Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Aloha to Hanaiakamalama - Queen Emma's Summer Palace

The United States is home to three palaces - all in Hawaii.  Today I spotlight  Hanaiakamalama (“foster child of the moon”) also known as Queen Emma's Summer Palace.   King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma stayed in the house to escape the oppressive Honolulu heat.   It is filled with special gifts they received from monarchs around the worlds, including the Emperor of China, Maharaja of India, Napleona III, and Queen Victoria.   

The house was "imported" to Hawaii in 1850 from Boston.
It is one of the few structures with Grecian columns.

Barbara enjoys the breeze on the koa benches.

The house is registered as a National Historic Landmark.

Queen Emma enjoyed playing the piano.

Queen Emma's Summer Palace is located along the Pali Highway in the Nu'uanu Valley.  The highway is the first path (then road) to cut through the mountains to Kaneohe Bay on the Windward side of Oahu.   The state operates the Nu'uanu Pali Lookout, the site of the last battle between Hawaiian and Mauian forces.  King Kamehameha of Hawaii literally pushed the Maui army off the cliff.  Once the King of Kauai signed a peace treaty, King Kamehameha united the eight islands - Hawaiʻi, Maui, Kahoʻolawe, Lanaʻi, Molokaʻi, Oʻahu, Kauaʻi and Niʻihau - into the Kingdom of Hawaii.

It is always windy at the lookout!

The tree caught our attention.

The battle took place behind Barbara.

The view of Kaneohe Bay.

The tree again, grasping for life against the wind.

Coming back on base, we stopped by the entrance to my neighborhood to take pictures with Air Force One.

I am giving away my last 2012 Hawaiian Calendar to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway, leave a comment about a special gem in your neighborhood.   This giveaway is open to all readers and comments are open through Wednesday, January 4.


Kim in Hawaii

To learn more about Queen Emma's Summer House, log onto its website at this link.

To learn more about the Nu'uanu Pali Lookout, including the battle, log onto its website at this link.

Barbara enjoys the view.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Aloha to Shangri La - Doris Duke's estate in Hawaii

Honolulu has a special jewel that most tourists miss - Shangri La. From its website, www.shangrilahawaii.org,

Shangri La is the Honolulu home of American philanthropist Doris Duke. Built in 1937, Shangri La houses an impressive collection of Islamic art and is considered one of Hawaii’s most architecturally significant homes. Shangri La is open to the public for tours and special programs, and can also be visited by virtual tour.

Shangri La has limited tours, so I booked reservations in advance for my mother in law on the Friday after Thanksgiving.   Yesterday, I took my mother.   I share some photos that will demonstrate why it is, indeed, an earthly paradise.

The above picture is the front entrance that mimics Islamic buildings - plain on the outside but opulent in the inside.

My mother and the smiling camel.

A banyon tree greets the shuttle bus.

We were not allowed to photograph the inside, but we
were treated to a fabulous view of the Pacific Ocean!

Ms. Duke built a breakwater to create her own harbor.

Ms. Duke has the million dollar view of Diamond Head.

Diamond Head hosts several pillboxes built after
the December 7 attack.  The state maintains a path inside
 the crater for hikers to climb up to the fabulous views.

Ms. Duke's harbor has become a swimming hole
for anyone who can find the path to it.  
Hawaiian law protects public access to coastlines.

Shangri La hosts special events in the guest house
overlooking the salt water swimming pool.

Ms. Duke imported tiles in Islamic design.
Some were custom made and some were purchased
at auction (which had come from Islamic buildings).

If you visit Honolulu, I recommend you set aside a morning (or afternoon) to visit Shangri La!   


Kim in Hawaii

To learn more about 

The garden inspired by the Taj Mahal.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Guest Post - The Truest Gift by Tara Nina

Sailors salute the USS Arizona as the
USS Kitty Hawk sails into Pearl Harbor.

The Truest Gift
by Tara Nina

I’ve come to realize that the truest gift is time. In this fast-paced world we have little to no time. Twenty-four hours in the day seems to slip by without much thought as to where it went. If you actually sit and consider the concept of time, we have one hundred sixty-eight hours a week, twenty-one thousand twenty-four hours in a year and we still don’t have enough time.

