Vagabond's House Aloha, Don Blanding
Columns published in the Hawaiian Life magazine section of the
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, October -December 1954
~ ~ ~
October 2, 1954
When the driver's attention relaxes
His heirs pay inheritance taxes.
Now that I'm living on the Ala Wai, I get to watch traffic at its most senseless, most brutal and most selfish tempo.
I don't wonder that there ARE so many accidents. I just marvel that there are any drivers OR pedestrians left at all at the end of the morning and evening peak hours.
I watch the tense strained faces and listen to the screeches, roars and grinds, and hear the snarls, cussings and blasting of the competitive drivers and wonder if there's ANYTHING at the end of the separate roads important enough to set all of those stomach ulcers fuming.
NEARLY EVERY afternoon around 5 there's a rainbow hanging over the sky from the end of Diamond Head up into the valleys, but I know it's not the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that those folks are madly rushing toward, because most of them would crash in the canal if they took their eyes off the road long enough to enjoy that exquisite beauty.
There's mighty little Aloha spirit shown in traffic. When an occasional driver waits to give another car a break at an intersection, the kindly gesture stands out like Aloha Tower against the Hawaiian sky.
I suppose I've outlived my era because I can't for the life of me figure out why so many people are going where to do what in such a heck-of-a-hurry here in Hawaii. It just doesn't make sense.
I guess that most of the folks don't stop to figure it out. They just get caught in the hysteria of speed-speed-speed-hurry-hurry-hurry and hurtle themselves onto mortuary slabs and hospital beds . . . and for what?
WHAT'S THE use of living in a joyous beautiful place like Hawaii if you don't take time to live a bit?
As a pedestrian, I feel like Eliza crossing the ice with the hounds of traffic snarling and snapping at my heels.
There are plenty of courteous people who DO give the pedestrian a break, and then some lousy road-hog whams by giving you a shave-and-a-haircut that gives you goose-flesh for an hour afterwards.
I've helped pick up a few people who didn't jump soon enough or far enough. It's not pretty. And usually the road-hog, probably because of his tough hide, is the one who does NOT get hurt in the smash-up.
Well, maybe I've gone fuddy-duddy but I still hold to this jingle of mine as a pattern of life in Hawaii.
I find that with the passing years
My stride IS just a little slowed.
I may not go so far nor fast
But I see more along the road.
And, Folks, it may be news to some of you, but there's some mighty beautiful scenery along the Hawaiian roads!
Aloha, Don Blanding
~ ~ ~
October 9, 1954
October is the only month when I get my particular yen for the mainland. This yen is not strong enough to overcome my desire to stay here. But I let my thought stray over and do some vagabonding among remembered delights.
I permit myself a faint nostalgia for the glorious Autumn colorings on the hills. I remember the vivid scarlets and crimsons of the maples, the aspen gold, and the russets and maroons of the oak leaves turning with the first touch of frost.
Then I take a walk along any of our streets and look at the scarlets, oranges and yellow of our hibiscus, and think, "We don't do too badly here in Hawaii all the year round."
THE MAROONS, russets, and golden browns are here with us in our croton hedges any month of the year. We do not have the dreamy Indian Summer's smoky blues across the landscape, but our "hanging rains" from the trade-clouds with embroideries of rainbows on them are very good rivals of that Northern beauty.
I always loved the glad honking of the wild geese winging Southward ahead of Winter. Then I recall that we can hear the glad honking of the wild malihinis fleeing from the articicial heat, overcoats and chilblains of Northern cities to the Eden refuge of Hawaii. (This sound is especially welcome to the hotel keepers and tourist shops of Waikiki.)
I remember the rustle and whisper of drifting leaves in the Autumn breezes, and the crisp crackle of frosty ground. Oh, well, we always have our ubiquitous popcorn sacks in the movies, and the crackle of open-faced chewing of soyo peanuts and mochi crunch to substitute for these Mainland poesies.
And where on the Mainland is there a drifting leaf which can give the satifying detonation of a coconut frond falling on a corrugated iron roof? That's enough noise to satisfy even a small boy.
People reared in the temperate zone with its seasonal changes probably have bodily habit patterns which stir them to an uneasy restlessness in the Spring and Autumn. This might account for the recurrent itching foot which I get along about October.
This year, I think I'll just say, "Let's don't and pretend we did." I'm a bit superstitious about going. Something might happen which would make me have to stay. That happened when I left in 1940. I was gone for 12 years. That's too long.
Even with our local turbulances, frictions and irritabilities -- which are hazards of living anywhere where people exist at close quarters -- Hawaii is the most peaceful place that I know of in the world. And most human hearts can use a lot of peace these days.
