Thursday, December 29, 2005

Complaint post!

I just need to complain for one second about the men I live with. I know this will all sound like petty shit (and it is) but things get to you when you live with people. Hell. I don't think there's a person reading this who wouldn't agree with that. Also: Karin is away and it's just me here with three guys, and I'm not used to that. I grew up surrounded by women and have so many female friends, I really am used to the girlies.
But anyway. After Ben brought me all those lemons, I've been making tons of stuff with them: lemon bars, lemonade, lemon pound cake. When I made the lemon pound cake, I poured the batter into the loaf pan and set the bowl aside. As I was cleaning up, one of the guys came in and looked in at the bowl with the batter in it. [I also need to interject here that one of the best parts of cooking here is the peace in the kitchen, so it already irritates me when someone comes and bothers me when I'm doing it.] So he comes in, looks in the bowl, and says, "is this safe?" Not knowing what he means, I answer, "well, it has raw eggs in it if that's what you mean." And he says, "oh that doesn't bother me" and proceeds to LICK THE BOWL. Anyone who knows me knows that that is my absolute favorite part! I mean, I had set aside to save it for the end! And if you're wondering why I didn't wrench it from his grasp, there are several reasons for that, the primary one being an odor situation. But I digress.
Then later, after I take the cake out of the oven I put it onto the counter to cool. When I come back, fully ONE QUARTER of the cake has been eaten by the other guy. I mean, what kind of people are these?? Who licks someone else's bowl without asking and who cuts a cake that's clearly for dessert while it's cooling??

Getting lax with the posting...

but nothing much new going on.

I've been working on a path to the bathhouse, which involved digging out the grass and then digging a trench in which to put the plastic path edging. Then we cover the path with weedcloth and pour gravel over it. It looks pretty cool and should make the walk to the batthouse even less exciting. (Did I tell you? I walk there in the dark now! No flashlight!)
Anyway. That's what we've been working on this week. We also had some people camping out in the pasture, and one of them was named Quasar. So there's that.
We went to the beach the day before yesterdy, and there was a surf advisory due to 15-20 foot waves. The beach we went to, Mahukona, is not a conventional beach at all but an old port for the sugar plantations. As you can see from the first photo, there's no sand, just a concrete platform and you jump from it right into the water. Well, we hung out there for a while, watching the waves to see if it was really bad. Every time (except once) that I've been to the beach here there has been a surf advisory, and I've always gone in and been fine. This time was different. As we were standing on the dock, a huge wave hit and really did shoot up twenty feet into the air. I, of course, ran for my life. After that we left.

Yesterday we went to the Mauna Lani again (the one where the water is as clear as in a glass) and we swam a little while. It was rough though, and because the surf is still bad it was very murky. There is so much coral there and I tried to swim, but with the zero visibility I banged my knee on it and cut it up. Did I tell you guys that I had cut my butt, thighs, and hands on some rocks swimming on Saturday with that boy I like? That was embarassing.

So. We're supposed to be working on the path some more, but the tractor has a flat and so we're stuck. Maybe another beach day...?

Just so you guys know: I'm never leaving this place.

P.S. Anyone notice this article in the New York Times? I'm not going to comment on co-sleeping here. I just want you to look deeply into the eyes of the dads.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Mele Kalikimaka and Ha'oule Makahiki Hou*

Hi Guys!

Man, I was thinking about you during the transit strike! I can't wait to hear all your stories about it.

Anyway, a quiet Christmas weekend here on the big island of Hawaii. Jessie and I went out to Kona on Friday night and had to crash there (did I mention that if I'm not back here by 10pm I have to stay out until breakfast?). It was fun, and we met some guys (8-1 ratio, anyone?) and then hung out with them at the beach on Saturday. They brought a barbecue, and stuff to eat, and music, and drinks. It was a fun Christmas eve. We went to a beach I hadn't been to before, which required a short walk through an area full of keawe thorns before reaching it. (I couldn't find a link, but they are long thin branches full of thorns and when you step on them they go right through your flip-flop and into your foot. So a walk through them requires constantly stopping and saying "shit!" and then pulling the thorns out.) Anyway, the beach is full of these little private cove areas and we sat in one and ate and drank and swam and smoked and it was great.

*Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I don't know how to say Happy Hanukah in Hawaiian.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

You would not believe the shit I was doing today.

No, really. Shit. And the better you know me, the harder it's going to be for you to believe it.

First, yesterday: finally finished the varnishing project and it looks great. I'll post some pictures of the trim installed so you can see the final result. At some point yesterday, this pretty cool Hawaiian named Ben came over and introduced himself. He's in his seventies, has lived here all his life, and used to work on the sugar plantation. This whole area was a cluster of seven sugar plantations, each with it's own workers' camp. The plantations were all shut down by 1975, people bought up the land slowly, and the workers' camps became the little main street areas. Here's a picture of our town Hawi (pronounced Ha-vee), population 750 or so:

Ben was telling me all about it and you know how I love talking to the old-timers. Anyway, he also said he had tons of lemons at home and would be happy to bring some by.

Today we moved directly into more farm-y duties: making compost. I had sort of been looking forward to this, since I'm always into the stuff that I feel like I'll need to know how to do later. This, however, was crazy. First, Liu Zhi and I had to dig a trench 12 feet by 4 feet and a foot deep. Then we had to collect weeds from all over the property. Then we had to go to the pasture and collect cow shit. That's right. You read it here. We dragged a wheelbarrow around the pasture, looking for cow shit. When we spotted it, we took the pitchfork and scooped it into the wheelbarrow. Then we looked for more.

At some point during the cow shit-scooping, I lost it. I started mumbling to myself, and wondering aloud what had happened to my life that I now found myself LOOKING FOR COW SHIT AND SCOOPING IT INTO A WHEELBARROW?? It was good that Liu Zhi couldn't understand me, because I was not ok. He did understand my gags of disgust and tried to explain to me that because the cows were grass-fed it was not gross. His English has gotten a lot better. In the standard way things happen here, as I was wheeling the shit down the pasture I saw that Ben had come, with the promised bag of lemons. That brightened me right up. I'm going to make lemon meringue(sp?) pie for cratchmach.

