Saturday, January 28, 2017

A Pearl of a Different Sort

We Dreamers visited Pearl Harbor while we were on Oahu. I didn't expect to be moved to the extent that I was. The entire day was haunting. The sound of airplanes and the rat-a-tat-tat strafing of gunfire surrounds visitors as they enter the visitor center, taking them on a swift trip back in time to that horrific day, December 7, 1941. I meandered through the center, catching snippets of videos, reading displays and trying to take in a bunch of information before viewing an excellent video setting the stage for our visit to the USS Arizona memorial. The Arizona took a hit to its magazine causing a massive explosion and rapidly sinking the battleship, killing over 1100 men. The ship was not salvageable so it remains as a memorial on the floor of the harbor. Visitors take a short boat ride out to the structure that was constructed over the sunken battleship. Parts of the ship can be seen from the memorial. A somber visit as one looks at the visible portions of the ship lurking just under the water, while standing in the shadow of a massive wall listing the names of those whose remains are interred in the ship. Oil from the ship rises to the surface of the water after all these years, making me think of tears. The droplets rise to the surface of the water and spread slowly in the ripples of the harbor, moving off to make way for another droplet. Drop after drop. Day after day. Year after year.

Oil slowly spreads across the water above the USS Arizona
I am glad that our tour included the USS Bowfin submarine and the related museum as well as the air museum where the airfield and buildings still bear witness to the attack.  A tour of the USS Missouri,  the site of the treaty signing that ended the war, ended our time travels.

Thursday, January 19, 2017


All over the Hawaiian islands we saw jewelry stores advertising pearl oysters. For only $15.95 you could select an oyster. It would be opened, and you would get the pearl. The oysters most likely come from China, and the origin of the pearl is debatable. It could be that the pearls are fresh water pearls that are inserted into the oyster, which closes as a result of a chemical, and is then preserved, or possibly they truly are cultured pearls from that oyster.

The ship had a pearl in the oyster deal as well. They had a nifty chart showing how cultured pearls are created. A round bead made from a mollusk shell is inserted into an oyster, along with a piece of mantle from another mollusk that stimulates the oyster to produce mother of pearl. This coats the bead and it grows in size with layer after layer of "pearl".

Mr. Dreamy found a Koa wood ring on the ship that he wanted to buy. Koa wood is an Hawaiian wood. The ship had a special deal. Oh... such a deal! If you bought a piece of jewelry above a certain price, then you could pick an oyster and get a pearl. Mr. Dreamy let me pick the oyster. We had to perform some mumbo-jumbo as part of the ritual of "birthing a pearl". Then, the oyster shell was opened.

The oyster was poked and prodded to give up its pearl. 

The pearl is rubbed in salt to clean it, and dried off.

My pearl was blue. I want to think it is special, but in reality, it probably was cultured by a fresh water oyster, influenced by some sort of chemical. But, that's OK. I like my blue pearl. 

So, what is one to do with a pearl? 
Well, buy a setting for it, naturally!
I chose a sea turtle pendant that encases the pearl.

And, since I bought a piece of jewelry over a certain price,
guess what?
I get to pick another oyster!!

This time I "birthed" twins.
I have always wanted pearl earrings....
(The pearls are stabilized after being drilled and glued on a post on the earrings.
The tape was removed the next day.)
And, since I bought a piece of jewelry over a certain price....
guess what?
I get to pick another oyster!!

This could go on all night! 
I did pick an oyster and birthed a pink pearl.
It is sitting in a little plastic bag.
Enough is enough, said Dreaming!

Monday, January 16, 2017

La La Lava

Our cruise took us to the "Big Island" (Hawaii) where we planned to take a helicopter ride to see the lava flowing from Kilauea. It was raining and our flight was cancelled. Flights later in the day were "iffy". So, we did the next best thing; we rented a car and drove up to Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. We stopped and had lunch on the rim of the volcano. This was the view from our table. The size of the caldera, the crater area that looks like a barren plain, is 2-3 miles in diameter. Inside the caldera is an active area called the lava lake.

This picture (borrowed from the Park Service site)
shows the lava lake from the Jaggar Museum.
To give you an idea of the size, the lava is spewing up 10 - 12 meters.

At some point in the future, the lava lake may look like this rippled lava found at the Craters of the Moon National Preserve in Idaho. We Dreamers stopped there on a trip in 2013, and unbelievably I never put up a post about the visit. 