The reason I discuss this issue with time, for the first Christmas in twenty years, my son will not be home for the holidays. It is with great pride and a heavy heart I have to accept the fact he has chosen a dangerous path in life. By the time you read this, my son will have left for boot camp. He joined the Navy and has been selected to train for the SEALS program. For the past year, he has already been training in a SEALS pre-boot camp program here in New Jersey. He is in the best shape of his young life, but still the training he has yet to face will be strenuous and test both his physical and mental strengths and abilities.

I worry that I have not done enough to prepare him for the events he may face. As parents, we did our best to teach him right from wrong. We were there each time he stumbled. We tended to his needs and gave him the most valuable things we could provide—love, guidance, and a sense of honor and respect. But was it enough to help him in this next chapter of his life.

I believe our lives are giant books. The beginning starts at the first chapter, birth. We enjoy the childhood years, learning and growing. We struggle through the teenage years, which provide our chapters with angst, and some ridiculous fodder to sit back and laugh at when we are older. Each phase toward adulthood, each plot twist builds the story of our lives until we reach those dreaded two words, the end. What we choose to do with our lives is up to each of us. It can be a grand adventure or a sad tale, but it all boils down to that fleeting aspect of time.

You see, I blinked and my son grew up.

I sit here thinking of all the holidays I had with him. The wonderful memories of watching him grow and I can only hope he has the right stuff to reach the goal he has set. Time is a precious commodity. It has no monetary value, no price you can attach to it because it is priceless. It is the one thing in life you can’t take back.

The holidays tend to make most of us a bit melancholy and his leaving at this time of the year is not easy for me. Who am I kidding? His leaving at any time of the year would not be easy for me. He is my first-born and I will miss him as he journeys into this new, adventuress chapter in his life. I can only hope that his time here at home will be a treasured memory he takes with him that will help him succeed in his future.

The greatest gift anyone can give is the gift of time. Use this holiday season to reach out to friends, family and loved-ones to gather them together and share a few hours of that sacred commodity of time. It slips past so fast that in a blink of an eye the kids are grown and you sit there wondering where did the time go.

In the spirit of the holidays, please don’t forget to reach out to those who serve to protect our great country. Remember the wonderful people in the military. It doesn’t take much effort to say thank you. Over the years, I’ve been sending care packages to different service personal around the world. If you’d like to send a care package to someone in the military, please contact Kim Adams at sos.america@yahoo.com She will gladly provide you with an address of a deserving individual, who’d love to hear from you.

During this holiday season, take a moment of time and enjoy the peace and love of family. Please share with me a fond holiday memory and I’ll enter you for a chance to win a signed copy of either Cursed Laird or Double Dilemma. I will be choosing three winners at random.


Tara Nina

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Aloha to Marine Corps Base Hawaii - Kaneohe Bay


I mentioned on SOS Aloha that I met two military spouses, new to the island, who are published writers - Renee and Nadja.   In fact, Renee attended RT's Booklovers Convention in Pittsburgh in 2007 - we laughed at the hijinks that inevitably happen at RT!    We've made a pact to get together once a week to explore the island and talk about writing.


We recently visited the Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MCBH) in Kaneohe Bay.   It is the easiest drive:  Exit Pearl Harbor, hop on the H-3 Interstate, and the highway literally drives into the base.   It is the most gorgeous drive too, cutting through the Koolau Mountains.   MCBH is located on the Mokapu Peninsula.   We drove over to the east beach - notice the wind!

Within minutes, the clouds disappeared for a sunny outlook!

We drove over to the west beach where the President is known to visit with his family.   We found another "VIP" -
the Hawaiian Monk Seal:

The seal is protected by federal and state laws which
prohibit anyone from disturbing them.  

"Monk" rolled over several times as we took
pictures from a distance.

Ivy was curious to learn more about "Monk".

She discovered sand slipped through her fingers.

Renee, Ivy, and Nadja pose for a parting shot!  

