Archive for October, 2009

House Gecko

The gecko.

The gecko perfectly embodies the strangeness that is Hawai’i. To understand what I mean, you need some background information about these small creatures and my experiences with them.

First, you need to know that I have cats. Two of them. One of them is content to spend her days sleeping on my bed and occasionally gracing us with her presence when she wants food or to have her head scratched. The other one doesn’t like me to get too far out of his sight. He follows me around the house when I’m home, talking to me (the way cats do) and periodically poking me to make sure I’m still looking at him. He’ll lounge on the floor, showing off his belly, and look back over his shoulder, again to make sure I’m looking. He’s a ham, to put it nicely.

He has also discovered the fun of bringing me presents.

Ah, cat presents. You never know what they might bring, be it the lovely piece of string or the lovely piece of bug.

Caspian isn’t too bad in this regard, mostly because if he brings a string, it’s because he wants to play, and if he brings something he, well, found in the house, it’s because he doesn’t know what it is and he wants me to see it. Everything comes down to me paying attention, you see.

In the past week alone, Caspian has presented me with a caterpillar, a beetle and lizard. The caterpillar was especially interesting because the only things he ever found in Virginia were spiders and crickets, which both have legs. He liked pulling the legs off of them and leaving the body. Confronted with a legless thing, he didn’t know what to make of it, so there was a lot of poking at the poor caterpillar and yelling at it to make it move.

(As a side note, I would like you to know that all Caspian-findings are released back into the “wild” of the back porch.)

Caspian was especially excited about the lizard, and he didn’t so much offer it to me as a present as race me to see who could get to it first. I won, the lizard (a terrified brown anole) went back outside, and Caspian was sulky for a good solid hour.

This brings us back to the geckos.

Caspian found his first gecko tonight. He didn’t bring it to me, butΒ  he sent an entire shelf of stuff (that I needed to put away anyway) crashing to the floor near the stairs, so I went to investigate. Caspian looked a little poofy (i.e. startled), but kept going for the thing that he was chasing: a tiny gecko.

I’ve been trying for weeks now to keep the geckos out of my house. When I find them, they are carefully taken outside (after much chasing and scooping the tiny things into my hands). I’ve been told not to do this.


Well, geckos are considered very good luck in Hawai’i. Not only do they feature in Polynesian folklore, but they eat the large, nasty cockroaches we have here. Yay for geckos right?

Well, it’s also considered extreme bad luck to kill a gecko. Not that I’m hung up on good luck and bad luck, but it’s one of those cultural taboos. Plus, I wouldn’t hurt the geckos anyway, especially since they eat the roaches.

But that brings me to the conundrum: Geckos in the house are lucky. You’re not supposed to turn them out of your house. It’s bad to kill them. The cat will find them and he will eat them (or Princess Leena upstairs will take it from him and eat it– she’s more of the hunter than he is). This will obviously kill the gecko.

How is this supposed to work?

I’m not sure, either.

I’ve decided that just putting them outside is the safest thing for everyone involved, and then hope that they eat the roaches before the insects come into the house. So far it’s working, but seriously, I’ve probably had to catch a gecko every couple of days since moving here.

I’ve learned that there are 7 (or 8, depending on where you look) species of gecko in Hawai’i. So far I’ve seen the common house gecko and the stump-toed or four-clawed gecko (pictured above in J’s hands). These two species are very, very small. Hard to catch. And they jump kamikaze-style from things so you can’t get them cornered. Oh, the fun of it all.

If you want to read someone else’s experiences, or about some of the local folklore about them, try this guy. It’s decent reading.


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Pineapple Bliss

So, today I learned an important skill: the correct way to slice a pineapple like a kama’aina (local).

Our story begins yesterday, when I realized I was craving fruit. We’ve been living on things like pasta and sandwiches waiting for things to settle in the house (I keep hoping they’ll magically put themselves away for me), so it’s been a while since I had fresh fruits and veggies. I decided to make a quick trip to the store to buy some bananas… and walked out about half an hour later with mangoes, pears, bananas, and a beautiful pineapple.

I say this pineapple is beautiful because it looked pretty in the pile of other pineapples. It’s like trying to pick out your favorite egg from a dozen when you open a new box of them; somehow one of them is the first you use. Is it the prettiest? We’ll never know.