Back to the compost: one layer weeds, one layer cow shit, two different kinds of sand, then dirt. In between the layers we spray compost starter. We were supposed to make this pile four feet high, but we quit at about two feet, because we'd already been working on it for about four hours.

After that, Karen and I went to the church rummage sale, which is once a week and has tons of clothes for NOTHING. To illustrate, I bought: two long-sleeved t-shirts, one short-sleeved t-shirt, one pair of shorts, and a paper back book for $1.35. Jessie met me there and we picked up Kate and went to the beach. The were some surf warnings and the waves were pretty crazy, but we got far enough out to swim and had a great time. Which almost made up for the shit-shoveling. Almost.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Birthday. Now, with Photos!

I'm twenty-seven years old, woohoo! Here's what a twenty-seven year old looks like:

Anyway, thank you guys so much for the birthday wishes. It really warmed my heart to know you were thinking about me, and I was thinking about you too.

I had the loveliest birthday weekend. I think a lot of what made it so nice was that I had no expectations, and so everything that I did just seemed like a bonus, you know?

First: back to Friday. After working hard all week, Lew took us to the beach! But before that discussion, are the promised wood photos! It's a bitch to load them, so only two for now.


and after one coat of varnish:

Isn't it beautiful??

Anyway, I don't think I've told you too much about the beaches we go to. The first one I went to was at the Mauna Lani resort, one of the oldest on the island. On Friday, we went to the Mauna Kea which was a totally different experience. There were high waves close to shore and rip-tides to watch out for. I was a little bit nervouse hearing about it, but once we got in the water I realized that it was very much like the beach in LA: very choppy at the shore, but calm once you swim out past the waves. The snorkeling was tough because the water was pretty murky, but it was still fun. I really appreciate having the goggles and mask on out there, too, because I can stay under longer and swim way further out.

So that was Friday. On Saturday, Jessie and I went to the local coffee shop (closes at four, just so you know) and hung out there, and then the farmer's market. There were a couple of hippies there selling brownies made with awa and we had some. Then she, Liu Zhi and drove to the Mauna Lani to swim in that sweet bay again. Unfortunately (probably due at least in part to the awa) we went to the wrong beach. Even though we parked by the Mauna Lani, we walked right instead of left and ended up trekking a mile and a half along the coast until we could find someplace that wasn't too rocky to swim. By the time we did, we found out that we were at a neighboring resort (the Fairmont Orchid) and swam and snorkeled there. There were alot of big sea turtles in the water, and they came right up to us. I screamed, of course, and knocked my mask off. We also saw one on the way:

Sunday, we had breakfast and then I went to my room and fell asleep. It was a great nap, and when I woke up we went to the coffee shop and hung out there. My friend Maria was singing outside where the tables are, and as I was ordering my coffee she called out: "Hey Stephanie! This is for you!" and sang an awesome, jazzy rendition of Happy Birthday. It was so sweet, and totally unexpected.

We ran into "our" neigbor at the coffee shop, and her daughter is visiting from Montreal. So the three of us decided to go swimming and went to another beach called Mauumae. To get there, you park and then follw a trail until you get to this little sandy beach. The waves were still pretty crazy, but again once we got past them it was calm and fun. On the way back to the sand we did get slammed down a bunch by the waves, and I skinned my knees.

We stopped at this ice cream stand on the way home, and then I had dinner and macadamia birthday pie (!), delicious. Jessie and I went for a drive afterwards to Pololu and lay on the hood of her car, smoking and trying to identify the constellations. The sky was full of stars and the moon was low and orange. It's so peaceful here...

So that was my weekend: swimming, star-gazing, and chillaxin'. My heart is full.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Hot damn!

**Blah blah blah and then stay tuned for two important questions, marked by asterisks.

Actually, what I meant to say was "hot day". But I guess I won't get much sympathy for being hot from you guys.
Anyway. I guess I'm slipping into a routine here, which is nice. Mostly.
I varnished and sanded a bunch more today. Doesn't it sound like I've been doing that forever?? But we have three rooms to put trim in and all the wood needs to be:

1. measured
2. cut
3. sanded coarse
4. sanded fine
5. sanded very fine
6. varnished
7. sanded very fine
8. varnished
9. sanded very fine
10. varnished

And after every sanding, it needs to be wiped down with tack cloth a couple times. We have a whole system now where at any given point there are strips of wood at various stages of finishing, and I really do enjoy it. My job starts at step 6, and I'm getting to love watching the beauty of the wood come out more and more with each coat of varnish. I know that sounds totally lame, but it's true.

Every morning I wake up, get dressed, read for a while and go to breakfast. We wash the dishes and then I go straight outside to water my little seedlings that I had weeded and planted (in the bed that you can see the corner of in yesterday's photo). After that, I change into my workclothes: a beater, dickie's shorts, and red crocs. Oh, did I tell you I had to buy crocs, because that's all people wear here? They're bright red. I'm not fucking around.

Anyway. I typed up the beginning of this post earlier today and then had to leave because I was being stalked by a wasp. They're starting to creep me out, and today I lost my cool. No one here even knew that bugs bothered me. That is, until this afternoon when I turned around to see a huge bee (the big fat black kind) right in my face and shrieked and ran. Totally blew my own cover. But you can't tell me the wasps are not creepy, with their little legs dangling:

Anyway, I went to the Thursday night women's meditation group, and I had had so much to say about last week's that Jessie had to come this week. She stayed for dinner (which Liu Zhi made) and then we went out for a little drive and some gossip. I had so much fun with her, I guess I really missed my girly gossip fests and we both had drama to discuss. *Now, here comes my problem. I'm getting to the point where I want to talk shit to you guys about some stuff, like the meditation group and the little bit of boy drama I'm having. But I'm concerned about who may be reading this, (or who could find it) so what I guess I want to know is: is there a way to make some posts password protected? I know people can do that on live journal... If not, do you think I should go back and take names and identifying stuff out and just talk shit? Not sure what to do here...

*The second question is: I'm loving the wood so much and the whole process is so satisfying, that I was going to take some step by step pictures and post them. But if that is totally uninteresting to you guys, I won't go through the trouble. So let me know. It won't hurt my feelings if you're not down.

Let me know.
Love you guys.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

No Rain, No Rainbows.

So, I finally got my pictures loaded into the computer and can post some!

