Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Warm Welcome Home, Newark-Style

We arrived home early this morning from a brief Christmas holiday with Kenji's family, who live in the Seattle area. I'll post more about it later, but we had a lovely little vacation, and it was the first Christmas either of us has spent with family in six years.

While we were away, we parked our car at Kenji's workplace, near Penn Station in Newark, and took a cab to and from the airport. This morning, I stayed with our luggage in Penn Station while Kenji fetched the car - he picked me up and we were on our merry way home.

While waiting at a traffic light in downtown Newark, I noticed that the heater was still blowing cold air on us. This was despite the fact that the car had been running for a good ten minutes already, and the heat controls turned all the way up. Then we noticed that while the car's interior was not warming up, the engine compartment certainly was. In fact, it was getting dangerously hot!

Turns out the radiator mysteriously got a hole in itself while we were away, probably by magic. We managed to get the car home, without calling for a tow, by shutting off the engine at every red light, and pulling over every mile or so to let the engine cool down. At one point we even stopped at a gas station and put coolant in the radiator... only to watch it drain back out onto the ground below. Fortunately, the air was cold, so we never had to stop for more than five or ten minutes at a time. What normally would be a ten or fifteen minute drive worked out to be about an hour or so.

Luckily, the little car fix-it shop just around the corner from our house was able to fix the car today, so tomorrow I'll be all set to go to work.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Living Room v.2.0 and Early Christmas

A few weeks ago, Kenji and I started messing around with our living room's furniture arrangement. It used to look something sort of like it did in this post, except for add a coffee table in the middle, minus the rocking chair, and make the love seat flat up against the wall, instead of at an angle. Anyway, it didn't seem a very cozy welcoming arrangement, so finally we decided to move some stuff around.

Our final result is what you see here to the right, but we must have had two or three other arrangements in between. Our big challenge was that we really can't place any furniture flat up against three of the four walls in our living room because they all have some kind of doorway or archway leading into other rooms. We also wanted to make room for a TV that we didn't own yet. The only thing that would work wound up with us placing everything at an angle.

Oh yeah so anyway, Christmas came early at our house this year, because last Saturday we finally decided to buy a television. We already had a television, but it's a little 13-inch that Kenji has had for the past nine years. We've been sort of looking around at TVs for the last couple years, waiting for prices on flat panels to come down enough. We're very glad we didn't buy the 23-inch LCD TV that we saw a couple years ago at Shirokiya for $2,600. Instead we bought a 40-inch, for a whole lot less money. Someday we might even spring for cable or Direct TV.

We also needed to get something for the TV to sit on, preferably something that would fit in a corner. Pretty much all the TV stands we saw at the TV stores were butt-ugly. Instead we went to a little store called Far-Fetched, which is an independently owned Pier-1-ish furniture store. They have a lot of really cool, and somewhat expensive furniture items. When we walked in the door, we saw the red version of this nice modular bookshelf and drawer set. While it was on the expensive side, we considered it a possibility because of its flexibility in terms of how it can be arranged. The only problem was it had two sliding doors in the front of the bookshelf part, where we would want to keep our DVD and stereo equipment. It must have been our lucky day, because upstairs in the store we found the same piece, but in the right color, marked down by 50% because the sliding doors (that we didn't need anyway) had gotten warped somewhere in transit from China to New Jersey! So now we have something to put our TV on, and our kitty cat in, that is far more attractive than your average TV stand. Plus the door panels look pretty cool - we might even use them as wall-hangings.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Musubi Loves Chick-fil-A

Or a least she loves their little cow...
And obviously she doesn't want to share!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Calabaza Pie

I still have some of those pie crusts I got from work to use up, so today while I was at the grocery store, I picked up some pumpkin pie-like ingredients, neither of which are pumpkin.

