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Beginnings and endings- signing off, from Diane

October 5th, 2016

Is it just me, or do there seem to be a lot of endings this year? I'm not sure if I am more aware now because I'm a housewife with more time to talk to friends and to reflect, but it sure feels like a lot of people are closing up chapters in their lives.

I've heard about divorces, quittings, relocations, and deaths. Five friends or acquaintances of mine died this year.

Bridging the transition! Photo: Sisto Domingo

Bridging the transition! Photo: Sisto Domingo

A friend who likes numerology, Melissa Kurpinski, pointed out 2016 is a "nine" year, and that nine is the end of a cycle. You add 2 + 1 + 6 = 9. She said this to me in January and I've thought about it every time I hear about another closure.

At my former job as a newscaster.

At my former job as a newscaster.

My endings: I left my KHON2 news job over the summer, and today I stop writing for this paper. Management told me the Honolulu Star-Advertiser is effectively closing its blogging department, so I will write the end of this chapter, too.

It's been a really fun seven and a half years as a blogger, and I thank the newspaper for having me. I love writing as therapy, though I wasn't sure when I started what it would be like to commit to a regular writing schedule for a column that was essentially - to borrow from Seinfeld - all about nothing. Turns out it was a joy!

I wrote about professional musician Trey Terada, aka Dr. Trey

I wrote about professional musician Trey Terada, aka Dr. Trey

I made Small Talk with you, and some of you chatted back - thanks! Whatever seemed interesting, whoever seemed interesting, I wrote about. I enjoyed it, and I hope you did, too. Thanks for stopping by.

You accompanied me through three jobs and two housewife stints (KHNL, Halekulani, KHON2), through my child's early life (I'm now halfway through my legal obligation!), and on journeys real and philosophical. I appreciate you for listening.

The kind folks at Hawaii: In Real Life ( offered to host me, so I'll have a page there. I won't have a set schedule. I'll post when I want, and then I'll post a link to my social media to let you know something's up.

With this year's haul.

With this year's haul.

2010 awards with my video partner Tracy Arakakai

2010 awards with my video partner Tracy Arakakai

Along the way, I'm proud to say this online column (often with the help of my video partner Tracy Arakaki) won a dozen awards from the Society of Professional Journalists' Hawaii chapter, and one Emmy nod:   - Kendo practitioner and butterfly farmer  - pregnant pro surfer
- Wolf the blade smith

Back CameraTracy shooting Wolf the blade smith.

Tracy shooting Wolf the blade smith. - candy art - this also got an Emmy nomination!

- Modern Cowboys


Jai Cunningham

I wrote about KHON2's Jai Cunningham - profiles on Jai & Trey



Life changes. You just flow with it. It's all OK.

The end of one story is just the beginning of a new one. May we all find ourselves in an excellent new story. With aloha, Diane

Photo: Russ Tanoue

Photo: Russ Tanoue

You can still find me on Facebook: Diane Ako, Instagram: diane_ako, Twitter: Diane Ako, or

PS: Shortly, comments here will probably not be moderated. Perhaps you can share your opinion on one of my social media accounts. Thanks!

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Isn't she a sweetie?

October 4th, 2016

My friend Carolyn loves her dog. Looooves her dog. It's her baby.



It's a three year old Maltese named Sweetie, and I find her affection for her dog cute and amusing. She sleeps with it every night so it gets a bath before it jumps into bed.

It's not uncommon for pet lovers to give their dog a birthday party, and that's what Sweetie got. Hers was catered, with favors and party games. Only humans attended because Sweetie doesn't like other dogs.

Before Carolyn took a vacation, she actually took great pains to make sure the dog's food was properly pre-made and portioned out, ready to pull out of the fridge and set on the floor. Or in the double-elevated, designer-made, stainless steel, Swarovski crystal-embedded feeding station.

Then, my lovely friend used her time to detail the feeding instructions and care schedule, with a handy checklist available, so that her relatives could actually validate Sweetie's daily care.

Photo is below. Please note that Sweetie needs to be prayed for, played with, and photographed.


I saw the now-old checklist on the refrigerator and just about died laughing that it was all completely ignored. She found two food packets in the fridge when she came home, so was her dog actually starving or did it get its meal supplemented with table scraps? Who knows what terrible things happen when Mom's away?

