then I ventured back out to al Bahja. But the gates were closed and I could not find an entrance that was open. I went to Acre and explored more of the ancient tunnels, aquaduct system and other historical edifices. I loved the hummus and bread, with all he condiments. The view of the Mediterranean Sea was so peaceful and relaxing.

My days passed away in this way until I returned to Tel Aviv and flew back with a connecting flight to Maui.

I arrived back on a Saturday afternoon and then the next morning in the Maui News was a featured front page article: ‘To Russia with Love.’

Three Art teachers on Maui had just returned from Moscow and attended an Arts Symposium. The Russian hosts were so impressed that these three teachers had organized this trip to bring to Russia 12 art students that they were coming to Maui as an appreciation for this gesture of good will. The three teachers were suddenly overwhelmed and where turning to the public for assistance to help support this visit.

This article literally jumped off the page and into my heart. I called the journalist who had written the article and got the phone numbers for the three teachers. I called them and got the details. I contacted an organization that could help with this and this organization met with the three Maui teachers and made a decision to provide all the food and cooking for this visit. A local farm with facilities to host the Russians had volunteered to provide the hospitality. Our organization supplied all the food, cooks and servers. The two week event went off without a hitch and was very successful. Russians and Americans bonding.

The principle chaperon of the Russians, Mrs. Velakova on about the third day of this event came and sat down with me with coffee. We talked. She suddenly said to me that she wanted me to organize a tour of Americans to come to Russia. She wanted me to organize it. She would arrange all the Visas. I was suddenly envisioning some grand endeavor toward Peace. The Soviet Union had only opened its doors and declared Perestroika in 1985. This was 1988. And that after sixty years of rigid communism rule and isolation from the West.

We came up with a number of sixty-five youth. I got in touch with the Youth Ambassadors of America who had sponsored the three Maui teachers and under their umbrella we started planning this event. In the end we got five youth from each of the Hawaiian Islands and five from Australia, A couple from New Zealand and then twenty odd from the various states . A couple from Canada and one from Germany: Total: Sixty-two.

On November 26 1989 we arrived in Moscow and went to the Red Square. I was the tour director. We stayed in Moscow and then went to Kazan. It is realistic to say that each of these sixty-two youth met over twenty thousand Russian counterparts on this trip. Some of them are married to Russians now.

I met a wonderful friend on this trip. Shamil Fattakov who remains to this day a most cherished friend. He invited me back to Russia the next year. I did so and stayed with him for 2 months.

I met many wonderful friends in Russia who I truly love to this day.

My life, as I had known it, up to that point was nice and comfortable. But something missing was always nagging in my consciousness. And those things left un-checked will keep on calling until answered. It is not that I fell out of love with my wife as much as it was that I was not happy.

Ten years after this trip I went back to Russia. I have a very good friend who is now living on Oahu. Shortly after arriving here, my life long good friend, Peter Wade called me up and we had a good visit. He told me something that I had forgotten. This is what he said, “Do you remember when we lived in Kailua as boys. I was 10 and you were 9. Johnny was 10. We laid in the back yard of your house and looked for Sputnik in 1957. When we say it, you said, ‘I am going to Russia!’ Johnny and I laughed and laughed at you. ‘You can’t go to Russia! They are the enemy!’ We laughed at you. But you held your ground and said, ‘No! I am going to Russia!”

He read to me an article that was submitted to an Indiana newspaper about a person from Maui who had organized a tour of sixty-two youth. It had so influenced this youths being that he felt that it was the principle moment in his life to be happy. Peter’s Sister, living in Indiana had sent it to Peter, very surprised to know this Bob Palmer as mentioned in the article.

It is not that Natalia, my Russian friend and I are so close. We have evolved into being good friends. For me it is much more to realize how important it is, to be you.

Shamil, my best friend in Kazan said to me once: “If you want to know Russia you should come in the summer.”
I said: “No! If you want to know Russia you must come in winter. Just as it is with your self; if you want to know yourself you must come by yourself on all your adventures. And to know your self is like Russia in winter. Then you can enjoy summer.”

