Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I Hate March

No, I take that back.

I hate tax time.

For not only do I have to worry about having all my necessary tax paperwork for DH and myself, I have to be sure to have those for our son. I know, maybe you don't do that for your adult kid, but I do. It's how I roll.

PLUS for the past couple of years, I've been doing that for my mother. Believe me, her taxes are still more complicated than ours AND son's put together.

Sudden updates:

I was wrong. Son's taxes (Minnesota) turned out to be much more complicated than ours and mom's put together. That's the bad part. The good part is he'll get THOUSANDS back. I still hate March.

I also hate March because there's been dying going on. My dad's sister called and said her younger (and last remaining) brother died suddenly today. I hadn't seen him in several years. She said he'd been telling folks he was ready to go. He was the black sheep. Not sure he was estranged from all of his children, but at least some of them.

I've been putting it off, but there's other news. The bad news is that Rosie passed away earlier this month. The good news is that there's a new Maltese puppy in the neighborhood!

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Complaining Chicken

At the end of last year - we heard some new noise in our neighborhood.

For a pretty urban burb of Honolulu, we have quite a wide array of wildlife.

The noisemakers were the two new hens - big, beautiful Rhode Island Reds - across the way. But some time early this year, there was suddenly only one. I've been listening for the remaining one, which can sometimes be heard exclaiming loudly - hence the Complaining name - and even squawking the chicken equivalent of bloody murder.

The chicken owners have a nice big yard the chicken can strut around in, but they also have a nice big grill and big parties with beverages and (I assume) food. So, at those times when it's much too quiet, I can be heard exclaiming loudly, "Where's the cheecken?" wondering if it's headed for the grill. And the DH will humor me and listen until he can reassure me it's STILL complaining

So I wasn't surprised when I read in Honolulu Magazine that Asagi Hatchery is the "Best Place to Pick Up Chicks". Yes, people want to know where their food came from, including eggs and chickens. I remember my own grandmother picking out a chicken, chopping its head off and having to run after it when it struggled free. And the plucking that followed.

Of course, the Complaining Chicken may well be complaining over the loss of her companion. And yes, the Complaining Chicken reminds me of a children's book: The Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What I'm Reading - March

Part of my job is to read book reviews in order to decide whether I should buy the books and ebooks. I borrowed the children's book, Earwig and the Witch by Diana Wynne Jones, based on editorial reviews from children's and young adult journals. This was disappointing. While I liked Paul O. Zelinsky's drawings, the story was one of those that raced to the finish, and took a lot of shortcuts to do so. Strange, by the way, that the Kindle version seems to have different (and less charming) illustrations.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness has a much better resolved story. This young adult book contains very dark themes: nightmares, nightmarish reality, mother with cancer, acting out, bullying at school. It was very realistic and the excellent illustrations by Jim Kay add to the foreboding tone of the book. The story is based on one from Siobhan Dowd, who herself succumbed to cancer. I recommend it. But then, I do like dark themes in books and films. You're warned!

The Twitter Book by Tim O'Reilly and Sarah Milstein. I've only been twittering since late last year.

Confession time: I only signed up for Twitter because I wanted to track the food trucks so I could get a break from home lunches!

Back on topic: the only thing I got out of the Twitter Book was you should avoid starting a tweet with an @ address unless you only want that recipient to get it. Thanks for that. Everything else I learned about Twitter was on my own! Not that I know it all; and I sometimes fail. Hey - those icons on my Droid touchscreen are often too small for my fingers!

The Pot and How to Use It: The Mystery and Romance of the Rice Cooker by Roger Ebert. I'm still reading this, but something tells me I won't find a recipe in it that I'll have to make. I am enjoying his writing; here's a sample from Chapter 6, page 21: "There are countless rice cooker cookbooks. We don't want no stinking cookbooks." So I guess this is more of a guidebook. And it's with relief that I read I didn't have to buy a thousand-dollar rice cooker with memory and fuzzy logic. I can use my basic 8-cup model with two functions: Cook and Warm!.

Ebert has opinions on everything, from hot sauce to oatmeal. About the microwave variety, he says it's a "dangerous travesty of the healthy food it pretends to be" and full of fat, salt and oils: "You can die of a heart attack during a perfect bowel movement."

Well, maybe he has the right to write that, as he has the cojones to write a (sort of) cookbook when he can't eat. (Health issues.) 

As soon as I've written it, I'll add a link to my new blogpost about what I just cooked in my rice cooker - it'll be on my other blog.

But for now, I'm off to the Blaisdell Farmers' Market - to get my fresh local veggies, and to eat1

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Art @ the Capitol

Confession time:

I've avoided First Friday in downtown Honolulu for at least five years. Why?

  • Too many people
  • Too little parking
  • Drunken people looking for freebies
  • Too hard to see the art and entertainment

But I convinced the DH we should go because the legislators AND the governor and lieutenant governor opened their offices to the public from 5 pm to 7 pm this past Friday, March 2nd.

He was my reluctant companion, but he perked up considerably when he saw the quality and variety of artwork displayed in the offices. A free cup of coffee and some great chamber music by young musicians helped, too.

In Hawaii, one percent of the cost of a new state building goes toward art, per the Art in State Buildings law - the first of its kind in the nation. Works are commissioned and this is overseen by the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture & the Arts.

What most people don't know is that there is competition for art between the legislators "for what is available", as a staffer said. Even the gov and lt. gov have picked their own artwork for their offices and reception areas.

Something that impressed us was the variety of taste displayed: from Rep. Karl Rhoads (D) Dist. 28 - restrained and mostly monochromatic prints, to Rep. Henry Aquino (D) Dist. 35 - with more than one painting of sugar mills, to Rep. Tom Brower (D) Dist. 23, whose entire office was full of Mondrian wall cover, primary colors, chrome, Plexiglas and a construction zone desk. Let's not forget Rep. Mark Hashem (D) Dist. 18 who has decorated his office with his own choice of kimono and samurai sword replicas, in addition to prints and watercolors.

OK, we did visit offices of Rep. Gen Ward (R) Dist. 17, who did ask us if we're constituents (we're not). He had artist Kahi Ching talk about the coconut wood sculpture in his office. We also popped into the office of Rep. Barbara Marumoto (R) Dist. 19, where the DH was reluctant to go in until he recognized one of her staff.

Senate President Shan Tsutsui's - (D) Sen. Dist. 4 - reception and office areas wowed us. Let's just say there are FIVE Tadashi Sato works, TWO Toshiko Takaezu ceramics, and MORE. There are too many others we saw to mention them all. We have been to other offices during the legislative session, but have not gotten past reception. This was a unique opportunity to see even the senators' and representatives' private offices.

We spoke at some length with Rep. Mark Takai (D) Dist. 34 and Sen. Brian Taniguchi (D) Sen. Dist. 10, who kindly ushered us in, even though it was after 7 pm and his staffers were starving! Art @ the Capitol was his idea, 4 years ago. As staffers reminded us, "this is YOUR art". And it is.

Here's a video - there are six in all - of Sen. Taniguchi talking about one of the artworks in his office. He asked where we'd heard about Art @ the Capitol. I said I'd seen something about it online. Later, I recalled reading about it in MidWeek. Later still, I remembered a retweet from @jayparasco from @hihousedems . Would've been good if @hawaiisenate had tweeted the event, too!

Mahalo to the legislators who took the time to talk to us, and to show us their favorite paintings, photographs and sculptures. Most of all, thank you to the staffers who greeted us warmly and invited us in.