Farewell Play
August 17, 2010, 9:24 pm
Filed under: Life | Tags: , , ,

How is it that I have only less than one week here?

Things I will miss sorely about my island–wait, better yet, let me give you visuals:

My island

Tidepools at Makapu'u--best tidepools on Oahu

when you live here, this CAN be an everyday sighting

beautiful sunrises

Fragrant ginger flowers

the gorgeous sunsets

roads you'd want to run on

endless hiking trails


Our famed Diamond Head

And of course, the rainbows

I love this land.


Accidental Motherhood
July 1, 2010, 5:01 am
Filed under: babble, Life

It is my father’s birthday this week, so my sister and the kids came down from up north to spend the week here celebrating the birthday and to spend time with me. Their trip was almost threatened by a tummy virus that Abby has had for a few days. Wait. Their trip is still threatened by the virus now that they are here and my sister caught it.

This means I play mommy. I knew being a mom is a full time job, but being a mom of two is time and a half. The majority of the time and a half is spent washing; washing dishes, washing clothes, washing fruits, washing them.  And then they EAT! “Can I have cheese toast, please?” “Cheerio! Cheerio!” “Bloo bloo bloo (blueberries).” Just when you think you can leave the kitchen, you return again to make more snacks.

Now I understand why many moms look the way they do. I stayed in my yoga clothes all day yesterday after my morning class because there was no point in changing. All I did was washing things, fix them lunch, wash more things, blew bubbles outside, make them snacks, wash dishes again. By the time they went down for a nap, I was too tired myself to work on anything else so I napped as well. It’s much easier to keep the kids within the confines of the house, I can’t even imagine taking two kids out by myself. But their faces start to take on a grayish tint after a day of staying indoors. They start to get whinny about every little thing. Oh, the sun does wonders to souls young and old.

And what did mothers do before PBS? Who knew Elmo and Dora and Barney can be so incredibly helpful? It’s puzzling to me why kids love the ugly purple thing. I don’t even know what animal it’s supposed to be, but as long as they love dancing with it and it gives me a breather, I’ll love the purple thing too.

I have always been good with kids, but I have never learned so much about them as I have this week. It’s tiring but fun. It’s rewarding but restricting. I can’t tell how I feel about motherhood. The restrictive feeling may be abated by the knowledge that this is only a one week deal, but may be the fun is too. Well, it’s just a thought, not that I have decide now.

A different kind of energy II

WELL, I fell into a food coma after just re-viewing those photos in that last post. And I surmise that it’ll happen again after this one because the food pic continues.

Let’s see, where did I leave off? oh yes, after a perky cup of organic, locally roasted coffee at Flipnotics (their website is so quintessential Austin, it makes me smile) and FlipHappy (I just noticed the theme there), we were just in time for Sushi-A-Go-Go. Yes, raw fish from a trailer.

Coming from Hawaii where grade A sushi is bountiful, I did not have high expectations. Whenever Austinites, or Texans for that matter, say that their sushi is ‘good,’ I smile the same smile as when someone in Hawaii say we have ‘good’ Mexican food. Although the man sitting inside the trailer does familiarly Japanese, I was still skeptical, especially on this 95+ degree day…

We ordered the spooky roll (spicy tuna, avocado, salmon over the rice), the summertime roll (shrimp tempura, spicy tuna mix, avocado, spicy go-go sauce& tempura crunchy on the top), and a special–one with ika (squid), ume (dried pickled plum) and shiso leaf (perilla; annual herb in the mint family)–my favorite combination of flavors. First bite into the spooky roll, my eyes got big, my instinctive reaction to taste buds happiness. The rice was fresh, the fish was fresh with firm texture, the taste was clean. Had we put the rolls on a fancy plate, you’d believe it came from a very decent sushi-ya. The only imperfection is the ubiquitous mayo concoction over the rolls. I’m a sushi purist, the simpler the flavors the better. But I still deem it another trailer success!

The next wheel over from Sushi-A-Go-Go was Sno Beach Hawaiian Shaved Ice. Cyn had wanted it since the night before but I was not ready. First of all, if you’re going to call it Hawaiian, you’d have to do it right and drop the grammar. There’s no ‘d’ in shave ice; it’s not a past action, its Hawaiian time (and grammar). And as a loyal Waiola customer, all other shave ice is second tier. But since Cyn, who has also had the real deal assured me that Sno Beach has Waiola-grade ice, I agreed to give it a try.

