Thursday, October 30, 2008


Amidst the hectic book schedule, we managed to make our way out to the botanical gardens. Four years ago, Cynthia and Greg got married there. They had a costume wedding and many of the attendees were dressed up like fairies, (even the preacher had a wolf tail). Needless to say, it was quite an event to see. Today we came back to the botanical gardens to walk down the paths and remember and celebrate their anniversary.

For me, it wasn't just an anniversary for them. In a way, it was an anniversary for myself as well. It was the anniversary of a turning point in my life. You see, things weren't always how they are now. Four years ago, I was a very different person. If you would have asked me where I envisioned myself now, I imagine that it would have been vastly different from the reality of the current circumstances. I probably would have said something about finishing grad school, or mentioned where my solo shows would be, or even if I was going to summer in the Hamptons or the Berkshires. I probably wouldn't have mentioned my family, as at that time we were some what estranged from one another. Sure, we kept up with one another through our parents, but the relationship I had with my siblings was barely there. We were simply living different lives and going down paths that didn't cross much. My focus was on my art, my career, my spirit, my goals, and getting ahead and trying to live it up in New York City.

As bad as this sounds, I almost didn't go to the wedding. Cynthia's wedding fell on Halloween weekend and my social calendar was full. If I went, I'd be missing some of the most extravagant parties of the year. (Remember, at that time, it had been years since I had last saw either of my sisters.) But a combination of parental pressure, curiosity to see the new baby, and a date backing out culminated in me going after all. (That and if I hurried back, I could still go out and celebrate in the City Halloween Night!)

Two unexpected things happened. Firstly, I fell in love. Seeing Azalea melted my heart. She was so little and fragile and cute. I was afraid to hold her. Instead I sat by her crib and stared at her little smiling face. The second thing that happened was that I gained a brother. 18 years ago now, my brother Dwayne left us and hasn't returned. We don't know where he is. We don't know if he's alive or dead. We don't know anything about what happened to him. When he left, a void opened up - an empty space I don't think will ever really be filled, but for the first time in a long time, it came close. Greg became like the brother I lost so many years ago.

Today is the anniversary of me discovering something more important than just me on my own: My Family.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Me Into You...

I just got word of another event that I unfortunately won't be able to attend. The fabulous Keren Moscovitch is having a showing of her photographs. Her highly sensual work seems to function as evidence of a moment; she has a particular talent of distilling a particular gaze, finding the space between people, weighing the gravity of nearly empty room, and glorifying seeming mundane objects. (I'm particularly fond of her Un-Earthly Remains series.)

If you're around you should check it out! Below is the press release:

"Me Into You"
Opening Friday, November 7 from 7-10pm

These photographs investigate both the limits and infinite possibility of intimacy. How does intimacy and sensuality manifest in relationship? From deep emotional resonance to raw sexuality, bodies and gestures are arrested by the camera, made available to the viewer and presented as rich tactile environments. Inhabited spaces become stage sets for relating and subjects are integrated into the viewer's full sensory field. These images are an invitation into a sexually charged atmosphere, transmitting the sensation of desire, tenderness and lust.

Keren Moscovitch holds an MFA from the School of Visual Arts and a BA from Georgetown University. Her work has been featured in numerous group exhibitions, both in the US and abroad, including the Art + Commerce Festival of Emerging Photographers, which traveled worldwide throughout 2006, and was exhibited in her first solo show at Vlepo Gallery in Staten Island in 2005. She has been featured in publications such as Quest, Peek, Domino, Zeek, Industry and Vogue Nippon.

DIY Salon 2 with the Church of Craft...

Unfortunately I'll still be down South working on Cynthia's book and can't make this event. However, if I were back in New York, I'd definitely make a point of stopping by. This looks like a lot of fun!

