Archive for the ‘family’ Category

Christmas gifts 2015

November 25th, 2015

Kids. Blabbermouths. My goodness.

Olivia planned the Christmas gift exchange with each parent separately. Then told us about it.

Last week, as we were walking, she confessed as we passed a massage clinic, "I told Daddy about his Christmas gift."

I stopped and looked at her. "What? Why?"

She looked sheepish and said she was excited. I know, and it's fine, but *eye roll*

Then, last night, they come home and I see a brown bag on the counter. I ignore it. As we're all sitting there for dinner, Olivia says to me, "We got you your Christmas present already."

I look at her and said, "So you guys went to the health food store today?" I'm now into Ayurveda as an outgrowth of my interest in yoga, and requested floral scented oils.

She looked at him. He stopped reading his iPad and looked at her and sighed, "You are impossible."

She giggled. We all laughed.

So THEN he pulls one oil out of the bag to show me because he wasn't sure if kukui massage oil qualified. I had to approve my own gift! "You guys are impossible," I said. More laughter.

I lean over to look into the rest of the bag and he pulls it away. Pulls it away! "Well, why leave it out for me to see then?" I question.

"You leave bags lying around," he retorted.

"You're not nosy like me," I defended. (Or insulted myself.)

Husband gives into me and pulls out the rest of the bottles. To be safe, he got an assortment of scents. Coconut, pikake.

He's so funny about covering all his bases. This reminds me of when I was pregnant and to head off any midnight grocery runs for weird cravings, he took a stab at it and bought a grocery cart's-worth of a random assortment of junk food for me.

"I bought everything I could get my hands on. I bought a case of everything snack related. I really didn't want to be driving to Foodland at 3 a.m.," he recalls. Most of it went uneaten.

I didn't have big cravings, but I ate everything in sight. I'd order two entrees at the restaurant. Oh, and there was a little stretch of time in which I actually found pickle juice delicious and would drink it right out of the bottle.

But I digress. Back to 2015.

"So that's it? That's Christmas? It's not even December? That's the big gift surprise?" I stuttered.

We faux-glared at the kid. She giggled. "I promise I won't ruin any more secrets."

"Yes," we said. "Because there aren't anymore to ruin."

The black cell phone case

November 23rd, 2015

My poor mom. The Alzheimers gets worse. She now doesn't remember my daughter Olivia's name. "Who is this pretty little girl? What's your name?" Popo asked Olivia upon first arriving.

We had a big family get together recently and my cousin and my dad have the same first name, Paul. Cousin Paul wanted a photo of my mother, me, and Olivia.

The three of us were standing there waiting for the photo and my mother kept getting distracted or confused. We kept saying, "Look there. Look at Paul."

Then I realized she was looking for my dad, who wasn't in the room at that moment. So I started pointing, "Look at that black phone. Look at that black thing." (She certainly has no idea what a cell phone is.)

"What?" she exclaimed at my manners. "That's not nice. He's our relative."

Huh? Then it dawned on me that she thought I was calling Paul a "black thing." I mean, he is deeply tanned, but no.

It's funny how the mind works with Alzheimers - what gets remembered and what doesn't. It's a grab bag.

So there's still room for humor in life, even in the sadness.

Alfred Hitchcock family ties to Hawaii

November 20th, 2015

The Master of Suspense, revered filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, actually hung out at a Hawaii hotel on a family vacation. While the man often regarded as the greatest British filmmaker is more associated with psychological thriller dramas, his granddaughter Tere Carrubba says he was quite opposite at home: a loving, jovial, sweet family man who loved to spend time with his wife, daughter, and granddaughters.

Tere Carrubba

Tere Carrubba

Tere - and I'm going to refer to her by her first name due to a familiarity that comes with being related by marriage - and her husband are in the Islands this week for the Hawaii International Film Festival, in which she attended the screening of his 1945 film Spellbound. After, she answered questions from the audience.