On that first night in Russia on the outskirts of Moscow with snow falling, having arrived that day, my room mate said a prayer for the success of our tour. I opened my suit case and pulled Neda’ prayer book out. I opened it to that prayer of which the leaf had floated down and nestled into the crease. I now read that prayer again and as I did, the leaf followed my words line by line moving down the page. I finished the prayer as the leaf floated to the ground and there is remains, having brought with it sixty-two youth from the West into the Heart of the East and one boys dream of love and unity for mankind.

On the 12 of December 1989 we departed Moscow back to the West. The Berlin Wall came tumbling down!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dreams of a Cockatiel

I’ve noticed that Goldie, this cockatiel that adopted us, now that he has totally integrated into our life style – living on the roof of his cage which he has free access too, when he takes naps, such as he is now, dreams. His crown moves as his dream carries him away to…. Ahhhh! Oz land. He is flying over Eucalyptus trees. It is summer and hot, but there is a breeze blowing from the ocean and he senses this cool ocean breeze and flies toward it. As he reaches the crest of a low mountain range he comes up and there it is, the ocean. He glides down above and the eucalyptus which gives way to coconut trees which are not in Oz. As he comes to the shore, he sees surfers in the water and then he sees me. I wave up at him. He wakes and opens his eyes and now re-assured, drifts back into another dream.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

I Did! I loved Lucy!

Growing up, for me, everything to do with Lucy was to laugh.

I hope you will get a laugh from this following story. Remember Ethel? Lucy’s side kick on the ‘I Love Lucy’ show? Ethel’s sister lived in Albuquerque, as well as Ethel herself, though she was seldom home. I lived there till I was 6 as a child. Ethel’s sister, Lou Ann Graham lived across the street from us and two doors down from my Aunt who was a good friend of Lou Ann’s.

One Saturday Lou Ann is having this welcoming home party for her sister, ‘Ethel’, who’s real name is Vivian Vance and a special guest. Yes, Lucille Ball. But nobody knows it. But everyone is hoping and guessing that it will be Lucy.

On this same occasion, not that my Dad and I had given it any thought, are testing out our brand new, just made, box kite. It’s a test flight! We had been making it all week.

There is a small triangular park between my house and my aunts where this test flight will take place. This home made box kite was something special. First of all it was huge! It was as big as my father who was 6 foot tall. It is made of this special tracing paper that you can not rip. My dad had bought 6 spools of not kite string but fishing line for extra strength. I believe they were 250 yards each. I do not recall exactly, but this I do remember: our kite became a speck in the heavens! My Dad was a civil engineer and anything that he did that required his education in engineering was test proven perfect. This kite was no exception and his credentials, though not visible, where on the line, so to speak. Well, it flew perfect. No hint of a dip or falter. Straight up. Perfect form! Balanced!

So, there we are my Dad and I, flying this kite with all the spools of string end to end and attached to a wooden two-handled spindle which he also had made for all this fishing line. Wow! What a kite! Big, true and awesome!

Where we lived on Parkland Circle was just a couple of miles Kirkland Air force Base and Sandia Airport. The approach to its landing was not to far away. I was to register this fact, from the following experience, though I kind of knew it, as we had driven there on occasions. Suddenly my Dad, as we are standing there for a while tells me that he needs to go to the bathroom and heads off to our house. So, there I stood holding this spindle with line and kite on Parkland Circle, Albuquerque. All by myself. ….not for long.

From behind me is some commotion and I turn around to see Lucy and Ethel of the ‘I Love Lucy’ show emerge from a car in front of our neighbor Lou Ann’s house. A whole bunch of people are pouring out of the Lou Ann’s house all excited to greet them. This is behind me as I am standing there glancing over my shoulder. Meanwhile in front of me is an Air Force pickup stopping. Two uniformed Air Force Military Police get out and walk up to me. They are looking at the string and following it up in the direction of the kite up in the heavens. One of them asks me: ‘Is that your kite?’ But the commotion of all of the people is suddenly dominating everyone’s attention, including the M.P’s. They are suddenly, looking at Lucy and Ethel and all these people 50 feet away from us. It registers with them that it is really Lucy and Ethel. I answer,’ Yes’, to their question but they do not register this information. Their mouths are agape, as they take in what is suddenly a totally unexpected encounter; Right in front of them is Lucille Ball and Ethel Mertz, of the ‘I Love Lucy Show.’ Having totally forgotten what they were doing and why they were here, I hear certain expressions being spoken by our men in uniform that are never spoken in my house as they converse between themselves. I can’t cover my ears because I have my hands full of kite, so I squint my eyes tight as if that’s going to wart off the verbiage a 5 year old should not be listening too.