Check out the press release below:

DIY Salon 2 with the Church of Craft

Thursday, November 6, 2008, 7:00 – 10:00 PM

$10 ($7 members)
Advanced tickets on sale September 24, 2008

Join MAD and the Church of Craft for a night of hands-on art making, music, food, and drink in celebration of the Museum's current exhibition Second Lives: Remixing the Ordinary. Local do-it-yourself artists will demonstrate their personal skills and help guide you in creating your own projects. Techniques will range from weaving with unconventional materials to making yarn out of old sweaters, among other contemporary twists on classic crafts. In addition to do-it-yourself workshops, the NIY Salon will include hand-decorated snacks, craft beer, and a live DJ. Guided tours of Second Lives will be available. Over 200 people did-it-themselves at this event last year, so don't miss out this time around!

The Church of Craft is a non-denominational organization that promotes a connection to humanity, a love of life and proactive spiritual practice through the art of creating.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


On my break from wire-wrapping, I stopped by Holly Black's blog. CLICK HERE to visit it. I saw two things of keen interest to me. The first was a link to another blog called, The Steampunk House. It's pretty dang cool! I have a small crush on all things Steampunk. I have a secret fantasy of donning a top hat, a morning (a.k.a. cutaway) coat, goggles, striped trousers, and knee-high boots and click happily away in Central Park on one of those vamped up Steampunk laptops, while periodically checking my pocket-watch and twirling a cane (which also serves dual purpose as a taser and cattle prod).
Anyway, the second neat thing I saw was Holly's semi-secret basement library. Oh, it's just awesome. Check out the pictures, because there's so many nice little touches - like a bookshelf doorway, for one. I also have another fantasy of one day having my own secret library. But that should come as no surprise. A secret library is the logical choice for a well-dressed Steampunk gentleman to retire.

Labor of Love...

We've been super busy working on Cynthia's book. Did you know that my sister is coming out with her very own mixed media jewelry book? Due out next year by Interweave Press, the book is speedily taking shape. The house is infused with a sense of creativity and I feel super-charged with ideas. If this book retains but a fraction of this energy, it'll be a great success. Simply put: We're kickin' ass!

To keep our energy up and cut down on time in the kitchen, I whipped together a quick pot of chili. It was super easy! First I browned the ground turkey, caramelized some onions and garlic, and added a couple of cans of black beans, chicken broth, and tomatoes. (Nowadays you can buy cans of roasted tomatoes, which is highly convenient.) To flavor it all, I used brown sugar, ancho chilies, chipotle chilies, cayenne pepper, Vietnamese cinnamon (which is sweeter and less bitter than regular cinnamon), and dark chocolate powder. A gentle hand must be used for the seasonings and spices, as too much of anything can throw the entire pot off.

Bob Burkett, one of the talented artists who drifts in and out of the Green Girl Studios, will be making his way back to California tomorrow. We asked him what he'd like for dinner before he left. He said that anything would be good, but that he'd like to try my (in)famous spicy carrot cake. For the most part, I use a standard recipe for carrot cake. However, I've adjusted the recipe slightly, using both fine grated carrots and roughly chopped pieces that are then braised in a maple syrup and brown sugar mixture. I also have cut out any all-spice, nutmeg, or cloves. Instead, I use cinnamon, chilies, and ginger. I use both powdered and candied forms of ginger. For the frosting, I used a mix of cream cheese, chevre cheese, maple syrup, brown sugar, powdered sugar, butter, and a whole lot of whipping. I also added a dash of vanilla syrup that Cynthia made that's super easy to make. Just infuse simple syrup (sugar water) with vanilla bean pods and wait. The vanilla syrup is a staple in this house that we use all the time while cooking.

Anyway, back to work...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Jamie Hogsett's New Blog...

While we were in New York, I had the pleasure of seeing my good friend Jamie Hogsett. You might recognize her name from one of the many books she's penned or designed for, like Stringing Style or the Create Jewelry Series (whom she co-wrote with Marlene Blessing.) Did you know that Jamie has a new blog?
CLICK HERE to visit it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Autumn's Song...

It has been cool and rainy lately. The leaves are all changing and many of them have already dropped. A thick fog rolls in and out over the mountains, like some kind of gray tide. I took a little bit of time for myself today. I took time to walk and soak in the colors of one of my favorite seasons. The picture above was snapped on the porch of some of fallen leaves.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale...

