Shangri La and Islamic art

May 25, 2020

Doris Duke was a billionaire, who truly loved Islamic art and architecture. She owned a mansion, called Shangri La, which is located near Kahala Avenue in Honolulu, Hawaii. She was relieved that her home and art collection survived World War II. Gilt and painted ceilings from Morocco, vivid ceramics from Iran, intimate interiors from Syria, pierced metalwork and vibrant textiles from Spain to India reflect Duke’s discriminating taste and celebrate the diversity of the Islamic world.

There are four aspects of Islamic art and architecture you must remember: (1) Symmetry (2) Arabesque lines (3) Geometry and (4) Calligraphy.

In 2009, my sister-in-law, Pat, and I bought tickets at the Honolulu Museum of Art to tour Shangri La in Kahala. We were bused to and from the mansion, and had a wonderful time. Most of the art has been removed from the premises and is stored at the Honolulu Museum of Art. But, it doesn’t matter. What we saw at the mansion was truly inspiring. I was so impressed with the Persian mosaics and the grounds of the mansion.

Here are photos that I took of the exterior, as we were prohibited from taking photos of the interior for some reason:

These are samples of Doris Duke’s Islamic art collection, exhibited at the Honolulu Museum of Art:

Doris Duke was married and divorced twice and had several love affairs. One of her lovers was said to be the Olympic gold medalist, Duke Kahanamoku, who taught her how to surf.

Her dogs were buried in her backyard. However, her ashes were scattered in the ocean near her home after her death in 1993 at age 80.

She had two children, but the bulk of her estate belongs to the Doris Duke Foundation, which is known for its philanthropy.

Pat and I enjoyed this tour immensely back in 2009. David couldn’t attend, because he had to work. I think he would have enjoyed it, too. Maybe, we can get tickets after the quarantine is lifted.

So nice of Maria

May 23, 2020

It was so nice of my older daughter, Maria, to come by with food and flowers from Costco.

This is Maria, holding the pot of anthuriums:


This is a photo of mother and daughter:

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And this is where we placed the flowers on the dining table:


Thank you, dear Maria! So sweet of you to think of your aging mother.

Dining and chatting with David

May 21, 2020

David and I craved Chinese cuisine, so we bought take-out food from Mark’s Drive Inn, which is less than a mile from our home.

Here we are, raising our glass of chilled apple juice. “Cheers, my dear!”:


We started with Hot and sour soup, which consisted of tofu, pork, and veggies in broth:


This was followed by Noodles, beef, garlic chicken, and veggies:


And for dessert, we had Chantilly cake:


What did we talk about? As usual, current events, e.g., how the coronavirus will affect the new theatre, concert and opera season.

And, yes, we discussed politics. Our conversation was civil, though our blood was beginning to boil.

Pull up a chair and join us.

It was fun while it lasted

May 19, 2020

Though I have a BA in Sociology and not in English, I have always been interested in writing. In 1999, I started writing for the local newspapers and was thrilled to be paid $100 per column. Then, starting in 2003, I wrote and self-published three memoirs and also edited an anthology. I managed to earn $8,000 in book revenue, which is not bad, considering the memoirs were only about me and my family. I am not rich and famous. My books were just meant to be entertaining and nothing more.

These are my books:





This is me with two friends at a book signing of my first book in 2004. The flash from my camera made my skin look abnormally white:

This is me, selling books at a craft fair in 2007:

Anyway, I terminated my book business in 2010. Borders Book Stores had shut down, and there went my biggest customer.

It was fun while it lasted.

If interested, you can read the reviews of my books by clicking on this link:

Play with love in my heart

May 17, 2020

As you know, I purchased a new violin at CK Violins back in January 2019. Here I am with the shop owner:

At first, I was enthusiastic about returning to the world of music. I practiced my violin daily without fail. Now? Not so much. For some reason, I have lost the incentive to practice. And, if I don’t practice, I’ll never improve as a violinist. Man, this is such a setback:

It seems this kind of indifference is very common. David stopped playing his clarinets and sold them to a clarinetist in the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra. David was paid $1,400 for them. He loved the money and said good-bye to his clarinets:

Our children, Maria and Lisa, took piano lessons when they were little. Maria participated in piano recitals and played well. But, after her teacher scolded her for not practicing at home, Maria told me she wanted to terminate lessons. So, that was that. Eventually, I sold our piano:

My granddaughter, Julia, used to play the ukulele when she was 6 years old. Now, at age 12, she has lost interest in it:

My grandson, Rylan, sang in the school choir when he was 8 years old. But, the music director left the following school year, and nobody has replaced him:

I truly admire people who keep up the good work, because often, music is just that: Work.

The last time I practiced my violin was in January. It’s time to pick it up again and play with love in my heart.

Two birthday parties at the Ice Palace

May 15, 2020

The Ice Palace is located less than a mile from our home and is a popular venue for birthday parties. I recall two parties in particular. One party was for my younger daughter, Lisa, when she turned 7, and the second party was for my granddaughter, Julia, when she turned 6.