Anyway, I chose a beautiful pineapple, with its yellowy green skin (no orange ones at the moment) and fluffy looking top and brought it home. I proudly set it on the counter to admire how my kitchen looks with a fresh pineapple in it. The effect was nice, and I kept admiring the pineapple the rest of the day. It was a very pretty pineapple!

Well, it wasn’t just that the pineapple was pretty; I honestly didn’t know the best way to tackle the pineapple. Let’s face it, they’re intimidating with their prickly skins and weird fluffy growth that puts carrots to shame. So where to begin? The only time I’d seen someone slice a pineapple, it looked like they lost a lot of fruit in the process.

Solution? Google, of course! Google My Hero! (Hey, that could be a great alternative rock band name, yeah?) Anyway, I found a great little Hawaiian food blog called Ma’ona, written by a guy who is not from Hawai’i but moved here several years ago and is exploring his new home though its foods. He had wonderfully simple directions, and after reading over them, I walked bravely back into the kitchen.

Within ten minutes, I was munching on wonderful sweet and tangy pineapple chunks.

Take that, Hawai’i!

Current score?
Me: 1
Hawaii’i: 137

But hey, at least I’m on the scoreboard now, right?

…by the way, if anyone is looking for a Christmas gift for me, this looks like a pretty cool thing. ^_^

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We opened the last box yesterday, so I guess we’re officially unpacked. Of course, there are some things that are going to stay in storage for a while, but I don’t really count those. It’s been a long week, and I’m glad that I’ve gotten down to the organizing and cleaning and decorating stage. I may take all week on that, but it’s much less stressful.

Today I had to have a plumber come at 8am to scrape out all the caulking around the tub and shower because it got mold behind it, and then put fresh caulking on all of it. It took him a good hour and a half to do that, and it’ll be 24 hours until it’s dry, so I can’t shower again until tomorrow around lunch time. Fun fun. Then, about a minute after he left, the doorbell rang and he was back to tell me that I had a flat tire. Sure enough, the back right tire of my car is flat. It feels like another valve stem leak. At least it’s a different car this time, but I’m getting tired of tire issues. Wow, bad pun… Anyway, I’m heading over to the on-base auto shop in a little while to see if they have tires in stock. I hope they do, because I have to be able to take J to work in the morning.

Nothing else too exciting happened this weekend. We went to a divisional party with the people from J’s shop, so I met most of them. They seem nice enough, but most of their girlfriends weren’t overly friendly. It doesn’t help I’m a good deal older than most of them, I’m sure.

The weather has been hot lately, but it’s starting to rain more often now that we’re fast approaching rainy season. That means the sunsets have been very pretty with the clouds and there are rainbows on a regular basis. I love the ones that stretch across the entire sky. They come in all different heights and intensities. It’s beautiful. I’m also learning where to go to find certain wildlife, and sea turtles sunning on the beach is my next goal; apparently the Hawaiian green sea turtle is the only one that will come onto the shore to bask when not laying eggs. I also learned that the two turtles I saw on my birthday are a mated pair that live down in that little cove and that they’re always there. ^_^I’m loving the sea turtles. ^_^

Oh, and Late Night with Roy was Friday night and I’ve been itching for basketball ever since. I miss Late Night… At least the Daily Tar Heel posted a video online!

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We have internet!

The cable guy came today, so I now have TV and internet again. Of course, I haven’t touched the TV except to make sure it’s working, and have spent the last two hours catching up on email and working on stuff for NaNoWriMo, which is just around the corner. I was asked to co-lead the Hawaii region (having co-led the Hampton Roads region last year) and so things have suddenly started looking busy for November. By the way, NaNo is a great non-profit for writers and if you’re looking for a good charitable donation, this one qualifies.

We got our furniture on Friday and things were downright crazy over the weekend. We discovered that the most common labels on our boxes are “books” and “articles.” “Books” seems to mean that a few books got tossed in the bottom of the box with other stuff dumped on top of it, while “articles” means the packers were too busy to be bothered actually writing down the contents of the box. My favorite so far? The boxes that say “articles” that actually contain books. Fun stuff. Oh, and I can’t find half of my DVDs because they’re in one of the 25 “book” boxes. I know this because I opened one “book” box and found half of the DVDs. Way to go, Moving Company!