During a conversation I had with Holly Black, I remarked how I loved that her characters in the Spiderwick Chronicles and the subsequent spin-off were flawed and imperfect - that they made mistakes and were believable and easy to relate to. (I have a hard time swallowing stories where characters are uncannily perfect and incredibly flawless. Perfect characters seem soulless and apart of some other universe not my own.) She thanked me and asked me if I had read her other books. I unfortunately didn't have the opportunity to do so. She remarked that if I liked flawed characters, I'd love Tithe.

A few days ago, a package came in the mail from Holly and Theo and in it several different copies of her books and examples of the illustrations he has done. What a wonderful surprise! We all were so excited and thankful for such a thoughtful gift!

A day passed and I found myself unable to sleep. Everyone else was asleep and the house was unusually quiet. I paced through the house, finally settling on the box of goodies and retrieved a copy of Tithe.

From the moment I opened the cover, I was enchanted. I couldn't put it down. Even though I could see the morning light spilling through the cracks in the blinds, I couldn't stop reading until it was over. I became entranced with following the thrilling story of Kaye and her perils with the normally unseen faerie folk. What struck me the most was that these characters were indeed flawed. They swore, drank, fought, and made bad decisions - and I loved them for it. I'd like to think that I was a "perfect" teenager who made all the right decisions and never did anything wrong, but the truth of the matter is that I have more in common with the characters of Tithe than I would like to admit. (Let's just say that I had a hard time with the awkward teenage years.)

I definitely recommend Tithe. Holly Black skillfully weaves together the world of Faery with the modern and does so with rich detail and believability. Her vision of a modern faerie tale is dark, decadent, and studded with humor. (And who don't love them some forbidden love!) I can't wait to dive into the other books in this series!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hawaii On My Mind...

I am sitting here, thousands of miles away, in the misty mountains of North Carolina. The leaves are changing and the vista is aflame with vibrant reds, golds, and ochres. I am still under the spell of the sea. If I concentrate really hard, I can almost hear the sound of the waves crashing and the sea birds singing. I can almost smell the salt on the air and feel the breeze on my face.

The bracelet above was made in homage of my trip to Hawaii. While we were there, we spotted loads of penny press machines. You know, the ones that you put in two quarters and a penny and crank. I used my handy-dandy Euro-Tool Two-Hole Metal Punch that I picked up from Fusion Beads to make the holes necessary for stringing. It's great! Namely because it's surprisingly powerful, yet quiet and small - perfect for apartment dwellers like myself. I wanted the piece to have a very festive and musical quality, so I did a lot of wire-wrapping. The piece, slightly over-sized has a lot of movement. I used Czech glass from Raven's Journey, Swarovski bi-cone crystals in Caribbean Blue and AB finish Ernite from Fusion Beads, Peruvian opal, white coral, and sky blue potato pearls from Talisman Associates, a shibuichi seashell clasp and small fine pewter shell beads from my family at Green Girl Studios, and drawn copper and fine silver headpins from Earth2Sea on Etsy.

I think that travel jewelry (made with artifacts from your trip and beads inspired by the specific scenery) is a perfect way to capture the trip and hold it in time. You can revisit any place you've visited at anytime by simply wearing the piece you've created.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pictures from New York...

Here are a couple of pictures from the trip up to New York. Normally I take more pictures, but I haven't really been trigger-happy with the camera lately. I go through phases. I guess this must be one of the low-cycles.

This is Azalea sporting a Hogwarts cap in the Harry Potter section of FAO Schwarz. She had so much fun running around and playing with all the other kids. At one point she became friends with this little French girl in the Barbie department. The little girl, named Pamela, was teaching her dance moves and running around with Azalea pointing out who they thought were their favorites.

Here's a shot I snapped of Azalea at the GreenMarket in Union Square. She insisted that we stop and smell all the flowers. She particularly enjoyed the big sunflowers. The GreenMarket is one of my favorite things in the City. It brings out so many interesting people and puts you in touch with such good food and fresh produce.

If you've at all been keeping up with either my blog or Cynthia's blog, then you know we like to eat. We especially have a soft spot for chocolate. Max Brenner's has some really great treats. To the left is a picture of one of the desserts that we all dived into. It was a plate of some kind of peanut butter crunch bars. They were tasty, especially drenched in molten chocolate.