The pie I'm making today is a calabaza pie. I'd never heard of calabaza until today at the store, when I saw what looked like a nice quarter of a pumpkin. The flesh was a rich orange, and the seeds looked like those of a pumpkin, but when I turned the package over, I could see that the skin looked more like that of a giant pale acorn squash. Anyway this one quarter of a calabaza produced enough squash goo to fill two pies, so once we finish this pie, I'll be able to make another calabaza pie with very little effort.

I used the same recipe that I used to make my butternut squash pie a couple weeks ago, except this time I tried putting one egg in it, to see how it would change the consistency of the pie. After adding the egg, the batter became so watery I was worried that the pie would not bake well, but I just took it out of the oven a few moments ago, and it seems to have set quite nicely. Now I want to go make a nice chocolate syrup to drizzle over the top. Yum. :)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Diner Gang

Every other Friday or so I go to the swing dance that happens in Whippany. It's a lot of fun because it attracts probably around 80 - 100 people each time, and the space is nice and large. Plus there are always goodies to munch on, like cheese and crackers, cookies, celery sticks, snap peas, carrots and little grape tomatoes. This time there was even a nice big pumpkin pie! The music is DJ'd and the dancers come in all varieties - all ages from teens to retired folks, and ability levels from beginners to advanced.

The dance lasts for about three and a half hours, ending at midnight. Afterwards, a bunch of us go to a nearby diner for more eats and just to hang out and get to know each other off the dance floor a little. Usually there are around ten or so of us, but this week we had an especially large group of nineteen. Our table nearly stretched from one side of the diner all the way to the other. :)

Old Cape Cod Potato Chips

I just made a new playlist for my iPod. I had to chuckle when I sorted the list by song title, and saw Pattie Page's "Old Cape Cod" and Slim Gaillard's "Potato Chips" fell one right after the other alphabetically. Tee-hee!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today Kenji and I had practice Thanksgiving. That means we cooked a whole turkey by ourselves and ate it ourselves, just to make sure we don't embarrass ourselves in the future if we ever host Thanksgiving for other people at our house.

We had an 11.x pound turkey, stuffing with celery, carrots, raisins, walnuts, herbs and sausage in it, homemade cranberry sauce made with maple syrup and sweet potatoes and apples. It was yummy. Oh, we had snap peas too.

We hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving too!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Handsome Kitty

I am hiding my other foot. And don't you think my busted tail looks pretty good now?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Bye-Bye Leaves; Hello Pie!

We've been so involved with repainting our bathroom that this year we didn't get around to raking any leaves until today! The good thing about that though is that we will only have to rake once, as the leaves on the tall oak tree in our back yard have finally fallen. It seems those leaves like to hang on as long as leafily possible, but I think the high winds we had late last week finally got the best of them. I also like it that our town lets us pile our leaves up out on the street for them to come and pick up, instead of having to pack them into neat little bags, like some other nearby towns require.

We are nearly finished with our bathroom. We finally were able to paint it on Friday and Saturday. Now all we need to do is install the new sink. We thought we'd let the paint dry for another day before doing that. Sorry, no more bathroom pictures till it's all put back together again.

Right now I'm baking a pie. It's almost ready. Probably about five more minutes. I had a timer running that I brought upstairs with me to keep track of time while I blogged, but then Musubi came along and stepped on the timer and turned it off without me knowing till just now.

It looks like a pumpkin pie, but really it's a butternut squash pie. I made it using the recipe on this page. Well, I'm using it for the most part. I don't happen to have any unrefined sugar hanging around so I just used regular sugar. I used one of the pie crusts I got from work. It's a Wholly Wholesome graham cracker crust. For the last pie I made, I used the chocolate crust, like they did in the recipe page. That pie came out ok for a dairy free pie. I think, like pumpkin pies, a squash pie tastes better after a day or two rather than same day out of the oven. But I also think pumpkin and squash-type pies taste better with cream in them. Dairy-free-schmairy-free! (Now watch, I'll become lactose-intolerant for making remarks like that!)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Wabbit Season? No. Duck Season? No. Deer Season? Apparently.