Finally after some lapse of time, the one who had asked me, ‘Is that your kite?’, turns to me and says: ‘Your kite is interfering with the airplane traffic coming into the airport. You need to bring it in. or at least down to a level where it will not interfere with the planes.’ and again, now looking at it, that distant speck in the heavens, ‘Kid, you need to ‘bring it down to a level where it will not be in the path of the airplanes.’ I said ‘okay’, and started winding the two handled spindle to tow it in. It is not easy. In fact I am wondering where my Dad is.

Seeing that I am doing this they are now, again totally engaged in observing Lucille Ball and Ethel Mertz in the midst of all these people. I am winding the kite in. The two M.P.’s are having a private conversation among themselves again with the certain expressions. And it’s not about the kite. I’m standing there listening to them going on and until finally I say to them, ‘Excuse me! Maybe one of you could help me!’ Both of them turned to me and one came over. The one who was telling me about how my kite being in the way of airplanes takes the spindle and starts winding it in. The other M.P. and I then had a conversation. He shared with me that the airplanes coming into land at Kirkland and Sandia fly right through this area. If they hit your kite and started winding all that string around their propeller it could cause the plane to crash. I visualized a big ball of fishing line wrapped up tighter than a baseball around the propeller and understood what he meant.

Apparently a pilot had gone zooming by my box kite and after expelling expletives, had called the Control tower and they looking at this box kite through their binoculars, expelling expletives who in turn called the Air Force military Police who also expelled expletives and now having found the culprit, 'me', a 5 year old, could not find a final target for all these accumulative expletives until they saw Lucy and Ethel standing 50 feet away: So this 5 year old heard them expletives anyways.

Well, the M.P. who was winding in the kite calls over to his buddy to give him a break and asks me, ‘How much line do you have attached to this kite? And what is this line, fishing line?’ I tell him about the six spools of fishing line and he gives me an expression of like he had never heard of such a thing.

We got the kite down to a visible level and the M.P. who had the spindle, says, “Here kid, don’t let it get any higher that that, okay?’ I say, ‘Yes Sir and thank you!’

They now return their attention to Lucy and Ethel. One goes over to their Pick up and pulls a radio transmitter from inside and calls the Control tower. They inform the Control tower that they found the kite and got it down to a safe level. Then they tell them that they had an unexpected encounter. This goes back and forth until the MP finally convinces the Control tower that Lucy and Ethel are standing 50 feet away with a whole throng of people greeting them at some sort of party.

I am standing there holding this kite. My Dad - remember my Dad? - was no where in sight. I decide that I need to either get this kite all the way down or…. I tie it to a tree trunk wrapping it around it a few times. Now free of the kite I go over and stand next to the MP’s and join them looking at Lucy and Ethel. Lou Ann sees me and calls me over. She introduces me to Lucy and Ethel, who I had met before. I tell Ethel that the two MP’s would love to get an autograph if they could and Ethel says, ‘Sure’, just like she talks on TV. So Ethel walks over to Lucy, grabs her arm and pulls her away saying ‘excuse me’ and the two of them go over to the two MP’s and sign autographs for them while telling them that the Armed Forces takes precedence over everyone. One of the MP’s has pulled out a small notebook and pen for this purpose. Then Lucy and Ethel return to the party and go inside Lou Ann’s home.

The MP’s get in their pick up, laughing and looking at and admiring their sudden treasure and drive off. I walk across the street and meet my Dad emerging from the house as he is following the pick up with his eyes. He tells me that he was concerned that they might give him a fine for the kite being too high.