In honor of our visit to Marine Corps Bay Hawaii, I am giving away a 2011 Hawaii Calendar with more beautiful images from the eight islands.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about your favorite "watering hole" - a local beach?  Nearby lake?  Backyard pool?

2.  This giveaway is open to all readers.

3.  Comments are open through Tuesday, December 6, 10 pm in Hawaii.  I'll post the winner on Wednesday, December 7.


Kim in Hawaii


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Aloha to H5O Cast at Hickam Elementary!

I spent an hour within 5 feet of Alex O'Loughlin, Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim, and Masi Oka.  

Let me share how this came about ....

... my son's elementary school is located on base.  It is an "open" campus with outside access to each classroom.  Two weeks ago, the PTO requested volunteers for a "gardening" project on Sunday, November 13, at 8 am.   The early morning adventure paid off as it was part of Service Nation's 11 projects across the country to honor Veterans' Day.  From its website at www.servicenation.org,

A campaign to inspire a new era of voluntary citizen service in America.

As we packed up the tools, Service Nation's organizer, Chris, announced that the students would plant fruit, vegetables, and native Hawaiian plants as part of a day long event, including an outdoor assembly with 

Laird Hamilton, Hawaii's own surfing legend
Gabrielle Reece, beach volleyball champion

On Monday morning, I arrived 45 minutes before the outdoor assembly.  As their vans approached the school, I crossed the street to stand behind the students selected to welcome the cast with Kukui nut leis.   It was somewhat surreal to watch the cast exit the vans like normal people.  Unlike the rabid fans at the H5O premiere on Waikiki Beach, nobody was screaming at Hickam Elementary.  

Rabid fans on Waikiki Beach

I kept my eye on the VIP room where they met school officials.   When they reemerged and walked toward the new garden, I followed as if I was suppose to be there.   Alex and Scott worked together with students in one flower bed while Daniel and Masi worked together in another.  These guys were great with the students, asking them questions and praising their efforts.   

Alex and Scott

Alex, of course, spoke in his native Aussie accent.  He challenged Daniel and Masi to a "garden off" to see who  had the best garden.  As the cast walked towards the assembly area, I was walking behind Alex - what a sight!  Let me say it again, it was surreal.   It was clear that the cast was there for the kids so I didn't ask to take a picture with them .... just yet.

Daniel and Masi

During the assembly, we learned at the American Heart Association sponsored The Teaching Garden and would be working with the Bishop Museum (Hawaii's own cultural icon) to maintain the native plants.   The principal then introduced Laird Hamilton - Hawaii's own surfing enthusiast.  He talked about the importance of good nutrition and giving the best fuel to your best vehicle - your body, "Take care of your body and your body will talk care of you."

Laird is left most and Gabrielle is right most in the backrow.
The librarian is the one cut out of the picture on the left.

Laird introduced his wife, Gabrielle Reece, who led the students in "playing", i.e., exercising.  The H50 cast laughed as the kids went wild under Gabrielle's direction.  She then introduced Daniel Dae Kim at the podium while Alex, Scott, and Masi pushed wheelbarrows in front of the stage, one was filled with vegetables, one was filled with fruit, and one was filled with books.   Daniel shared how he would apply what he learned today from The Teaching Garden to his own effort plant a coconut tree.  He then challenged the children to take care of their own "trees" - bodies - and even their "coconuts" - heads - by filling them with knowledge from school.  The producers of Hawaii Five O donated the books in the wheelbarrow.

Check out the video of their presentation at this link.

The students moved to an open area to perform their "grow" dance to Black Eyed Peas' I'VE GOT A FEELING.   Some very smart military personnel created a line to take pictures with the cast.  Just as it was my turn to pose with Alex, another woman thought it was her turn.  Normally I would have let the other woman go first, but I had a mission that day!

I also took a picture with Scott.  

My son asked Scott for his autograph.

Just as the crew was getting ready to leave, I spotted Masi walking in my direction.   I asked a woman nearby to take my picture - I think the woman was Daniel's wife. 

The generals' spouses were interested in The Teaching Garden so I escorted them to it.  I didn't want to watch (and cry) as the H50 crew left. 

Have you met a famous person? 


Kim in Hawaii