Last night I went to the bi-weekly swing dance in Whippany, New Jersey, with my friend, Tiffany. On our way home at around 2:30 a.m., traveling through Livingston on Northfield Avenue, between the circle and JFK Parkway, we must have encountered nearly 20 deer! First I spotted a single deer with antlers walking around the other side of the road from us, so I slowed way down. Then, moments later, we passed by a couple clumps of deer that were hovering around the edge of the road on both sides. Many residents in this thickly settled stretch of road seemed to have these large lawn ornaments that turned out to be even more deer! I don't think I've ever before seen so many deer hanging out in the same half-mile. And then to top it all off, we nearly ran over a big fat raccoon running across the road! Fortunately, we didn't physically encounter any of these critters. I hope no one else did, either.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


It's 7:36pm on Halloween, and we've completely run out of candy, glow sticks, Halloween erasers, Homies, and other assorted odds and end toys we had hanging around the house. We even gave away an Easter Bunny Spongebob Squarepants! It's hard to say how many Trick-or-Treaters stopped by, but I think it had to be way more than 100, even with the greedier kids (and in some cases moms!) who grabbed more than one item. We had nearly 50 glow sticks and 60 Halloween erasers... and then just bunches of candy, and maybe about 30 - 40 different little toys. So we've shut off most of the lights and we are hiding out upstairs hoping no one else will come knocking.

During a lull I took the above picture of our mostly unadorned front door. As you can see, there's just my already rotting Jack-O-Lantern, and Kenji's freshly carved one. His is really cute. :)

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Layers and Layers and Layers!

Just a quick update on our painting project.

No, we haven't started painting yet.

But we did decide to do our best to remove all the old wallpaper from the walls. So Kenji and I sprayed a mixture of vinegar and water on the wallpaper and scraped and scraped all afternoon. I pretty much finished scraping the small wall where the medicine cabinet used to be, and Kenji made lots of progress on the largest wall, which is opposite the one I was working on.

We discovered that the bathroom had actually been wallpapered three times in the past instead of only twice. I took pictures of the three wallpapers:

These first two are the ones we already knew about. The pink x's and oblong dots one is the one we think is the original layer. The very pale flowery pattern is the most recent one. I had to photograph them together like this because my camera was unable to focus clearly on the flowery one because it didn't have enough contrast.

The paper below is the one that we think is the one that was used in between the other two. I only found a few strips of it left on one of the walls, so it appears that most of it was removed before applying the new paper. I was also unable to the few remaining strips.

I think the wall that this paper is on was not an original wall. For one, it's the only wall in the bathroom that is drywall instead of plaster. Also, since the house was built in 1930, the bathroom probably had a claw foot tub in it instead of an enclosed tub and shower like it has now.

It also appears that the wainscoting that is in our bathroom is not original. Underneath some old wall compound or plaster or whatever, Kenji found some old tile that extends maybe about a foot taller than the wainscoting does.

I think it would be kind of cool to see what the bathroom looked like originally. My guess is that it probably looked very similar to the bathroom that was in an apartment I used to live in when I lived in Hartford, Connecticut. That apartment building was built in the 1920's, and the bathroom was about the same size as ours is now. It had small black and white hexagonal floor tiles with long white rectangular tiles that covered the walls about two thirds of the way up, with the remainder of the walls painted. It had a claw foot tub too. I think the claw foot tub made the bathroom appear a little more roomy than ours though.

Painting the Loo

Ok, so we overcame the car troubles after our unsuccessful attempt to get painting supplies for making our bathroom look pretty. We have our paint, paint brushes, rollers and the like. We even bought a new top for our vanity, because quite frankly, the old one is butt-ugly.

Yesterday we began by removing the medicine cabinet and scraping off the flaking paint. Oh and guess what? Under the paint is wallpaper! Two layers of it - an ugly layer from probably 1930 when the house was built, and then another ugly layer from the 80's. The ugly wallpaper you can see in the photo is the original layer.