I said, ‘A fine? I got a fine talking to.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Why we are here ...FB, that is!

I think we are here (FB)* to keep abreast of each other because we know each other or it was some comment offered that drew your attention to that person. My FB friends have fluctuated over the years. The number of friends has increased because of these two observations. But it has not been a steady increase. In a month I will gain maybe around 3 and lose one. I will keep friends that I know personally unless they themselves drop me. I will keep FB friends that I am truly interested in (something they do or are doing) unless they say or do something really that I can not handle. My level of tolerance is quite high. I can barely tolerate my own comments sometimes. I cringe a lot! I am much to ‘light’ on any serious thought provoking exercise to be a ‘heavy’, but I know lots of people who are and I actually enjoy their sharing. It saves me the time to do that.

* Facebook

Why we are here ...FB, that is!

I think we are here (FB)* to keep abreast of each other because we know each other or it was some comment offered that drew your attention to that person. My FB friends have fluctuated over the years. The number of friends has increased because of these two observations. But it has not been a steady increase. In a month I will gain maybe around 3 and lose one. I will keep friends that I know personally unless they themselves drop me. I will keep FB friends that I am truly interested in (something they do or are doing) unless they say or do something really that I can not handle. My level of tolerance is quite high. I can barely tolerate my own comments sometimes. I cringe a lot! I am much to ‘light’ on any serious thought provoking exercise to be a ‘heavy’, but I now lots of people who are and I actually enjoy their sharing. It saves me the time to do that.

* Facebook

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ewa Beach

As a teenager, growing up in Kailua, on the other side of the island, Oahu, Hawaii, my surfing buddies and I would always say: 'When I grow up, I'm gonna live on the beach in front of my own surf spot!' Well, here I am. The surf spot is called 'Empty Lots', as several un-built upon lots were in the vicinity. Not any more.

I stopped here to 'check out' the surf on a few occasions as a teenager. I remember surfing here maybe two or three times.

Now that I live here, I know some little secrets about this place. When it is good and when it is not. And i am out every day at the perfect time. Most of the time by myself.

It's funny, the dreams of our youth and how we end up either dismissing them or fulfilling them. This is one dream, among many, that I really am glad that I ended up having come true.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Ireland, our land, long and lasting true!

Ponder this in your breast
The mind will not past the test
Twilight finds in deja vu
What was thought through
And there again he stood true
Waiting all this time for you.

You knew it when
A shiny gleam in the glen
Sparkled like a diamond
In the green and velvet dewd
Clovers fresh and smiling
Beads of perfect tears waiting
Waiting all this time for you.

Your heart sings songs
Your mind does not know.
Melodies of long forgone times
Flowing without restraint
Knowing where to rise and fall.
Looking out over all the verdant green
Solice peace and now at last
No longer having too Wait.
All this time is now for you.

Ireland, our land, long and lasting true!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Nelson and Momi

Nelson and Momi are the perfect Hawaiian couple. They have been married for 8 years. They met on the 29th of August 8 years ago. They have three children. She teaches Yoga. He is in school. They met at a Reggae concert. Momi went with her friend as a favor even though she was not 'in to' Raggae. It was at Diamond Head Crater. While there she saw Nelson and made eyes at him. He made eyes at her. After the concert Nelson went to her through the crowd and she deliberately waited for him. They talked and he asked her to hang out with him. She said yes. They went to Kahala beach and there they say two shooting stars while talking, One each from each direction towards each other. They both saw the shooting stars and went, 'Wow!' He asked her for her phone number and she gave him it. Two weeks passed and he did not call her. Her friend invited her to another Raggae concert and she said yes. At the concert she saw Nelson and after the concert went to him. As soon as he saw her, his eyes lite up. He said: 'I have something very important to tell you.' She said 'what?'. He said: 'Your phone number. My mother washed my pants the next day and I could not read your number.' She must of bought it because they are married and have three children.

Momi takes the children into the ocean each day here at Ewa Beach. The baby in her arms. They are all ocean babies. All three of them. Nelson and I surf every evening and Momi comes out sometimes. More frequently as the baby is more secure.

