Archive for July, 2012

Reading cat

July 18th, 2012

Are cats smart? I'm still trying to figure this question out. They certainly march to the beat of their own drummer.

June 2012 171

We have a tabby cat, Ocho, whose name is a tribute to KHNL. I rescued her from the old KHNL parking lot, where she was a stray kitten in 2003.

When I had a baby, Ocho was very jealous and expressed it by peeing on my expensive sofa. Twice.

I washed and aired out and sunned the cushions for weeks in the hot Hawaiian sun. Humans can't smell it, but Ocho can still detect the urine scent, so she eventually would pee there again.

June 2012 168

We decided to confine her to the lanai. We got a big wooden house for her to hide in and made sure the balcony, which is not small, would be nice for her. There is lots of wildlife outside for her to look at or catch. We also spend as much time outside as we can, keeping her company.

She finally figured out how to open the sliding door. The door frame is not flat; it has a notch where she can put her paw and slide it open. Three years of watching this cause and effect clicked in her cat brain.

The screen door lock is broken. We started trying to remember to close the glass door, which is too heavy for her to push.

This went on for a month. At first, she was sneaking it only after we left the house. Then, she got bolder, to the point where she was doing it in front of us. One Sunday, Claus and I were having breakfast outside when she started to let herself inside.

"No!" he yelled, and she darted away. He gets very annoyed because when she opens the door (particularly when we're away for hours), it lets in mosquitoes.

The dove, leaving our house

The dove, leaving our house

Worse, a dove flew in the other weekend. I could see Claus' blood simmering. Olivia and I think it's partly funny, but he fumes.

You know how it is when you're super busy. You say you'll get to it... eventually... but nothing ever happens overnight. At least not in this household, especially since we had a kid.

So this was the last straw. This moved the screen-door-fixing project up to #1 on that day.

After breakfast, he came in with his tool kit. To get him to do this requires an Act of Congress, so you know he was really irritated.

He was tinkering. Then muttering. Muttering is a bad sign.

I looked at the problem and suggested a simpler solution for the interim: "Just tape a cardboard piece to the bottom corner, so she can't fit her paw in and slide it," I said. "It's ugly, but it'll work until we either get a new door or you fix the lock."

He did it, and it works.

The cardboard came from a box of stuff donated to me. He ripped the flap off and it happened to say AKO on it.

June 2012 167

Later that afternoon, Olivia had a neighbor friend over. Kira asked why there's cardboard on the door.

Olivia explained the cat problem. "My daddy put a sign up so the cat won't come in," she concluded.

Olivia cannot read yet, so she sees writing and assumes it must say Stay Out.

A cat who will read AND comply? Now that is a smart cat!

Playing tourist

July 16th, 2012

I enjoy playing tourist in my own hometown. I do it now and again, and I always see new and different things about the island that make me love Hawaii even more. Plus, I never forget that people pay big money to visit these islands; we should appreciate that we live here.

Olivia's made a few comments that she wanted to ride the double decker bus and the trolley. As I think about it, the Waikiki of the 2000's is a lot more colorful with varied and cute tour vehicles than the Waikiki of my youth, when the standard Robert's bus was all there was.

Oh, and I think my high school classmates would cruise down the main drag of Kalakaua Avenue in their mini trucks with custom tilt bed or Honda Civics with drop rims and a girlfriend from Pearl City named Iris who slightly resembled an anime character or aspiring import model. This would be after fueling up on chicken katsu at Rainbow Drive Inn, getting pumped to some Salt 'N Pepa "Push It." But I digress.

I decided to dedicate one Saturday to fulfilling Olivia's request. My husband, my kid, and I drove to Waikiki to catch the trolley for a spin, followed by the double decker bus. It was really, really fun.

My kid had a grand time. The short route around the outskirts of Waikiki was just enough to hold a four year old's interest, and the weather was beautifully cooperative.

Claus and Olivia

Claus and Olivia

In and around this, we also for the first time walked the entire DFS Galleria Hawaii, which is in the same building I work in, yet I have never been there in a year and a half. I was very happy to finally make the time to look inside.

And, we lunched at a personal favorite, Shirokiya, which was Claus' first time since the store remodeled to add the Beer Garden.

One of our funnier moments of the day was when I asked two of the bus staffers some questions about the route.

"Excuse me, when does the next bus come by?" I said.

They looked at me and responded in Japanese to ask me where I'm going. I said in English, "Just any bus with the shortest route. We want to ride it around a little."

I think the image dissonance was too much for their brains (Japanese lady? Speaking English? Why? How can be?) because they asked me again in Japanese the exact same question.

I know I look totally Japanese; I've gotten this my entire life. Standing in Waikiki didn't help.

I elaborated that my little girl just wanted to ride it around for a little bit, and we'll take the shortest route there is. So I finally got them to speak to me in English.

At the end of the conversation, they asked me where I'm from. "Here," I said. "I speak pretty good English, huh?"

One of the staffers said, "You sure do!"

I gestured to my husband, who was just a few feet away. "I know. I get to practice all the time with my white husband."

"Nice, nice," they nodded.

For the record, I'm not ethnically Japanese, and I don't speak it either. (I finally took a semester in college because I was curious.) Ironically, White Husband's first language isn't English, but mine is.

It's funny, how you really can't tell a book by its cover.

I related the comical conversation to Claus when we were on the bus and thanked him for giving me a venue to improve my English... or as they say in my home country, Arigato.

Drive with aloha

July 13th, 2012

Do you drive with aloha? A recent survey by a local insurance company put that question to a survey - with some surprising findings. First Insurance of Hawaii's survey looks to understand the level of courtesy extended by one driver to another in order to "bring back courtesy to our roadways and among Hawaii drivers."