The question is, are we ambitious enough to remove all the wallpaper and do it the right way, or are we going to be cheap and lazy about it like the folks to bought, fixed up, and flipped the house before us? Nah, we're probably not that ambitious. But we'll see. Hopefully the walls won't come out too lumpy looking. :P Can't be any worse than how it was before we started... there were many areas where the old wallpaper was just coming off the walls.

We weren't too sure how we were going to get the old top off the vanity. Kenji started by pulling off the sealant around the edges. I had the billiant idea of tapping the edges from below with a hammer and a pies of wood.

Well we didn't have a piece of wood handy, so Kenji took a couple whacks at it with the hammer anyway, and then we had a busted vanity top. But that was ok, because we decided the vanity top would be too heavy to lift off in one piece anyway. Plus it would be piles of fun to just smash it to bits! And it was! It was also really really loud, so we wore noise-dampening headphones. It's amazing how well those work.

Naturally, you have to be very careful when smashing a vanity top to bits. The bits can be very sharp, and need to be handled with care. I thought about wearing my gardening gloves, but my gardening gloves were in the garage, and it was too much of a hassle to go get them. So instead, I cut my thumb, only small-kine, and put on a Larry Boy cucumber band aid. I would have preferred to use a Bob tomato band aid, but I guess I used those up already.

So now we have a sink that is all smashed to bits in a big banana box, waiting for the next bulky-trash pickup day!

Well, the bathroom repainting job is turning out to be more complex than we'd hoped, but I think whenever you do any kind of home repairs, it's wishful thinking to have such hopes. Now our hope is that we just manage to get our one full bathroom back in complete working order in less than three months. :P

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Pumpkin Time!

Last weekend Kenji and I bought pumpkins to carve into Jack-O-Lanterns. Today, while we were sitting in Panera Bread having coffe and hot chocolate, I figured out what I was going to carve. So when we got home, I made a nice stencil for myself on the computer that I used to draw my design onto my pumpkin.

Have I mentioned that one of Spammy's new favorite foods is spaghetti squash? Well, while I was gutting my pumpkin this evening, I realized he must have a thing for all gourds. As soon as I started digging out the seeds and stringy sloppy pumpkin guts, Spammy went crazy begging me some. He was munching on the strands, and then he even tried to get inside my hollowed-out pumpkin to lick the insides. It was very silly.

Musubi just looked on, like the polite little kitty she is:

And here's my finished product!

Gas For Less than $2!

Just wanted to note that today I was able to fill our gas tank for $1.99/gallon. Woo-hoo! I haven't been able to do that in years!

Paper Plate Park

Yesterday morning Kenji woke up early to go hiking with our friend Jason and bunch of other people at Paper Plate Park, otherwise known as Kitatinny Valley State Park. I call it Paper Plate Park because someone went and put up paper plates with black arrows everywhere along all the trails there. I think whoever did it must have done it yesterday morning before 10:00am, because we had all kinds of rain and wind the night before, and the plates and arrows didn't look soggy at all.

There were twelve of us altogether. We would have taken a group shot of everyone, but Jason forgot to bring his nifty little tripod, and we were too lazy to figure out a different way to set up the camera. So this is the closest thing I could get to a group shot. I was standing on top of a stone wall next to a little boat launch when I took this.

Last autumn we got gyped out of foliage. The trees stayed green all the way into November. When the leaves finally changed color, it lasted for only about a week and then they all fell off and everything was gray. This year the leaves have been changing more gradually, starting about two weeks ago. Some trees have already lost their leaves while some are at their peak of color, and some are still green. So it's nice we get to enjoy the foliage for a lot longer this year.

I liked the lilly pads and leaves in the water:

And here are some more paper plates. Some places on the trail had four or five paper plates with arrows all pointing in the same direction. Whoever put the paper plates up must have really wanted people to go that way, since apparently one paper plate wasn't enough!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Hunting Birdies

The other day it was warm enough for me to open the window. Spammy and Musubi noticed a birdie walking around up on the very edge of our roof. So they both squatted in the window, wishing they could go catch the birdie. :)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Painting Plans Foiled!

At least for now.