This evening I went down and visited with them after surfing. They were just sitting on the beach in front of their hale. Momi told me this story. Nelson was studying some Hawaiian for an exam tomorrow.

After Momi told me this story I played bottle caps with their oldest son on the beach table in front of their hale just five doors down from my hale. He won! I was as happy as he!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Russian curd cheese

How to make:

Note: Please read all of this once before you start. You will 'see' the process and exactly what you will need to do this.

Ingredients: Whole milk and sour cream

Do not use anything but whole milk.

In a ‘clean’ stainless steel pot, large enough to hold a gallon of whole milk, pour it in and add 4 oz of sour cream (half a tub of an 8 oz container). With a whisk beat it until the sour cream is completely mixed with the whole milk. Cover it and leave it in a warm place for 48 hours. You can watch it if that turns you on. It’s cool!

After 48 hours you will see that a crust of white curd has formed on the top.

Don’t mess with it. Don’t stir it! If you must 'look', take a spatula and every so lightly, take in and slide it in along the side of the curd and see how deep it is. But, not mix it!

Put it on the stove, low heat, like 3 or 4 and wait till you see bubbles starting to break through the surface. There should be a uniform bubbling or peculation. It will take about 30 minutes. Don’t rush it with higher heat! You will scald it and ruin it!

You will now need a strainer and a piece of cheese cloth to lay into the strainer. Put this strainer so that your can retain the liquid that drains out, through it. I’ll tell you why later. You will love what you can make from it. Take a ladle and slowly scoop out the now cooked curd floating on the top and pour it into the cloth covered strainer. Let it drain. After the liquid has completely drained through, Take this curd and pour it into a separate container. This is your Tvorog. You will refrigerate this.

Continue doing this until you have completely drained the whole stainless steel pot of all the curd, floating on the top as well as settling on the bottom.

Now you have the tvorog, ‘curd cheese’ and the liquid from it. Put both of these in the refrig. after they have cooled to room temperature. If you want, after it has cooled, you can eat some.

Okay, what is this liquid. It is the remain of the now made tvorog. You can use this as follows and I promise you if you do, you will have a smile on your face to end all smiles! Well, maybe! You will have a secret that others will be envious of! Promise.

With this, you will make Russian style pancakes which are more like crepes than pancakes but, the flavor is to die for!!! You’ll see!

Russian Pancakes:

Eggs: 6
Tvorog liquid: 3 cups
Veg or olive oil: 2 Tbsp
Flour: 1 cup

Important: Beat the eggs separately until they are well constituted. Add the 2 Tbsp’s of oil and continue mixing. Add the liquid tvorog and mix. Finally add the flour and mix until well blended. Smooth!

Set on a side.

On a flat skillet heat it up on medium high (6 or 7). When it is uniform hot pour a little oil on it and make sure the surface is covered with the oil. Hold the skillet and pour a ladle of the pancake mix onto the skillet. Set it on the burner. Take a little butter on the end of a knife and run it around the edge of the pancake. When the pancake as stopped bubbling, take a spatchela and flip it. Take it off in two minutes. Continue this until the mix has been completed. Enjoy!

Back to the Tvorog!

How to eat it. Well, you will no doubt find the perfect way, just for yourself. But, to start, try this:

Take some tvorog in a bowl and mix a spoon full of sour cream with it. Have a taste! Like? I cut up ham and pickles and mix it in. After you have done this, let your imagination do the rest.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

‘Bail out! Bail out!’

Did you live in Kailua, on Oahu in July 8, 1957? Do you know anyone who did? I did.

If you lived in Kailua on …July 8,1957, there is a slight possibility, maybe more so, maybe less so, that you are alive today because of an incident that didn’t happen.

