Friday, June 18, 2010

"This is the Hawaii People Should See When They Come Here" part II

Welcome back!  If you missed part one of "This is the Hawaii People Should See When They Come Here" you're just going to have to scroll down to my previous post because I am writing all of these ahead of time, and as of the writing of this post, that post hasn't published yet, and I don't know how to set up a link to a post that hasn't published yet.  Sorry. As promised, though, here are some more sights from Waimea Valley.

On the way back down the trail from the waterfall, we passed a whole wall o' vines, covered in these cool flowers.

The perspective in this picture is misleading-my dad's hand is actually in the background, not being dwarfed by this jade vine!    

I can't even explain what an unusual color this is.  It's represented pretty accurately here, but to see it up against all the other greens surrounding it is surreal.  Before we discovered the vine in the tree, I had seen some petals on the ground, and I thought they were from somebody's lei, somebody's totally unrealistic, artificially-colored lei.

This still doesn't give you a really good idea of the colors, but I like the way it kind of looks like an upside-down peacock.  

See what I mean?  

Okay, the amount of time I just spent trying to decide which upside-down peacock looks the most like a jade vine and a palm frond indicates that it is time for me to go to bed.

Even if you love the sandy beaches and high-end shopping in Waikiki, I hope this has convinced you to carve out some time to visit Waimea Valley on your next visit to Oahu.  I can't guarantee you'll find a matching peacock-and-jade-vine set, but it's worth a shot!

Remember, I'm still traveling, but that doesn't mean I won't be super excited to read your comments when I get back!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"This is the Hawaii People Should See When They Come Here"

That's what my dad said after our visit to Waimea Valley on the north shore of Oahu, and he's right.  A lot of people who come to Hawaii never leave the hustle and bustle of Waikiki.  If they do, all they see is Pearl Harbor or an extremely commercialized luau.  Don't get me wrong, Waikiki can be fun, Pearl Harbor is certainly worthy of your time, and luaus can experience; but exploring the 1,875 acres of lush vegetation at Waimea Valley is a great way to spend a day in Hawaii.

Today is normally Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, but I am currently away from my garden (and my blog), so I'm going to cheat and put up pictures from our Waimea Valley visit instead.  I don't think we saw anywhere near the 5,000 documented species of tropical plants that the 150-acre Arboretum and Botanical Garden boasts, but we did see quite a lot!

One of the first things you notice as you start up the path is the great trees!  And look-a shrimp plant!

There's me next to one of the great trees.  See me?  I'm teeny tiny.

This is a Brownea macrophylla, featured in the Central and South American Flora section.

This is what it looks like after it blooms...and gets rained on.

This is a Heliconia rostrata, featured in the section by the Snack Bar and Restrooms.

Dad was silly enough to leave me in charge of his camera while he went to the bathroom.

Me and my sister, being great photo subjects, in front of some more heliconias

This is the end of the trail.  Time to turn around.  Anybody recognize this waterfall?  I know it's not quite as scenic without Kate and Sawyer in it, but I did the best I could.  Come back in a few days to see what we found on the way back down the trail!

(I am still away from my computer, so I probably won't be able to respond to comments right away, but I promise to be very excited when I do finally get around to reading them!)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

What I'm Reading Now-Foundling (Monster Blood Tattoo, Book One)

I will be away from civilization for a while, so I have scheduled a few posts to go up while I'm gone. Please feel free to leave comments, but just know that I probably won't be able to read or respond for a while. So, please don't feel like your comments are being ignored-I will be super excited to read them when I finally get to them!

Foundling (Monster Blood Tattoo, Book 1)
Foundling (Monster Blood Tattoo, Book One) by D.M. Cornish-The Dark reviewed this book and its sequel, Lamplighter, back in January, and I was intrigued. This isn't quite up my alley as far as normal reading material, but it sounded original and entertaining. I don't think I was quite as enamored with it as The Dark, but I did like it enough that I will probably pick up the next volume. To be fair, The Dark is a monster, and it's probably exciting to be a monster and find books with other monsters in them-there don't seem to be that many of them out there these days. It's always nice when you can relate to something in a book.

As you may have guessed, the story takes place in a land that is inhabited by people as well as monsters. Monsters are generally not well regarded, and even though not all monsters are bad, anybody who is a monster sympathizer had better keep those feelings to himself. Rossamünd is a foundling, an orphan, who has grown up hearing exciting tales about people who have done battle with monsters and lived to tell about it. Of course, every child thinks how exciting it would be to live such a life while most adults know that the best thing to do is to keep your head down and hope you never come face to face with such a creature.