So the guys who owned our house before we did only bought it to fix up and resell. They didn't care that they painted the bathroom with a flat finish that is impossible to clean!

Well, after a year of living in this house, we've finally decided to repaint the walls and ceiling, replace the vanity top and medicine cabinet, and install the exhaust fan. So Kenji and I wrote down all the necessary measurements, hopped into our car on this wet and rainy evening and went on our way to our local Home Despot.

I don't think we were even a mile and a half away when all of the sudden we could hear a low rumble from our car... then the sound of scraping metal. I pulled over to the side of the road and Kenji jumped out to take a look. It appears that somehow the exhaust pipe plum disconnected itself from the exhaust manifold! So now we have the loudest car on the planet. Bah.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Cornfield Maze!

Last night Kenji and I went with a couple of friends, Jason and Emily, to go play in the Stony Hill Farm Market Cornfield Maze. It was lots of fun, in spite of Emily and me being nailed by a flying ear of corn that some unknown maze-explorer-jerk-person threw! I think it glanced off her head and then landed squarely on the knuckles of my right hand. How rude.

The cornfield maze is open on Saturday nights until 9pm, so we planned to arrive there around 7pm. Well, actually we planned to arrive around 6:30, but no one got there till 7:00 anyway. The line was long, so Kenji and Jason stood in line while Emily and I went and bought apples to bring home and hot apple cider to warm everyone up before the maze because it was rather chilly outside.

Each year the Stony Hill Farm cornfield maze has a different theme. This year's was Space Exploration. They give you a little worksheet with games on it that you can play while exploring the maze. There were questions related to space exploration that you could answer to help figure out the "secret" word. There were also stations all around the maze that had embossed symbols of the planets (well, the planets plus Pluto) on them to use for crayon rubbings. Anything involving a crayon is fun, so collecting the crayon rubbings was the only thing I cared about in completing the maze. Jason and Emily were busy collecting all the answers to the questions.

I'm not sure how large the maze was, but looking at the map made it seem larger than it really was. But it was still pretty big. In order to read the map, you had to either purchase "Maze-O-Vision" glasses (cardboard glasses with red tinted gels for lenses), or have a nifty little red keychain flashlight which I just so happened to have. :) While the map helped you to find your way around the maze, it did not really tell you where you could find all the planet crayon rubbing stations. And I think maybe because this maze has very few dead ends, it seems a lot more difficut to navigate compared to other mazes like the Dole Pineapple Plantation maze in Hawaii. The Stony Hill Farm maze also had three bridges that took you over the top of some of the paths, so you could stand up there and look around over the top of the whole maze.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Kitties, One Year Later

It's been just a little over a year since we got Spammy and Musubi. Today was the first day I've caught them snuggled up together in a long time. Maybe because it's getting cold outside again.

See how big they are now compared to last October?

Monday, October 09, 2006


Yesterday, I returned from Baltimore by way of Amtrak. Kenji picked me up from Newark Penn Station and took me to lunch. Then we went home and I had a nice long nap.

The rest of the afternoon we spent digging up our ugly weed garden in the front yard and planting tulips for the spring. I've always hated gardening; I think because my folks made me help fix my grandma's garden when I was a kid and I just wanted to play instead. Plus I really don't know what I'm doing when it comes to horticulture.

We found a lot of stuff while we were digging up weeds... like this little army guy Kenji found. Who knows how long he's been looking out for us in the trenches beside our front steps.

After Kenji dug up all the weeds, I was in charge of digging up the soil to plant the tulip bulbs. I didn't find anything nearly as cool as little soldier guy, but I did find a whole pile of rocks! Well they weren't in a pile until I piled them up in back of our garage, but now they are in a pile. I also found a lot of broken glass. Some of it looks like it came from different bottles, some green, some brown. The rest looks like it may have been from the cellar window that is right in the front of our house. The window that is there now is fine, but I wonder if it was broken before because someone entered the house that way one time, or maybe it was the dang kids who play soccer and football and every other game out in front of our house. And there there's garbage. We are always finding garbage on our front lawn.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Chubby Bunny

I've been away almost all week in Baltimore, helping out with our company's exhibit at the Natural Products Expo East. I enjoyed it, well all except for my feet, which were plenty tired from standing all day for three days in a row.