It did live up to Waiola’s level of silky smooth ice. My usual flavor combo at Waiola is green tea and milk, here I had a sweeter combo per Cyn’s recommendation of almond and wedding cake with creme added on top. I still don’t know what wedding cake flavor is, but it tasted good. And at $2.50, it’s the perfect palate cleanser.

By then the blazing Texas sun was directly overhead, perfect time to go back into the cool water. We paddled for nearly two hours working up another appetite for more. There were so many people also paddling, kayaking, canoeing, tubing. Leisure does it.

We returned to Torchy’s once again because of the alleged best queso in the world. It’s quite a claim so we have to see for ourselves.

It’s their green chili queso topped with guacamole, queso fresco, cilantro and diablo sauce. I don’t know if it’s the best queso in the world, but it is surely the best queso I’ve had. And you didn’t think we stopped there, did ya?

From top to bottom:

Dirty Sanchez–Scrambled eggs with guacamole, fried poblano chili, escabeche carrots, and shredded cheese served on a flour tortilla with our poblano ranch sauce.

Brushfire–Jamaican jerk chicken, grilled jalapenos, mango, Sour cream, and cilantro served on a flour tortilla with our Diablo sauce.

Don’t remember what the third is.

Baja Shrimp–Hand battered shrimp fried with cooked cabbage slaw, topped with pickled onions & jalapenos, queso fresco, cilantro and a lime wedge. Served on tortilla of choice and our creamy chipotle sauce.

Two words: DAMN GOOD.

Trailer food is great. And Austin is great largely because of it. There are many other trailers still waiting to be sampled: hot dogs, pizzas, burgers, cupcakes, bbq, you name it.


Running Efficiency
June 14, 2010, 7:19 pm
Filed under: Life, Running | Tags: ,

I try to exercise three times a day. Exercise my voice, my mind, and my body.  Running is as much a mental training as a physical one. I like to accomplish all three in one run.

Sometimes getting into running shoes alone is an exercise of the mind, discipline of the will, or lack thereof. Or some runs don’t take off until the third mile, when my whole body finally agrees to move in accord. Once physically in motion, it’s a mental game–my favorite part of any run. How far can I go, how to change my stride when my legs feel tired or heavy, how fast can I speed up. And when I find a good rhythm, I start singing, sometimes aloud, most often not. I go through particular piece of music I happen to be working on, using the rhythm of my foot strikes as the tempo of my songs. My favorite song for speed work is Queen of the Night’s aria “Die Hölle Rache” from Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Listen here and you’ll see why it’s a fantastic speed work song. That’s why you’ll almost never find me running with my iPod. I have everything in my head.

Every run refreshes my mind, awakens my senses, sweats out every negative element that is enshrouding my creativity for life. While some runs are inevitably harder than others, I have never come back from a run regretting that I went out in the first place.

A pleasant surprise
June 12, 2010, 4:32 pm
Filed under: Life | Tags: ,

I have been living in Hawaii for the past 5 years. I love it and wish that the island chain was a little (actually a lot) closer to the continent because each time I have to get off the rock, it’s a long and expensive plane ride. It’s agonizing to admit that it is time to move on.

It took me quite a while to be mentally ready to move, then it’s WHERE to? I already know that the east coast is where I need to be; it is where opportunities are. But WHERE?

I took an audition in Philadelphia last week, and was very pleasantly surprised by the visit. The only other time I have ever visited the city was years ago when I went with a tour group through DC and Philly. The only thing I remember about Philly was sleepily descending the tour bus and touched the Liberty Bell. It may be that I was there for only two days this time, and by the end of the 48 hours (or a little less), I am still in the honeymoon stage with it, but the city was nothing like its bad rep. “You just need to know where to NOT go,” says my gracious host about Philly. And that is true with any city, even Hawaii.

It was the perfect east coast weather–sunny, cool, crisp air. West Philly and Center City remind me of Boston, where I went to school for two years. Both cities have the Old World vibe with much history, but Philly is less nerdy. I walked around the neighborhood for hours while mentally taking notes of the city. Much of the things I need in a city, Philly’s got it. There were runners and bicyclists everywhere. There’s a runner store with the utmost perfect name: PR (Philadelphia Runner). Then there’s the best coffee I’ve had in recent years (aside from the coffee in Italy last year): La Colombe. And even though I didn’t get to eat out much, I hear that Philly’s got quite a food scene. I consulted my host about the neighborhood, the rent, public transportation, and I even went into the grocery store to check out prices–all in all, a good place to be. On top of that, there’s the Bolt Bus, much like the chinatown bus in Boston that will bring me to Manhattan in two hours for $15.

