Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A New Year, A New Town

Robin and I have been back in our second home, Hilo, Hawai‘i, for three weeks now. We’d been gone since last January, so—given how things grow in this tropical clime—you can imagine the amount of whacking back and weeding we’ve been up to since our arrival.

 the bougainvillea when got back

If you know one thing about Hilo, it’s probably that it rains a lot here. And I mean a lot—some 278 days a year. Since the weather is generally warm and pleasant even when it’s raining, however, it’s best to have a lanai—a covered porch—to hang out in.

 cocktail hour on our front porch

So one of Robin big projects during the six months we’re here will be constructing a roof over the deck she built several years ago.

Her other primary undertaking is a brand new blog, launched today. It’s called Wagner Tripping, with the subtitle “In search of ecstasy, perspective and dissonance resolution in the composer’s bi-centennial year.” I’ve added a link to the blog on the list at the right, so be sure to check it out!

While Robin’s busy building and blogging, I will also be posting on this blog of course, as well as working on my mystery sequel, gardening, keeping our hyperactive Jack Russell mix Ziggy occupied, cycling, and cooking.

On the cooking front, I baked up a bunch of Christmas cookies a couple weeks ago, from dog mushing cutters I brought back from Fairbanks.

 I made the musher into Santa

And I’ll tell you what: It’s mighty hard decorating butter cookies in this warm, humid climate: They positively wilt in your hands as you work with them, and once decorated they have to be kept in the freezer to prevent the icing from melting.

Then, the other day, to ring in the new year, I made of batch of kimchee (recipe here), which is now fermenting on the kitchen counter.

Most folks in Hilo choose to celebrate New Year’s Eve by igniting arsenals of fireworks and firecrackers. Fireworks are a BIG deal here, largely because of the enormous Japanese community, and on the morning of January 1st the streets are littered with scraps of red paper, burn marks, and spent cardboard rockets.

For this reason it’s not a good place to be if you’re a dog named Ziggy.

We therefore decided to spent last night out of town, at our friends Casey and Bill’s house up in the village of Volcano, located—you guessed it—right by the active Kīlauea volcano. There’s a crater up there called Halemama‘uma‘u, containing an active lava lake. The molten lava isn’t visible except from the air, but at night you can see a bright orange glow in the sky.

So for our New Year’s Eve celebration, instead of traditional fireworks we opted for those much grander ones provided by Madame Pele:

 Robin’s face silhouetted by the glow last night

Hau‘oli Makahiki HouHappy New Year, everyone!

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