Archive for June, 2011

Mari Fran

June 17th, 2011

Old friends are great friends. I love that different people represent different stages of your life, and know you in different ways. I'm a good pen pal. I still have friends from elementary school. Recently, I connected with a good friend from my early twenties.

Mari Fran and Diane

Mari Fran and Diane

In the beginning of my news career, I lived in Roswell, New Mexico. I was anchoring and reporting at my second job, at KOBR (NBC) in a tiny news market. It was one of the best years of my life, though it didn't start that way.

I got the job sight unseen, by just mailing in my resume tape and then having a telephone interview with the news director. This is pretty standard for a small market that doesn't have the money to fly talent out for an in-person interview.

My college boyfriend drove out with me from San Francisco, where we were living and working, to the Land of Enchantment. It was a two or three day drive.

I had no idea, really, what to expect. I had only ever lived on the coasts and Hawaii, and I expected every city to be a metropolis. I was already quite nervous about moving to a strange city to live alone, far from anyone I knew. Approaching New Mexico, we first hit Albuquerque, which was very southwestern and appealing. I felt assured that my new city wouldn't be so bad.

However, after you leave Albuquerque, you hit three solid hours of grassy plains where you might see cows, or you might not. This is where the deer and the antelope play. There is nothing- zip, zero, zilch. When Roswell finally emerges in the horizon, it's a dinky little cow-town of dingy buildings. Let me put it this way: I knew I was in for disappointment when I noticed the anchor store at the mall was Target.

I started crying and told my boyfriend I wanted to go back to California. He was such a nice guy. He talked me through my anxiety, helped me get set up in an apartment, and then flew back to the Bay Area.

One of the first people I met was my new neighbor, Mari Fran, a newly minted social worker who had also just taken a job in Roswell. She was two doors down in the complex, and we became inseparable over the year that I worked at KOBR. We were close in age and stage of life, and shared enough similar interests that we had lots of fun together. We spent nearly every weekend together. We took monthly trips to Santa Fe, and were able to fill the silence of a four hour road trip with our non-stop chatter. We're pretty compatible.

She has never left the southwest, while my journey took me from Roswell to the east coast to the Islands. Now I'm ensconced in Hawaii, and the more layers one adds to one's life, the harder it is to fly away to see someone. It dropped down to Christmas card status. I accepted that as part of life.

It had been over a decade since I last saw her in person, when she e mailed to say her company was flying her to Hawaii for a convention, and could we meet up? She even added a couple of days onto her trip so she could stay at my house.

We had a blast. I was looking forward to seeing her but a little curious to know if we'd still be as compatible as before. One never knows how time and distance changes things. We were pleased to find out early on that we were still the same.

I had forgotten how hilarious she is, and how good with children she is. I didn't realize what a great memory she has, because she was dragging up very old stories about me, some of which I still didn't remember.

We had such a nice time at my house that I went to visit her at her hotel mid-week. It's a five star hotel. We laugh that one of the only things that's changed in our friendship is the rack rate; whereas our Santa Fe special was the $65/night Motel 6 (give us a break; we were 22), now we were in a $650/night luxury property.

The other thing is our bedtime. Mari Fran, her travel partner Steph, and I had gone to eat at a nice restaurant. After dinner, we went to the room to reconvene and see where to go next. I left them for ten minutes to arrange something at the Front Desk. When I came back, the lights were dim and they were in their beds. Mari Fran was snoring. It was 10 o'clock.

I laughed and decided I could turn in for the night, too. After all these years, we're still on the same wavelength.

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Mommy's hotel

June 15th, 2011

My kid thinks she lives in a hotel. I've been trying to teach her the names of the two hotels Mommy works with (technically I work for the corporation that owns the hotels), and I've brought her there enough times that she's somewhat familiar with it. We've eaten at several of the restaurants, stayed overnight, swam in the pool, and attended the guest-only childrens' programs when I have to work the functions.