There are many, many different ways lava can look, and I took photos of a couple:

This one looks liquid but is rock hard:

Me with Kaimana and Carny, weeding:

And a rainbow photo, just for you.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The story of the varnish.

No, there isn't really any big story about the varnish. I just spent all day sanding and varnishing strips of wood, and enjoyed it. Lew has a set of ipod speakers, so I got to plug my ipod in and listen to my own music. We've been listening to the radio while working outside and it's fun Hawaiian music mixed with Christmas songs-- nice, but I was in the mood to sing along, you know?

I also istalled the switchplates and outlet covers that I had varnished a few days ago. One of the outlets seemed to be recessed too deep and so I reached into the outlet to pull it out a little, and was promptly electrocuted. It was just a little shock that went up my forearm, but not fun. Coincidentally, I strained something in my arm yesterday or the day before and it's been bothering me, maybe the shock will help...

Tonight I made mejadra and Brian made garlic nan and we had dinner on the lanai (which is Hawaiian for porch, but I guess some people on the mainland use that word too?) as usual and tried to figure out if it was going to rain tomorrow. It's so windy and the wind is pretty loud in the cane grass, and we just sort of hung out and enjoyed it.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The story of the cookies.

In Hawaii storytelling is known as "talk story" and people are pretty into it. So I have to talk story to you guys about the cookies.

On Friday when Karin and I went to Costco, she mentioned that around Christmas time they have these chocolate mint cookies that sounded remarkably like girl scout cookies. We all know how much I love those (and cookies in general [and chocolate in general]) so of course, I had to have these cookies.

I bought the cookies, and was then confronted with two issues wich I hadn't thought out:

1. Where would I put them? We can't keep food in our rooms because of all the ants and other bugs, and keeping them in the farm kitchen didn't seem like a good idea.
2. What would I do with them? Even I can't eat a costco-sized box of cookies, nor do I want to. Supposed to be healthy here, people!

Now bearing in mind that I hadn't seen chocolate (or any sugar) in days, I bring the cookies home. And I begin to smell them. Man, I don't know if it was like the tell-tale heart, or what, but I swear to god I could smell those cookies in my room. This concerned me because I thought, "if I can smell them, so can the ants". So I decide to open the box and see how well they're packaged. Terribly, is how they're packaged. Just a bag with a twist tie. Well, that'll never make it past the bugs. So I get a couple huge ziploc bags and put their bag, in a ziploc, in another ziploc, and seal it all up.

Of course, while I'm doing this, I taste them, and by god they taste exactly like girl scout cookies. Only they're bigger. And better.

Thereby began a weekend of me fighting valiantly not to eat the cookies while they called to me from their plastic prison. I was failing. The cookies were winning. And they won over and over again.

Suffice it to say that the cookies emerged victorious. The fight ended when Maria came over for breakfast this morning. On her way to leave I ran to her and thrust the bag(s) of cookies into her arms and said "Please take these and don't tell me what you do with them."

Back to jackfruit. Damn it.

Monday Monday Monday

I figured that if I wrote Monday over and over again it would seem exciting.

Anyway. I've spent most of today sanding and varnishing for the trim project I'm working on, and it's actually really cool mango wood. (I couldn't find a great image online, but I guess this one's close enough.) I'm not doing that for too much longer, as Liu Zhi's cutting more wood and we're sort of running out of sawhorses to put the wood on. It looks like it's going to rain later so we did all this inside and tried to fen off the wasps. Have I mentioned the wasp situation? They are ALL over the place, looking for somewhere to nest. And every time they pick a place Lew banishes them, and they're not pleased. I'm constantly having to fight them for control of the laundry line and bicycle shed. Brian said that as long as I stay calm they shouldn't give me a problem, and I'm trying my best.

Oh! Bicycle shed! Karin took a couple picture of me riding! a! bike! and here they are, for your enjoyment:

I admit, the one where I'm actually viewed riding was taken from far away, but you're just going to have to take my word on it that it's me.

Oh yeah, yesterday. With no end to my bad mood in sight, Jessie got a flat tire and she and several members of our little group worked for half the day trying to deal with it. So, no snorkeling. I just did laundry and cleaned up and read and relaxed. And today, I woke up with the bad mood gone. Finally.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

It's the weekend, thank you jesus.

A lovely Saturday here on the big island of Hawaii.
I'm not in the best mood. I think it's because of my moon. Oh yeah, I never got to tell you guys that three seperate people have referred to a woman's period as a moon here. I guess it's good I got introduced to it a few weeks ago, otherwise I would have had no idea what they were talking about. The point is, everyone here is annoying me, for silly reasons not worth listing, so instead I'll tell you what I've been up to.

Yesterday Karin and I went into Kona to run errands. This took most of the day, and we got to have lunch in a little greek restaurant overlooking the ocean. We also went to a cute craft market and did some shopping there. Kona is nice, and is sunny and in the 80's about 350 days a year. That sounds beautiful (and it is, mostly) except that the way it's situated, Kona gets most of the vog. It rolls in and the sky gets dark and it's pretty creepy. It was still fun, and on the drive back we watched the water for the whales who hang out here until March. I haven't seen any yet...
Last night a few of us went to hear Maria sing at the local sushi restaurant in town. She drew quite a crowd for Hawi, about fifteen people. I met some more of the local characters, and we had a good time. Unfortunately, the rule at the farm is that you either come home before ten or don't come home until after the sun comes up. Neither of those ideas appealed to me, but I decided to just go to bed.
Today I relaxed, cleaned up, and read, and then made dinner for us tonight. (Oh yeah: any good dinner ideas would be appreciated.)
Tomorrow we go snorkeling, and apparently the water might be choppy and rough-- I'll let you know how it turns out.

Also: there seems to be a problem with one of the cows at the farm next door. That cow was moaning so loudly last night that it woke me up... weird.

Also #2: I didn't tell you about the pigs. Apparently, there are wild pigs who sometimes come around (especially at night). I've been sort of nervous about them ever since I heard, in spite of reassurances that the dogs won't let them hang out here. This added to my afraid-to-pee-at-night thing. Anyway, a couple nights I've distinctly heard snorting and digging by the door to my room, and once after dinner I found that the mat had been thrown aside and my shoes (which stay outside) thrown aside. It could be the dogs, but still... So anyway, last night I totally heard the snorting and digging and grabbed my flashlight and went to the door. There was nothing out there... either I'm completely losing my mind or there's something out there: either way, I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I saw fish! and the weeds obeyed!