The name of the park is apt. The scenery does look like something out of this world. It is estimated that lava last flowed here 2000 years ago. Whoa... it obviously takes a long time for vegetation to get going again. 

Both sites had a lot of information about lava. Lava isn't all the same. The form it takes is determined by what the magma, the molten lava, is doing and how it is cooled. Here are just a few examples:

Molten lava that cools when it is ejected.
It looks like bubbles.

Pele's Hair 
Pele is the fire goddess. She is the creator of fire, lightning, wind and volcanoes.
Fine strands of glass that are created when lava is thrown into the air

Pele's Tears
Small droplets of lava

Frothy pieces of lava rock

As lava flows the top begins to cool and ripples solidify.

A lava tube forms as the exterior solidifies and the interior continues to flow.

One the tube is formed, lava from later eruptions may find its way through the tube. The line on the wall of the tube shows the height of a later flow.

Kilauea's lava erupted from a vent in May, 2016 and slowly made its way to the ocean, 16 miles away. The lava began to enter the ocean in late July. Lava tubes have formed in some areas and molten lava can be seen through "skylights", as seen here. 
Photo courtesy of "The Atlantic Photo" site
This is a shot I took with my cell phone as the cruise ship went by Kamokuna, showing the lava and the cloud of water vapor mixed with sulfur dioxide and hydrochloric acid. 

This photo from the "The Atlantic Photo" site shows the lava coming over the cliff to the ocean as seen from a tour boat.

The lava has covered sections of the road that used to run along this side of the island. Visitors may hike to Kamokuna to see the lava fields, however we Dreamers didn't have the time. To be honest, we likely would not have had the energy to make the trek. The hike is almost 8 miles over rough lava each way. But, oh, to see it up close. It certainly would be truly awesome!
Another photo courtesy of "The Atlantic Photo" site
For more pictures and information about the volcano visit:

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Olé, Olé

While we were on our cruise around Hawaii we Dreamers attended a class on ribbon lei making. I was enamored with the ribbon lei* that many of the crew members wore, and enjoyed learning how to make the simplest version.

Lei were introduced to Hawaiians by early Polynesians, who adorned themselves with necklaces of flowers, seeds, shells or bones. The lei soon came to signify peace among opposing chiefs.With the advent of tourism, lei became a symbol of welcome. I received a flower lei as I boarded the ship. Each night the cabin steward would adorn the towel creation with my wilting lei.

The instructor of our class explained that lei are given to friends and are proffered for special occasions. She told a story about engaging fellow airplane passengers in making ribbon lei on a trip to the east coast to attend her daughter's graduation. Passengers round her helped and by the time she landed she had ribbon lei in school colors for all of the graduates.

This is the first lei that I made.

After learning how to make lei I decided I wanted to make more. When we docked in Hilo the next day we made a quick stop at a craft shop. I was amazed by the ribbon aisle. I'm used to seeing a variety of ribbons, usually on spools that are 3 to 4 inches in diameter. The craft stores at home have a long aisle of ribbons in great variety of widths, colors, fabrics and styles. This craft store had that aisle, then it had another with nothing but large spools of 3/8" grosgrain ribbon in many colors, all on 7" spools, each spool holding 100 yards of ribbon! I guess that says something about how popular ribbon lei are in Hawaii!

For the next few days, until we met the rest of the family, I experimented with making lei in different color combinations and with slight variations to how I folded the ribbon. I incorporated silver ribbon and a gauzy ribbon. By the time we caught up with the family, I had more than enough for everyone.

The ship also had classes in making lei using Kukui nuts. I didn't have the opportunity to take the class, but I purchased several different styles of nuts and shells. We Dreamers made a few lei with the nuts. Here the little one reluctantly wears a Kukui nut lei with her grass skirt.

Items made from Kukui nuts have spiritual significance. Kukia nuts are said to "enlighten" the wearer. The nuts from Hawaii's State tree, also called the candlenut tree, have dense oil that was once used for lamps. The original oil lights consisted of the Kukui nut meats themselves. A number of nut meats were pushed down on small wood spindle forming a candle. The top most nut would be lit afire. As the nut was slowly consumed by fire, the next nut would catch fire.

Samples of lei displayed on the ship

It is said that if you toss your lei in the water, you are guaranteed to return to the islands. This is the other grandmother's lei.

I didn't toss mine. When my lei had met its end I didn't think about the legend. Perhaps if one's lei is buried in a landfill in Hawaii, the same can be said?!