This picture was taken in 1989. Click on the image to enlarge. I was 43, and Lisa was 7. Lisa could not skate without assistance:

Maria (age 10) and Lisa. Maria could skate without assistance. She is just posing for the camera here. That’s my nephew, Aaron, on the right:

Fast forward to 2013, when Maria’s daughter, Julia, turned 6. Julia was able to skate without assistance, though she did fall several times:

My grandson, Rylan (age 3), needed help from Maria:

This is a photo of Maria, Rylan, Julia and Grant at Julia’s party in 2013:

Julia blowing out the candles:

This is how the skating rink looked in 2013:

I am not sure if ice hockey is still played at the Ice Palace. There used to be two teams, comprised of military personnel, and maybe there still are.

As for me, I don’t skate anymore, as I am too afraid I’ll fall and break a bone.

The weeping camel

May 13, 2020

There was a TV documentary that I saw in June 2009. It was a very touching and true story about a brown camel in Mongolia, who had a difficult labor and delivery prior to giving birth to her first offspring. When she saw that her calf was white, she rejected it. Whenever her baby wanted to suckle, she kicked it away.

I took these shots from my TV. Click on the images to enlarge.

This is the white calf, when it was born:

And this is the calf’s brown mother:

The Mongolians tied the mother’s hind legs together so that the calf could suckle without being kicked:

But, when freed, the mother continued to reject her calf. The Mongolians decided to try music therapy to heal the relationship between mother and calf. First they hung a 2 string violin from the mother’s hump. The wind blew through the strings, producing a beautiful melody:

Then, a musician took the violin and performed another melody:

A woman sang to the camel:

All that music moved the camel to tears. It began to weep:

Then, her heart melted and she treated her calf with love and affection:

Music therapy worked, and the baby camel could at last suckle without being kicked out by its mother:

This was such a touching video that showed what life is like in Mongolia. You might be able to rent “The Story of the Weeping Camel” from Netflix, if it is still available. The subtitles are in English.

Red goes with motherhood

May 11, 2020

For our Mother’s Day feast, I chose a red color scheme, as red goes with motherhood. To complement the red tablecloth and red napkins, David gave me a fresh red rose, which became our centerpiece. I brought out the silver, fine china, and stemware to complete the table setting.

We decided to wear red aloha attire (a red muumuu for me and a red aloha shirt for him).

Here we are, raising our glass of chilled apple juice. “Bon Appetit, my dear!”:


Isn’t this red rose beautiful?


We started our feast with chilled lychees and Mandarin oranges that refreshed and cleansed our palates:


Our main entrée consisted of baked pork chops, wild rice, and sautéed zucchini:


For dessert, we had mint chocolate chip ice cream:


I had a fabulous time with David. Too bad our kids and grandkids could not join us.

Hulmoni on Mother’s Day 1968

May 9, 2020

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This is a photo of my maternal grandmother (“Hulmoni” in Korean) with some of her grandkids and great grandkids. It was taken by Uncle George in May 1968 on Mother’s Day. I am the one seated on the right with my hands on my knee.

Hulmoni was 72 at the time this photo was taken. What a wonderful mother she was to her 10 children (7 daughters and 3 sons). She also was very kind to me when I lived with her in her home as a college student (1965-1968).

As an immigrant from Korea, who came to Hawaii as a picture bride, Hulmoni did very well. She became an American citizen in 1961 at the age of 65, passing the citizenship test on her first attempt. She was almost 80 when she died of a stroke in 1976. At the time of her death, she was a millionaire and the owner of a 3 story apartment building.

In 2002, at the request of the South Korean government, her corpse and that of her husband were exhumed, cremated, and transported to Seoul, where they are now interred in the National Memorial Cemetery of Korea. They are honored as Patriots of Korea for helping to fund and lead the movement to liberate Korea from Japanese colonization. I have photos of the burial ceremony at the cemetery, but I’ll post them some other time.

I have only loving memories of you, Hulmoni. Thank you so much for taking me in at a critical point in my life. You would have adored my family: David, Maria, Lisa, Grant, Julia, and Rylan.

Happy Mother’s Day, Hulmoni.

We will never see them again…

May 7, 2020

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This is a picture of David’s family (1990).

Since this picture was taken, there have been three deaths in his family: David’s mother (2001), his father (2003), and his sister (2007). We will never see them again, and they are truly missed by everyone who knew them. Their remains are interred at Hawaiian Memorial Park Cemetery.

These are photos of David standing near their graves (2018):

I think this cemetery is very beautiful. David and I already have a plot waiting for us there. It was purchased by my father in 1960. We have the deed to the plot in our filing cabinet.

We usually see Michael, Shirley and their family once a year. However, they have cancelled their trip to Hawaii this year due to the coronavirus quarantine. We hope they can travel to Hawaii next year.

So far so good. We are all asymptomatic and doing well.