So this city of Brotherly Love may be a good candidate for relocation, but I’m also looking into the DC/Baltimore area where I have close friends. Friends can make a huge difference in a new, foreign city.

lantern floating – memorial day 2009
May 28, 2009, 8:15 am
Filed under: Life | Tags: , ,

One of the most unique things about Hawaii is the convergence of diverse cultures. We’ve got the Hawaiians, the Samoans, the Japanese, the Chinese, the Filipinos, the Koreans, the Caucasians, the Portuguese, just to name a few. And then, of course, there is the amalgamation of some or all of those–the locals. Here racial jokes are funny, and people actually laugh at them.

Throughout the year, there are various festivals or celebrations of specific ethnic groups. And on this Memorial Day in Honolulu, there was the 10th anniversary of Lantern Floating, a celebration hosted by the Shinnyo-en temple, a Japanese Buddhist denomination, during which lanterns are sent floating along the shore of the Pacific Ocean in remembrance of loved ones who have died in conflict and dedication of peace for future generations.

I knew about the event in years past, but has never made it down until this year when I was hired to sing in the chorus for the event. The ceremony itself was short and sweet, the view was gorgeous as dusk turned into night and the lanterns lit up the shore once again. I’m no Buddhist (deja vu of a previous post), but it was a beautiful ceremony that reminded me how blessed I am to be in this unique place.







Photos courtesy of T.C.

Big Island, Hawaii

islemap-big_island big_island-mini-map

Big Island, Hawaii–the island that keeps getting bigger– has just been crowned my favorite island in the Hawaiian chain. I was there for 5 days for work with a quite a bit of down time to play. And it helps when there is someone in the group who also likes to explore the amazing sites the island has to offer. I’ve been there once about 12 years ago, and have nearly no recollection of it. Thus in my mind, the Big Island was boring. Boy, was I in for a surprise!

The first day on tour, we were done by 10:30 a.m., so the choice was either go back to our rooms to sleep, or head out to play. It was a very voggy day (vog=volcanic smog; click here for explanation) and I have allergic reactions to vog, but I opted to play, of course.

We were on Kona (northwest) side of the island so our first stop was Kiholo Bay–Mile Marker #82 off Highway 19. To get to the water, you have to hike from the highway down a 20-minute path to the ocean. The rocky beach epitomizes the best character of this island–ruggedness.


Along the beach, in search of the famed Queen’s Bath, an underground lava tube filled with icy fresh water, we first came by the Bali House.


A house built by the owner of the Paul Mitchell company for which all materials were imported from Bali (talk about eco-friendly!) and laborers were grossly underpaid (a whopping $1.50 a day for two years). It is nonetheless a gorgeous house.

Keep walking, we encountered Mr. sea turtle sun (or vog) bathing.


Twenty minutes of fantastic distractions later, we finally ended our treasure hunt–Queen’s Bath.




That glistening, icy, fresh water! I respectfully (as instructed) frolicked in that well of crystal clear water until my jaw started shaking from the decrease in body temperature. Had I more insulation (i.e., body fat), I would have stayed in there much longer.

More gorgeous views from this side of the island




The next three days of our trip were spent on Hilo side of the island, that is the northeastern part of this ever-expanding rock. We visited Champagne Pond, the eastern most tip of the island where the “virgin” air from the Pacific is used as standard against which air quality all around the globe is compared. The pond itself is naturally heated by lava rocks beneath. My immediate reaction to the warm water was not so favorable because it was reminiscent of going to the community swimming pool in which tepid water only comes from one source–that kid who just swam away from you. But I grew to love the relaxing temperature of the pond, and treading from rock to rock, you can find spots that have more heat radiating from below.

We then hit Kehena Beach, a famed black sand, nudist beach filled with hippies and their dogs.




Lastly, LAVA!


If this photo is of Santa Barbara, it would have a much different mood to it. The white smoke, however, indicates that it is no longer burning. This is the site of the Big Island expansion–live lava flowing into the ocean from the great Kilauea Volcano, forming more cliffs and eventually ‘land’. There is no surface lava flow at this moment. And we were only allowed to view the flowing lava (not actually visible) from about a mile plus out.


My task now is to track surface lava. When and if it happens, I am hopping over so I can, hopefully, be up close to it. I can’t even imagine what that would feel like or how close one can really get to it.

I love the robustness of this island. It is like none others.