The list of broken stuff hasn’t grown much, but I am annoyed that the Moving Company seemed to have a grudge against lamps. Don’t ask me why, but they managed to somehow break or render useless every lamp I own. That would be two floor lamps (the top of one and the bottom of the other is broken, and of course they’re not interchangeable pieces), and all of the lampshades for my four table lamps have been crushed. One even looks a bit like an accordion

On an up note, nothing of value seems to be broken, and J is coming home at night this week. Yay! I almost have the kitchen put together and most of the furniture is where it belongs. Most. Also, the birds have discovered my feeders in the backyard. I seem to have an abundance of Java sparrows, zebra doves and spotted doves. I had a few cardinals for a while, but the sparrows have pretty much taken over the feeders. They’re like the birdy mafia.

I hope this finds you well. I’ll be posting new photos soon, though probably not today.

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Hawaiian Birthday

I wish I had remembered to bring my camera with me today to show you some pictures from yesterday. I’ll have to get them up here soon…

Yesterday I spent the day with my cousins who live on the Windward side of the island. We went snorkeling in Hanauma Bay, which is a wildlife preserve and state park. There’s a coral reef inside a crater there that’s protected from sharks and overly large fish, and has a wide variety of tropical ocean fish. I need to get an underwater bag for my camera so I can take some photos of them… Anyway, it was a lot of fun and we got some sun, too, which I needed. I’ll have to get my own snorkel gear, though, so I can go again. ^_^

After that, we drove back along the coast and stopped at a natural formation called the Blowhole, which is a place where the volcanic rock is exposed to the waves and the water rushed up through a hole in the rock and spouts like a geyser. Right at the base of the rocks we saw several sea turtles popping up for air and then sinking back below the waves. It was very cool. Apparently it’s a good place to see whales in the winter months as well. I’ll have to go again.

Once we got back to my cousins’ house, their kids decided to bake me a birthday cake, so that provided afternoon entertainment– it was a very cute cake once they were done with it– and then I stayed for dinner. It was a very good birthday, even though J had to be on the ship. I’m sure he and I will do something fun this weekend, though.

Our furniture comes tomorrow, so I’ve been busy trying to get the house ready. I have to clean out the loaner furniture (especially the dresser!) and make sure it’s all ready to go away tomorrow as well. I’m so ready to have my things again, but I’m a little worried about their condition… I guess that since we got here safely, and the cats got here safely, I really shouldn’t worry about anything else, but I can’t help thinking of things like a couple of bottles of nail polish that were in the bathroom… heh. I may be in for a few surprises.

We get internet and cable next Wednesday and I won’t have to make daily treks to Starbucks and Jamba Juice anymore, which will be nice. Plus, I’ll have my own tea kettle back, so that will make everything better. Now all I need is a good tea shop; the tea at the Exchange just isn’t doing it for me.

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This morning I managed to make it onto base and back off with no problems and zero U-turns. I feel accomplished. I also didn’t fall back asleep when I got home (which is a good thing– I’m going to try and go to bed at a decent time tonight) so I got to watch the sun rise behind the mountains. It was drizzling but not entirely overcast and very pretty.

Anyway, I drove over to get coffee and internet, and saw a rainbow that stretched across the entire sky, bright colors and all against the gray clouds. I glanced at it one time too many, though, and smacked my front right tire into the guard rail. FAIL. The car is fine, I just have a dinged-up hubcap now, but I was annoyed.

Then I walked into Starbucks and the situation was made better by discovering a little tin with Salem Baking Co. printed on it full of “Espresso Biscuits,” which is code for Moravian spice cookies. ^_^ So my day is now immensely better; I saw a rainbow, my car is fine, and I have spice cookies!

I’m off to the Exchange now because they’re having a sale and I need a bed frame and a few other odds and ends. Here’s hoping the day continues going well!

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I learned last night what the tiny blue jellyfish at the beach are– Portuguese Man-o’wars– and I don’t think I’ll be going wading any more with them in there. Fun stuff. Apparently the wind, rain, and moon cycles affect which jellyfish we get here. About a week after the full moon we get box jellyfish, too. Yay.

We met the next-door neighbors yesterday. They have two corgis and seem nice. Well, we met most of them– the husband is out to sea at the moment.

The other accomplishment of yesterday: I learned how to get off of the base without getting lost. I even learned where the little gate into the AFB is so I don’t make that mistake again. I’m making progress!

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