An ad hoc letter to Santa

Dear Santa –

Please bring me the following for Christmas.

(Note: We don’t have chimneys on the Big Island – at least not in these jungly parts – so feel free to leave everything on the lanai or distribute it as you see fit.)
I would like:

  • an anteater to get rid of the sugar ants that are EVERYWHERE

The sea entry plume – Kilauea

– a bottle of gin and some rocks wrapped in ti leaves. We still need to make an offering to Pele, the volcano goddess. You know what, never mind the ti and rocks; we have plenty here in the yard. Pick up the gin, though, if you don’t mind. We’ve already driven to town countless times this week, and if I have to go back one more time I’m going to scream.
  • a book of manners for the wild pigs who tromp through the yard at 2 in the morning digging up the grass, shrieking and snorting like a herd of errant werewolves just beneath the bedroom window

Spear chuckers

– some good news. Things have gotten a little better of late. A little – and to tell the truth I’ve been so consumed by work and simply making do that I haven’t been paying that much attention. But for Christmas this year can we please have a few less outright idiots and psychopaths and a balancing dose of positivism and good neighborliness instead
  • (can you get the nasdaq to hit 5000 and keep rising slowly until it’s time to start taking mandatory withdrawals from my IRA, at which point I’ll convert everything into bonds, I promise?)

Wheazley the Gecko, before the tragic accident

– a new foot to replace the one that got mangled when I pulled Wheazley the gecko off the glue trap that was intended for a mouse that chewed its way in through the window screen. (Speaking of which, while you’re at Home Depot picking up some power tools for Arvin and me – our neighbor Nicki has a power screw gun that rocks, btw – grab a screen patch kit so we can repair the hole where the little furry s.o.b. chewed himself an exit route.) Poor Wheazley..
  • Oh, and by the way: a literary agent. Hello..? This year. On Christmas. At my door. No more lame excuses. But by all means don’t leave it sitting on the lanai. Invite it in and fix it a drink.

And last but certainly not least, I would like…

– a good stretch of sunny days to darken my pale skin and fill up the solar batteries

– a large token of thanks to the amazing people I am privileged to call my family and friends. Please give them all whatever they want for Christmas

PS. One last thing. Can you do my Christmas cards for me? Seriously. I’ve been busy.

Thanks old man.

Big Island Turkeys on the Run

We had a brown gecko in the empty lemonade jar this morning. He scurried out before my sleepy hands could reach for the camera.

Yesterday we had visitors of another sort:

turkeys on the run - hawaii, apr 2010

turkeys on the run - hawaii, apr 2010

We always seem to have an array of unique animal visitors: ‘Ioke the hawk; wild pigs; lost dogs; toads; green geckos on the windowsill.. I told Arvin that when we finally get around to naming the house, it should have something to do with being a resting place for animals.

turkeys in the yard - april 2010

turkeys in the yard - april 2010

If you’re sure you want to see what the turkeys were running from,
send me a note »

The miracle of hawaii

pineapple - click to see our small crop in the lava wall, april 2010

pineapple - click to see our small crop in the lava wall, april 2010

If you cut off the top of a pineapple and stick it into lava cinder, a new pineapple will grow. This spring we were surprised by a bounty of new fruit from the tops we’d planted over the last couple years in the lava wall up near the house. We have a mix of Kapoho whites (the best) and Maui yellows.

As reported in Hana Hou, the inflight magazine for Hawaiian Airlines, there is a farm upriver from Hilo town that is preparing to harvest its first crop of 9,000 organic, sweet white pineapples. We can wait for these beauties from Kalewa Correa and Kaleo Veary-Correa to hit the farmers’ markets!

And if you’re interested in getting a flavor of our side of the island, read the full story. Roland Gilmore does a great job describing the bouyant spirit of Hilo town.

All photos were taken by Arvin.

  • Work, (Un)Interrupted

    Kona Village 2009

    Kona Village 2009

    Christmas came early and it arrived in Kona. The Kona Village Resort » – which normally costs an arm and a leg – offers an annual Kama’aina special for locals in early December: about half off on lodging and food, plus discounted tickets for the Christmas at Kona food and wine benefit. All the rooms are stand-alone huts built along the seaside and the 1800 Hualalai lava flow with meandering paths connecting them. You carry no cash or cell phones; everything is charged to your room. It’s wonderful.

    Learning to unplug

    There was client work to be done that weekend. But more importantly there was a weekend of no interruptions that had to be had. Naturally there was residual angst at leaving things undone and going away; deadlines are always front of mind – a cerebral drudgery; druggery; disruption. However, at Kona Village life is unplugged and unpretentious. So for about 48 hours Living interrupted Work for a change. And it felt damn good.

    The undone

    We always return to find things undone. It is one of those inevitabilities. We create these inevitabilities by the demands we make on ourselves to enjoy a certain kind of life, to carve our proverbial beds out of dreams and lay in them before the sun goes down. Without ambitions we’d all be hermits in the woods. With them we always seem just a little bit….

    Downstairs - Dec 2009

    Downstairs - Dec 2009


    “Why would you complain about something you created?” asked Gary B as he’s cutting my hair. “That’s crazy. That doesn’t make any sense.”

    And yet I find a way to do it.

    What I do complain about: Paying the Rent. To quote Emily in Hugo: “Nobody pays us to find our artistic souls.”

    I wish somebody would pay me to finish the 2nd draft of Hugo; to start on Pearl St; to move on to the long list of other books that lie in digital scraps, on paper, in outlines, zipped up in corners of my brain undone. But they don’t. This is what I have chosen. This is the life I have created.

    What I don’t complain about: The Rejections. They are an immutable aspect of my work. 4Q2009 rounded out with the last of 4 outstanding rejections.

    • Ploughshares – Ravenous
    • The Kenyon Review – Dearth of Ecstasy
    • Zoetrope – Rapture
    • Zyzzyva – Rapture

    (1 holdout remains: an online journal that was reading but has again suspended submissions)

    Capture the light…

    I read recently in the WSJ that an unsolicited manuscript has a .008% chance » of getting published in the Paris Review. In spite of these ridiculous odds you simply have to continue to work, to capture the light while it’s still inside or surrounding you.

    Planting around the o'hia trees

    Planting around the o'hia trees

    And if you’re lucky, you get to do it all again the next day…

    Puna Sunrise - Jan 2010

    Puna Sunrise - Jan 2010