Normally we find ourselves out and about a lot when we're all in New York together. However, since I was a little sick and we were all really tired from the show, we found ourselves back in my apartment more than anywhere else. This didn't mean that we weren't feasting. On the contrary. We cooked up a zingy shrimp dish served over soft-cooked polenta.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Honestly, the past week has been a complete blur. We've been on the road a lot and I've been pushing myself pretty hard lately and it all seemed to catch up with me while we were in New York. I wanted to do more things and show Cynthia and Azalea around more, but I just wasn't feeling it. I am just now getting over a little cold I've been nursing for the past few days and have been really wiped out.

We did do a few fun things. We went to FAO Schwarz, various Asian markets in Brooklyn's Chinatown, got hot chocolate and dessert at Max Brenner's, walked around the Green Market in Union Square, checked out cosmetics at Fresh, ate really yummy Thai food from Mai Thai Kitchen, and went book shopping at the Strand Bookstore.

Besides that, we spent a lot of time at the show. Everyone at SoftFlex and The Bead Society of Greater New York is so very nice to us and really cool. The write up the bead society did in their newsletter about us at Green Girl Studios was really amazing and quite flattering. I had a great time catching up with old friends and chatting with customers. I really adore some of the vendors who were there, like Patti Cahill (of Dyed in the Fire), Lisa Kan, Jane of Jane's Fibers, Jennifer Wilson of Crystal Myths, and Sunny from Ezel findings (to name a few).

I will write more, but for the moment I have to lay down and rest.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Come to the Big Apple Glass Art and Bead Festival...

The title of this post pretty much summarizes my sentiments.  I'd love to see anyone willing to come out to the show this weekend!  Come visit me at the Big Apple Glass Art and Bead Festival presented by SoftFlex!  I've been a little sick and could use a little company to cheer me up!  Drop by the Green Girl Studios table and mention this blog posting or wear a piece incorporating a Green Girl Studios piece and get 1 free pewter bead!  Awesome!  Don't forget!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


So, I just got tagged.  I normally don't do these type of things, but I guess I'll give it a try.  Thanks, Cristi of 2 if By Sea!

Here are the rules:

1.  Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
2.  Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog - some random, some weird.
3.  Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog.
4.  Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

1.  I'm not a big fan of black licorice.  When we were kids, my grandparents got us like 20 foot ropes of licorice.  What might seem like a nice treat for a troupe of rambunctious children, turned slightly more sinister.  A long time ago, there was a road between Poplar Bluff, Missouri and Piggot, Arkansas that was extremely hilly.  Imagine for a moment, gorging yourself on black licorice and riding up and down and up and down in the back of a Suburban.  
(That and rough-housing with your many cousins.) I spewed what seemed like black poison for hours.  I've never been able to look at it the same way again.

2.  I studied Tae Kwon Do and martial arts for several years.  I was actually pretty good at it and won several trophies and medals.  It's hard to imagine it nowadays, but I was also really flexible and could drop down into splits and straddles and could kick really high.

3.  I am slightly phobic of rats and mice.  I mean, I can see them and play it cool, but the instant one even gets close to me or the thought of one crawling around on me just makes my skin crawl.  I think the major creepy factor comes from their reptile-like tail.

4.  I hate to admit it, but I'm a prime-time soap opera addict.  Over the 
years, I've tried to curb it back and even at one point got rid of my television, but for several years I was hooked.  Then again, it seemed normal at the time and everyone else was doing it too.  Who doesn't love Dallas, Knots Landing, Dynasty, Melrose Place, Falcon Crest, or the short-lived Savannah or the even shorter-lived Central Park West or Models Inc.?

5.  I'm a huge fan of dried cuttle fish.  When we were kids, my mom used to take us to the Vietnamese section of town to go to the "Oriental Store" and pick some up.  It was one of the only places that we could get it in Orlando at the time.  We'd get big bags of the stuff and munch on it happily.  Usually we'd get it either on the way to or on the way back from the flea market.  To someone who's not already hooked, it's hard to describe exactly the combination of sweet, spicy, savory, and a little stank – but I love it.