I think I'll go over to the Volcano House or up Haleakala for a touch of goose-flesh and call it my Autumn experience.
Aloha, Don Blanding
~ ~ ~
October 16, 1954
If you belong to the numbers of us whose hearts are held in happy captivity by the charms of Hawaii, do you really know what the elastic golden chains are which bring you back again and again after journeys away?
Thanksgiving Day is not too far off. It is not too early NOW to begin taking inventory of the reasons why we feel thankful that we live in Hawaii.
We are so inclined to take for granted those things which are ours "for free."
Those wonderful free things can slip away from us unless we treasure them and guard them. Often it is not until they are gone that we realize how precious they were to us.
Thanksgiving is merely lip-service unless it includes Thanks-Living. We must LIVE our thanks if they are to mean anything to us . . . and to Hawaii.
IT IS A critical time for the world in general and for Hawaii in particular. Hawaii needs the EXPRESSED THANKFULNESS of all who love her if she is to hold the proud and splendid place in the world scheme which she has attained.
We hear much talk by self-styled public servants about what they are doing and going to do for Hawaii. They are Honorable Men by contemporary standards, such as they are. It is easy to say, "Yeah, they TALK a lot, but what are they DOING?"
This critical question applies to us. "We say we LOVE Hawaii. How much are we LIVING that love?"
I HEARD an argument recently between two of these Public Figures. And it was an argument, not a discussion. It had reached the red-faced, table-thumping, name-calling stage. They were shouting, "I tell you I'M RIGHT. You're all wrong. You're a so-and-so," etc. Our ears are deafened with such talk around election times.
A quiet man spoke up, and he spoke with authority. "Does it occur to you Honorable Gentlemen that it's not a question of WHO IS RIGHT but WHAT IS RIGHT for Hawaii?"
This is a question for each one of us to ask NOW. "What is right for our Hawaii?" What is the small or large bit that I can do to repay, in some little measure, for the abundance of living which Hawaii gives me?"
If now, at this critical time, we do not take inventory of our reasons for thankfulness, and live these thanks by expressed givingness, we may not have this Hawaii that we love. We may have something very different.
Think it over. NOT who is right but what is right . . . for our Islands?
Aloha, Don Blanding
~ ~ ~
October 23, 1954
There is a phrase I have abhorred;
I seldom use it, "I am bored".
If I am bored, then I admit
Life hasn't failed me . . . I've failed it.
PEOPLE ARE always challenging me by saying, "You mean you're NEVER bored? I don't believe it." I can honestly say I'm so seldom bored that I can say "almost never."
That doesn't mean I don't get into potentially boring situations. But there are so many ways out of them, and it's so boring to be bored.
I had 25 years on the Creamed Chicken Circuit as a lecturer on what we now call the Girdle-Gobble-and-Gabble Circuit.
There were hours of luncheons and dinners, endless dronings of the Minutes of the Meetings, introductions of people who had known each other since girlhood, readings of papers on The Breeding and Feeding of Lithuanian Titmice and other subjects, and the endless rattling of Mrs. Quackenwaddle on one side and Mrs. Crumplefender on the other.
Then there were hours and sometimes days on buses, planes and trains. I had to learn the tricks for escaping boredom.
FIRST, THERE'S the trick of hearing without listening. When Mrs. Throttlewhistle gets well under way with a Marathon Talkathon, just listen to the voice level. If it ever comes to a full stop, just say, "Really?" or "How interesting." She'll go right on. She's interested in what SHE'S saying, not what you might say.
Then there's the absent treatment, or there-in-the-body-but-not-in-the-mind. I've traveled from the North to the South Pole, from the Taj Mahal to Grand Central Station I my imagination, by pretending that Mrs. Huffanpuff's voice was the drone of a plane, and I was in it. Whenever the vocal motors conked out, I had to make a quick mental-parachute jump and pay attention. But it works fine.
Usually, however, when people talk, they're bound to spill SOMETHING interesting, no matter how much verbal excelsior there is around the few prize bits. And they're worth waiting for.
ON PLANES, there's always someone willing and eager to talk about operations, relatives, politics or religion; and listening to people, first-hand, is more interesting to me than getting it second-hand in novels or magazines.
One time when I was sounding off in High School Days, Old Aunt Cally said, "Honey, you'd better get used to people because they're the thing there's the most of, in this hyear world." So I got interested in people.
There's an endless supply, and if you know how to take them, you'll never be bored.
With all of the fascinating things in the world to think about, talk about, dream about and do something about, there's always some alternative when you can't have what you want. Then is the time to do something about what you have at hand.
