Archive for the ‘Nature & Animals’ Category
316. Having the opportunity to see the Na Pali Coast.
317. Staying in the forest in Kauai (pictures to come).
318. Common Grounds in Kauai- with the best vegan breakfast burrito in Hawaii.
319. Four consecutive days to spend with my friend in paradise (deluxe… as opposed to regular paradise).
320. Thanksgiving dinner: a loaf of french bread with Tofurkey slices (sammiches), a 20oz Blue Moon to split, and some crackers with hummus. All, while sitting on Kapa’a beach (beautiful and quiet), watching the crabs dig their holes and the big waves break.
321. A new and challenging career opportunity.
322. A bright, busy office with bright, busy people.
323. Working walking distance from home.
324. Working seven blocks away from Shad so we can walk to and from work together.
325. Buying a good car from a trustworthy person so we have no excuse to not go exploring.
326. My sister coming to visit in one week for one month.
327. Spending some serious quality time with my sister.
328. Every little thing working out. (I’m sure some things don’t, but I can’t seem to remember what they are.)
329. Friends that continue to make an effort to hang out, even when I slack on being outgoing and friendly (I eventually return the effort), but I really appreciate you pushing me.
330. Finally buying a futon. Futons are awesome.
331. A two bedroom apartment. Two bedroom apartments are awesome.
332. The monk seal that we saw swimming on the south shore of Kauai.
333. Our new plant- she is seriously happy here.
334. Owning snorkel gear.
335. The successful SharePoint team I left behind at the last job. I’m seriously excited that they’re excited about SharePoint.
336. The fact that the car we bought was driven to us for a showing… it was incredibly nice of them.
337. Kindness, in general.
I began writing this post a practical explanation of how Shad and I are transitioning to a vegan diet, but I realize that the ‘why’ part must come first. It is not necessary as a justification or an excuse. Yet, while I don’t feel obligated to explain myself, I am making this choice for the second (and last time) in my life and I want to verbalize my purpose.
Beginning at age fourteen, I was vegan for a year, vegetarian for about ten years, and a pescatarian for the last few years. In every case, I was deliberately diverging from standard eating practices in my environment where most people eat lots and lots of meat and other animal products. It wasn’t the easiest route to take for a number of reasons. One, was that I was raised eating meat. I was used to it and I thought I liked it. I distinctly remember how much I was craving some Applebee’s chicken egg rolls shortly after made the leap into veganhood.
Another, is that the associations and presumptions many people make when they find out about this personal choice are remarkably annoying. You are immediately associated with a hippie on some level. That line of thought adds other connotations like bleeding-heart liberal, flaky, emotional, or unrealistic. While these associations are not necessarily verbalized or across the board, they are absolutely present on a large scale.
Now, why would I make such an uncomfortable and annoying choice? Again, there are a number of reasons, but in this list there is really only one important one.
The way we collect animal products is horribly and disgustingly cruel, inflicting astonishing torture on living, breathing, thinking creatures that feel pain and terror.
That was my original motivation for choosing a vegan diet. It was that simple and as a young, semi-idealistic teenager (I was never totally starry eyed) , I also had this inkling of belief that I could make a difference on a grander scale. Unfortunately, I think the dissipation if that inkling into the reality, that we eat eat more and more meat every year and the general treatment of animals gets anything but better, is what caused my gradual relaxation over the next decade and a half. As I got older, it became easier to say, that while I believe in kindness, practicing it is a meaningless gesture. I remain in the habit of abstaining from meat, but it’s not a political issue so I’m not really going to follow through.
But I get older and I keep thinking.
With the help of Shad making it easier for me (by choosing to change his own diet), and some good conversations, I’ve come back to the point where I don’t want to draw imaginary lines permitting myself an arbitrary level of involvement in things that I do not believe in doing. As an adult, with a relatively wiser perspective, it is still not a political issue for me. I won’t be throwing paint on fur (mostly because I believe that tactic is ineffective) and I won’t even be a jerk at your dinner table. I will, however, do what I believe is right, and on my vehicle of free speech, I will occasionally talk about it (probably in the form of great vegan recipes). I hope that I will affect one person who will affect one more person to make similar choices in their own lives, but I don’t plan on preaching. The internet is full of information for each person to decide for himself.
Finally, allow me to borrow from an ethical principle called Ahimsa. This is the idea of not causing harm to other living things. Essentially, while I live in the modern world and by existing and using modern products and services, I will indirectly cause harm, I am going to take conscientious steps to lead a life that cause the least amount of harm as possible.