Apparently, the preschool quizzes the kids on their home address. The teacher says it's good preparation now as it's a requisite for kindergarten testing. I'm told that she (and probably she alone) answers, "I live down the street in a hotel." Sometimes she gives a garbled name of the hotel. (IE, Halekulani Parc.)

I can't say I'm surprised. On many days, it sure feels like I'm the maid in my own home.

Not only does she think we live in a hotel, but she thinks every hotel is "Mommy's hotel." Over the long weekend, we did a staycation with our favorite other family, my cousin's. We checked in at a place selected in part for its family-friendly amenities- specifically, the pools. "Are we going to your hotel?" she kept asking, even though I told her several different times and different ways about the name and the destination.

The weekend was a cousin-filled water-fest. We had a great time. The kids spent four hours at a stretch in the water. I enjoyed seeing them so happy and entertained.


Cousin Val and I joke that every time we travel together, some medical trauma befalls Olivia. Last staycation, she stuck a bead in her ear. A year ago on the Disney trip, she fell and needed stitches at the ER. But I found a way to guard against that! I brought a First Aid kit with me- and nothing happened. Well, nothing except a dented ego.

There was a water slide which Olivia was too small to ride. Kids who don't meet the four-foot height requirement can still pass a swimming test in which they swim from one end of a small pool to the other, and back, without stopping. Maybe 15 feet total?

She is a good swimmer for her age, but not strong enough to do it in one continuous lap. She swam to the other end, clung to the rope, caught her breath, and then returned. We didn't realize it was supposed to be non-stop until she finished, and the lifeguard said no.

I felt so bad for her. She was too tired to attempt it again, and she started howling, "I want to water slide! I want to water slide!" I carried her as we waited for her cousins to slide down.

We've used the water slide at a different Oahu resort, in which a parent stood at the bottom to catch the kid. I don't know why that couldn't be applied here, but I respect that the rules are the rules, and I'm sure there is some liability clause somewhere. It is what it is.

The nice lifeguard felt so bad, he walked to the concession stand nearby and got her a coupon for a free shave ice, which did make her feel better. Until she spilled half of it.

"We can try again next year," I promised her. I think we'll be back- with my First Aid kit and all.

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Diamond Nails

June 13th, 2011

Claus visited a nail salon recently, and not to buy me a gift certificate. It was for himself, and he was very pleased with the service.

As I backgrounded in part one of this blog, which ran last Friday, he was trying to make himself custom tuxedo button covers for a Danish dinner. The covers have to have a design of the Danish flag.

Danish flag

Danish flag

Our hairdresser told him they have good nail artists at Diamond Nails in McCully Shopping Center, so off he went one afternoon. He walks into this Korean nail salon with just women, and every head in the place turns to look at him. "I got looked up and down a few times," he said. I'm sure it was a pretty incongruous picture.

First, an older lady asked, "Can I help you?"

He showed her the pack of button covers and an image of the flag. "Can you paint this onto this?" he asked.

She stared blankly. "I don't know," she shrugged, and went back to what she was doing.

Just then, a younger, more English speaking woman came out. He repeated his request, and she said, "It won't last long."

"I only need it for three hours," he explained.

"Really? OK. I try," and she took the button in the back and came out a minute later with a very nice looking button cover.

"Can you do that four more times?" he asked.

She regarded him quizzically, smiled, and accepted the buttons. Five minutes later, it was done. She giggled and handed him the buttons.

Tuxedo studs, decorated

Tuxedo studs, decorated

He brought them home proudly. "Look. They're done," he said, and shared the whole story. I was impressed- not just with the art, but with the fact that he didn't stop until he exhaused every resource. I know he has that personality trait, but I don't see it on display that often, since I don't work with or for him. This was a project I was quite involved in from start to finish.

I also wondered what the nail people thought, and if the story was as funny on their end. So I called. A very sweet voice answered the phone. "Hi, my husband came in yesterday and had someone paint a flag on a button for him. Does this sound familiar?" I said. Totally random question. I felt stupid.