Any how, I've had fun writing this. Hope you're not bored!
Aloha, Don Blanding
~ ~ ~
October 30, 1954
Every so often, someone says, "Say, you've lost quite a bit of weight, haven't you?" The answer is, "Heck, NO, I didn't LOSE it, I TOOK it off! I want screen credit for taking it off ounce by ounce."
When I hit the Islands two years ago on my way to Micronesia, I weighed in at 246 . . . a real luau hog. I pulled the 246 down to 204, then ate it back on to the tune of 220 over the holidays. I began working it down to 208. Only 4 more pounds to go and then level off at that.
But being that close to the goal, I can take a very brief breather and think about and talk about one of my favorite subjects . . . food. We Islanders do like good food and good food likes us . . . it so obviously stays with us.
Dree Ovington of Cold Spring Tavern near Santa Barbara, California, just sent me a recipe which I gave her a long time ago. It had slipped out of mind. I'm glad she sent it. I'm going to persuade Carmen Sawtelle to dish it up for me again. It's so extra good that I'm passing it along to any of you who are interested.
HERE IT is. It's about tops as accompaniment for waffles, hot-cakes, hot biscuits, bread or whatever you have along those lines. Easy to fix and, wow, is it good!
It's a strawberry HARD Sauce Butter.
½ pound of sweet (unsalted) butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1 box fresh strawberries, or fresh frozen
Be sure to have your butter at room temperature. Cream together, or soften butter (not melt) and work up in a mix-master, or such labor-saving device. Add both sugars slowly, working them until well mixed.
Then add the hulled strawberries or fresh-frozen. Whip it up until it looks and feels like an Angel's face-cream. Don't mind the "curdled look"; that's part of the process. Allow to set in refrigerator. Serve in bowl in center of table within boarding-house reach of everyone and let them indulge according to conscience, appetite and capacity.
WHEN THE cold strawberry butter hits the hot waffle, bread or biscuit or hot-cake, it smells like the perfume that Cleopatra used to lure Anthony. And the butter and waffle look like the last fadeout of a movie with the hero and heroine melting into each other's embrace with a look of dazed rapture. You'll have the same dazed look, only it will be digestive torpor, after about the fifth or sixth waffle with this trimming.
I know that Vagabond's House column isn't Lani Lee's food page, but it's a crime to keep a good thing like this to myself!
I remember now. It was Jane Janda, formerly of Honolulu, who told me about this in the first place. Mahalo, Jane.
(Editor's note: How Dieting Don must have suffered (?) when we asked him to write a special article on Hawaii's fine restaurants! His gastronomical findings will be published in an early issue.)
Aloha, Don Blanding
~ ~ ~
November 6, 1954
Tomorrow morning, November 7, according to my birth certificate and the current calendar I will have completed 60 years of living. Does that mean that I'm 60 years old? Maybe, but that's not my way of looking at it. This is my slant and it seems to work, for me.
Don't say, "As I get older."
You'll feel the dead years dragging.
Just say, "As I live longer."
THIS ATTITUDE really helps in fending off that "getting older" or "marked down shop-worn" feeling. It isn't what happens to us but it is our attitude toward what happens that ages us. It's our reaction. And these little attitude-establishers are valuable. Just try that jingle several times and see the difference it makes in saying "getting older" or "living longer."
Adeline de Walt Reynolds. That grand character actress, always tells her age. When some of her female friends chide her, she says, "Some of you collect stamps, or Spode china or buttons or autographs. I collect birthdays and I've got a grand collection. Of course I like to brag. Anyone can die young. It takes internal fortitude to last to 85 and then want to last some more."
Let me take honest inventory for a bit and see how I feel about this 60 business. I'll admit a lot of things which used to be my goals are now just views; in other words I'm willing to take pictures of many things that I used to try to climb, like mountains, trees and the sides of tall buildings in construction.
The slower pace allows more time to enjoy the views. In Spring time we gulp; in the Autumn, if we're wise, we sip and roll flavors on our tongues with greater discrimination.
A RECENT event had a lot to do with taking serious inventory. On September 11, due to a ruptured appendix and emergency surgery I had a couple of hours with my toes hanging over the blue brink of Eternity. I was quite conscious due to a successful spinal anesthesia.
When you're looking into that blue Nothingness for a couple hours, you're likely to throw away price tags and labels and study the values of things.
I thought I had loved Hawaii to the limit of my capacity. When I could take a deep breath and realize that I was on THIS side of the Great Divide and not the OTHER side, I looked at everything with newly appreciative eyes.