Yesterday, Shad and I checked out the Makiki Forest Recreation Area. The reserve is about a 40 minute walk from our front door. We walked through Makiki Heights and saw this excellent tree on the way.
As we were just just on an exploratory visit and we didn’t leave our house until the middle of the day, we decided to hike around a relatively short loop.
I don’t have a whole lot of explaining to go along with these pictures, except to say that these pictures don’t do it justice (they almost never do). It was green and encompassing and amazing. There are pictures from the beginning of the trail where it looks a little manicured (which it is), but that path fell away quickly and we had a wonderful day hiking up and down a variety of steep grades. There were clean streams, chirping birds, and endless canopies of banyan trees and vines.
Please enjoy the gallery of mostly green stuff and an occasional Shad (the person, not the fish) here or there. Also note that I’ve used the NextGen Gallery instead of the (stupid) built-in WordPress Gallery, so now you can scroll through images instead of having to continuously hit the ‘back’ button.
You can catch both every day at their regularly scheduled times…
This is this morning’s sunrise:
This was yesterday’s sunset… it was amazing. The whole sky looked like this.
This is a sunset last week that we walked down to the water to watch.
And this was just a Wednesday on the side of the highway.
There was no Photoshop involved in any of these.
I love this place.
Diamond Head is a volcanic tuff cone and park in Oahu. It frames the view of Waikiki from our balcony and because it’s a place that you should go to on your visit to the island (so we hear), Shad and I decided to make our way over to it yesterday morning.
We hopped off a city bus around 11am and we walked up the road leading to the park entrance. The scene was arid and it reminded me a bit of parts of Colorado and Wyoming. It was a short, pleasant and mild hill, with scenic stops along the way. I found that walking through a tunnel to get inside the crater made the whole thing seem kind of exciting. As we passed through the tunnel, we approached the park entrance where one is obliged to pay the entrance fee. I did a double take when I read thay the cost of admission was $1. Cheap! And then I read cash only… gah!… it was the one day I had left the house without cash. I had not taken my pink purse. I had switched to my backpack and that $20 bill was sitting safely at home, tucked into the inside pocket of the pink purse.
Shad and I scoured the crevasses of our backpacks and he came up with $1.57. I had nothing. We lamented that we would have to turn around and journey home over $0.43. We sat, mildly mopey (it’s impossible to be more than mildly mopey in Hawaii), on the side of the road until I came up with a brilliant scheme.
Are you ready for this?
I would ask someone for fifty cents. I asked the next pair of people who walked toward the entrance – a set of Aussies (or Kiwis – who knows these things?). I explained our situation, apologized in embarrassment for our behavior, and graciously thanked them when the were like, “Yeah, sure, no problem.” We were in!
As we paid the fee and crossed the barrier into the national park, things were different! For one, we were on the other side of the little brown hut, and for the other, we were in the midst of swarming tourists with screaming children and food stands and buses and restroom facilities. The only way out of the mess was one concrete pathway that was packed like a cork in a bottle with wide-reared panting tourists and are-we-there-yets? This was no hike. It was an oozing tourist flow squeezing slowly over a hill like toothpaste.
Shad and I embarked quickly on our journey up the path and and made strategic efforts to surpass old ladies and small children and couples who were holding hands and taking up the whole damn width of the trail. Within a couple turns, the tourist ooze thinned out a little and we were able to walk in peace and enjoy the scenery around us. It looked like this…
We stopped at this lookout and saw Maui in the distance…
Eventually (it wasn’t more than an hour from the base) we got to the top of the ridge and we met this spectacular view…
Here are some people…
Also, this is our house…
Overall, it was a nice walk with a good view and it was, an all in all, good way to start the day. After we descended, we hit the beach for a couple hours then went to the ballet in the evening. There will be more ramblings to come on Ballet Hawaii.
The 184th thing that I am grateful for this year is the baby bunny who got himself stuck in a window well, but made enough noise to get my dad’s attention. Yeah, he fell in and that’s no fun, but he was lucky enough to have fallen into a basement where someone was sitting. That someone was curious enough to investigate and kind enough to get the little guy out. A couple weeks ago, my dad also saved a baby bird. I think he his the patron of animals in Hilltop.
Sorry, I do not have a picture.
Part One: My dad made this little wooden box with no immediate purpose in mind, and it collected dust in the basement for several years. Recently, he was cleaning up and I was standing around (not helping) looking at things. That’s when I (re)discovered the it. I asked if I could confiscate it for a tea box. He agreed and the journey began. I decided to paint a tea party on it, from many different angles.
Part Two: My awesome friends got together for a painting party today. I started painting my tea box. Here is one of the tea party guests…