6.  The first movie that I saw in theaters was Masters of the Universe.  We didn't have a lot of money when we were growing up and I was... to put it lightly... a handful to take care of.  This combination meant that we hardly ever went to the movies at all.  I think this made me appreciate these outings all the more.  For years afterwards, I would keep the ticket-stubs to every movie I saw.

7.  Whether it was my attempt to find the perfect solution to a permanent tan that wouldn't wash off or to become all weather-proof – I don't know, but I once covered my entire upper body with deck varnish.  I really can't explain why I did it.  I achieved a shiny gloss.  That's for sure.  But I ended up being that kid that was hosed down in the front lawn with enumerable curse-words being shouted from his parents in multiple languages.  

Okay, so I tag:


When it is possible, Cynthia and I are always feasting.  (Even when it's not, we usually find a way.)  Last night we decided to start the meal with a cheese plate of Asian Pears, persimmon, and fresh raw milk Gouda from Finger Lakes.  After that, we had roasted red apples and onions, a pork tender-loin with a balsamic vinegar and maple syrup glaze, and creamy mashed white sweet potatoes.  The mashed potatoes tasted like chestnuts.  We paired it with a Gewurztraminer from Wagner Vineyards.

FaerieCon 2008...

I'm still pretty worn out after the show.  It seemed particularly long, but I had fun.  My favorite part was meeting so many wonderful people, especially the artists and authors I admire.  For instance, I got to spend lots of time with Holly and Theo Black.  They're really great people!  I also got to hang out with Charles Vess and Ari Berk and meet Toby Froud.

Azalea had lots of fun as well.  She really enjoyed running around with wings and a tutu.  I'm really happy that the show coordinators thought of the kids and had a section for them.  They had all kinds of activities, like face painting, wand making, and much more.  She had lots of friends and I kept seeing her dash by the booth with a new flower crown or a box of mice hand-puppet.

I don't know if we'll be coming back next year to vend, but perhaps we'll come down to see our friends and see all the interesting people dressed up.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Quick Update...

We are in New York now after a weekend at FaerieCon. We'll be here up through this weekend at the Big Apple Glass Art & Bead Festival. Okay... it has been a long day and I'm worn out tired. I'll write more about the weekend tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles: A Giant Problem...

On our trip back from Hawaii, I had the pleasure of enjoying this marvelous little book by the talented Holly Black. A Giant Problem is the sequel to The Nixie's Song, the first book in the spin-off series of the best-selling Spiderwick Chronicle books. Holly Black skillfully weaves together a thrilling tale of giant-slaying adventure with poignant adolescence struggles and family dynamics. I love the fact that her characters are seemingly real. They could be your neighbors. Despite the fact that they are thrown together in a world infused with magical creatures, they have all too human attributes and aren't flawless super-humans. They are as vulnerable as anyone else and not immune to making mistakes. I like that.

The other thing that really hits the mark with me, is remembering my childhood in Florida. The books in the Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles take place in a shiny new subdivision development in Florida. The book that they use as their primary resource is a new one purchased at a book store. It deviates away from the standard motif of a scary Victorian mansion with an ancient tome passed down through the generations and builds a story that is totally accessible.

I definitely recommend this book and cannot wait for the sequel!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Surprise Visit...

What a wonderful surprise! Aveesh and Carter Seibels (of Bead Trust and Divali Glass Jewelry) dropped by on their way to Charlotte. They're such delightful people.
Speaking of Carter - have you seen HER BLOG or did you see her pieces in the latest issue of Stringing Magazine? I've seen her name popping up all over the magazines these days!
For dinner, Cynthia and I whipped up a vegetarian lasagna with layers of sauteed mushrooms, roasted asparagus, spinach, and caramelized onions. We sandwiched those layers with a hearty sauce, grated mozzarella, and a ricotta cheese mixture. We also roasted whole garlic heads, tossed together a fresh green bean salad (with tomatoes, lime juice, balsamic vinaigrette, and sauteed onions), and sliced up a quick cheese and fruit platter. Greg also made some really amazing double chocolate cookies. Everything was just delicious!