Dawns have new radiance; the colors are like glad music in my heart. Every roadside hibiscus is a friend. I even speak gently to cockroaches (those so-and-sos) out of my gratefulness for the extension of my option on life. You never know how good life is until you feel it slipping through your fingers. It's worth the narrow shave, just to find this out.
If a few bolts, nuts and screws are loose, rattling or missing on the 1894 chassis, it's good to know there's a lot of mileage left in the jalopy!
SURE, IT would be nice to keep the same zest, the flame and the jumping beans of youth, and yet, I don't know. The upkeep is strenuous. If the sense of wonderment and the deep gratefulness and awareness are kept, then Autumn can be mighty nice.
These are the Autumn years.
I find them good.
With Summer's flame and Spring's young lustihood
Blended to strong serenity and peace.
The pains of growth and stress of fruitage cease.
The harvest is at hand. The gain and loss
Are tallied and the good gleaned from the dross.
The days are numbered but I do not know the score,
Nor ask. Today is here. Why seek for more?
This splendid gift is mine . . . and I am glad.
Let Winter come. My heart is warmly clad!
Aloha, Don Blanding
~ ~ ~
November 13, 1954
From the earth and the green things of the earth;
From the waters of the earth
And the air that surrounds it
Our blood is distilled
By the magic of life.
We do not give our blood.
We return it gratefully
To the vast reservoir, the source.
To go out again
Into the veins of those
Who have given their precious blood
That we might live.
THIS WORD-picture was written during the Second World War when the need was so great for blood for our troops who were literally giving their lives and their blood for us. But there is a constant enemy among us. The enemy wears no uniform, and there are no barriers against him. But there is a weapon to fight him, and it is the blood given to the Blood Bank.
There is an experience awaiting most of us which can be a very great emotional and spiritual adventure. One aspect of it is voluntary; that is the giving. The other may be involuntary and it may come at any time as a high crisis and urgency in our life. This is the receiving of a transfusion. If, at the time of either aspect of it, you can make yourself extra aware of the symbolism, the significance and beauty of this experience, you will forever after see life with a new visibility.
During the war and afterward, I had given blood at various times. It was interesting and moving to feel that this blood, which I could spare so easily, was going out to people whom I would never know. That is, I would not know the identity. It gave me a sense of kinship with people which I had not felt before.
But recently, when the steady red trickle of that life-giving fluid meant - for me - the difference between staying on this side or crossing the Great Divide, I got the full impact of this act.
I was fully conscious at the time of the transfusion so I had time to think and to feel . . . and I did think and I did feel deeply and lastingly. First, gratitude. A debt to pay. Then came the realization that I could never know exactly to whom I owed my debt . . . Ho, Yamamoto, Kalauokalani, Murphy, Kini, Vierra, Oleson, Zabriski, Cohen, Cohan . . . or just that chap called Anonymous. There is no race, there is no class distinction, there is no nationality when the Invisible Enemy has his hand on our heart.
ANYONE MIGHT be that blood-brother or blood-sister who had shared the red life of the veins with me. It might be the stranger passing on the street. It might be the person across the aisle in the bus. It might be you or you or you. Therefore I had better feel a greater aloha to all humanity because anyone might be that one who had shared.
This would make me hesitate before I passed quick judgment on anyone. It might be that one who had shared, and I would be guilty of base ingratitude. I had a deeper sense of the interweaving of our many varied lives, and how none of us lives alone.
Our every thought and action in some way affects all whom we contact directly or indirectly. I had an obligation to clarify the transfusion of my thoughts as carefully as I would want my blood clarified if I knew that it contained a toxin injurious to others. I would want to do as I would want to be done by.
We're all in this business of living together, and it's not an easy business. And most of us can be proud and happy to belong to Blood Donors Anonymous.
BUT IT IS not enough that I pay for the blood which came from the Blood Bank. Its equivalent in volume must be returned, to become available to others in crisis and emergency because money alone can not enter the veins in that high moment.
I can not return the blood which was used for me because I only recently passed 60 which is the end of eligibility. I wonder if any of you would want to join Blood-Sharers Anonymous and replace that vital essence so that it WILL BE THERE when it is needed . . . perhaps even by yourself later.
All you need to do is call the Blood Bank of Hawaii, make the appointment and then follow through. It is not important that it be ear-marked to my credit. It IS important that it BE THERE AS REPLACEMENT, because the need is constant in this day of jet-propelled living.
But whether you are on the giving or receiving end, be aware (oh, don't miss the full beauty of it) of the experience in all its overtones. It will be memorable. It will be so worthwhile. Mahalo and aloha.
Aloha, Don Blanding
~ ~ ~
November 20, 1954
NO TIME FOR PESSIMISTS
AND other termites.
