Monday, February 23, 2009

the world according to my daughter

i wish i had 100: D.S. Games

i wouldn't want want 100: brothers

i can make 100: dog sweaters

i can eat 100: gigantic choclate cakes

i would never eat 100: dog biscits

having 100 babies could really be a problem.

in 100 years i hope that i can: set a world record

i can lift 100: berneese Mountain dogs

Saturday, February 21, 2009

high fashion and other deliciatta...

say what you will about oahu.

it's crowded, it's expensive, it's full of volcanic sand.

all true. except in the cases where it's not.

what is true is that the island is a tropical salad full of cliches and surprises tossed together to taste or the utter lack thereof.

in waikiki, for example, you get the gaudy, the vulgar, the unapologetically ugly, all flowing seamlessly into water so electric blue it can't be processed. it's so pre-economic-meltdown-extreme-american-consumer it hurts then delights then deposits you somewhere else entirely.

the same can be said of turtle bay. take the woman with the louis vuitton face lift sporting a two-piece black and silver ensemble that would be at home in new york or paris. paris, texas, that is. she spent a fortune to look perfectly and wonderfully absurd, and pulled it off spectacularly.

there she was snapping photos of the cast from 'the hills', busting up their lunch as if they weren't in desperate-anorexic need of all the kalua pork quesadillas they could wolf down.

the young stars smiled and posed patiently, then went back to pecking at their food, careful not to actually eat any of it.

* * * * *

at the other end of whatever karmic kaleidoscope you might look through, the locals in waimanalo queue up at kineke's plate lunch and BBQ. there, one order of kalua pig with rice and mac salad could feed a family of four for about six bucks. or you can walk across the road to the ola bbq truck and pick up an order of garlic shrimp with rice for $10. not less than two meals in that to-go box, and the lady who prepares it for you also brings it to your car.

we picked up take-out at both places, and fed seven adults and four children for around $30, with leftovers galore. it was delicious.

* * * * *

we fetched breakfast every day from lanikai juice in kailua. their açaí extravaganza bowls with whey protein are an antioxident riot; açaí blended with blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, coconut and granola. one of these in the morning carried us through to dinner.

note: the sign says 'made with aloha' but the gals behind the counter were a little surly to us haoles.

note: we were very nice to them.

* * * * *

i brought back two hawaiian-print shirts and a 'ding king surfboard repair' t-shirt. the total for all three was less than $9, because we found them at the goodwill store in kailua. what? they're great shirts.

* * * * *

unpacking today, i noticed my keens were full of red clay, picked up during our visit to the kukaniloko royal birthing stones. the story goes...for hundreds of years this was the sacred site where hawaiian royalty was born. surrounded by chiefs, royal children would be taken away at birth, to prevent the prospective new rulers from being killed by rival chiefs.

on a misty february day the place has a quiet, solemn feel to it. fresh leis are scattered among the stones like offerings to whatever gods might see fit to sanctify them. there's an unidentifiable sense of order to the stones, as if they might've been placed by fibonacci on a tropical high. you can't see the pattern, or at least i couldn't...but you can feel it. it's like stonehenge with eucalyptus trees.

something's going on there, or maybe there's not. but i don't plan to clean off the shoes.

* * * * *

say what you will about oahu. it's a frenetic mess of a paradise, a banzai pipeline full of 20 or 30 years worth of exploration.

overloved, overvisited, but still, not overrated.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

ha'iku steps

green jungle beauty
a steep heavenward ascent
no mistakes here please

according to the signs at the trailhead, the stairway to heaven is 3,922 steps rising over 2,000 feet.

huh. it seemed farther.

the ha'iku steps were built in the early 1940s by the u.s. navy. they accessed a mountaintop radio array built to communicate with warships in the pacific during WWII.

these days, though, the array is dismantled, the steps are rusting, and the trail is closed. that must be why we arrived at the trailhead at oh-dark-thirty, before the guard arrived.

to reach the steps, you park in a residential neighborhood beneath the h-3 highway on oahu. the locals don't appreciate interlopers, so you close the car doors quietly, then walk quickly to a gate chained and secured with half a dozen padlocks. both sides of the gate are topped with barbed wire, and it looks like there's no way past. except that the fence is down on the right side of the gate, and you can just step over it. go figure.

up the road a short distance you veer off onto a path through a dense bamboo jungle. in the dark, it's easy to imagine all kinds of mischief just beyond the range of the camera flash, but of course we were the only ones up to any trouble.

the path opens onto another road leading to the trailhead. from there it's up. and up. and up some more. the scenery is spectacular, but it's hard to appreciate it when you're intently focused on the hand rail and the step right in front of your face. and the reason they're right in front of your face is because they're so ridiculously vertical.

other times, the steps narrow to a couple feet across, falling off several hundred feet on both sides. it's not unlike climbing up the back of a very large, sleeping dragon, hoping it won't wake and stretch and yawn and never even know it sent you flying like so many dragon fleas.