New Necklace...

Oh, how I miss Hawaii. My head is still a little achy and my sinuses are still a little haywire after our flight. Ugh. I'm still managing to get a little bit of work done. Make sure that if you're in the Philadelphia area this weekend to join us at FaerieCon! (If you EMAIL me soon, I can get you passes to get in the show for one day FREE. But hurry, because it might not get to you in time if you wait.) Also join us at the Big Apple Glass Art and Bead Festival in Manhattan the following weekend. Unfortunately we've over-extended ourselves and won't be able to make it out to Jacksonville.

Anyway, back to work...

Sunday, October 05, 2008


Have you seen the latest issue of Selvedge? I'm smitten. I love their magazine. Not only is it full of interesting information on all things textile, but it's beautifully crafted and always looks good. I also like the fact that they approach topics from multiple points of view. For instance, they don't just zero in on textiles in fine arts alone, but also cover the craft industry. Or, they don't just feature finished products, but also spotlight the people and places that produce fine fabrics. I think what that does is give the magazine a richness. For around $20 a pop, it's not the cheapest magazine, but Selvedge is well-worth it.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Jet-Lag Remedy...

We've all been pretty jet-lagged the past few days. For some magical reason, I thought I'd be immune to the effects and for the first day I was pretty good. It all caught up with me though and I've had a dull headache the past few days. So, to help combat the drag, I tried to get back in the routine of cooking and making food. For dinner I made a pork tender loin with a roasted garlic and fennel gravy, fennel frond and caramelized onion rice, and fried polenta with Parmesan cheese. I think it did the trick...

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Big Hawaii Post...

Let me first start off by saying how incredibly nice everyone was on our trip. Everyone from the loyal customers who come out every year to the show, to the locally-based vendors, to shop-keepers and restaurant servers - all of them were so welcoming and sweet. I was so fortunate to meet many generous and kind people who made sure that I smiling at all times. I cannot begin to express just how deeply I was moved by the true beauty of the folks of Hawaii. They are simply amazing!

My most special thanks goes out to everyone from the Bead Gallery (Jamie, Jason, Amanda and Anna), Renee and Calvin, Alethea of DACs Beads, Kim of JuJu Beadz, Candice Wakumoto, Jodi and Heidi of LillyPilly Designs, and all of the wonderful customers like Donna, Susan, Lynn, and Maureen. You guys made doing the show SO MUCH FUN! It seemed like on the hour, someone was bringing me a present or something to eat or drink, making me laugh, or giving great suggestions on where to go and what to see while in Hawaii. THANKS AGAIN!

Our trip was packed with activities. To keep our strength up, we indulged in some delightful treats like cupcakes from Satura Cakes. Shown in picture to the left are the cheese cake, strawberry shortcake, and chestnut flavors. They were GREAT!

After the show closed, we did a drive around O'ahu. The first stop we made on the drive was at a tide-pool beach where beach glass and mysterious objects rolled around in the surf. We found many treasures and vowed to keep the exact location a secret.

We discovered a perfectly rounded "stone." Compared to other rocks around, it was significantly lighter in both color and weight. I had just seen the movie, Waterhorse, and all sorts imaginings ran through my head. Then the practicalities of smuggling an ancient sea creature through agricultural customs, (not to mention the additional weight to our luggage), persuaded me to return it back to the tide-pool to grow up happy in Hawaii.

One of the most amazing stops along our trip around the island was at the Byodo-In Temple in the Valley of Temples.
It was truly breath-taking.

Before walking into the main temple, one must first ring the bell. It's supposed to make you able to soak in the teachings of Buddha and live a happy life. Then you've got to cross a few bridges and remove your shoes before you can enter the inner sanctum. Inside is a HUGE Buddha and various carvings of Bodhivistas. The amount of detail was really striking.

The other really cool thing about Byod-In Temple is the koi fish collection. They were some of the biggest, most colorful, and plentiful I've ever seen! I imagine they've been fattened off of the many offerings made by tourists passing through.