Most of the associates who are with our company do not work out of the main office where I work, and NPEE was the first opportunity I've had to meet some of them. And it was a chance to get to know some of those whom I've already met but don't see very often.

The highlight of the whole experience I have to say was learning a new (to me) game called Chubby Bunny. I was not the winner of this game, but I almost peed my pants I was laughing so hard. The president of our company won - he managed to stuff 12 marshmallows in his mouth - and he said this wasn't even close to his former record! I only made it to five, sort of. Well I definitely made it to four, and trying to stuff the fifth one in made me have to spit them all out. I have some video I'd love to show you of one of our other associates who tried to fit ten marshmallows into his mouth... but I'm told that what goes on at NPEE stays at NPEE, so I guess you'll have to settle for the tiny little still shots I've got here of all our contestants.

My other favorite thing about NPEE was that I found the most comfortable pair of shoes ever! They are Earth Shoes, and they look like this. Some of the chicks from our booth were talking about Earth Shoes on Saturday during the show, so during my break, I went to check out the Earth Shoes booth. I tried on a pair of the Ziggys and decided I wasn't going to take them off. So I purchased the shoes and that was that. Too bad I didn't know about Earth Shoes on Thursday when the show started!!!


A couple weeks ago, Kenji and I took a little drive out to Frenchtown, which is right next to Pennsylvania. It's a cute little town, with several funky artsy-fartsy shops and lots of little cafes and restaurants. There's also a bright blue mule that hangs out right in town - and has now become my new Blogger profile image, now that I've lost my shark picture. Frenchtown has the most interesting antique shop I've ever been in - it must be owned by a doctor or scientist, because they sell a lot of science-related antiques.

The weather wasn't the best, plus we already had other plans to go buy food at Wegman's, otherwise we might have gone on a nice bike ride along the Delaware and Raritan Canal. But we did have lunch at the Race Street Cafe, and it was very yummy. I had gazpacho and Kenji had a pastrami sandwich. I think this was the best pastrami sandwich I've had a bite of (after all, I did let Kenji have most of his sandwich!) since we've been in NJ. I still like the pastrami sandwich at Sure Shot Cafe in Makiki better. Mmmm.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Updates Updates Updates

Ok so I finally got all my vacation updates done. It's about time!

Seattle Visit - A Vacation from My Vacation?

On Thursday I bid another fond farewell to Hawaii. But it wasn't so bad because I missed Kenji and was excited to see him in Seattle. Although I left Hawaii at around noon, I didn't arrive in Seattle till after 10pm. This leg of my trip I flew on Northwest Airlines, and unlike Continental, they make you pay extra for your food. I did buy a little bit of food, but that was not enough, and I wasn't about to shell out another $5 for a crummy box lunch. So it was really nice that Kenji and his folks took me to late supper at Red Robin after fetching me from the airport. :)

Kenji and I timed our vacation to coincide with his cousin's wedding, which was on September 9th. We both arrived in Seattle on the 7th, so that meant we had at least one day to kick around at our leisure. We did a little shopping, went to see Grandma, that sort of thing. In the evening, we had a date with Kenji's high school friend, Derick and his wife, Meredith and their new baby girl. Because they had the little one, we decided to go to Red Robin again, where it wouldn't matter as much if baby cried. But she didn't cry at all - not even when I held her. That's very unusual - babies always cry when I hold them. :P I offered baby to Kenji to hold, but he just got used to holding kitty cats - babies are a whole new ballgame for him. =)

Saturday morning we arranged to meet up with our friend Tanya for brunch. Tanya used to live in Hawaii. I first met her swing dancing, at an event I went to during my first visit to Hawaii in 1999 - I don't think she remembers me from that though. Anyway she was one of our bridesmaids in our wedding. About a year and a half or so ago, she moved from Hawaii to the mainland to take care of her ailing mother. Now she lives in Seattle. We had super awesome yummy breakfast at Macrina in Belltown. I highly recommend it. :)