SO, I think I was going to start by telling you guys about my trip to the market yesterday. Karin and I went to do the weekly shopping, and started with the produce. The fruit and vegetables are sold out of the back of a truck by this beautiful Hawaiian woman. She had lettuce, greens, beets and all kinds of stuff. My new friend Maria (did I mention her? the singer who's going to give me guitar lessons?) was selling the fruit, mainly jackfruit and Hawaiian breadfruit. We got one of each of those. The other thing I wanted to tell you about Hawaiians (and non-Hawaiians living here) is that they are so genuinely warm. Once you've met someone once, they greet you with a kiss on the cheek and act like you've been friends forever. Which sounds annoying but isn't when it's as sincere as it is. We then went to the grocery store and got the rest of what we needed, and again Karin knew half the people shopping there.

Anyway. That's yesterday.
This morning I woke to find it was pouring rain and Alexandriu was in the kitchen. Apparently he had gotten his car towed and had no way to get back to Waimea (where he lives) and had spent the night in the temple. While Lew took him to pick up his car, I finished the rest of the planting (rainbow and golden chard, basil) and moved some of the seedlings that had ended up in the "drip line". The vegetable patch is right by the house and one row of plants was getting drowned by the water dripping of the porch. I did all this in the rain, and hen got into dry clothes to wait it out. Everytime I do anything hard or get dirty, I picture Iesha and think "if Iesha could see me now, she'd die". (Do you read this, Yeshua?) Sometimes I even stop what I'm doing and grab a camera because I know you guys will want photographic evidence of this stuff. So Lew comes back and finds me knitting in my room and says that if it clears up we're going to go swimming at 11:30. This seemed so crazy-- it was literally POURING rain and grey in every direction.

But it did clear up, and I went back out to tackle the weeds by the bamboo patch again. The rain, plus talking to them and my discovery of the pick-axe made it much easier and I got the two huge patches out that had been so frustrating on Friday. [Just for reference: Liu Zhi is a MACHINE and while I was happily pulling weeds he built TWO sawhorses out of two by fours.]

After that, we headed to the beach. The Mauna Lani is a huge resort, one of the first on the island. They have a sweet beach club, and Lew and Karin have connections there to get us in. Once we got there, they pulled out the snorkeling equiptment and gave Liu Zhi and I a quick lesson. We got right in the water, and it was calm and clear as drinking water. After struggling with the snorkel for a bit I figured it out and swam about fifty yards out. There was tons of coral in all different colors and fish swimming all around it. I think I saw around 15 kinds of fish: black, yellow, flourescent blue, needlenose white fish, rainbow colored fish. Which reminds me: there were rainbows ALL DAY after all that rain.

So we swam for a while, had lunch at the beach club and then relaxed on the lounge chairs. The sun started to hide behind the clouds again and we headed home. Brina made calzones and Jessie's coming to dinner, so it should be fun. After a week here of eating so much fresh food and being out in the sun, I've gotten to tht point where I crave fruit instead of sugar and chocolate! What a nice change. I cut up some jackfruit for dessert and am going to sneak a piece now. Did I tell you that the seeds inside ackfruit can be boiled and eaten like little potatoes? When I opened this one today, many of the seeds had already started sprouting, so I'm going to get them in little pots tomorrow and see what happens...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Just another day in the life of a faux farmer...

I wanted to tell you guys a little bit about this place, the background, and what it's like here.

First of all, we're on seven acres of weedy pasture, so it's pretty open and walkable. All the land in this area used to be sugar plantations, and there's still random patches of purple sugarcane around.
Along with the couple who owns this place, there are the other two volunteers and I, along with two golden retrievers who i LOVE: carny and kaimana an two cats. i don't know how many of you heard that aliza's much-loved (by all) shi tsu roxanne died, and it's been really sad for me. so having these two dogs has been great. they're total cuddlers and follow me around as i work. they lie next to me when i'm weeding, an cry at the door to my room if i'm in there too long.

anyway. i have my own room, but it's a sort of bunk room that would sleep two other people if they came. my room has a big sliding glass door that looks over to some hills in the west and faces the batthouse with the outdoor shower and the toilets (normal flush-toilets). you might be glad to know i have conquered my fear of going to the batthouse in the middle of the night, mainly by drinking less water before bed. you win some, you lose some.

i sleep with the screen shut but the curtain open, and i usually wake up with the sunrise, at about 6. I take my time getting up, and then depending on when i finally do get up i go to the temple and do yoga for an hour or two. it's peaceful in there, and i can put music on and really relax. breakfast is at 8:30, and we're called to breakfast by this bamboo horn-type-item. it's hot cereal (either mixed-grain or oatmeal) with fresh fruit and berries.

after breakfast, i get to work. yesterday liu zhi and i weeded this patch of land and then collected nutrients from various locations to put in the ground. then we used an electric rototiller to work the earth and mix those nutrients in to it. today we planted lettuce, bok choy, basil, and broccoli into that spot which was pretty satisfying. liu zhi is a WORKHORSE and does not tire. just so you know.

once that was done, we started our next project which is going to be cutting, staining an installing the trim and molding in three rooms. this is hard, especially because the drywall is not level and has to be filled in with plywood, etc... there's a lot to think about, and it's all totally new to me. we work four hours, but that gets cut up with breaks (you work at your own pace) and you get lunch yourself.

two nights a week dinner is my job and tonight was my first one. i made my chili and cornbread, and it was a hit! it was fun, and the best part about dinner duty is that you're off of dish duty.

there are so many things i want to tell you, but it's 8:30 which is almost past my bedtime. seriously. i'm going to lay down and listen to the cows mooing (all night, folks) and the geckos clicking. it's pretty windy now too, and the wind is loud through the tall weeds and palm trees.

so i guess i'll pick up tomorrow and tell you about my trip to town today and more jackfruit! and a new friend who wants to teach me to play the guitar!

**p.s. just realized that somewhere along the way i gave up capitalizing today. and i can't get the spell check button to work. sorry.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Tubin', bro!