The pessimist with termite jaws
Gnaws and gnaws and gnaws and g-n-a-w-s,
At faith and hope and love and laws.
He gnaws and gnaws and g-n-a-w-s because
From this agnawing trait he draws
His joy in life. Like busy saws
His gnawing jaws saw holes and flaws,
And shred the threads of any cause
To webs of ragged tattered gauze.
He greets bad news with glad applause
And thrive on it. With loud guffaws
He jerks the beard from Santa Claus.
Because he gnaws without a pause
He's worse than moths.
An optimistic friend insists
That cynics and misogynists,
And others with such mental twists
Are gnawing pest-imists.
YEAH, I KNOW that's pretty corny and Polly-anna. But it's a funny thing about corn and polly-anna, the folks who go in for those two attitudes have better digestions than the Vinegar Cocktail crowd.
We see announcements of courses in Art Appreciation, in Poetry Appreciation, Music Appreciation. They're fine, but there's a long Course in Life Appreciation which I hope I'm still studying when I celebrate January 1st, 2000.
This Course in Life Appreciation is made up of attitudes and reactions to the things which happen to us.
One of the most successful men I ever knew was an old prospector named Hackney who lived in the Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma. When you stopped at his cabin for a drink of water or a bit of conversation, you might be surprised at the quality of magazines and books (thumbed and dogeared from studying) which were all over the place. He had time for thought, meditation and practice of the principles of happiness.
ONE TIME I was sounding off. I had said that "I didn't like this. I didn't like that. And I didn't like something else."
Hackney stopped me. He said, "You read a lot about toxins and antitoxins. You've just given yourself three shots of toxins, bad ones which can develop into serious illness for your happiness in life. Now take three double antitoxins."
"Son," he said, "Don't ever forget this. Whenever you hear yourself saying 'I don't like this,' or 'I don't like that person,' stop. Think up two things you like, and declare that you like them. Declare it with twice the conviction you used in saying 'I don't like.' Take a double dose of liking for every dose of disliking. You'll build up a balance of liking life and people which will more than neutralize your tendency to drinking the dishwaters of life instead of the artesian spring waters of happiness."
DOES THAT sound corny? Maybe it is, but you just try it for a week! Stick with it and see what happens to your home life, your business life and your attitude toward life in general.
Because a skunk smells louder than a rose, we're inclined to forget that there are more roses than skunks in the world.
There's a lot of good apple surrounding that worm in the apple. I've been hungry and have eaten right up next to the worm, and found all of that apple good. Maybe I had bitten into the worm, without noticing. Well, Hackney taught me to remember that, after all, the worm had been eating nothing but apples, so what was I upset about?
Does that sound far-fetched? Wait until you're hungry enough; you'll find out!
Aloha, Don Blanding
~ ~ ~
November 27, 1954
"The mynah birds are raising such a rumpus on the lawn
That I must rise unwillingly and greet the dewy dawn.
It's lovely out . . . the Island scene is something from a dream
The purple winter hyacinths float idly in the stream.
The morning glory blossoms nod in lavenders and whites
Like all the faded moons that died in all the yester-nights
While alamandas cheerfully give back the yellow rays
Of all the happy suns that rose in all the yesterdays."
THIS BUSINESS of dawn rising can become habit forming. I know. It happened to me while I was going out from Guam on the Motor Vessel Metomkin to Yap, Saipan, Majuro, Palau, Babelthaup and points East and West.
I used to stand the morning watch from 4 to 8 with Captain Ted Narramore. Those deep Pacific dawns were Cinerama productions in Technicolor of Genesis. For once I have sense enough to mean it when I say that "words fail."
The habit stayed with me. I don't need either alarm clocks or mynah birds to dynamite me out of bed well before dawn. But I find that the charm of dawns is influenced largely by whether I stay up for the dawn or get up for the dawn or HAVE TO get up at dawn.
Army dawns, regardless of their basic beauty, always had a bilious overtone due to raucous voiced, ape-browed corporals or sergeants who took sadistic pleasure in bawling "Rise up and shine, you so-and-sos."
Now, since I don't HAVE TO get up, I actually enjoy it because these Island dawns are glorious. I know that every dawn starts a new day, but somehow these Hawaiian dawns seem to say, "Any dawn can start a new year, a new life, a new hopefulness for living." It's as though a new world, a new universe with the paint still fresh on it, had been given to me to enjoy.
IT'S A DECISIVE hour. By being thoroughly aware of its importance it is possible to set the pattern for the whole day that follows. When I wake up and find myself alive in bed with me, I say "Well, Vagabond, let's have fun today."