While we were in town, after saying seeya to Tanya, Kenji and I visited Safeco Field to go pick up tickets for the Sunday game between the Mariners and the Texas Rangers. The last time we were in Seattle, longtime Mariners slugger, Edgar Martinez, retired from the game, and we got to see it. As part of his retirement, Seattle renamed one of the streets outside the ballpark to Edgar Martinez Drive. That was in 2004. They didn't have the sign up yet, so this time we had to make sure we got a picture of it.

The wedding was in downtown Seattle, in a club on the 17th floor of a building on 4th Street or something like that. Well I'm really not sure. Anyway, from the club there was a nice view of Qwest Stadium, where the Seahawks are kicking the butts of the New Jersey Giants as I type this. (Note I say New Jersey Giants, NOT New York. Their stadium is in New Jersey, so I don't know where they get off calling themselves New York.) We could also see a little bit into Safeco Field.

The wedding itself was pretty short and sweet. I enjoyed hearing how Kelly and Mark met, and the food was good. Here they are cutting their cake, which they didn't do a very good job of shoving into each other's faces like Kenji and I did. Kenji smashed it into my face so well that I had frosting hanging off my eyelash!!!

I couldn't get anyone to dance with me, except Kenji danced with me for the very last song. :) Oh and he also danced with me for the one where the emcee calls how how many years people have been married for, until he finds out which couple has been married the longest. Turns out the couple that won was all a sham. The REAL couple was Kenji's folks, but they conveniently skipped out on the dancing. :P

And see I learn new things about my new family all the time now. For example, who knew Grandma is a pyro? Her sparkler was the only one left sparkling after everyone participated in the sparkly send-off of the newly married couple. Who knew I could use three different forms of the word sparkle in the same sentence? Anyway, don't you think it looks like Grandma's trying to light the building on fire? ;)

Sunday was our last full day in Seattle. And full it was. We took Kenji's younger cousins to the game with us, and Tanya joined us as well. It was a beautiful sunny day, but alas the Mariners did not win. So now I am two and two for this year - I saw them win twice (in Baltimore and Bahstun), and lose twice (in New York and now Seattle). Kenji had the displeasure of seeing them lose twice in New York. :( But at least we got to take this cool picture of him at Safeco Field! Also, this was Tanya's first Major League Baseball game. :)

After the game, we all went back to Kenji's folks' house for a little get together with family and friends. The food, of course, was awesome. And it turned out that another friend of mine who lives in the area was able to come join us too. I call him Celery, but that's not his real name. He's one of my friends I met via a particular internet chat room we both used to go to several years ago, before I even moved to Hawaii. His online name is Celebok, and since that sort of looks like Celery, I decided to call him Celery instead. We had met in person three times prior to this time - the last time in December 2000. So after nearly six years, it was nice to see him again.

So back when we were planning this trip, it seemed to us that three or four days was plenty of time to do everything we wanted in Seattle. But time just went by too fast. Hopefully we'll get to make it out there again in the near future, maybe around the holidays, which I can actually do this year!

Hawaii Visit - Wednesday - Bob's Moonwalk

A week goes by too quickly when you are having fun. It was fortunate for me that my last night in Hawaii was only one day before the full moon - which means Bob's Moonwalk! Normally he tries to arrange his monthly moonwalks on the actual night of the full moon, but he made a special exception for me, knowing that I would not be able to make it on the 7th.

For this moonwalk, we were joined by a columnist for the Star Bulletin, John Heckathorn. He used to work with Bob when Bob was with Honolulu Magazine. So for that particular week's column, John decided to write about Bob and his monthly moonlight stroll - you can read the column here.