** Three Disclaimers:
1. I apologize if any of this background stuff is annoying. I didn't know any of it before I got here, but if I'm just repeating stuff you guys all know, just tell me to shut the hell up and I'll stop doing it.
2. I haven't been able to load any of my pictures yet, though I found out that I definitely can. So for now, only internet photos, sorry!
3. Everyone calls each other bro here. Hence the title.

This weekend, I took a road trip to Kilauea volcano. One of the most active in the world, the current erruption has been going on for over twenty years. It's located in the middle of Hawai'i volcanoes national park, and you can actually drive and then hike pretty close to the active erruptions. At the ranger's station they post what and where to see lava on any given day.

The park is about a three hour drive from where we live, so we got started fairly early (in normal people time, not farm time) on Saturday morning. Brian and Liu Zhi came, and we were picked up by Alexandriu (Belgian-Romanian who moved here three weeks ago to work with the doctor who invented pacemakers who lives here on the island as well) and Jessie (Katrina efugee who actually was in New Orleans and the Superdome, etc. who has moved here now).
First, we drove to Hilo, where they have a great farmer's market, and bought all kinds of fruit and things to snack on for the trip: once you're in Volcano (as the park is referred to) there isn't any place to get food. We also stopped at a supermarket for more food and big jugs of water. Then on to the hostel, to put some stuff down and check in with them. Apparently, Saturday at the hostel is "customer appreciation night" and they serve free pizza and beer! Being poor and already a little tired of healthy farm food; this was pretty exciting.

At this point it was about two o'clock and we sat down in the hostel to eat and look at our guide books and figure out what to do next. I had a new fruit(!) which I don't get to do too often. It's called a jackfruit, and Jessie's Philipino roommates introduced her to it. It smells crazy (and makes your hands smell pretty bad) but the tastes sort of like pineapple and has a smooth almost jelly-like texture.

So, we headed to Volcano and checked with the visitor's center to see if there were any active erruptions to see. There weren't, so instead of hiking around to look at some steam, we decided to go to Thurston's lava tube. A lava tube is what's made when lava flows through the earth and then cools. Thurston's has been cleaned up and lit, and was sort of a disappointment. We had read in the book, however, that at the end of the tube there was another section of about a thousand feet that has not been touched, and is marked by a gate. We had brought flashlights and headed right in. It's a pretty treacherous little stretch, with lots of fallen lava rock and things to navigate, but altogether pretty manageable. Once we got to the end we took a bunch of pictures and then turned off our flashlights and hung out in the dark, singing songs in as many languages as we could.

As we got up to leave, Jessie suggested that we try and come back in the dark, just feeling our way along the tube and trusting our senses to not get hurt. I don't know how dramatic that sounds to you reading it, but it was SCARY and hard work: it took us about an hour and a half to go those thousand feet. No big injuries on anyone (except for a few cuts and scrapes) and it was honestly a pretty amazing experience. At some points where there were a lot of boulders, we had to get down on all fours and scramble across boulders, totally blind.

Once we got out we headed back to the hostel for pizza and beer. I met a boy... but more on that later. [did i mention the 8-1 male to female ratio in hawai'i? alooooooha!]

After we got up on Sunday, we decided to look for some more adventures. Our book had listed another lava tube, but one that was really hard to find (in fact, the book said there was a good chance we wouldn't find it at all) so we decided to head there right away. The book described it as a path through wild ginger, then false staghorn ferns, and ten there would be the mouth of the cave. Well, we were slightly off and instead went into another lava tube that we had to scramble down and into and then up and out of before we found the mouth of the one we were looking for. This one was a mile and a half, and we didn't even attempt it in the dark. It was a lot more difficult with low places where you had to crawl through. It was rad. On the way out we found the path we were supposed to have taken and cut through the jungle a bit to get out (but we didn't have to go through the first tunnel again. I took tons of pictures of the lava formations and will hopefully load them up soon. Though I'm learning that in Hawaii, "soon" means something intirely different than what it means anywhere else.

OK, tomorrow more on the place I'm staying and what my work schedule is like this week.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

A List, For Your Enjoyment:

Times I have been awake early enough to seen the sun rise in Hawaii: 3
Times I have been lying in bed awake at that time because I have to pee and I'm too scared to walk to the bathhouse in the dark: 3
Times I dreamt about Mariah Carey as I waited for it to be bright enough to go to the bathouse: 1
Times I had to pee so bad that I dreamt I was peeing and thought I'd peed in bed: 1
Times I tried to commune with the mosquito king on a shamanistic journey that Lew reccommended and ask him to tell all the mosquitos not to bite me anymore: 1
Bug bites: a cool 30. I counted them just for you.

I think that's it for now. More lists to come.

Friday, December 02, 2005


I'm in Hawaii!! And while I definitely used two exclamation points in that first sentence, think of them as weary, exhausted exclamation points.
I am SO tired after my first day of work (which was not even a full day because it's only 1:30 here) which I guess means that I have to do some more work after this.
Anyway. This place is amazing. It's definitely a farm, but also so tropical that it's a really interesting mix. I hope I'll be able to post some pictures soon, but as I don't see any place on this computer to plug my camera in, I'm not sure yet.

I don't really know where to start, so this is going to be pretty ramble-y... the pace is so different here, everything just flows in such a different way. In NYC, I always feel like such a Californian, but being here makes me feel like a New Yorker. We wake up really early, usually with the sunrise (about 6) and sort of do our own thing until breakfast at 8:30. Lunch is on our own, and dinner is at 6:30. The rest of the time you work for about our hours a day, however you want to break it up, and do your own thing.

This morning I woke up at about 6:30, got up, got dressed, made my bed and read for a little while. Then I went to breakfast and we had a meeting detailing what we'd be doing for the next week. I'm going to be pulling weeds and making compost. I pulled weeds for so long today already that I can't even move. I want to take a picture of myself doing it (especially for Iesha); I look crazy. I was having such a hard time with them but Lew told me to commune with them and explain what I was doing so that they would let go of the ground. And I swear to god, it got a lot easier after that. The really stubborn ones need a lot of talking to, but then they relent.

Oh, the other people here are: Brian, who taught me how to ride a bike yesterday (I'm a bruised-up bitten-up mess) and Liu Zhi, who is a Katrina survivor and only speaks Chinese. He's learning though.