And so, I shop for fun, for laughter, for friendliness . . . and there's abundance of it to buy, with only the coin of a little awareness and discipline and selectivity.
That guy called "Anonymous" turns out a lot of good stuff. A friend sent me an item which I am passing along to you. It's apropos this dawn hour. It says, "Five per cent of the people make things happen; 20 per cent of them watch things happen. The other 75 per cent have no idea what is happening."
IT IS POSSIBLE to shift from one group to another. Of course, some people are only zombies, walking around half-conscious until a couple of slugs of strong coffee have brought them to life. Maybe it's something to do with metabolism.
I happen to belong to the school of sleepers who wake up all over and for 20 feet in every direction all at once. While I put on my clothes, I put on a mental garment of happy expectancy, what-happens-nextacy, and hold to it firmly through the morning news bulletins from my neighbor's radio. This happy expectancy is sort of a rain-coat to keep off the drenching depression of death-doom-and-disaster which constitutes most of the news these days.
But my best antidote for this sour-stomach state of mind is to stand for several minutes absorbing the full glory and impact of the dawn as I get it from my place on the Ala Wai facing the canal and the mountains beyond and the limitless sky which is painted with the changing neons of the morning. It's sort of an emotional laundromat for the bad dreams, worries and anxieties which might have seeped through from the subconscious during the night.
"I look around Hawaii-land and feel its fragrant charm
I'm very glad the mynah birds gave 6-o'clock alarm."
Aloha, Don Blanding
~ ~ ~
December 4, 1954
There's a place at the Grand Canyon of the Colorado which is appropriately called Inspiration Point.
So far as I'm concerned, almost any spot in Hawaii could be called Inspiration Point! The Pali, the view from Tantalus, from the crater of Haleakala, . . . I could use the whole page in naming them.
But there's a very accessible view which I find is little known, or is little used. Turn in any direction and you've got the biggest Cinemascope screen in the world with changing pictures to delight the eyes and the heart.
It's the parking space at the Diamond Head end of the Yacht Harbor. The road is a bit bumpy, but it's worth the jouncing to get there a little before sunset and to stay until full night-fall. If it's early moon-rise time, stay on. You'll be rewarded. Turn slowly through the full circle of the compass and your eyes will be flooded with more beauty and grandeur than a life-time could absorb.
AT THE TIME of the rising full moon last month I saw a double lunar rainbow over Pearl Harbor which was beyond any beauty I had ever experienced. It was a mystical adventure which made it difficult to come back to earth and take up the routine of daily living.
I find that many people, even kamaainas, think that the lunar rainbow is the circle around the moon on misty nights. It's not. It's in the opposite arc of the sky from the moon exactly as the day rainbow is in the opposite side of the sky from the sun.
The day rainbow is an arch of opals for me; the lunar rainbow is moonstones, shimmering and elusive. One wonders if one has seen it at all or merely dreamed it.
And this spot at the Yacht Basin is a good hunting ground for lunar rainbow watchers.
BUT IT HAS a multitude of other views which change before the eyes in constant blends of colors as the swift night-fall of the tropics drains the vividness of the sunset into smoky pastel tones. The clouds above Tantalus are the last to take off the holiday raiment. . . . They are the last to say to the setting sun, "Aloha . . . until we meet again . . . tomorrow."
At this point, there's a detachment from the dizzy-bizzy world or speeding cars and chattering radios and hurrying people. Here, more than anywhere else on Oahu, I am aware of the great mountain foundations below the sea which support the parts of the Island which are visible to us.
AS DARK COMES on, the arriving and departing planes with blinking lights weave stitches of brilliancy among the fixed patterns of the emerging stars.
And almost every time that I am there (which is frequently) I think of those early voyagers who saw the unforgettable silhouette of Diamond Head, and I envy them their first impact of Island grandeur after weeks or even months at sea.
Thirty-eight years of experiencing Hawaii have not dimmed my delight in the countless glories of this Paradise. I am always finding new shadings of color, new patterns and designs of loveliness.
That's why I'd rather be broke in Hawaii than flush in most other places.
A spoken or unspoken part of every prayer of mine is this: "Lord, let me keep wonder in my heart." I think I shall never lose "wonder" so long as I live in our Islands.
Aloha, Don Blanding
~ ~ ~
December 11, 1954
This column is for Malihinis. You Kamaainas may read it, too, if you're interested, since it involves you.
Many of you Mainland visitors to the Islands will feel an urge, upon your return home, to write notes of appreciation to various Islanders who have been gracious and hospitable to you.
Many will feel the urge. It's astonishing and somewhat sad to find how many of you do not follow through.