* There is no plural form of words in Hawaii. Therefore, "lei" could be singular or plural.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


Today I experienced a first. I had to call my knight in shining armor to rescue me while I was out walking the dogs. I wandered into an awkward situation. I was caught in a hostile position and held hostage…..
by a puppy and his yardmate!
We almost made it past the yard. The older, wiser dog ran at us, barking furiously and then retreated. But the fun-loving pup gamboled after us, tackling Tucker. Naturally my goofy Aussie wouldn’t ignore him. I had no choice but to turn around and return to the yard. The older dog was on guard and fiercely protected his domain while the pup pounced and played. Just picture me with two biggish dogs (70 lbs and 45 lbs) on leashes and a pup running figure 8’s around them, around me, between our legs and having the time of his life (his yardmate being a grumpy Gus kinda dog). I called out. No response. I tried approaching the house and Grumpy barred his teeth and snarled. I stood in the yard, well more realistically, I danced in the yard valiantly keeping leashes from entangling my feet whilst not trampling the puppy. Had the owner been home he probably would have been laughing heartily, with no inclination to come out and rescue me, bringing the curtain down on his entertainment!

Gypsy,  not exactly enamored with puppy?

I was able to get close enough to the house to loop the dogs’ leashes on the hitch of a truck parked in the yard. Grumpy, with some sweet talk from me and knowing my beasts were held at bay allowed me to knock on the door. No one home. What’s a gal to do? I couldn’t continue on my way and risk having the pup get hit by a car. I tried sternly telling the pup to go home, to stay. He wasn’t having it. He’d lie down in his bed in the open garage, then when I grabbed the leashes and turned to go, he’d come charging out. It was a fine game! I thought of putting the puppy in the bed of the truck but worried he might try to jump out and get hurt in the fall. So, I had no option but to call Mr. Dreamy to rescue me. I needed him to bring the car wherein we could deposit our dogs and whisk away faster than the puppy could run.

I told Mr. Dreamy about my predicament. I explained where I was located. I had wandered away from the Tiffin Service Center and was walking in a neighborhood across the road from the hospital. He said it would be no problem. He knew about where I was located. At most I was a quarter of a mile away. Great. So I stood my ground. Well, I continued my dance. Only now, Gypsy was getting tired of the pup’s antics and she was snarling at him. So I had to try to play puppy keep away to preserve her dignity, with a puppy who simply wanted to play.
Time kept ticking by. No Mr. Dreamy. OK, I get it. He had to walk from wherever he was to get to the car. He had to work his way out of the service center. The minutes seemed to go on forever, as they do when you really want something, like kids waiting for Christmas! Finally I parked my dogs again and escorted the puppy to his bed. Once again I told him to stay, very sternly. I dared to take a circumspect peek as I yanked the leashes off of the truck’s hitch. He was still in his bed. I walked out of the yard, catching movement from the corner of my eye. I ducked beyond some bushes, fretting that the puppy would run out into the road. As I turned the corner I saw that he had stopped at the street. I guess he had tired of the game. He let us escape.
As my knight had still not come charging over the horizon, I gave him a call to let him know I had made my way out the clutches of my captor and could make it back to the campground on my own. Oh, and by the way, I asked, Where. Are. You? It turns out that my knight thought he knew where the hospital was. Maybe the town has two hospitals?! He was a bit chagrined when he realized where I had actually been held captive, and he gave me a tiny wave as he drove by!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Deja View

An alternative title for this post could be "Oops, We Did it Again!"

A few weeks ago Mr. Dreamy took the motorhome to our local service center. On the way he "caught" a stone thrown from the vehicle in front of him. The stone hit the very edge of the windshield and left a nasty stone bruise. Shortly after, it began to "walk" and we ended up with a crack beginning to run across the windshield. Could we have driven it longer before replacing it? Certainly. Would it crack all the way across at the worst possible place or time? Possibly. So, while we were in Red Bay, AL where these beasts are built, we decided to get the windshield replaced. It was simply a matter of convenience.

When you consider that the windshield is over 5 feet tall and 102" wide, changing it out is quite a process. Add to that the fact that the glass is glued in and requires a two-step process with drying time in between. So, here we sit, waiting for the first layer of goo to dry. 