"And I only got one picture of my dog that whole time. ONE!" she added.

The nerve of these people. Probably goes without saying that the dog's soul was not prayed for during this week.


Carolyn's love for her dog isn't what strikes me as funniest about this situation. It's about the fact that she was never really a great pet person before.

Once, I had two mice that I had to give away after I developed an allergy. She said she would take them. That's very kind.


About a month later, I got a call. "I have sad news for you. My (former) dog ate Chairman Mao. And Tawny Satin got heat exhaustion after I forgot her cage outside after cleaning it. So, they've both moved on to the Big Cheese in the Sky," she told me.

Bless their little rodent souls. What a way to go.

Anyhow, look at Carolyn now. She's totally in love with this dog. She's like a helicopter mom. We don't necessarily even walk the dog because she carries it half the time.


It's so sweet to see Carolyn very loving and affectionate with her pet. So apparently, you CAN teach an old dog - sorry, mature dog - new tricks.

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Aiea crystal shop "rocks"!

October 4th, 2016

Aiea, apparently, is Where Crystals Rock. That's the name of a new-ish store that features a marvelous selection of crystals, fossilized rocks, meteorites, and some spiritual tools.

Helen Uyehara and Cookie of Where Crystals Rock in Aiea

Helen Uyehara and Cookie of Where Crystals Rock in Aiea

I first learned about it by reading this paper's "5 Things We Love" feature, and knew I had to check it out. My daughter and I share a love for all things shiny!

Ooh! The things you learn from reading the paper!

Ooh! The things you learn from reading the paper!

Olivia and I were not disappointed. In a small, welcoming, and blissfully air conditioned shop in Harbor Center, co-owner Helen Uyehara and her dog Cookie greeted us cheerfully. Turns out I know Helen from church, but that's a whole different story.


Helen opened her shop in 2014 as a post-retirement hobby. She's always loved gems. "I took lapidary courses in my youth, so I learned to cut and polish stones. I've had a lifelong fascination with crystals and gems," she shares.

She started testing the waters back in 2010, by selling crystals out of her house and hosting open houses. In 2014, after leaving a career with the State, she went into business with her niece, Mika Pantaleo.


Helen goes on buying trips twice a year, to gem shows in Denver and Tucson (ooh! I want to come!). Sounds glamorous, but she jokes that it's actually a little tiring to buy for everyone else but yourself.

img_2375 img_2372

She sure has learned a lot, though. Names of stones, spiritual meanings. Just that alone could take quite some time; she tells me there are more than 3,000 kinds of minerals!

img_2378 img_2371

"I consider crystals like Earth's blossoms. On land, there are flowers that bloom. And when you look into the Earth, gems are the beautiful things you find," Helen says.

The most popular sellers are amethyst, rose quartz, and Labradorite, though her favorites are rutilated quartz and pyrite. "It seems to me that people are more spiritual now, and crystals have a calming effect. They're said to have certain energies that benefit the wearer, but it could be as simple as wearing it and reminding yourself of your intention," she says.

Our stuff!

Our stuff!img_2386

I went just because I was curious, but left with a bunch of stuff. Olivia wanted a pretty wire gem tree, a citrine necklace, and a glittery goldstone. I got a gemstone cage and stones to put inside it, and bracelets of agar wood and Labradorite.

img_2376 img_2374

The price range is very reasonable, from $1.50 single rocks to $3,950 for large amethyst geodes. There are necklaces, pendants, wind chimes, jewelry, strands of gems, and much more. One regular customer tells me she thinks Where Crystals Rock has the best gem selection on Oahu.


Locally made Aloha Elixir candles and sprays

Cleansing tools include smudge sticks, candles, and sprays, though the focus of the store is on the rocks.

We get caught up in just looking and looking at all the pretty delights. Even my long-suffering husband decided he could't beat us, so he joined us in enjoying shopping. (Those crystals must really be calming!)


We also all enjoyed talking to Helen. She's extremely sweet, knowledgeable, and delightful to be around.

"This is my new favorite store!" Olivia declared.

I have to agree. It's pretty rockin'.



