Wow. I had tears in my eyes at the end of the year-ending concert by Hawaii Symphony which featured Beethoven’s 9th symphony – Ode to Joy. And not just at the end. All four movements were masterfully played.

One could not have wished for a more perfect climax to an exciting year. I had to sleep on it in order to climb down emotionally enough from last night so as to be able to write about it.

It was the first time that I have had a chance to see a female conductor in action. And boy, was she ever terrific. She conducted not just with her arms, she put her whole body and soul into it.

No wonder JoAnn Falletta has a list of credits as long as my arm. But I did not know that beforehand (see http://www.joannfalletta.com/ for her bio).

At the end of last night’s performance, the audience was positively ecstatic. You’d think you were at a sporting event judging by the cheering and applause.

I’ll probably write more after I get back home to Maui this evening. Meanwhile, happy New Year to those of you in Australia, Asia and the eastern time zone!


Ludwig van Beethoven was almost completely deaf when he composed his ninth symphony. The Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 (also known as “the Choral” and “Ode to Joy”), is Beethoven’s final complete symphony. Completed in 1824, the symphony is one of the best-known works in classical music.

Beethoven’s deafness created one of the most touching stories in music. When the symphony was completed, he remained facing the orchestra and could not hear the thunderous applause of the audience for his new symphony. Caroline Unger, thimg_1575e mezzo-soprano soloist, had to tap the deaf composer’s arm and have him turn around so that he could see how the crowd’s response. Many of those in attendance, including Miss Unger, had tears in their eyes when they realized the extent of Beethoven’s deafness.

It was first performed on May 7, 1824 at the Kaerntnertor Theater in Vienna.The theater no longer exists. Today, on the site of the old theater is the Hotel Sacher, right behind the Vienna State Opera House. Without knowing this historical tidbit until just now, it is interesting Elizabeth and I were drawn to Hotel Sacher and went there for meals and deserts every day during our May 2014 visit to Vienna. Like the famous Sachertorte (cake see – https://goo.gl/kFIUYm).

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Attending the year-end Hawaii symphony concert was the main reason I flew to Honolulu for a day and a half visit. But not the only one.

When I got to Honolulu on Friday morning, the weather was wet and drizzly. My tentative plan was to drive out to the Pipeline, Oahu’s notorious surfing spot on its north shore. But as I headed out in that direction, drizzle and low clouds that were practically touching the ground dissuaded me from it.

So I turned around and drove in the opposite direction. And decided to try to climb Diamondback. By the time I made it to the world famous volcano that seems to grace every postcard of Honolulu, the rain had abated to just a light drizzle. Which actually made the hike quite enjoyable and easier than on my two previous climbs.

So here are some shots from the summit.


By the time I made it there, even the drizzle had stopped. But the clouds were still there, providing an unusual backdrop to the usually sunny Waikiki beaches.

Here are some more scenes from the Diamondhead hike. You can see how low the clouds were from this panorama shot.



After a short nap, I went back out and walked on Waikiki beach. I don’t think I have ever seen it looking so gloomy. Yet the weather did not deter the tourists for doing what they came to Hawaii to do – lie, surf, sail or frolic on the beach. 🙂

I first went to my favorite hotel – the Royal Hawaiian.  When it was build in 1927, it was the tallest structure on Waikiki. Now it looks like a midget compared to the hotel skyscrapers around it. Yet it still has that old world Art Deco charm. I just love it. I could not imagine a visit to Honolulu without stopping by at the Royal Hawaiian.

This time, as I bonus I got to see it decked out in Christmas decorations. Which included this amazing gingerbread model of the hotel itself.

Right next door lies one of those hotel skyscrapers – the Sheraton, which now also manages the Royal Hawaiian.

That was the first hotel at which I stayed on my first visit to Hawaii 30 years ago. Its lobby was also looking very festive. You can also see from its beach the view of the Diamondhead which I had climbed a few hours before.

But my favorite view was this model who posed next to a giant sand castle display in the hotel lobby. 🙂 She was actually posing for her “sugar daddy.” I think I overheard them speaking Russian. Which stood out in a hotel lobby where 90% of faces and conversations were Japanese.


Late this afternoon, I walked back to Waikiki beach to see if the sun would grace us with its appearance at least at the end of the day.

Turns out – not really. But not for a lack of trying.

Normally, this late i the day there would have been a symphony of colors here on the beach. But not today.

Which was actually a silver lining. Literally. 🙂 For, it gave me a chance to shoot this photo essay of Waikiki beach silhouettes.