Tere (far right) and her sisters on family vacation in Switzerland. Courtesy: Tere Carrubba

Tere (far right) and her sisters on family vacation in Switzerland. Courtesy: Tere Carrubba

She does this all the time. She's invited to speak at festivals and events around the world about her famous grandfather, who directed more than fifty feature films in a career spanning six decades. Her mother, Pat, used to be the spokesperson, but can no longer do that, so it's up to Tere or her sister Mary. There is a third sister who prefers not to give public speeches.

Usually, she says, people want to know what Hitchcock was like outside of work, which is right in her wheelhouse. Anyway, she says she couldn't really talk movie jargon. "I was so young when the movies came out, I can't really answer many technical questions. I was in third grade when Psycho came out." She does, however, list Strangers on a Train and The Birds as her favorite films of her grandfather's.

Tere (right) and her sister on the set of North by Northwest. Courtesy: Tere Carrubba

Tere (right) and her sister on the set of North by Northwest. Courtesy: Tere Carrubba

On the other hand, she laughs, she's an expert on what he was like as a family man. At first, like all children of celebrities, it didn't dawn on her. "He was the only grandfarther I knew; I didn't know any different."

Tere describes him as "quite a character; he had a sense of humor. One year we spent Christmas with him and he dressed up as Santa Claus. That was pretty funny!"

When she was in first or second grade, she realized he was special, "but it wasn't important to me. There were more important things to a seven year old."

Then, as she got older, she realized his significance. "We'd be places and I saw all the attention he drew." Sometimes she or her sisters would pick him up at the studio and take him grocery shopping (which he loved!) and "it was odd at the produce aisle. Women would look, and be like, 'No that can't be him.'"

As masterful as he was in his craft, Tere says he left work at work. "Once he got home, he was home. That was his place of relaxing and being with family. We saw him and my grandmother a lot. They lived 30 minutes away, but we were there once a week," she says of his Los Angeles home.

Tere reflects on her close relationship with her grandfather. Was there one special memory that stands out? No, she says, there were too many. "Just all the times we spent together alone. Just family. Family was huge to him."

It's ironic, I point out, that despite her grandfather's iconic status in cinema, none of his descendants went into acting or making films. She nods, "I didn't have a passion. I don't think any of us had a passion for it, and you have to have a passion to be successful because it's a tough industry." The closest its gets to showbiz is her sister Katie, a lawyer for DreamWorks.

Me interviewing Tere.

Me interviewing Tere.

Tere's excited to be in the Islands for HIFF. It's her first time to get involved with that film festival, and she says she's pleased to be invited. "To this day, he's revered in the entertainment industry. I don't know that there's been anyone since him, that did what he did. It's a legacy, and I'm honored to represent him. I hope to do it well."

This isn't, however, her first time to Hawaii. She has been coming annually since she was a child. In fact, they vacationed here in 1971. "We came with my grandparents for Christmas to Mauna Kea. It was his idea, and it was a fun time. They enjoyed being here. It was beautiful," recalls Tere. But he certainly didn't come for the tropical sun as most tourists do. "He didn't wear a swimsuit. He didn't like the sun."

Paul & Tere Carrubba

Paul & Tere Carrubba

The Ako family first cousins and spouses.

November 2015: The Ako family first cousins and spouses.


Her ties to Hawaii got even stronger after she met and married my paternal first cousin, Paul Carrubba, in 1988. The yearly visits continue, and though their trips are always whirlwind, we all try to squeeze in a family gathering.

The Ako family (two-thirds of us.) We're related to the Carrubbas through Grandpa Ako.

Nov. 2015: The Ako family (two-thirds of us.) The rest live in the mainland.

Tere says so much about the Aloha State appeals to her: the natural beauty, the peacefulness of Hawaii, and - like her grandfather- the draw of family.


November 18th, 2015

My husband was promoted at the (Japanese) jujitsu dojo to second degree black belt. He's been the senior ranking black belt for a few years. He teaches class one night a week.


Anyway, he came home and needed to sew red stripes on his belt. By "he" I mean "me."

First, the questions about if we have red material in my fabric stash. I sew a little (poorly, but it gets simple jobs done).


