Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Yet pumpkin carving is an art that I really should dabble in more often. It’s lots of fun, and with the right tools, not too difficult.
I picked this pumpkin at a local farm (yes there are pumpkin farms in Hawai’i). The weather was perfect, and it was fun to stroll through the rows of sunflowers, corn, green beans, and pumpkins. A friend and I each carved our own pumpkin. I was surprised at how easily the tools from the pumpkin carving kit sliced through the pumpkin – much easier than the knives I used to use growing up. It makes me want to create an even more intricate design for next year.
How did I get inspiration for an Amida Buddha pumpkin? It just popped into my head. Hardly traditional Halloween decor. But just as Jack-o-lanterns light pathways, the Buddha also illuminates a path. On this night celebrating the connection between this world and the next, it is a reminder that not everything on the other side is scary.
Hibiscus flowers are some of the most popular flowers here in Hawai’i, and one of the most iconic. I’m no plant expert, but I think that this is the species Hibiscus rosa-sinensis which is native to East Asia but now very common in Hawai’i. However, there are also many Hibiscus varieties that are native to Hawai’i in a full rainbow of colors. And yes – tourist and local women alike occasionally tuck a blossom behind our ear (although it can be hard to get them to stay!)
This is a digital oil painting I did inspired by one of my photos. I painted it in Photoshop using digital brushes designed to simulate real oil-painting brushes on a canvas texture.
This photo is (a slightly belated) part of a weekly travel themed photo contest Travel theme: Motion! – my entries for other weeks can be found here.
When the Japanese holiday of Obon came to Hawai’i, it expanded into a whole season. There is a different Obon Dance every weekend all summer here, hosted by temples all over the islands. This photo was taken at the 2013 Bon Dance at the Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin temple in Honolulu. While the many dancers encircled around wearing kimonos, happi coats, and street clothes, I tried to capture a sense of their movement by experimenting with different exposure times and camera angles. The variety of different kinds of traditional bon dances (and even a few modern ones) amidst a live musical performance is one of the many highlights of Obon season.
Special companions are those who stay with us, even when we can’t be physically together. The bond that connects us is something that can transcend distance, and even the cycle of life and death.
At the Lantern Floating Festival in Honolulu on Memorial Day 2013, this little girl carries a lantern down to the water to release into the ocean. The lantern is in loving memory of someone close to her who has passed on, but it is also in honor of the special connection that the two of them have.
Why “lucky” chameleon, you might ask? Because she is very lucky to be alive! While visiting the Big Island, my sister and I found her trapped in a spider’s web. She had clearly struggled to try to free herself, but had only managed to become extremely tangled in the web, and had broken her tail in multiple places. By the time we found her, she was nearly dead and seemed to have given up on life.
My sister and I used a pair of tweezers to carefully remove strands of web off of the little chameleon. It was very painstaking work. At first, the chameleon winced at our touch, like she was expecting us to hurt her, but she was too weak to struggle more. Over time, she figured out that we were helping her, and started to trust us. Once we had removed enough of the spider web that she could open and close her mouth again, the life seemed to start to come back in to her. Before long, her once nearly lifeless form was happily roaming so much that it was hard to get her to stay still long enough to finish taking off the last few pieces of web! Her color started coming back, and with it, a new zest for life. Her hope had been restored. She seemed so happy to be free , and wanted to move about and explore. She climbed up and down our arms, and all over the area. We tried offering her some water, but she wasn’t interested. When she seemed ready, we released her back into the wild, feeling a lot more confident about her chances than we had when we found her. This lucky little chameleon had her second chance at life, and she seemed ready to take it head on.
To be fair, who doesn’t want to go to the beach in the summer? (Even friends in the Southern Hemisphere are probably missing summer right about now.)
As people from all over the world get ready to visit Hawai’i’s beaches this summer, I remind myself how grateful I am to live so close to the beach. Which beach I choose to visit depends on what I plan to do when I arrive, the tide/currents, and if I plan to stay on the sand or get in the water. Some places are peaceful and good for curling up with a book beneath a swaying palm tree. Others have interesting shells, broken off pieces of coral, and seaweed strewed across the beach. O’ahu doesn’t have any black sand beaches, but the beautiful sand that we do have varies in color and texture on different beaches. The kinds of waves range from the famous gigantic waves surfers love to ride on North Shore, to softly lapping water ideal for snorkeling.
Two female mallards are checking out a passing male mallard. One of the females is preening her feathers, as if hoping the male will notice her. Even the water seems to reflect their mood, with the red reflections of all the koi in the lake.
Whenever I think of spring, two of the things I always think about are birds and new beginnings. These ducks seem like they are at the start of something, and there may be cute little ducklings in their future. Spring may not be as distinct here in Hawai’i as it is in temperate regions, but there is still the feeling of something special in the air, and all the twitterpated birds add to that effect.
This is yesterday’s sunrise coming up between Koko Head and Hanauma (the two mountains) with reflections in the beautiful ocean. This photo could not have been taken during high tide, so timing really is everything sometimes! It’s mornings like this that remind me how much I really love living in Hawai’i! The panorama is too large to easily fit in this window, so click on it to see a larger view.
This photo of a pink lotus just radiates with an inner glow. Lotus blossoms have been a symbol of purity throughout Asia for millennia, and have become a symbol for Buddhism. Although lotus plants spring forth from, and have their roots in, the murky depths of the mud, their flowers are always clean and pure. People likewise may have their “roots” in the distractions and attachments of the physical world, but their true nature awaits the opportunity to illuminate from within.
Lotus flowers like this one are a common site at many temples. This particular pink lotus flower was photographed at the Guanyin Temple in Honolulu’s Chinatown (檀香山觀音廟). Also see the art pieces I did (Rainbow Etching Lotus & Dazzling Glow Lotus) based on this photo.
The first Friday of every month can be a fun time to wander down to Honolulu’s Chinatown. Not only can some great authentic Chinese food be found, but multiple art galleries have open houses which are very nice to stroll through. The content changes from month to month, and each gallery features different styles and artists, so there is always something interesting for everyone. I love meandering through galleries, enjoying and being inspired by the art pieces, while soaking in the casual atmosphere and sipping on the subtle flavors of the mint-lemon water that is a popular refreshment and many of the galleries (some also offer stronger drinks for a price).
Last night, one such gallery that I visited was the Louis Pohl Gallery. There was a certain softness in most of the art pieces, from peaceful beachscapes, to people enjoying halcyon days, and even in boiling volcanoes. The delicate blend of colors and shapes gave many of the pieces a feeling of familiarity. This month, they also were giving free Hanafuda lessons and promoting the new Hawai’i-style Hanafuda cards that were designed to introduce a new generation to an old game brought to Hawai’i by Japanese plantation workers. The game is easy to pick up, and the little “flower cards” (upgraded from the original woodblock by a local artist) are beautiful to behold.
Have any of you been to the art galleries on First Friday? Where do you like to go and why?