I was sitting on a bench and drinking my coffee. And people were walking by, back and forth, back and forth… as the sun was struggling to break through the clouds.

As a result, these pictures almost look like B&W photos. Do you have a favorite?


On my way back to my hotel, I stopped at the Trump Tower for a nature call.  So I texted a friend:

“By the way, I just used the restroom in the Trump tower.   For free. One of the new taxpayer perks, I hear.” 🙂

Farther down Waikiki, a street market had just opened (after 4PM). And it was bustling. They even had Elvis helping create a festive atmosphere. 🙂

* * *

Saturday, Dec 31, 2016


The morning of my second day in Honolulu was filled with sparkling sunshine. By the time I made it back to Waikiki beach, a little after 9 AM, all sorts of usual activities were already under way.

What a difference a day makes! It’s hard to believe this is the same beach photographed from the same spots as the shots I took yesterday. It looked like God has decided to give Honolulu beautiful year-end weather. Take a look…



After a nice Waikiki beach walk, I checked out of my hotel and pointed my car northward – toward Kailua on the windward Oahu coast. I did it with some trepidation for two reasons.

First, rainy clouds were still enveloping the high peaks of the Pali, the mountains that run like a spine parallel to the north shore of Oahu. Second, Kailua is where Obama is supposed to be vacationing. And the last thing I wanted was to run into him and his entourage or get delayed in traffic because of all his security.

But because the Kailua beach is one of the nicest beaches on Oahu, I decided to go there anyway.

As it turns out, my worries were unfounded. After driving through the drizzle at the top of the mountain range, the weather was mostly sunny over the ocean on the other side. As for Obama, there was no sign of him. So it was all good.

And this is what I saw on the beach…



From Kailua, I continued on to the northeast corner of Oahu. From our previous visits there, I knew there would be probably a good view of the Makapuu beach from the lookout of the same name. It was very windy there so I did not hang around for too long. But here’s a panorama shot I took from the lookout.



By the time I reentered Honolulu from the east, I thought I was done with my sightseeing. And then I took a “wrong” exit from the H1 freeway. Which turned out to be a perfect entrance into the enchanted world of Christmas in downtown Honolulu.

As I made the left turn from Punchbowl on King Street, I was stunned to see giant figures depicting Christmas scenes in front of the state and city buildings. So I quickly swung left again and ended up right at the entrance of a free public car park.  My spirit guides had it all laid out for me like a red carpet. I just had to walk on it.

And then I actually walk back along King Street admiring the spirit of Christmas in Honolulu on this New Year’s Eve of 2016.  I also marveled at it was all open to the public as our country used to be in the old days – no security screening, no cameras, just JOY OF CHRISTMAS.

Here’s a short video I shot inside the Honolulu City Hall:

Here are also some still shots now of a display of holiday spirit as magnificent as I have ever seen anywhere in the world.

(By the way, these are not inflatable figures. They are permanent sculptures.)


As I walked onto the beautiful grounds of Iolani Palace, the former royal Hawaiian residence, dotted with huge Monkey Pod trees, I was reminded of its sad history.


On Jan 17, 1893, United States government overthrew the Hawaiian monarch Queen Liliuokalani at gunpoint, cowardly hiding behind a group of American sugar planters under Sanford Ballard Dole. The coup occurred with the foreknowledge of John L. Stevens, the U.S. minister to Hawaii, and 300 U.S. Marines from the U.S. cruiser Boston were called to Hawaii, allegedly to protect American lives (for more click here – https://goo.gl/CxZGoE).

And the coup was proclaimed right here, at the Aliiolani Palace, right across King Street from the royal residence at Iolani Palace.

Every time I think about it, I hang my head low in shame.

“These are hallowed grounds for Native Hawaiians,” I was thinking, “and it is a park of shame for the rest of us Americans.”

Which is why I fly the old Royal Hawaiian flag in front my Rainbow Shower home. And do ceremony of atonement and contrition at that spot every Jan 17 when I am in residence at the Rainbow Shower. It is my way of showing respect for the Native Hawaiians, and apologizing for the crime the US government committed against them almost 124 years ago.

Here are now photos of Iolani Palace. For more on that, including our visit inside the royal palace in May 2011, click on… https://goo.gl/AeOiwA.



My final stop before going to the airport was at the Ala Moana mall. I figured they might have some holiday shows there. And sure enough, a group of Hawaiian women were performing hula dances just as I got there.