Sometimes the weather is really iffy on the night of Bob's moonwalk. This night was no exception. I was driving from downtown to Triangle Park where we were all to meet up, and by Ala Moana it started to pour. But I trusted that the weather would be different over on the other side of Diamond Head, and it was... sort of. At least it wasn't raining... for the most part. And by the time we got to our turn-around point, we accomplished one of our goals for the evening, which was to watch the sun set.

Bob's moonwalks always end up at some kind of eating establishment - usually people drive to it after the walk is finished, but this time getting to the food was part of the adventure, at least it was for some of us. After watching the sun set, we headed to Kaimuki by way of Puu o Kaimuki, where we had a nice view of Honolulu (you can see the ghost of Punchbowl in my blurry photo). We also did manage to have a a couple of very brief moon sightings. The photos are less than impressive, so never mind posting them. You'll just have to take my word for it. :P

Our final destination was Big City Diner, one of the first places I remember going to eat after hiking in Hawaii when I first moved there. :) Just some more pix of me and my crazy friends...

Hawaii Visit - Tuesday - Pau Hana Time!

Tuesday, September 6th was probably the most frustrating day for lots of people on the island of O'ahu... at least it was for anyone who needed to get from town to the west side. An Army vehicle was being transported without a permit on the H-1 from Pearl Harbor to Schofield Barracks when it smashed into a pedestrian overpass right by Aiea High School. The DoT engineers declared the overpass structurally unsound, and so the State decided to close the freeway until they could remove the rest of the overpass. That of course meant gridlock, and people spent as much as eight hours sitting in traffic trying to get home! I can't imagine that... I would have to pee my pants so bad!!!

Fortunately for me, I was not a part of all that mess. At all. I was already in town, had lunch with my friend Mary Ann at Mariposa, and then went for Blondies with Bob at Waioli Tea Room in Manoa. After that was one of my favorite things - Pau Hana!

Again for you mainland people, pau hana bascially means finished work... well which in turn means go out for drinks and pupus (appetizers) at a local watering hole. This Pau Hana was actually a get together of folks who are part of, a social and business networking site for people who live in or have lived in Hawaii and now live elsewhere. I used to be the Honolulu "instigator", but last year I passed the torch to Alicia when Kenji and I moved to the mainland.

This time the watering hole was Palomino's, in Harbor Court, overlooking Nimitz Highway. The bar was packed, not only with Pau Hana attendees, but probably mostly with people who were trying to avoid all the traffic for as long as possible. After all, in Palomino's we had a great view of Nimitz, which is one of the main arteries that gets you west of the airport, and in this case it was a barometer for how traffic was moving.

So here are some photos - you can actually tell this one is from the end of the evening, because Miles is wearing everyone else's name tag.

I think this next photo is of course a no-brainer. Miles has to know a shot like this cannot be passed up for inclusion somewhere on the 'net...

Sometime during the year that I was away from Hawaii, the Dave's Hui on GPH got some competition from a formidable up-and-coming Gary's Hui. The two on the right are Gary and Garry, and there's Rob, I think a Gary wannabe...

Earlier in the day, I think I had stopped by an art gallery store in Ward Center, where I picked up some free postcards that were advertisements for some of the contributing artists. Since I had a book of stamps with me, I decided to write a little postcard to the folks at my workplace, telling them I was not coming back. :P Then I had all my "witnesses" sign it for me. :)

Me with Susan, one of the founders of Global Pau Hana - she lives on the mainland too, and like me, was back in town for a visit.

And me with Alicia - who instigated this Pau Hana event, her last one, too. She's not leaving Hawaii (as far as I know) - just time to let someone else step up to the plate. :)

Finally, at around 10pm, the last of us at Palomino's decided it was time to brave the traffic westward. I was on my way down King Street when Daniel called and he could hang out for a while. So just before I would have been stuck in traffic, I turned around and went to Waikiki. At just about midnight I decided it was probably ok to head home - and fortunately for me, I chose the right way. H-1 between town and Salt Lake was completely clear. Rebecca started her journey home about an hour before me, but she took Nimitz... and only arrived home about five minutes before I did!