There's also this Chinese temple here where you can do yoga or meditate or whatever you want and I had a great yoga session there last night. I don't know that this body will allow that again tonight, sheesh.

There are so many bugs and geckos and birds and butterflies and frogs, it blows this city girl's mind. I'm keeping it cool, though. No one even suspects my fear. In fact, I've ad to change alot already to deal with this plae, and I mean that in the bst possible way. I'm learning to let go of time and schedules, goals and deadlines. It's all new...

Tomorrow Brian and I are getting up early to join friends of Lew and Karin's to go to Volcano National Park and see the active volcano. We're going to sleep there and come back on Sunday. I can't wait!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

So long, NYC!

Which is also the title of the mix Phil made me. I also got a super-long mp3 mix from Kelly and a Chris Rock album from Mir. Thanks guys!

So as some of you witnessed first-hand, this has been a hard goodbye for me, but now that that's over I'm excited to get to Hawaii and get started on my summer camp for grown-ups (thanx squirrel).

I miss you already (really, I do) and I can't wait to tell you guys all about the farm and everything I'll be doing.

Thanks for making these past few years in New York the BEST time of my life.

I love you.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Feast or Famine

I know I haven't posted in a little while. OK, a long while.
So to make up for that, I'm just going to list, for your enjoyment, the things that I have to do before I leave on November 30th:

- Finish clearing out my apartment so the new people can move in (and make copies of the keys for them)
- Find a pair of shorts in NYC in the late Fall
- Go to Portland and Seattle for the weekend, have an interview for school, attend the open house and meet my "buddy"
- Try to get back the the thirty dollars EMS overcharged me for my backpack
- Finish my anatomy class (5 tests down, 4 more to go)
- Pack two months worth of stuff into the aforementioned backpack

I think that's it for now.

Maybe later I'll talk about the two babies that I saw get born over the last month. I apologize for the grainy camera-phone photos, but here they are:

No drugs. No problem. (No problem for me, anyway.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

YU know who.

I just came accross these photos of the Yeshiva University Hurricane Katrina benefit concert, and I had to share.

The pictures speak for themselves.

And you wonder why I am the way I am.

Monday, October 10, 2005

LA and Crash

I know I didn't post anything about my holiday weekend in LA, but that's because I don't have anything to say about it. It was fine. My family's still crazy. I'm handling it better. And that's all I have to say about that.

Mir and I went to the beach and had an enormous amount of fun writing messages in the sand and then taking pictures of ourselves next to them in weird poses:

And a lovely shot of the street I grew up on (well, around the corner) Fairfax:

I watched Crash this weekend so I'm not in the best of LA moods.

Also had a funny incident with my aunt, whose stories everyone enjoys. We went out to dinner and she and my uncle were talking about the Rotary CLub and how much fun it is to be a part of, etc. My aunt then turned to me and said, "...and you know, they let people of all ages and sexual orientations in. You know, it even says in their bylaws that people of all sexual orientaions must be allowed to join!" So there's an awkward pause where I try to figure out if my aunt is hinting that I'm a lesbian and then my mom says, "Well speaking of that, or not speaking of that at all, what's everyone ordering?"

Sunday, October 09, 2005

No new posts, wah wah.

Cooking/baking Stephanie is back! After a pretty long hiatus, I'm totally back in cooking land. I baked up a crazy storm this weekend (white bread, banana bread, cookies) and bought ingredients to make even more stuff. I'm having my friend Debra over for dinner tonight and made a simple yet luscious dinner: zucchini quiche, a green salad, and chocolate pudding for dessert. I'll post the quiche recipe tomorrow from work...
I also signed up for Urban Organic again. They're pretty cheap, and I think with fall coming it'll be fun to have all kinds of squash and apples and greens delivered to me. I lay in my bed this morning with a pile of cookbooks around me, picking out all kinds of stuff I want to try.
You're all invited, one by one, for dinner parties, yay!

In other news, I just realized that I should have been updating on my nose-ring situation, with pictures and gruesome details. For those who haven't seen me lately my newly re-done nose piercing had become infected, swelled up, and turned black. It looked like Beck Weathers' nose. (Ugh, I just tried to link to a picture of Beck, but couldn't bear to. If you must know, google image search poor Beck and have a look.) ANYWAY, it's pretty much all better. Phew.
It wasn't a flesh-eating bacteria after all-- so sorry to disapoint Emil.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Ah, airlines. If only I'd known that they would be the least of my problems.

There's so much to say, and so little time as I hide here in my mom's room. It's only matter of time until they realize I'm awake and come get me so I'll make it brief.

LA, 10/05

-There's no kitchen here, and they're having people over for dinner tonight and tomorrow. No one wants to talk about this or acknowledge the fact that they usually prepare fore these holidays weeks in advance. No one wants to come up with a Plan B either. Trust me, I tried.

-I had an asthma attack and had to go the ER at 2am last night for a breathing treatment.

-My aunt and uncle made me go to dinner at 5pm so that they could be home in time for Sixty Minutes. My aunt also made sure to tell me that the Rotary Club (of which they are members) is really gay-friendly. Hints anyone?

-I found my grandmother standing on a chair re-organizing her closet. I, of course, freaked out (she's 93!) and asked her to come down. She wouldn't, but she did let me take a picture.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Is it alzheimer’s or too much o’ the green?