we climbed from sunshine and warm down low, to clouds, cold and mist at the top. from stunning views to white-out conditions. and still we climbed. past one, two, then three platforms, peering over the edge each time hoping to see something other than the inside of a cloud.

pearl harbor to the west, perhaps. chinaman's hat to the north. the mokes to the south. our hands in front of our face. anything.

we made the top in an hour and 10 minutes, milled around in the gray long enough to drink some water and catch our breath, then headed back down. nothing to see here, move along.

here's the thing: as challenging as it was getting up, getting down was moreso. on a dry, sunny day, you slide down the rails on your hands and touch every fourth or fifth step with your feet. it's a hoot, not to mention fast, supposedly. on a clammy, misty day, the rails are slick and the steps are slimy. gravity, usually constant, increases. just for fun.

it all seemed like such a good idea, back before we actually started.

toward the base, the guard was now on duty. he blew his whistle at us, in case we were thinking about turning around to make another ascent. thanks, we're heading down, see?

until a few weeks ago, allegedly, they were writing $400 tickets for trespassing on this trail. today, instead, we got a smile and applause from the 68-year old guard, who was sporting purple, blond and black striped hair. you've got to love the hawaiian aesthetic. or maybe it was just his aesthetic.

at the end it felt like we had accomplished something, maybe even survived something (e.g., our own foolishness). you know what, though? we'd do it all again tomorrow, if we weren't leaving tomorrow...

Saturday, February 07, 2009

actually, it was morning...

Some day, when I'm awfully low
When the world is cold
I will feel a glow just thinking of you
And the way you look tonight

You're lovely, with your smile so warm
And your cheeks so soft
There is nothing for me but to love you
And the way you look tonight

With each word your tenderness grows
Tearing my fear apart
And that laugh that wrinkles your nose
It touches my foolish heart

Lovely ... never, ever change
Keep that breathless charm
Won't you please arrange it?
'cause I love you
Just the way you look tonight
mrs. spaceneedl bought this dress at nordstrom recently. on sale, no less.

she modeled it for me this morning.

p.s. she looked fabulous.

everything old, new again...

it's a long road.

it takes a long time to get there, and longer to get back again.

* * * * *

the happy valley lodge at big white resort is small, but comfortable. there's a little bar on one side, and a family area on the other, overlooking the skating rink.

it's a nice place to settle awhile at the end of a good ski day. sinking into a comfy chair in front of the fireplace, beer in hand, drifting a bit. paying half-attention to the music wafting over us from some faraway speaker.

what do you want to do about dinner? i don't know, pizza, maybe. how're those ski boots working out? good. i haven't thought about my feet all day. this sounds familiar...who does this song?

um...this is the eagles. this is an eagles song that i've never heard before.

* * * * *

mrs. spaceneedl and i have been eagles fans for a long time. their music has been part of life's little soundtrack for...well, as long as we've known each other. we own the CDs, and dropped a bunch of money for really good seats at walnut creek pavilion during the "hell freezes over" tour. but repetition fatigue being what it is, we played the music less and less over the years. so it goes.

* * * * *

it's implausible and convoluted that we'd have go to canada to discover new eagles music. that we'd randomly bump into it like an old roommate in a tibetan monastery. but there it is. "long road out of eden" was released in 2007 and totally escaped our attention for a year and a half.

in another outlandish coincidence, it wasn't but a few days later that i stumbled across a review of a new album from j.d. souther. souther wrote or co-wrote many of the eagles songs in the 70s, then fell off the earth for, oh, a generation. "if the world was you" comes 24 years after his last release.

* * * * *

i know you'll find it hard to believe, but i had a credible singing voice back in the day. i could hit the high notes on "witchy woman" or "take it to the limit". matter of fact, i could sing lead or harmony on any tune in the eagles catalogue. the point here, i think, is not my long-gone talent, but that the music was a constant presence, part of a tapestry of many good memories.

* * * * *

returning from the happy valley lodge, it was easy enough to find "eden" in the itunes library. i downloaded it immediately and have been playing through it, piecemeal. i haven't had time to really immerse in it, part of the larger problem-with-no-solution documented at length elsewhere.

souther's new work is now in my library as well (alongside "black rose" c. 1976), and it's excellent. his songwriting ability has diminished not one iota. his voice isn't as resilient as it once was, but who among us is?

it's enough that it is at all, and that after long absence there is something new from artists i had consigned to the archives.

i'm more grateful for this unexpected trove than i would have imagined. it's a bridge over a span of time that gets wider every day. a link to the aforementioned memories, now pleasantly refreshed -- for awhile, anyway. eventually what's new becomes old, and don henley was quoted saying, "This is probably the last Eagles album that we'll ever make."

* * * * *

it took a long time to get here, and there's no turning back. but the the beer is cold, the fire is warm and the music's on. that's may be better than we have any right to expect.