And that’s all she wrote from this trip to Honolulu.

 * * *


I almost forgot about this little tidbit. As I was driving from the Honolulu City Hall on King Street toward Ala Moana, I was stopped at a red light. My mind was still on the marvelous Christmas display I had just seen, and on the Hawaiian history that unfolded at Iolani Palace 124 years ago.

Suddenly I noticed a woman on a sidewalk who looked like a Native Hawaiian. She took off the pink rag she wore as her top and entered the crosswalk right in front of me topless. She seemed completely casual about that and took her time putting her hands to cover her breasts, like this woman in a file photo from NYC.

Unfortunately, the light changed to green before I had a chance to get my camera ready to shoot. Which is why I have to use this file photos to give you an idea of what I saw.

What do you suppose that was all about? An exhibitionist? And activist like these women in NYC and DC?

The Hawaiian woman, though, did not look like she cared if anybody stared. She walked topless across one of the busiest streets in Honolulu as if that’s the most natural thing to do.

 * * *


Which Hawaii? The sunny or the rainy one?

Turns out – BOTH. On the same day. 🙂

Beautiful day in Oahu, flash flood at the Rainbow Shower in Maui

What a way to end the year. The same day could not have looked any more different between Oahu and Maui than this Christmas Eve.


My foot bridge is gone – for the third and probably final time. I could not even see anywhere its big and heavy (200 pounds) boards. The big bridge has been damaged but is still standing.

So as most things in life, the “good” often comes with the “bad.” So I wish you all a happy new year from both sunshine and rain in the same day.

 * * *

Epilogue of Saturday’s flash flood


Finally the sun came out today and I was able to do some repairs and clean up after the flash flood on Saturday.

After about two hours work, and 2 1/2 pounds of lost weight, I was covered in mud head to toe. But the job was done and both bridges repaired.

My wonderful Japanese neighbors, Yumi and Taka, had found my foot bridge on their property and hauled it back into place before even started my work.

Of course, I thank them profusely as I never expected them to. I was just about to go hunt for downstream when they texted me that they had found the bridge and brought it back.

You can also see in the middle shot the two plants – money plant and red T-plant – which I have now put to mark the Music Crystal Transceivers despacho (buried underneath). Both were uprooted by the flood and deposited at this spot.

By the way, the erosion around the foot bridge has been so bad that the far end of it hanging onto what’s left of the riverbank by fingernails. I shored it up some more today with two long steel rods which I drove into the ground to support the bricks.
But as I said to Yumi and Taka after I was done, the next flood, if there is one (hope not), will be the end of the bridge.
“After that, I’ll cut it up for firewood,” I told them. They both laughed.

THE END. (I hope).

 * * *

UPDATE JAN 6, 2017


We have have had three consecutive days without rain! Which is a real blessing after suffering a two-year El Niño and scores of flash floods.

So yesterday, I put on my grubbies, grabbed my chainsaw and other tools, and headed down to the jungle at the bottom of the Rainbow Shower gulch to clear some large fallen trees.

The heavy and constant rains have made the tree crowns top heavy. And so they have eventually collapsed creating an impassable wall wooden wall.

I cannot remember how many times I have had to do that in the last 8 years. Probably several dozen jungle clearing efforts like that.

It took me a little over two hours of heavy chainsaw work to open up a path through the jungle. I worked in rubber boots because the ground was still muddy. Good news: Down 2.2 pounds at the end.

After I cleaned up, I drove on to Kihei and treated myself to a slice of delicious Maui Pie.

I know, driving 25 miles for a piece of pie may sound a bit excessive. But so was the chainsaw work I did. I had to cut most of the time by holding the chainsaw above my shoulders. And I’ve had rotator cuff surgeries on both shoulders a few years back (sports injuries – tennis, hiking, etc.).
Besides, I drive an electric car and have solar electricity. It’s not like I am wasting energy frivolously. And the pie was delicious, as usual. Mountain berry flavor. 🙂 Yum!

Anyway, this is what the jungle looks like now.


Today I also polished our Anuenue bronze sculpture which has been relaxing on our front lawn for almost 8 years now. His name means “rainbow” in Hawaiian – appropriate for a guardian of the Rainbow Shower (name of my property).

Anuenue actually hails from Thailand. I had him first shipped to my home in Arizona back in 2006, and then on to Hawaii when I moved here in early 2009. So this horse is a world traveler even though he has been sedentary for the last 8 years. 🙂


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