I am such an idiot. I don’t know how I actually get by on the planet while stll being so stupid.
Last week, I decided to go home to California for the Jewish holidays. I had already decided not to but then I thought about how if I was starting school in March I probably wouldn’t want to go home before then, so here I am. I made sure to limit the amount of days I actually spent at home so that I wouldn’t want to die before the end of the trip. I actually bought the ticket eight days before I was scheduled to fly. I didn’t notice anything strange about the ticket at the time, but a few days later when I was giving my mom the info so that she could pick me up at the airport, I told her that the plane left at four and landed at midnight. After I hung up, it registered that that was weird, but I just put it out of my head. On Thursday I looked up the info at work and copied it into my planner-- again registering that the times seemed weird on the return as well: leaving LA at seven and getting in at eleven seemed too good to be true, but I again, just ignored it. On Friday evening I talked to Kelly about it, finally bothering to calculate. “Wait, so if I leave NYC at 4 I should arrive in LA at 9 o’clock Eastern time, which is 6 o’clock LA time. What’s going on?” I AGAIN put this out of my head, and we go make dinner. About halfway through making dinner, I decide to quickly take a look at the flight info and see what’s up. At this point I think I must be looking a something wrong, or that there’s a typo or somthing. Also bear in mind that this is at about 8pm, not even 24 hours before I’m supposed to fly. pull it up on the computer and there it is, right on the screen: LA to NYC! I TOTALLY reversed the locations and bought a ticket to New York instead of to LA! Do you believe that?? I called home and then called the airline, convinced that I was just screwed and not going to be able to fly at all. Here’s where it gets even more ridiculous. They said I would have to pay a change fee of $25, as well as any fare difference. So the ticket I bought 8 days ago for $261 is now $683. I don’t agree to this, of course, and ask what my options are. Well, they can just cancel the ticket and give me a credit, but it has to be with the same airline. I ask my mom and she says to go ahead and do this and just buy a new ticket (on a different airline) for the next day instead. So: the original ticket is on American Airlines. The flight I want is also on American Airlines, but now listed at $683. On the SAME website, Travelocity, Alaska Airlines has a flight “operated by American” for $361. In case this isn’t clear yet, let me point out that these two tickets, for sale on the same day on the same website are for the EXACT same airplane. The only difference is that I can’t use my credit towards the new ticket because it’s listed as Alaska Air. So I still have to just buy a new ticket and save the credit for later. Jeezus.

: I'm now "home" in LA and able to post this. It's Sunday morning. I already want to die.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Minutes from the Annual Staff Meeting

Yesterday, the staff of our company had what we lovingly refer to as an "off-campus meeting". We had to meet in the auditorium of another organization for this meeting, the importance of which is still totally unclear to me.
It was held ten blocks downtown from our office, which would normally be a lovely walk except that it was raining and windy and I had no umbrella and was wearing flip-flops and had to latch onto Phil and Ilana and beg them to be my umbrella buddies.
I think everyone in the company was a little surly to begin with because we were deliberately told to meet there after lunch so they wouldn't have to feed us. Our department arrives and goes through the metal detectors (un-named place where we were meeting is religious and high-security) and right away I beep. They take me aside and run the hand-scanner-gun-item over me and it beeps at my crotch. "Got anything in there?" the man asks. Let's pause there for just a second. Got anything in my crotch?? Really? And if I did, would I tell him?
We go into the auditorium and I'm sort of surprised because our staff meetings are usually in these big halls with all of us at round tables, and this is more like a screening room with a podium on stage in front of the screen. We're early, but already the last seven-eight rows are full so we take seats in the first open row and the place fills up with a few more rows of people. So at this point, there are about twelve rows in the back full of people and the ten rows in front are COMPLETELY empty. The woman from HR gets up and asks if people will please move to the front. No response. The executive director then gets up and makes the same request. Nothing. He then asks specifically for the last five rows of people to get up and move. Still nothing. At this point it's pretty embarrassing and feels like I'm at a high school assembly. He is so surprised that no one is reacting that he asks if we can hear him. We can. Then he makes a joke about it being too bad that no one moved because those who did would have been given half a day off. Not ONE laugh! It was awesome.
To understand the next part of what happened at the meeting, I have to explain that there's this woman who works in another department and makes a crazy throat-clearing noise that can be heard many, many cubicles away. Picture "AH HUH HUH" but low and loud. As the director starts speaking, she immediately starts: AH HUH HUH! This is a sound that we enjoy imitating so much that it never fails to make us lose our shit. We weren't the only department who was fighting not to lose it, lemme tell ya.
The first speaker was there to talk about sexual harassment, discrimination, etc. Two hundred people are staring blankly at him, so much so that he makes a joke about "dying up here". He then reads the handbook out loud and uses lot of lines like: "Sexual jokes. Funny? Perhaps. But not in the workplace." He turned out to be the most entertaining part of the next three hours, where the director and CEO took turns giving random power-point presentations. I totally felt like I was in some sort of office comedy where they read aloud the handbook and actually used phrases like "a cohesive macro approach".
Afterwards, Phil and I went out for drinks to dull the pain. AH HUH HUH!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Maine, my heart bleeds for you

That's the title of the song I'm writing about Maine, one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. It goes something like:
"Maine, Maine, my heart bleeds for you,
you are so beautiful,
Maine Maine Maine."
It's a work in progress.
Anyway, Miriam Elizabeth and I drove up to Maine this weekend to attend the Common Ground Country Fair, this cool festival in Unity, Maine. Elizabeth is from Maine so she didn't really get why Mir and I were so excited about it, but we couldn't wait. It was really cool, with all kinds of exhibits and demonstrations of organic farming techniques. There were people spinning wool, milking goats, showing chickens and gorgeous vegetables, many of which I'd never seen before. There was TONS of organic food with plenty of vegetarian options, including whole wheat fried dough, veggie pasta, lobster rolls, fried clams, french fries and lots more. I also stopped at the Midwives of Maine table and got some buttons "stop the spread of birthfright"(!) and a tote bag (of course) that says "peaceful birth peaceful earth".
Elizabeth invited us to stay in her family's camp in Poland, Maine (as in Poland Springs!), right on Thompson lake, which was still warm enough to wade into. It was so beautiful there that I said it was "making my heart bleed", a statement that I had to explain was a good thing.
Here are some pictures from the weekend:

sunset over thompson lake, jen's favorite time of day

throwing a stick into the lake for the dog to fetch

I LOVED the Maine/ New England accent and did an amazing job of butchering it all weekend. My usual level of eavesdropping was only heightened by this. Mir ordered a garden salad and was asked, "gaHden?" and she said "yes, gaRden". It was great.
Also, did you know that businesses in Maine love to play with the word "mainly" as in, "Maine-ly Lobster Soup" or Maine-ly nutritious"? Me neither.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Secret Confession #1

Kelly just asked me a question that prompts this secret confession. Do you have a particular ear you use when talking on the phone? And if so, what happens when you use the other ear? Discuss.
I use my left ear exclusively. If I use my right ear, especially when using a phone headset, I feel like I can't hear as well or even understand what the person is saying sometimes. I never talked about this because I though that maybe I was going deaf in one ear, and that's embarassing. Kelly said she has the same situation, though, and she feels like she's going crazy if she tries the other ear.
What about the rest of you?