Oh, there may be a picture postcard from Catalina or Palm Springs saying, "This sure isn't Hawaii." The rest is silence, as I believe Shakespeare said. He must have been thinking of the hospitality situation in Hawaii!
Sometimes there's a hasty scrawl, air-mailed. "Dear Folks. We certainly enjoyed being with you. Will you send Bob's swimming trunks. I think he left them in the shower. They're red. Thanks so much. Mary." That's all there is to the signature, just "Mary."
I'LL GIVE you malihinis a candid camera shot of the situation which your note has started. (Incidentally, this is a real situation.) Mrs. Islander looks for the red trunks. They may have been used by Junior to wash the car. Not the family car, you understand, but his hot-rod junk. Or the puppy may have chewed them to bits. A later guest might have worn them and absentmindedly taken them away. Or the cockroaches may have had their way with them. Or they just plain "ain't here."
What does Mrs. Islander do? She may think of buying replacements to send on.
Then she realizes that although she remembers the couple from Dubuque who were friends of friends of the McGillicuddies, and that she did entertain them for lunch, swim and a trip to the Pali, she does NOT remember their name except for Bob and Mary. She certainly can't recall Bob's size in swimming trunks.
In fact she can't recall Bob very distinctly except that he was the husband of the guest called Mary, who is a bit of a blur in the long list of guests whom Mrs. Islander entertains during the year. She calls Muriel McGillicuddy, and finds that she is visiting on Kauai.
Or Muriel may be home, but she says, "Oh, they were friends of some school-mates of Henry. We didn't know them at all well. We felt that we had to do something for them . . . I don't know just why. I think the name was Crumplefender, or maybe it was McTavish. You know how Island sun-tans and visitors' last names fade so fast down here." So Muriel is no help.
INCIDENTALLY, there was no thoughtful inclusion of postage for the requested sending of the trunks, if found. Mrs. Islander realizes there's nothing much she can do about it so she tries to let the red trunks fade out like a discouraged ghost. A note comes from Miami. "If you haven't sent the red trunks, will you air-mail them to Miami. Bob needs them. Mary."
There's an un-Floridian aura of frost in the note which suggests that any gratefulness of Island hospitality has been neutralized by irritation over the non-appearance of the red trunks.
THIS SORT of thing makes it tough for future visitors who might really feel a deep sense of appreciation for the generous Island hospitality which is so lavishly offered them. Even the most open-hearted hostess gets a bit cynical after a series of these incidents.
So, if there's a moral in this column, it is: "Don't fail to give more than lip-service to your appreciation." Include full name and address somewhere in the note with some sort of identifying comment since a steady stream of Bobs and Marys and Bills and Claras come and go in this Island life.
And try to make your note have a little more conviction than a perfunctory burp. It helps preserve the Aloha Spirit of Hawaii which takes a fearful beating at times.
Aloha, Don Blanding
~ ~ ~
December 18, 1954
Well, Christmas is just a week away. I'm as eager for it as I was when I was a kid, and that's quite a few years ago.
But my ideas, wants and wishes are so different. A few of those desires remain. I love to be surprised. Fully half of the enjoyment of any Christmas present, for me, is the "I-wonder-what's-in-it?" tingle before I open the gift-wrappings.
I don't write Santa Claus letters because I know he understands thought-transmission, and knows not only what I want, but what's better, he knows what I need, and surprisingly enough, nearly always delivers. Sometimes I'm surprised.
I don't cause Santa much trouble these days because my wants are few and my needs are fewer in this glorious land where throughout the year so much is given free that I don't have many stored up "wants."
BUT IF I were writing Santa a letter it might be something like this:
Dear Santa Claus: When I was a kid, I always loved my Christmas stocking. It was so much excitement and joy to take out the presents, one by one, and shake them and wonder about what was inside and then finally to open the packages.
I still like my Christmas stocking, but this year I'll simplify things for you. Let my Christmas stocking just be a "day-to-live."
Since I usually get up around 6 in the morning, Christmas or regular day, we'll let the presents be the 18 hours that remain on December 25. As each comes, I'll wonder what it's going to hold, and that will be great fun.
Then as the hour-present unwraps itself, it will hold many minutes, like a bag of jelly beans with lots of different colors to the jelly-bean minutes. I'm pretty sure there won't be many tasteless ones, and probably no bitter ones at all.
That last flavor is up to me because I'm the one to decide whether I like the flavor or not . . . and since it's more fun to enjoy them than to dislike, I think I can wangle my mind around to enjoy every minute in every one of the 18 hour-presents.