Swimming along the koi fish were very elegant and stately black swans. They seemed not to be phased by the frantic feeding of the fish. Instead, they coasted easily through the frenzy as little white flowers fell from above.

Behind the temple was a bamboo forest. The trunks were inscribed with the names and dates of thousands of visitors. For a moment I considered adding my name too, but in the end decided against it. Instead, I opted to remember the act of being present in the moment, the breeze on my cheek, the light filtering through the swaying towers.

After we finished up at the Valley of Temples, we continued around the island. One of the other stops was one at the ruins of the old Kualoa sugar mill. Apparently it has a long history of misfortune. A little boy fell into a hot vat of syrup and later died from his burns. Later it closed for good once drought hit the island. Even during the day, this place seems to be haunted.

We went to the Tropical Farms, a macadamia nut farm outlet, and picked up some treats. I love their coffee tasting station. I've been spoiled with kona coffee every day. We also stopped at the shrimp truck for some tasty fried shrimp in wanton wrappers, corn on the cob, and brown rice. It was delicious!

Hugging the north shore, we continued to make our way around the island. It was incredible to see all of the different types of environments. It was also interesting to note the different kinds of beaches.

Eventually we made our way to Waimea Falls Park. Greg hurt his foot the day before and opted to relax while Cynthia, Azalea and I walked through the botanical gardens. They had a set up of a traditional Hawaiian village life, from housing to games they played.

Unfortunately the valley was in a state of drought. What is said to be normally lush and green was barely hanging on. (Apparently drought was the main reason that the original inhabitants of this valley were driven away.) So, Waimea Falls was more like Waimea Pond.

After our hike through the dwindling botanical gardens, we headed across the road for a swim at the beach. The water was warm, but hard to navigate. For an experienced swimmer like Greg, it wasn't a problem. But for Cynthia and I, who are poor swimmers it was hard to stay afloat in the rough surf of the North Shore.

We had dinner plans with the ladies of LillyPilly, so we had to rush back. The drive back took us through the core of the island, which is verdant farm land. The soil is rich and dark and it's understandable how some of the best produce comes from this paradise.

Duke's, where we met up for dinner, featured the freshness of the island ingredients with great success. The happy atmosphere punctuated with singing Hawaiian ladies was busy and bustling. My favorite dish by far was the calamari. It was soft and seemingly melted in my mouth. The garlic mashed potatoes and fresh seafood was also killer.

Across from our hotel was a museum called the LuCoral. Their collections feature carved gemstones and information about coral. It was a quick and free trip that spotlighted lots of sparklies. For instance, the outside wall studded with huge pieces of rose quartz.

Earlier that morning, I had a massage from the Spa. After a show closes and lots of running around, it was absolutely divine. I was so completely relaxed. Walking through the museum was a nice little trip that didn't require me to hike or swim. The collection of jewelry, beads, and small sculpture was a wonderful low-impact activity that Cynthia and I strolled through before really diving in - literally.

One of the really cool features of the LuCoral museum is the indoor, man-made caves. To the left is a picture of Cynthia standing in front of one of the really endearing displays. It was very much like walking through a cabinet of curiosities. One of my favorite parts was the coral collection, where they spotlighted various specimens in different colors and sizes.

Just down the road a piece from our hotel and a walk along the beach, was the Waikiki Aquarium. It turns out that the Waikiki Aquarium is one of the oldest public aquariums in United States and has a substantial collection of sea-life. I love aquariums. It feels as though you're walking through an under-water world with a close-up view of some of the most mysterious and private creatures.

My most favorite part of the aquarium was definitely the jelly-fish display. Everything seemed to melt away as I watched the undulating forms unfurl before me. I could have spent hours watching these fascinating creatures move gracefully through the dark tanks. It was a great extension to my early morning relaxation. Even though it was busy with lots of tourists, the calm movements lulled my senses and made me completely at ease.

One of the things that really struck me was the abundance of color and pattern. I loved watching the various sea-creatures darting brilliantly through their watery homes. It made me think of Ernst Haeckel and the illustrations he made for his seminal work, Artforms of Nature. His work is inspirational and it is truly amazing to see some of the muses that helped generate his masterpieces.