Hawaii drivers were asked for their general perceptions regarding the overall level of courtesy of the drivers they encounter in their respective areas over the last five years. Oahu drivers are more inclined to believe other drivers are 58% less courteous today than they were five years ago compared to their Neighbor Island counterparts, who ranked only 49% less courteous. Really? Are the roads that bad?

More specifically, respondents were presented with a list of 12 instances or examples of poor driver behavior. They were then asked if they have encountered each from other drivers within the last three months. The survey says men were more likely to observe these types of behaviors than their female counterparts; 62% of the male drivers polled have observed another driver cutting them off, compared to the 50% of female drivers that have experienced the same behavior.

Twenty-eight percent of the male drivers polled have observed another driver making an obscene gesture at them compared to 17% of the female drivers that have experienced this. Sixteen percent of the male drivers polled have been tailgated compared to 2% for female drivers.

Other annoying road instances that Oahu drivers said they encountered:
Signaling late or not at all 92%
Not allowing you to merge 67%
Cutting you off on the road 56%
Honking at you in anger 29%
Stealing your parking spot 29%
Obstructing your vehicle from moving 28%
Waving their arm or fist 23%
Making obscene gestures towards you 22%
Flashing lights at you 22%
Yelling at you 1%

Disturbing! Have you encountered any of the above?

I'm not an aggressive driver, and I try to give myself enough time to get places on time, so that I don't stress out by running late. I haven't noticed or encountered most of these things, and because I avoid the mall at Christmas, I really don't see it (ha ha.)

I can think of one instance in the past year in which I was on the receiving end of "parking lot rage" - I was taking a client to the park, and I accidentally took a parking stall that someone else was waiting for. I would like to clarify that this was at a botanical garden on a weekday, not like Kapiolani Park on a Sunday - so it was definitely not a high stress, parking-at-a-premium situation.

I was enjoying the conversation and didn't realize that there was another car in the opposite direction waiting for the space. When I parked, the middle aged lady got out of the car and started speaking loudly and angrily at me that I should've been paying attention, she was there first, blah blah blah. The whole irony is that she easily found herself a space not too far away, so once again, why the drama?

After getting over the initial shock at being yelled at, I didn't get angry back. I apologized repeatedly to her, told her she was right, that I felt badly, and bade her a good day. It defused the situation.

Oh, sure, for a second, I was thinking, What the heck, Lady? But honestly, after experiencing mood swings of pregnancy and the incomparable fatigue of life with a newborn, I am actually more sympathetic to grouchy people. I just figure that maybe someone's having a bad day and I try not to take it personally. And getting mad back just ruins my day, so I try not to.

Do you think Hawaii drivers are rude or not?

Black Patrick

July 11th, 2012

"Mom! Mom!" I heard Olivia call excitedly one afternoon from the garage. "Come quick! Look!"

I was in my rocking chair, reading, trying to have a quiet moment. I had watched Olivia all morning and now it was Claus' turn. They were going swimming.

"What is it?" I answered.

"It's a black catrick!" she replied. "Hurry before it goes away! It's under this box!"

"What?" I asked.

"Black cat trick!" she said again. It was noisy. I have no idea what she said.

A black cat? Cat something? Must be a stray kitten under a box in the garage.

We don't have many or any stray cats in the neighborhood. Most every home is populated by a domestic pet, and most of those pets are territorial. The scent of my dog definitely is enough to deter most felines.

Curious, I walked to the garage to see what all the fuss was about. She was pointing to a dark brown anole lizard (Anolis sagrei) on the box flap.

I think they are ugly. I usually see them  - lots of them - on rock walls when we walk around, so I have never noticed how clawed their feet are. It's very dinosaurish.

I really don't like them after reading that they're killing all the nice green ones.

I moved. It jumped. Far. It practically reached Olivia, three feet away. She shrieked and jumped back.

After we stopped laughing, I asked Claus what she was saying to me before. What was she calling it?

"Black Patrick," he clarified.

Oh? Oh! Right! Patrick is what we named the beautiful gold dust day gecko who took up residence in our house.

We noticed him on March 17 of this year, which is why we named him Patrick. We like geckos, in particular, the pretty ones.

Black Patrick ran out to the yard. Olivia and Claus went to the pool. I finally got my quiet time.


July 9th, 2012

I think it's safe to say my daughter isn't a performing artist. She had preschool graduation in May, and she was the only kid who didn't seem to enjoy being on stage.

The teachers had the kids memorize a couple songs, including some simple hand gestures to go with it - like hula but only for hands. Every single kid but mine seemed to relish the experience.

Things Olivia did during three songs:

-Stand and look bored
-Try to kiss, repeatedly, the two boys flanking her
-Pull her dress in front of her face
-Put her hands on her face
-Quarter-ass (that's half of half-ass) sing the words
-Face the back
-Wiggle. A lot.

She is shy to begin with, so naturally, being stared at by dozens of people was not going to go over well. Plus, this event occurred at 7 p.m., which was dangerously close to her bedtime of 8 p.m.

"Oh, come on, Mom. Relax a little," I've had people tell me. Those are people who either are childless, or whose children are all grown up, so they forgot the daily ins and outs of parenting.

Let me break it down. It's not about me being strict with rules, it's about a little kid who gets cranky and melts down when too tired. I'm really just saving my own sanity by keeping her to the schedule that she knows and likes.

The next day at school, one of the teachers struck up a friendly conversation with me as I dropped Olivia off. "She was so funny on stage, just in her own little world," laughed the teacher.

Was it that obvious? I thought. I mean, it was to me, but this is my kid. My entire attention is on Olivia.

Now this is not to say she will not grow out of it, but for the short term, I don't think drama camp is in our future.

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