"Yes, that was me," she said. I wasn't expecting it to be that easy. Turns out, she is manager Kristin Le, and has been painting nails for a decade.

"First we thought he wanted his nails painted. Then when he showed us the button, we told him we are a nail salon. But he said he needed help, so we just figured he had some project. The button is so small I wasn't sure I could do it. It was a challenge," Le said.

In her ten years of manicures, Le has never painted a button or any other non-nail object. "This was a first," she laughed. "Also a first to paint the Danish flag. I have painted the American flag and the Japanese flag before, but never Denmark."

It's beautiful, I assured her, and thanked her again for her help. I have my dining room table back again.

A basic manicure with pedicure at Diamond Nails costs $35.

Phone: 808-946-3045

Hours: Mon-Sat: 9:30am - 7:30pm / Sun: 10am - 5pm

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Tuxedo shirt studs

June 10th, 2011

I never thought I would see the day, but Claus is crafting. He wants customized tuxedo shirt studs, and he cannot find what he wants on the internet or in stores. He's even reached out to Danish stores. I can't say I'm surprised; he wants the Danish flag as a design. Considering Denmark is a country of five million, I doubt there's high demand worldwide.

The reason he wants this is because we are in Washington DC to meet the Queen of Denmark and her husband, the Prince. She's having a reception for all her Consuls and Honorary Consuls (and their spouses) in Washington, DC, at the Royal Danish Embassy. He's received a flurry of e mails with detailed instructions as to what to wear, how to address them, what to wear, etc. It's very interesting.

Danish embassy in DC

Danish embassy in DC

The embassy instructed the consuls to wear all their pins and finery. Here is a tiny sample of what they say: "Decorations: With formal attire, you may wear the badge that was presented to you, or, if it suites you better, the miniature. Decorations should be worn in one horizontal row on the left side of the chest (over your heart), in or at the level of the buttonhole of the lapel. If you have more than one decoration, they should be worn so that they cover each other slightly with the rightmost decorations slightly over the leftmost." Half the directions are in Danish.

Claus is relatively new and has no badges. He wants to wear something, though, so he decided he wanted tuxedo shirt studs. This is where it became interesting for me, as I witnessed the singlemindedness of this husband. The less he can have something, the more he wants it. He sees it as a challenge.

He enlisted my help early on to conduct a separate internet search, to see if I had better luck. I did not. I concur; this does not exist. You can get the American flag or the Italian flag. You can get cufflinks. You cannot get the Danish flag on a shirt stud. It's surprising to know there is something that does not exist on the internet in this day and age.

Then, he decided he would make it. Imagine my surprise when he called me FROM BEN FRANKLIN to ask me if I thought stud blanks existed, because he couldn't see any on the shelves, and the staffer didn't know, either. He knows where to find a Ben Franklin by himself? I wanted to remind him I have a discount card if he planned to buy anything.


I told him there are resin projects that I've seen (but never done) where you can buy a pendant blank, draw or glue a design on the bottom, and pour clear resin on top. We continued searching for blanks to no avail. Finally, he went to the store and bought a pack of studs to alter and experiment with. For reference, they are the size of a three hole punch.

I didn't know he intended to do this. Mind you, we fall along pretty typical gender stereotypes in terms of communication. I talk more. He talks less. Maybe together we balance each other.


I just came home one day and saw my dining room table converted to a work station. He had out the following: my Dremel tool, my beading tools, my eyebrow tweezer (thanks a lot), a drill, a magnifying glass, duct tape, Q tips, scissors, and my red and white nail polishes. I was both amused, and concerned about where we could eat dinner. This was not a portable operation.


He had spread his tiny shirt studs out on the table and they were in various stages of experiment. He had dug out the fake mother of pearl decoration on one, punched a red hole out of my Time magazine, painted the flag's white cross on one, and put in the blank. Atop that, he dripped clear nail polish. It was a wonderful idea, but the polish dried with bubbles. Actually, I didn't realize he used my magazine. I just picked it up to read one morning over breakfast and saw little holes in the famous red cover border. And just laughed.