I didn't watch the process this time. I have "been there and done that". I have the t shirt! Two years ago, with a different motorhome, we had almost the same thing happen. I chronicled the replacement process here:

Not much has changed, except,the view!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year - Happy Trails

I've been trying to upload some posts.  Nope, you didn't miss them. They aren't there. I have been experiencing "issues" with Blogger using my iPad. The Blogger app keeps crashing. If I try to access the edit page on the blog from the Internet, as I do with my computer, I can only see part of the page. And then, pictures. Ay yi yi - that's a whole 'nuther layer of frustration! So even though I have some posts from our Hawaii trip and life since Hawaii, they will be put on hold for a while. 

So, today is the first day of a shiny new year. We have a clean page in a new book. We can all write our own stories! 

First, in order to begin the story of this year, I need to back up a bit.

We are on the road, in Florida right now, heading to Red Bay, AL.    One might think we were a yoyo! We stopped in Red Bay on our way to Florida for the holidays. It was the most amazing Red Bay experience as most everybody waiting for service at the Tiffin Service Center had given up and gone on their way to wherever they were going. We came in on the afternoon of the 21st, and were in a service bay at 7 AM the next morning. Seeing as how so few people were there for service (16 motorhomes were there in the evening, 8 there by noon the next day) we had at least 4 tech teams at our beck and call, and a few specialists who helped out when needed. Our list of about a dozen small things was addressed promptly, and we were on our way by 1:30 PM on the 22nd. Unfortunately, one item could not be addressed because of time, and another item came up during our visit that would take more time than they had. So we went on down to Florida to surprise the folks, and now we are heading back up to Alabama (hence the yoyo comment). 

Mr. Dreamy is behind the wheel 99.999999% of the time. I spend my time navigating, calculating mileage, miles per gallon and other things involving numbers. I jot down notes about campgrounds and fuel stops. I stare at the scenery. I wait on Mr. Dreamy, bringing drinks and food. I do puzzles and try to write blog posts. I plug destinations into the GPS. I change radio stations as we move out the f range. Occasionally I knit or do some hand sewing. On our trip to Florida, Kansas was a binding of a quilt. Oklahoma was a hanger pocket on a wall hanging. Arkansas was buttons on snowman pillows and arms and faces were embroidered in Mississippi. The quilt got some hand quilting in Alabama and Florida. 

When I was a working woman one of the most challenging (and hated) tasks I faced was writing long range plans. I guess I am more of a spur-of-the moment, que sera, sera type of gal. So as I look at this blank book for 2017, I am finding it difficult to consider what this year might look like and how I might help shape it. 

Balance will be key. I feel anchored and stretched between my dad and Mr. Dreamy's mother. Picture a gecko with one little sticky foot in Colorado with my dad and another little sticky foot stuck in Florida. Dad is 95. He is bed bound. His needs are taken care of by competent and caring people. His wife is emotionally needy, and she grabs my little gecko leg and is holding on tightly to try to keep me in the area so I can help her. My MIL is 94. She is frail and her memory is like a radio station on the edge. At some moments it connects and comes in quite clearly. Most of the time it is garbled, picking up bits from other broadcasts on the air. She and her second husband are receiving care in an assisted living facility. My husband's sister bears the brunt of helping Mother understand her life. Yes, you are married to that man. No, you are not in a hospital. This is your home. Her life is interrupted by phone calls from Mother seeking clarification. She makes numerous trips to the facility and takes Mother and her husband on occasional jaunts to a restaurant or shopping. When I am around my SIL I sometimes feel that she is drowning. I see the panic in her eyes and she is desperately grabbing onto my little gecko foot. 

My other sticky feet juggle the needs and concerns of my husband, my boys (young men) and myself. It is sometimes difficult to shake those loose. I can't be everything to everybody all of the time and I will need to work toward achieving and maintaining holonomy.  

As I think of this coming year Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken" comes to mind. We are approaching the point where two (Three? Four? More?) roads diverge. Mr. Dreamy can't live in Colorado. He is finding it more and more difficult to breathe due to the progression of COPD and some days a short burst of mild activity requires a rest with oxygen. So we will be doing some exploration. Luckily we have the motorhomes so we can live in other areas of the country for a period of time and "try them on for size". And this will help us fine tune or wish list. My poor little metaphorical gecko will be doing some more stretching. Add to that the challenges of cleaning out a house and barn and doing all of those things that need doing when getting a house ready to go on the market.  This could be an interesting year!

What is Four?

Have you ever thought of the meaning of "four"?  Four is the number of: seasons in a year. corners and sides to a square. virtues....