Harbor Center (behind Cutter Ford)
98-025 Hekaha Street, Bldg 4, Unit 10


Just after the Harbor Center entrance, Building 4 is on the left. It's kind of across Rainbow Gymnastics. It's easy to miss because the building is behind you as you drive in and you don't see it until you drive out.

If you're worried about hitting HART construction traffic for the rail, go on a Sunday when it's tolerable.


Fish eyes

October 4th, 2016

This headline is dedicated to my friend Glenn, who loves to use the term "fish eyes" to describe the blank stare of non-comprehension (intentional or not).


I get very, very excited to plan parties and events for Olivia. I really get off on thinking about the menu, the guest list, the favors, the activities, etc.

I delight in envisioning her excitement, and enjoy having conversations with her to further plan. She's so much fun. I love to make her happy.

Olivia is hosting a big slumber party coming up with six girlfriends. It's her biggest sleepover ever. We've accidentally had two neighbor girls over once, but historically, the standard is one friend.

This isn't even for any special occasion. It's just that I'm eager to jump back into Mommy Life in all forms, which I largely ignored or did the bare minimum for when I was recently working and very tired.

I'd like to send the girls home with a little favor, so I got cylinder vases and planned to layer colorful candies to create an artful effect. In the store, I asked Claus to help me decide which candies are best.

I love chocolate, but I wanted unwrapped candy if possible because that's prettier. "Candy corn! That's perfect!" I uttered, but as I reached for a bag, I realized there's four different types - candy corn, autumn corn, pumpkins, and mixed fall designs.

"Which one looks best?" I agonized, while Husband stood mutely next to me. I really would like an answer.

"This or this?" I asked.

"Yes," he said.

"No, really! This or this? I think Mixed is good, but then maybe Autumn Corn looks nicer with the fall-themed M & M's?" I persisted. This is really important stuff.

"This is great," he said, and, I suspect, reached for the bag closer to him. I accused him of disinterest.

"I really wish you'd be more into this," I complained.

"I'm totally into this," he assured me unconvincingly with his Fish Eyes.


It was pretty much like this for every candy decision until I gave up, which was, I'm sure, his desired effect. *sigh*

Later that day, he came home from a visit with his stockbroker. "How was your meeting?" I inquired politely. I hate finance and I don't really care what the answer is past "Good" or "Junk."

We both know this, and have both known this for years, yet he went ahead anyway with telling me about it. "Funds... equities... pricing levels... speculation... pullback... interest rates... portfolio... stocks and bonds... market fluctuation."

He concluded with a question for me that I didn't even hear, but nodded yes in the hopes that was the right answer and that I wasn't making anybody mad. He probably asked me if he could blow all our savings on buying an airplane and I just approved it.


Anyway, he didn't get mad. But he did know I wasn't really listening. "Fish Eyes, right back at you," I laughed.

Life is like Scrabble

October 4th, 2016

Our family has been playing a lot of Scrabble lately. Olivia's at an age where she's ready for this, and I see that it enhances her mental skills and broadens her vocabulary.

I usually team up with her or I give her an assist if I'm playing on my own. In this manner, she routinely kicks Daddy's butt.

It's nothing to be ashamed about. He's ESL; he totally gets a pass. If this were Numbers Scrabble or Danish Scrabble he'd bury us every time.

It's interesting to watch Olivia struggle between what is and what could be. She often makes complete words out of the seven tiles she has, but then she has nowhere to place it on the board. ZCAT is not the phonic spelling of a Frenchman saying "the cat."

She also complains that she has nearly enough letters to produce the word she wants, but if only she had a ___ or a ___. "What are you going to do, wait and hope to get it?" I ask. "Just use what you have."

Then I realized Scrabble is like life. You get what you get from a blind draw of tiles. You make the best of what you've got. You see what the board has laid out for you and find how you can work into that.

If you keep waiting and hoping for the perfect letter(s) to make up the perfect word, you may be waiting forever, so don't.

Sometimes you have all consonants and you wish you were playing Polish Scrabble. That's hardscrabble, and then you have to throw all the tiles back to refresh your hand, and forfeit your turn. Rest and take a break.

And every now and then, it all comes together and you get a real zinger. I got to use my Z (10 points; the highest value tile) on a TRIPLE LETTER SCORE to spell ZEN. Excellent! And just like that, the little victories give you a boost to get excited and keep going.




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