On another button, he dug out the mother of pearl and dripped a big drop of red nail polish. It was a beautiful, deep red, with a smooth, convex top. It would have been perfect, except it did not dry, even after three days. Then, the dome sagged in like a deflated souffle.

He persevered. He decided to paint the red polish right over the mother of pearl. It required two coats to get a dark red. Because it was thin, you could see the lines from the brush strokes. He had to tinker with the painting method to get it just right.


One night, he dragged me to the drugstore with him to find more nail polish. He asked me if there existed nail polish pens with a nib, so he could better draw the white stripes of the flag. It gave me great pleasure to announce loudly, "CLAUS, HERE IS SOME NAIL POLISH I THINK YOU WOULD LIKE. AND SOME NAIL ADHESIVE STICKERS." For variation, I had Olivia call out a similar message. Because really, what is marriage, if not to antagonize the one you love? In the end, we bought white adhesive French manicure tips and three different nail art pens.

He came home and relentlessly continued his quest to make the perfect button cover. Being a dude, he used the adhesive strips the way painters use that blue tape. He tried to use it to create a clean, straight line, but unfortunately, the paint bled through. I suggested he cut thin strips and use the adhesive as the stripe itself, but the surface of the button is not flat, so it created a wrinkle in the tape. He tried to drill down the mother of pearl to a flat surface to achieve that, but it didn't work.

Finally, he just toyed with the different pen nibs, selected the thinnest one, and tried to freehand the stripes. It was moderately successful, but the lines were kind of shaky. I tried to tell him to give up, but he wouldn't. I'm not sure I would have tried this hard to make USA flag decorations for myself, but if I did, this is definitely the point where I would give up or use the semi-decent ones I had already made. Oh wait, I forgot. We're the world's greatest superpower. I can buy this online.

At this point, we were entering Week #2 of Button Quest. I was at the mall with Olivia over the weekend when he called about something else. When he realized I was at the mall, he asked me to research if a nail technician could boldly go where we could not. I was happy to oblige, though I had kind of given up on this mission. I was surprised he hadn't.

I first saw a t-shirt store that uses air brush. I air brushed in my cake class, and I've had makeup airbrushed on me. Airbrush can be very smooth and specific. Could it accomodate something that small, I asked? No, said the clerk, but he offered to draw it on with a Sharpie. I declined. (Sidebar: it was so unappealing to walk into a store in a major shopping center in which loud rap music with the F word was blaring, while I had my kid. I'm not conservative, but really. There's a time and a place to cuss.)

I never made it to any nail salon. However, Claus had to go get a haircut during the week, and asked our hairdresser for a referral. This is how Claus came to find Diamond Nails in Mc Cully Shopping Center.

That's for part two of this blog- see you Monday.


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Dinosaurs Unearthed: Feathered Discoveries

June 8th, 2011

Ancient terrors have alighted at Bishop Museum. Dinosaurs Unearthed: Feathered Discoveries highlights new scientific findings that link dinosaurs with modern day birds, and it comes to life with over a dozen animatronic dinosaurs, three full-sized skeleton displays, and over 20 dinosaur fossil replicas.



My cousin and I decided to take the kids one weekend. When this exhibit first passed through Hawaii in the fall of 2009, we took Olivia, who was quite scared. That was half a lifetime ago for her, and she's now three and barely flinched when the scary reptiles growled in her direction.

Only slightly scared

Only slightly scared




There are several interactive exhibits, including one in which you can push buttons to move the dinosaur's body parts. The one that really captured the kids' attention, though, was the giant sand box that lets the kids pretend to sift for fossils like field researchers. Anything that involves sorting and pouring is a big hit with little kids.




It was a nice way to spend an afternoon. The exhibit will be there until September 5, 2011.


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