Bill Humphrey, Lt Bill Humphrey, US Marines Pilot was doing a regular maintenance scheduled flight of his, single engine ‘Wildcat’, having taken off at the Kaneohe Marine Air field, angled off to the left. Swept across the bay toward the Koolaus. Continued left parallel with the Koolaus towards Makapuu and approached Kailua town when something went seriously wrong. His engine immediately ahead of the cockpit burst into flames. His ‘Mayday, Mayday’ radio call was received by the tower at the base and Bill informed them of his location and status. ‘Bail out! Bail out!', came the tower response. Bill, turning his plane with the flames flaring over the cockpit windshield and flashing now through the firewall control ports, responded: ‘Negative Sir! Negative! I have to get this plane out over the water!’ The glass windshield in the raging inferno was potting with holes and the flames where roasting the cockpit, as the plane came out over Kailua town, the beach front homes in a smoke trailed fireball and then hitting the water, catapulting and going down in about 20 feet of water.

The medical examiners report would say that Bill was dead before he hit the ocean.

On this July 8, 1957 I was walking home through the ballpark toward my street where I lived on Kuukama. My house was the second from the corner. As I came around the street corner I saw in front of our house several cars. I was thinking that my Mom was having one of her bridge gatherings and then I saw Pat, my sister’s car and thought, humm, she doesn’t play bridge. Then I recognized Claude Details car and started wondering what was going on. Claude DuTeil was the minister of our church of which I was an acolyte. I saw his car every Sunday and he lived at the other end of Kuukama.

As I walked into our yard I heard the un-mistakable crying of someone. Someone balling and crying uncontrollably but I didn’t recognize the voice until I walked in and saw my sister Pat, Pat Humphrey sitting on the couch next to my Mom also crying. Claude behind my Mom with his hand on my Mom’s shoulder. My neighbor, Lynn Wade got up as she saw me and walked over to me and we stepped outside. “Bob, Bill was in a plane crash and is dead.”

Bill would never know his infant son in this life, to make sure that no one else’s life ended because of him, ‘Bailing out!’

You can find Bill’s grave site at Punchbowl, Section G #717.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

USA: Fiction or Non-Fiction?

Before you perhaps make an arbitrary choice or decision, consider this ‘non-fiction’ episode. But first, do you remember going to the library as a child for the first time? Wow! Zillions of books! Two Sections! Fiction! Wow! Cool! Non-fiction? What? I stood there looking at this ‘Non-fiction’ sign and thinking that Adults are not necessarily going to tell you the God Aweful ‘Non-fiction!’
Hummm! Yes!

So, before I even had so much as touched a book, by eyes were already open.
Sometime later I discovered ‘disclaimer’ and thought, Ahhh!, another word for ‘Non-fiction!’
And then, can you imagine, ‘Yes, your Honor!’ See, you’re already ahead of me! ‘Yes, I swear to God, it is the Absolute, (fingers crossed), Non-Fiction!’
Yeah, our black brothers can tell you all about their ‘non-fiction’ experiences. Well, at least one has figured it out. Why do I feel ‘white-maled’ by a ‘black-male’ living in the ‘white house’? I’m pissed! Naaaah, just kidding! I’m not pissed. I like him, actually.

So, anyway the ‘non-fiction' episode:

On December 27, 1969 shortly after 8AM, I signed a document that basically, but very clearly stated two things. One, that I would not disclose the nature of my service to our country in Viet Nam nor would I disclose where and with whom this service was in Viet Nam, to anyone. Two, that if I was ever asked why my service had been reduced to a little over a year of active duty and only two years of 6 years in the Reserves, I was to reply as follows: Our Government had over enlisted 30,000 too many troops and needed to reduce this number and I was therefore discharged, Honorable, satisfying my military service to our country.

I was walking across the asphalt outside headquarters at Fort Mason in San Francisco, thinking about this seeming absurd statement, which I had just signed. Another military screw up. One arm not having a clue what the other arm is doing. But, I frankly didn’t care! I was free! I was out! I could get back to my life which was waiting for me just 8 hours away in Hawaii. The fact that our Government was at the very same moment increasing the number of troops in increments of 10.000, 20.000, 30,000 to support its failing efforts in the Viet Nam ‘Conflict’, not war, by supporting a bourgeois corrupt regime repressing it’s peoples into farm slaves didn’t seem to fit, did it?