THE FIRST hour-present between 6 and 7 in the morning is going to have a dawn in it . . . and that's about as glorious as anything I could wish, especially when with it come two eyes to see with, a mind to recognize and a heart to respond. Then breakfast, which is always a delightful time for me. Then a stroll around saying Hello to lots of friends which includes the sky, the flowers, the early-risers, the mynah birds and stray people along with way.
There'll probably be a couple hours swimming. I've been promised a Christmas dinner with lots of trimmings. There'll be lots of memories of former Christmases, including my first one in Hawaii. There'll be stray Christmas carols from neighbors' radios. And there'll be hundreds of small lovely things which I can't possibly anticipate.
Yes, there may be a few sorrowful memories, but then, we can't grieve where we haven't loved, and it's wonderful to have loved enough to grieve, so that will be all right, too. They'll be happy ghosts, and we don't mind that kind.
So, what with one thing and another, Santa Claus, if I don't get ONE MORE THING than that wonderful long Christmas stocking which will be an Hawaiian day, I'll really and truly be deeply thankful. And I do thank you. Mahalo nui loa.
P.S. I have a hunch there will be some other things in the stocking, but they'll just be whipped cream on the pie of that happiness. Aloha.
And Mele Kalikimaka to YOU, too, Santa. I wonder if people remember to say that to YOU. I never thought of it before.
Aloha, Don Blanding
~ ~ ~
December 25, 1954
Aloha, Folks. Mele Kalikimaka. Well, how did Christmas treat you? And how did you treat Christmas? Aunt Cally used to say, "It ain't what you get but what you get out of what you get that makes the difference between a glad and a sad Christmas."
In all deference to the Edwin Sawtelles' hospitality, my Christmas dinner with them, 1954, CAN'T taste better than my Christmas dinner, 1913.
I had $25 to carry me through a year at the Art Institute of Chicago. A dime looked as big as a flap-jack and I could stretch a nickel thinner than a postage stamp. I shared a dingy room in a shabby rooming house on the North Side with three other students. They went home for Christmas.
Even the landlady and her nasty yapping poodle were going out for Christmas dinner. I knew she'd frugally turn off the heat in the furnace. The place was bad enough warm; I couldn't take it cold. I left about noon.
My one lonesome dollar provided a 15 cent movie (those days are gone forever!) which I sat through twice to kill the afternoon. A 5 cent bag of jelly beans provided the mostest for the leastest for refreshment. At dusk, my menu-shopping took me to a grubby Greek restaurant near the River which offered turkey dinner for 60 cents. With a 10 cent tip, I'd have a dime for the evening.
THAT DINNER! A weary piece of celery, a couple of withered olives and a discouraged radish for appetizer. Soup that was dish-water with eight short pieces of drowned vermicelli (I counted 'em). The turkey . . . an old inner-sole, sliced thin as Mexican drawn-work, flanked with dressing that was boiled mattress-stuffing and some gray watery mashed potatoes, a dollop of sluggish squash and 22 shriveled peas. The pumpkin pie had said, "Aw, what's the use" before it went into the oven. The coffee was warm and in a cup. (That's how I identified it as coffee.)
I left hungrier than ever. I strolled until 10 p.m., torturing myself with glimpses in windows where gay parties were going on. When I got to my room I didn't turn on the light. I undressed by touch system. I spread my overcoat on top of the sleazy blankets, and piled in between the icy sheets hoping for quick sleep.
Just when I was on the edge of dropping off I thought "This must be the end. I'm delirious. But I SMELL SAGE DRESSING." Sage dressing? It couldn't be.
THE FRAGRANCE persisted. I turned on the light. On the table was a large package with a scrawled note. "This came after you left. Merry Christmas. Your Landlady."
The package was from Maje Claflin, a student from across the hall. She was the daughter of a minister in Michigan. She had often told me about their family's Christmas dinner, which was a flank steak, beaten to tenderness and wrapped around a god sage dressing with other herbs and lots of onions and baked. Some call it "mock duck." They called it "preacher's turkey." Maje's mother was locally famous for it.
I put on my overcoat and sat up in bed, sniffing and snuffing the package in anticipation. I prolonged the untying of strings and unwrapping of paper, holding off the first delectable bite.
My stomach was singing Christmas carols.
I don't know how long I sat there munching and chewing each morsel to the last flicker of flavor . . . and bawling like a kid. Happy tears are good flavor for dinner.
Oh, it was good, but the grandest flavor of all, as I licked the last bit of stuffing from my fingers and slipped off into blessed sleep, was the dear friendliness of Maje and her mother who had shared their "preacher's turkey" with me.
They didn't know the word "Aloha" but they said it just the same.
Aloha, Don Blanding