Lunch Club Chili

We have a lunch club here at work. There are three of us in it and we take turns making lunch for the group once a week. So I only really have to deal with lunch three times a week: once for the three of us and twice just for me. This makes life a lot easier because we've pretty much exhausted the food options in the neighborhood. Today was my turn to make lunch, so I made chili last night. I read a bunch of recipes and sort of threw it together, keeping the ingredients I liked and trying to use up some pantry stuff. I had some canned beans that had been staring at me for a while and I also wanted to use one of the leftover mirasol chilies that I bought to make Heidi's Salsa of the Year.

While I thought the chili was delicious, getting the ingredients for it ruined my experiment of trying to shop exclusively at my corner bodega. This place is really incredible. The owners are friendly, and they have everything, including obscure ingredients for the random shit that pops into my head and I then need to make IMMEDIATELY. And you gotta love a place that only stocks free-range eggs. I made sesame noodles a couple of weeks ago and was so impressed with the fact that they had all the ingredients I needed (including sesame oil and fresh ginger) that I decided to see how long I could go without going to the regular grocery store. I should note that the grocery store is only a little bit further away than the bodega, so this wasn't for the sake of convenience but rather information gathering. I haven't lost confidence in it yet, but I thought they probably wouldn't have fake meat or chocolate chips (necessary for dessert). And it turned out the butter was on sale at the big store, so you can't really argue with that. So experiment over. It was fun while it lasted.

Lunch Club Chili

3 small yellow onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 green pepper
1 dried mirasol chile
2 tbs. chili powder (I like Penzey's)
1 tsp. oregano
1 can kidney beans, rinsed
1 can black beans, rinsed
2 cups frozen corn
4-6 cups vegetable broth
1 box Pomi crushed tomatoes (or the equivalent)
1 box of Morningstar Farms sausage patties, defrosted and crumbled
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

grated extra sharp cheddar
sour cream

Saute the onion, peppers and garlic in a heavy-bottomed pot (dutch oven if you have one). Chop the dried pepper, removing the stem, seeds, and ribs, and add it to the pot as well. Saute until onion and peppers are soft. Add the sausage and frozen corn and and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Then add all the rest of the ingredients except the vegetable broth and stir. Cook the chili over medium heat, adding vegetable broth if it looks too thick. The longer you cook it the better it tastes, and it's even better the next day. Serve it with cheese and sour cream. Serves about 6 people.

UPDATE: Last night I couldn't sleep because I remembered that I had left out an ingredient: 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate! Carry on.

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Flushing

Listen, I know that there are a lot of crazies where I work. I won't risk getting specific on who I'm talking about it, but let it just be said that these people are NUTS. I have a feeling there are going to be lots of stories about them, so I'll just give them code names: heretofore the loony Almodovar fan will be known as Pepe and the soda-witholding secretary to the CEO will be called Butch.
You should also know, before I continue this story, that there is A LOT of drama involving our bathroom here at work, whether it's unidentifiable tems (read: gore) spotted on the floors, or freakishly large cockroaches waiting to lunge when I sneak in after hours to use the bathroom. There's also a problem with people "camping out" in there, but anyway.
I just went in and was followed by both Pepe and Butch, who were having some sort of insane conversation. Pepe and Butch each entered a stall and immediately flushed the toilets before sitting down (or perhaps squatting? who knows with those two).
Can anyone way in on this? What could possibly be the purpose of flushing before they even begin the elimination process? And don't say that there was something in the toilet, because there wasn't. It's PEPE and BUTCH we're talking about here, people.

Oprah and Jen

So, I was babysitting the other night. NYC babysitting = tons of money for sitting on someone's couch eating their food and watching TV. Which is how babysitting is everywhere, I guess, without the beaucoup bucks. Yes, I did just use the term beaucoup bucks, but let's move on.
I hadn't sat for these people in a while and so was pleasantly surprised to see that they had gotten some sort of TiVo contraption since the last time I'd been there. I figured out how to see the list of shows they taped, and immediately went for the Oprah. It was an interview with Jennifer Aniston, (and also there was something about puppies? but that might have been a different episode) and so I just had to go for it. See, Miriam usually gives me my daily Oprah summary, especially if it's something she thinks I need to know, and luckily for me this particular episode was one which Miriam had already told me all about. So partly I watched to see how accurate Miriam's Oprah summaries really are, and partly I watched to see the pain in Jennifer's eyes. Which was there, and made me cry, because who hasn't had their heart broken?? But I digress.

So Oprah's interviewing Jennifer and she's asking her about coping, and dating, and blah blah blah and then Oprah gets to the really tough, hard-hitting, nail-biting questions:

O: What's your favorite time of day?
J: Sunset.

O: What's your favorite pig-out food?
J: Mexican

Now, I honestly didn't realize when watching this interview how much it would come to disturb me over the next few days. I just couldn't stop thinking about it. Let me try and break down why that is exactly.

1. Do we really live in a world where SOMEONE cares what SOMEONE ELSE'S favorite time of day is? Not someone you're in love with, or answering a fourth-grade questionnaire about entitled "My Hero". No, a totally random person who happens to act and the world (because you know THE WORLD watches Oprah) needs to know her favorite time of day???

2. Jennifer answered "sunset" without batting an eye! If someone asked me what my favorite time of day was, I'd have to think about it , at least for a second! And I'd probably make some sort of exclamations about what an excellent question that was. When we came back from the fair on Saturday and Elizabeth's brother asked what my favorite part of the fair was, I couldn't believe what a great question that was! And you can damn well be sure that I thought long and hard before answering a question like that. So what we are to understand from this exchange is that Jennifer was asked to prepare an answer for this question well in advance of the interview. Somebody faxed or emailed Jen a list of questions and she was readied to answer WHAT HER FAVORITE TIME OF DAY AND FAVORITE PIG-OUT FOOD ARE.

Does that not disturb you? So all weekend I tortured poor Miriam and Elizabeth by asking them OVER AND OVER, "what's your favorite time of day?" And they, bless their hearts, never failed to answer "sunset".


test post