I met my future wife on the 3rd or 4th of that January, 1970 and we were married on June 21st, 1970. She was the only person that ever asked me about my military service and I told her, with as straight as a face as I could, “Our Government had over enlisted 30,000 too many troops and needed to reduce this number and I was therefore discharged, Honorable, satisfying my military service to our country. I had full G.I. bill to pay for my college, and to even buy a house.” And, she apparently believed me. Why not, actually.
For me it was just another little closure on a part of my life that I would just have soon forgotten.

Life goes on. Two children, lifes adventures, mishaps, etc.

In about 1995 or as recent at 1997, I remarked in a letter two my children that the only person who had ever been aware of my being in Viet Nam and what I had done was their grand father, Joe Wittenmeier, who I had ‘by chance’ meet in San Francisco on the Friday before the eventful Monday the 27 of December 1969.

I had arrived at Fort Mason in the later part of the afternoon on that Friday. I went into headquarters and the clerk looked at me, my discharge papers, turned around and looked at the clock on the wall and without turning back around to look at me, said, still staring at the clock, like it was somehow telling him what to tell me: ‘There is not enough time to get you discharged today. You will have to wait till Monday morning at o eight hundred. You can stay here in the barracks or leave. But you must be here promptly at o eight hundred on Monday morning so we can discharge you.

I stood there looking at this same wall clock watching the seconds roll around slowly and realized that I had no idea what the clock was telling me to tell him, so I said: ‘See you at o eight hundred!’, and I walked out the door and looked at the Golden Gate bridge, listening to the traffic of 101 just above me and I said to myself, I got to get out of here! I walked up to 101 just before the toll gates and in my Navy blues, duffle bag over my shoulder stuck out my thumb. Joe Wittenmeier, by future father-in-law pulled along side me, rolled down the window and said, “Where you going sailor?” “Out of town!” I got in as he opened the door. Half way over the Golden Gate bridge, Joe Wittenmeier was the only person who know that I had just returned from Viet Nam where I trained Navy Seals to paddle Zodiacs straight and that I had moved to Hawaii at the age of 6 and sailed there from the very same point of departure, Fort Mason, in 1954 in December also.

So, as I was walking out the door of the Fort Mason headquarters the next Monday morning, besides thinking how screwed up the military was, I was also saying to myself, ‘Oops!, I just lied!’

And I lied again, on orders. Heavy duty orders. The military has executed men for just such ‘not lieing’.

In any part of this ‘non-fiction’, did anyone ask, How the hell did Bob Palmer end up in the military in the first place? I can only prompt you here to ask this question. It was the lottery draft. I was number 26. My parents called me on Maui where I was surfing and pretending to be a student at Mauna Olu College and said to me, Make a reservation to come over to Oahu. We are going to take you to the Naval Reserve Center and get you into the Navy Reserves. So the next day, I did just that. The next night I flew back and layed in bed and said to myself: ‘Self, you have just been fucked!’

Well, it was either this or going Quebec and learning French and living with Pierre and Rene’e.

This is already too long of a story. It make it short I came in first in my class and got to choose my post, Pearl Harbor, USS O’Bannon and then, and then and then there I was on the asphalt of the Fort Mason grounds waiting for my bus to go to Travis Air Force Base and then back to Oahu and, like I said, get on with my life.

You make the call: USA: Fiction, Non-fiction or …..

Monday, January 31, 2011

3 AM!!!

I went to sleep with Neighbors having a party a few houses down on Sunday evening. At around 3AM I got up to relieve myself and stood in our open window bathroom listening to the electrical mechanics of robotics wheeling around someplace out of sight in an otherwise quiet windless dark night in our rural beach side neighborhood right next to the ocean. It was too weird! I decided to just go back to sleep and hope that it would go away. I was too tired and I could not hear it from my bed.

The next morning I awoke and laid there looking at the ceiling trying to remember what I had heard the night before. I got up, made coffee and washed my face, got dressed – my shorts and tee shirt and with coffee in hand went to our office to see if Egypt still had a President by the name of Mubarak. Yes.

Looking at my computer clock I walked to the beach and after watching the sun ascend from Haleakala I walked back to the house only to see a glimpse of a robotic vehicle without a driver fly by with some local people in the back holding on for dear life! WTF!!! I must of not seen something correctly.

