Sunday, September 28, 2008


It's been a fun month, but I am leaving late late late tomorrow night to fly through the night, land in Phoenix mid-morning, and attempt the 4-5 hour drive home. I am fully prepared to admit defeat a half hour outside of the airport, check into a motel, and pay for an entire day's stay just to sleep a couple of hours. I am also ready to down 8-12 Extra Large Diet Cokes and swallow a couple of Excedrin for Migraines (for the caffeine) to keep driving.

But I have to give up the idea of chocolate, chips, and munchy things to keep me awake since I have been eating them non-stop for the entire month I have been here and am already planing my exercise/diet attack when I get home (Rule No. 1: Do not keep such items with a fourteen mile radius of the house, