The Hukilau

Ever since we left Hawaii I’ve had this song stuck in my head:

And so I thought I’d share the joy! Now you can spend all day singing “Are you going to the Hukilau, the huki, huki, huki, lau?”  Even my cat has gone somewhere to hide.

Hawaii is one of the many places I’ve been to that I really didn’t want to leave. However, at times the angry sea didn’t seem to want us to stay.


Thirty to forty-five foot waves which during high tide on a full moon night literally came knocking at our back door!

We stayed on the North Shore of Oahu, a laid back haven for surfers from all over the planet. Aside from the Turtle Bay resort, this area has strongly resisted over-development and prides itself on retaining some of the old Hawaii feel. geyser


Sometimes the monster waves would collide far off shore and spout into the air like a geyser.  A surge this large hasn’t happened for decades and so you can imagine the excitement it caused, particularly as the timing coincided with one of the North Shore’s most beloved events: The Eddie Aikau Quiksilver Invitational.

From the Eddie Aikau Website

From the Eddie Aikau Foundation web site

“Eddie” was one of the first lifeguards at arguably the most beautiful surf spot in Hawaii, Waimea Bay.  He gained fame not only for rescuing people from the deadly surf but also for his skill on the long board. However it was his final, selfless act that gained him the most fame.

In 1978 Eddie joined the Polynesian Voyaging Society on a second migration attempt from the Hawaiian to Tahitian Islands in a traditional voyaging canoe.  Twelve miles south of the island of Molokai the canoe capsized and it was Eddie with his long board who volunteered to paddle ashore for help.  He was never seen again.  Today it’s quite common to see people with teeshirts and bumper stickers reading “Eddie would go” on the North Shore – a testament to this amazing and charismatic guy.


Waimea Bay when the waves are gentle (well, relatively).


Waimea Bay during the storm surge – it looked like a washing machine with too many suds!


Debris washed ashore. Who knows what it was!

So many people decided to take the trek out to the North Shore to witness the monster waves that they had to close Kamehameha Highway.  If the two lane road wasn’t flooded, it was jammed with slow driving lookie-loos!


Since we couldn’t go out in the waves, we built a sand castle.






A Curse on Your Erection

Happily Ever After

saehorses kissingWhat kind of scumbag would steal a seahorse from his happy little home beneath the waves?

There he sits harming no one, simultaneously swivelling both eyes in different directions, mating for life, and giving birth to his babies. That’s right. His babies. Seahorses are the only species on earth that trust this task to a male.

And that’s not even why they’re called Hippocampus erectus. Despite their horny appearance, they probably don’t even have anything to get an erection with. They don’t need it. A female simply lays her eggs inside his pouch and this amazing little bloke fertilises and carries them for about three weeks before giving birth.

Which is all pretty ironic as the bums who are poaching them are selling them on the black market to be ground up and sold for erectile dysfunction.

Chinese medicine, hugely on the rise in this age of jaded western medicine, has dozens of other uses for these defenceless creatures once…

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Narrative Identity and Photographs: An essay by Jeri Walker

JeriWB 03As promised, here is an honest and poignant essay by Jeri Walker, a writer and editor who has been a friend of this blog almost since the beginning. If you’ve ever had to take care of an aging parent this essay will resonant with you. If you’re looking for an editor, Jeri’s many clients all sing her praises.  If you’re looking for vivid and “no holds barred” writing, check out her stories on Amazon.

Parents mess their children up. That’s a given. But in the same breath, they’re trying to do their best. The waning of my parents’ health has coincided with my rather shocking divorce, and I find myself at a crossroads. I can’t change the people who have hurt me. After years of stagnation, it’s time to put myself back on a transformative path.

A bevy of oxygen tanks, tubes, and inhalers ushered in the reality of parental decrepitude this past holiday season. My perpetually active father is now besieged by emphysema, no doubt exacerbated by a former smoking habit and long career as a silver miner. On the other hand, my eternally stubborn mother did not seek proper medical treatment for worsening asthma symptoms and ended up being intubated right before Thanksgiving and then once again at Christmas. 

It’s hard to hold a grudge against the wheezing and frail creatures who could once yell and curse with such gusto. I find my personality in flux, and my brain seeking to make sense of the hand I’ve been dealt. I’m rebuilding the past, observing the present, and imagining the future. Brains strive to create a narrative identity for the sake of giving some kind of structure and meaning to essentially chaotic lives. It’s time to revise my personal narrative. 

Old photographs remind me my parents are only human. All things considered, I turned out okay.

Wedding Collage

On their wedding day, they shared the sideways glances of the smitten. She was still in her teens, and he was twenty-three. At least Dad had made it out of Idaho for a few years before coming back. When I was a kid Mom had told me she thought about joining the air force, but getting married straight out of high school was the thing many people tended to do in those days. They set up house, had kids. They drank, they fought, they made up.

Mom knew she was a looker. A delicate but fiery redhead with a rebellious streak. Her father an alcoholic, and her maternal grandfather mentally ill. She slept under the attic eaves so she could have some space to herself in my grandparents’ house that lacked electricity or running water. She was the middle child. The troubled one.     

Mom Collage

The mother I’ve known has often not been very happy. The first psychotic break occurred in her late twenties, followed by another not long after my birth. At some point, I lost count of the hospitalizations. When I started middle school, both sisters were out of the house. Thus began a four-year stretch where I did my best to look after her while Dad was at work. The shame of having a crazy mother molded me.

In between manic episodes, I remember good times when she would smile and heartily laugh. Those time were far and few between. Sometimes we snuggled on the couch as she watched soap operas, but most of the parenting I got came in the form of instilling common sense. Don’t get me wrong, knowing how to take care of one’s self is a good thing. I just wish I would have felt cared for.

Dad Collage

The father I’ve known has tended to cuss a blue streak, his carefully coifed Brylcreem hairdo marking him as a perpetual greaser. The reputation of this tough-as-nails man precedes him as it does with all Walkers. He had to be able to stand on his own two feet growing up in a household of eighteen children. He still doesn’t take any shit from anybody, and can be hard to like—though old age has mellowed him.

At the same time, he’s the one who carved pumpkins and dyed Easter Eggs with me. He held the seat of my bike as I learned to pedal on my own. He is the one who entertained me with stories of Squeaky the invisible mouse who lived in his shirt pocket, and Dad is also the hero who burned the Boogie Man up in the stove. Only years later, did I grasp what an expert miner he was and good dad.

Like all those we love, we love them despite their imperfections. We love them knowing only bits and pieces of the whole person. All any of us can do is attempt to be a better version of ourselves, to not give in under crushing circumstances, to remain strong. Let’s focus on the possibilities of the present rather than letting ourselves be mired down by the past or crippled by the what ifs of the future.

Our lives really are stories written line by line, minute by minute.

When is the last time you browsed old family photos? What do those photos invoke?

About Jeri: Truth really is stranger than fiction, and it’s a long damn story. The psychological and romantic overtones of Jeri Walker’s contemporary fiction stem from growing up in the eccentric North Idaho mining town of Wallace and then later falling in love while working in Yellowstone and Everglades National Parks. The influence of a bipolar mother and Jekyll-and-Hyde ex populate her literary landscape. 

She and her demanding pets call the Pacific Northwest home. In the continual pursuit of finding herself, she plans to someday live in an RV or a tiny house. She dwells online at Word Bank Writing & Editing, eternally grateful to be charting a course as a freelancer. 

Queen Helen of Wingate


The official portrait of King Harland and Queen Helen of the Kingdom of Wingate

My grandmother was a no-nonsense New Englander whose mother passed away when she was a teen, leaving her alone with a gruff Swedish father who didn’t believe in doling out compliments.  She wore coke bottle glasses, had an overbite, and couldn’t tolerate a change in her schedule. Married barely out of nursing school, she worked through the Great Depression as “The District Nurse” for the county and raised three, shall we say, spirited children.


Arguably her most spirited child, my rambunctious Uncle Bob.

To the grandmother I remember, being plain and modest was far better than being pretty. Vanity was a sin.  Flowers and candy on Valentine’s Day were a waste of money.  And anyone trying to give her a compliment – oh my goodness – she’d sink them with an icy stare  Yes, siree bob!  There’d be none of that Tom Foolery on her watch.QueenHelen

The woman above is not my grandmother!  Giggling and holding hands with a man who is not her husband – even if he is the king! Not my Gram!KingHarlan

Now this is my grandmother – fixing to tell someone off. (I’ve seen this look many times!) You think King Harland dared to cop a feel?


Their coronation makes headlines worldwide!

Even though she spent her life feeling plain and unattractive, she wasn’t.  As you can see, the good citizens of the Kingdom of Wingate acknowledged her dignity, strength and beauty by crowning her their queen!

May you be recognized for the unique and special person that you are!


A thing of beauty is a joy forever,
Its loveliness increases, it will never
Pass into nothingness; but will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.

John Keats, From Endymion 


#ThursdayDoors: My Rap Sheet

Warning!  ThursdayDooring leads to subversive and deviant crimes such as trespassing. You could wind up in the slammer with a long rap sheet.

MrToadVehicleJan: “But, but Officer.  You don’t understand. It’s an addiction. I really, really have to get a picture of a door and since all the public doors in town are so boring, well…”

Officer Gumbo: “Ma’am.  We keep getting complaints from your neighbors. We have no alternative other than to take you in for a 24F infraction. Just be happy they didn’t accuse you of being a Peeping Jan. That’s a sex crime!”

In my neighborhood, houses tend to be set back from the street, thus their gates are the doors to their kingdom. IMG_1295 These people really don't want to be bothered by door-to-door salespeople!

In my neighborhood, houses tend to be set back from the street, thus their gates are the doors to their kingdom.


These people really don’t want to be bothered by door-to-door salespeople!


“I wonder why we don’t get any Trick or Treaters!”

Thankfully I avoided arrest this time.

Check out other trespassers at Norm Frampton’s ThursdayDoors Event. 

Blasts from the Past

For the next week my publisher is having a Valentine’s Day giveaway.  At first I didn’t think I should participate.  My characters are generally in such desperate plights that romance is the last thing on their mind.  However,  they are all young women and thus it is impossible to avoid clumsy flirtations, heart palpitations, despondency and yes, sex.  Particularly for my youngest, Riley O’Tannen of the Graduation Present, a self-proclaimed klutz who misinterprets a young man’s interest until it’s almost too late.

Riley’s exploits are very loosely based on my own goof-ball  adventures europe5dollars1in Europe 40 years ago. In 2014 I came clean in a series of posts listed here:


Three cute French guys and my traveling companion Carolyn from “Oeufs in a Van”

Fortunately I saved many of the letters and pictures from that time.


Carolyn gets carried out to sea by cute German guy in “The Samwitch Stand.”

Yes, as you can probably tell most of our time was spent hanging out with “cute” guys and trying not to get carried out to sea.


Letter from cute Italian guy in “Pierre Andrei Makes His Move”

Sigh. Do you have any embarrassing travel stories?  Fess up!

BTW:  Two other authors I’ve introduced you to on this blog are having give-aways:


Duke Miller’s unforgettable and poetic memoir of twenty-five years as a relief worker

Walking Home Front

Arleen William’s compelling glimpse into the lives of emigres in America