I resettle in my computer chair and start to browse. There's a knock on the door.

I peek out the window and see a local guy looking back out the drive toward the street and now he is turning his head toward the door. I let the curtain fall and open the door. ‘Hello!’

‘Hi!’ he says. ‘Can you help us move a vehicle that is blocking my drive way? It’s right out here on the street. By the way have you seen some weird, like electric cars running around this morning?’

‘Haa! That’s funny that you should say that. I think I did! but … hold on, I have to go to my other door to get my slippers. I’ll be right out.’ I close the door and go down stairs and out garage door. I step out and slip on my slippers and walk out into the yard. He sees me and meets me at the bottom of the outside stairs in the yard.

We start walking toward the street out our private drive past the two houses on either side and zoom, another robotic cart goes by. Again full of local people holding on. Their hair is flying in the wind. There is no driver! We stop in out tracks. We echo each other almost perfectly: ‘What the fuck!!!’

We proceed out to the street and as we approach it to where we can see down both ways. We see another robotic vehicle, identical to the one that has just gone by coming toward us, full of people, again all holding on. As it comes abreast of us it slows and then almost stops in front of us but then takes off again down the street. We watch it and step out into the street to see where it is going. In the far distance we see the first one, way down the street by the park, and then it is gone around a corner.

We stand there and look at each other. I ask him, ‘What’s going on?’

He responds: I haven’t a clue!’

I ask him: ‘Did you know anyone in either of those two carts?’

He stops to think, “Not that I recognized.’

Suddenly we hear a snapping clicking sound from behind us and a little robotic wheelie thing about 3 feet high is right next to us. The snapping sound was a …

I ‘come to’ and look around. I’m in a room with glass windows like a modular with plastic walls and poles that go from floor to ceiling. It’s like a subway car or something. The windows are all curved at the corners so they are not perfectly square. It is dark outside and very bright in here. The rest of the occupants are asleep.

I sit up and turn to look around. This modular is about 80 feet long, 10 feet wide and 8 feet high. The benches we are all sitting on are of the same plastic looking material as the walls, floors and ceilings. The Poles look chrome. The windows, if they are windows look glass, but like I said, they are black as night. The guy that had come to my house to ask for help is asleep next to me. I do not recognize anyone else. I stand up and suddenly I hear the same snapping clicking sound and from under my bench…..

I regain consciousness and before I open my eyes I listen. I hear nothing but a gentle rumbling and slight movement. I lay there even though my neck is hurting from being in the same position. I squint to peek out of my eyelids and I’m in the same modular in apparently the same seat. Even though I desperately want to sit up and stretch my neck and aching body, I remain motionless and ever so slowly open my eyes and little to have a better view. I can see the legs outstretched of my seat companion. It would appear to be the same guy. I scan the walls and windows to see if anyone or thing is moving. All the other companions are asleep or in a coma or what ever this is that we are being submitted to. I want to get up. I feel another sensation besides my aching neck. I need to pee! I do not see any movement or any cameras or anything that would indicate that we are not just in here ourselves. But what about our little three foot friend? Where is he? I lean ever so slightly to my left and can make out the underside of the seats on the opposite side of the modular. Nothing. He is either under my seat or on this side of the modular.

Well, I have to take a leak. I must get up. I jump up and move quickly to an open area of the modular and look around. The 3’ guy is not here. I look around and there are no doors or anything that remotely looks like an exit. It is all walls and windows fixed in place as far as I can see. Shit! What is this??? Suddenly I hear the same snapping and clicking and as I jump away from the wall I see the 3’ guy but it…..

I am aware, first thing, that I have soiled myself. I do not need to look down. I can feel it and it has been a while, it is cold. I am also aware that I am not siting in my seat. I am on the floor looking now through my squinting eyes at floor level at the remains of my pee all around me cold and sticky. I hear something that sounds familiar and look farther up the isle to see another occupant also relieving herself, yes it is a her, in this same condition. This sucks, big time! Where the fuck is our three foot friend??? Where are we??? What is this???

Suddenly I wake up! Wow! What a dream!!! Glad I could share it with you! Have a nice day!!!