Then, he asked me for days about where I keep the needle and thread. I have a sewing kit and I have a full-on sewing machine and cabinet I inherited from Mom.

After hinting and asking and commenting for a week, he really wanted to get those red stripes on, so he took it upon himself to set up the machine one afternoon.

Now, it's relevant to say this was a weekend where 1) I had a head cold and just wanted to blob out; 2) we had finally upgraded our Internet cable modem which for a full quarter of a year had been getting slower and slower; 3) the trade winds were finally back and it was nearly pleasant to sit in my living room and veg out.

It was my number one goal for Saturday to get that darned cable modem upgrade. We have all been so sick of Netflix buffering and with my fatigue I was desperate to sit on the couch and look at my favorite shows. It would play for one minute and buffer for 20, literally.

I told him I didn't even care if went and got food at the grocery store that day. All I cared about was getting my Netflix on, therefore get me to Oceanic Cable before 5 p.m. because it's closed all day Sunday.

We got home from Oceanic and set up the modem, tested it, and found out there IS NO BUFFERING! HURRAY!

I settle down in my favorite spot on the sofa. Pillows fluffed up. Cold water and phone nearby. Legs propped up. Excited to finish watching my favorite soap opera.

Naturally, this makes it the perrrrrfect time to bother me. Not one minute had elapsed and he's asking me how to thread the machine.

I swear, I want to kill him. Now? Of all times?

He has no idea what a bobbin is, how to thread those complicated needles, how to lock a stitch, and all that other stuff. So I knew I would end up doing it for him.

He was trying to be all self-sufficient by saying, "Just show me how to do this needle thing," (this needle thing?) but yeah, right. Then, I exchange a green threaded bobbin for the correct color and he looks like I just unlocked the mysteries of the Universe.

Sure, he's going to figure it out. He's going to figure out how to break it for me.


Then, because belts (and gi) are thick material, you have to finish it by hand sewing it on. It's a real pain.

After nearly an hour, I finished, and it doesn't look amazing, but the good part is he knows how to kick your butt if you want to make fun of it.

"This was a real pain. I hope you aren't promoted for a long time," I complained, handing him the finished belt.

I'm about to settle down to watch my Netflix now. Unless anyone else has some important task that just cannot wait that they need to nag me about right now.

Posted in dad, family, mom | 4 Comments »

Christmas, I'm ready for you!

November 16th, 2015

Don't judge, but I put up the Christmas tree this weekend. It's just because I'm the self-appointed Minister of Emergency Situations at my house, and as such, I've averted an eleventh hour emergency by proactively erecting the holiday memorabilia now, while I have that rare drop of energy. Yay, me!


As soon as the Halloween stuff came down, I promised myself I'd replace it with Christmas, so here we are. We had a family moment on Sunday morning by assembling our new, fake tree and decorating it.

Now, I was never previously this punctual with Christmas, but having a child rearranged my priorities. One has to have their holiday stuff in order when small kids are involved. It's all for her.


This is a sign I'm getting old: it feels like just a few months ago we were doing this. Where did the time go??!!

I have to laugh because in years past, I really thought I'd be some environmental wonder and buy locally grown pine trees, or even use one I planted myself. Time and obligation wore me down.

Last year, the boxes of artificial trees sure looked appealing when compared to the energy of finding the time to drive out to Wahiawa, fighting with the tree holder to erect it at a straight angle, sweeping up fallen needles, watering it every other day, the making the time to take it down in January. Last year I think we even cut it up in pieces to fit into the green recycle bin, because we didn't want to drive it to wherever you can discard whole trees.

I just can't do that anymore. I enjoyed taking down the tree from the attic at my whim (it's so early, I don't even know that real trees are available yet) and setting it up my my schedule. I'm excited that it took ten minutes to piece together and will not require water and further fuss.

I hope this doesn't sound like bah humbug. Olivia doesn't seem to notice the difference. She has her big tree with lights and ornaments, and she'll be even more excited once the presents with her name start appearing underneath.

Here's wishing you some peace, calm, short lines, and easy parking stalls as we enter the Christmas season!