After seeing many of his childhood companions grow up and leave the orphanage for work with outside employers, Rossamünd is finally hired as a lamplighter. This seems like a terribly boring job, and he's a bit disappointed, but he takes it in stride and his guardians at the orphanage make sure that he is sent out into the world with the best preparations they can give him, including potions for dealing with monsters. Rossamünd leaves the orphanage to report for duty, but things don't go quite as planned and he is off on an adventure, finding himself in unexpected situations with unexpected companions. Oh, and there are monsters along the way!

One thing that I liked about this book was the fact that Rossamünd was an honest child. It seems like so many characters, especially children, get caught up in telling lies. Usually it's not due to any ill intent-they get scared or confused and try to figure out the right thing to say-but it always complicates things, and, for me, it's frustrating to watch. It's not that Rossamünd's perfect-he does consider not telling the truth on several occasions, but usually he can't think of anything else to say, so he just says what's true. And it's fine! Things work out for him. The truth doesn't cause everyone to hate him and the world doesn't end and life goes on. He is also compassionate, intelligent and someone who can get things done.  I think if you're a parent and looking for a young literary hero for your child, you could do a lot worse than Rossamünd.

Like any good story imaginative enough to include monsters and magical potions, this book has a language of its own, not enough to make reading difficult, but a few words that exist only in the world of monster blood tattoos. Each chapter begins with a definition, and there is a 100-plus-page Explicarium ("Being a Glossary of Terms & Explanations Including Appendices") at the back of the book. Some of my favorite definitions:

sthenicon (noun) a simple wooden box with leather straps and buckles that fasten it to the wearer's head, covering the mouth, nose and eyes. Inside it are various small organs--folded up nasal membranes and complicated bundles of optic nerves--that let the wearer smell tiny, hidden or far-off smells, and see into shadows, in the dark or a great distance away. Used mostly by leers; if a sthenicon is worn for too long, the organs within can grow up into the wearer's nose. If this happens, removing it can be difficult and very painful.

Cool, right? I mean, kind of gross, but cool. And what, you might be wondering, is a leer?

Leers are a creepy lot trained in seeing small and otherwise missed detail, remembering faces, following scents and trails, spying, shadowing and all such prying arts and the use of the sthenicon and olfactologue. They soak their eyes over a period of months in special potives collectively called washes or opthasaums, which irreparably change the colors of the eyes and permanently alter the abilities of their sight.

threwd (noun) threwd is the sensation of watchfulness and awareness of the land or waters about you. Though no one is certain, the most popular theory is that the land itself is strangely sentient, intelligent and aware, and resents the intrusions and misuses of humankind. Paltry threwd, the mildest kind, can make a person feel uneasy, as if under unfriendly observation. The worst kind of threwd--pernicious threwd--can drive a person completely mad with unfounded terrors and dark paranoias.

I have to say, I think I'm actually more enthusiastic about this book now, after having written about it, than I was when I started this review.  What do you think? Is this something you would normally read? If not, is it something you would consider?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

What I'm Reading Now-Fables Vol. 2: Animal Farm

I will be away from civilization for a while, so I have scheduled a few posts to go up while I'm gone. Please feel free to leave comments, but just know that I probably won't be able to read or respond for a while.  So, please don't feel like your comments are being ignored-I will be super excited to read them when I finally get to them!

Fables Vol. 2: Animal FarmFables Vol. 2:  Animal Farm by Bill Willingham-While the human Fableland exiles can blend in with the regular city folk, the non-humans have been made to keep to themselves on a farm, and there is some dissension among the ranks.  When Snow White and Rose Red arrive for a regular visit, they find things amiss.  Treachery and trouble ensue!

I read this back in April for the Read-a-Thon.  I don't have a whole lot to say here-it was entertaining, but I don't think I liked it as much as Vol. 1.  I will probably still pick up the next volume though-they are easy to read and provide some light entertainment.

Other reviews:

Chris at Stuff as Dreams are Made On

That's the only other review I could find on short notice, so I'll ask if anyone else out there has read the Fables series.  I know there are more of you out there!  What did you think of Vol. 1 vs. Vol. 2, and how do they stack up to the rest of the series?