After one more quick spam roll and a swim at the calm and swimming-pool like Ala Moana beach, we went on another mini-road trip to the West Side. We had aims of watching the sunset from the furthest point on the island. The views to get there were simply stunning.

I am deeply effected by the dramatic scenery.

One moment, the sky is dark and a thousand shades of swirling gray over a flat horizon. The next moment there is a piercing blue sky, raked across with white clouds and jutting red earth struggling heavenward.

Pushing forward, past the last traces of modern amenity, we found ourselves on a bumpy and pothole-laced stretch of highway. To our left was the ocean and to our right, high outcropping cliffs. We stopped at Kaneana. This is a primal place that still sings of monsters and mythology. Across from where we parked was a yellow concrete barrier. Behind it lay gaping the entrance to a HUGE cave. It seems like everything here is soaked in history or mythology. The placard (which seems to be now missing) states:

"Kaneana is a sacred ana (cave) that ancient Hawaiians named after Kane, the God of Creation. From inside the depth of Kaneana, symbolic of the Earth Godddess's womb, mankind emerged and his existence spread throughout the Waianae Coast. The souls of those who passed on go to Kalae O Kala'au (Kaena Point). From there souls ascend to Po, the realm of Ancestral spirits, completing the cycle of life. In ancient times entry into Kaneana was Kapu (forbidden) for this was the home of Nanaue, the Shark Man of Kaneana."

Above is the sunset seen from Kaena Point on the Leeward side.

This really was a magical place seen at a magical time. The shoreline seemed to have recently formed. This probably means that it occurred within the past few decades or possibly centuries. I say this because I saw what looked like the remains of metal pipes embedded in volcanic rock. Sandy beaches were missing here. The steep climb down was overgrown with spiky aloe, and the shore jagged and dotted with craters, tide-pools, and salt-beds. Crabs scuttled amongst the stones. Sea urchins clung rock-like to the basins of the tide-pools. The waves crashed down heavily and dangerously along the rocky edgy, swirling outwards in whirlpools and riptides. The wind blew relentlessly, spraying sea-foam and saltwater in the air. This was a primal place and its power fully evident.

Above is a short video taken of the shoreline at Kaneana. I wanted to try and capture the full effect of the spirit of this place. I don't think it really does it justice. How can I relate the feeling of balancing precariously on a rocky outcrop while listening to the violent thrashing of the sea? Or really convey the fright of discovering that hidden amongst the tide-pools so easily navigated with little thought is a shaft falling 50 feet to a hidden cave? Shivers still run down my spine as I think about gazing down one of these shafts in the dying light and seeing a white fin-like shape moving about. Perhaps Nanaue?

(NOTE: Oddly enough, much of the local legend and mythology of Kaneana and Nanaue was read AFTER visiting the place. Maybe my over-active imagination is in synch with that of the ancient Hawaiians?)

The video above was made on the ride back to the hotel from the Leeward Side. It isn't much to look at, as it was really dark, but it's really entertaining. (Make sure to turn the volume up.) Aptly, Azalea was telling me ghost stories and telling me how she would defeat all of the "creepiest things." Maybe she had Nanaue in mind as well?

On our last day in Hawaii, Cynthia and I went snorkeling at Hanauma Bay. Afloat in a yellow life-preserver, I think I did all right. (I'm still not used to only breathing through my mouth.) The water was pretty choppy and kind of cloudy, but I saw a couple of fish and a little coral-reef action. Unfortunately the surf was so heavy that it knocked Cynthia down and banged her up pretty good. She's got some nasty bruises on her knees and even one under her eye that I can only guess is from the mask. Despite Cynthia's injuries, it was really beautiful there and we watched a mongoose family play and look for food. That, and we went out for Hawaiian barbecue afterwards. So not all was lost.

The voyage home was a long one. It was hard to leave Hawaii behind. A place so beautiful with so many wonderful people sticks in your proverbial guts; it becomes embedded in your spirit. Even when sitting in an airport terminal with your bags stacked around you and your head resting on an chair-arm trying not to bump your neighbor, thousands of miles away, 40 degrees colder - you are there. I am still there gazing at the ocean.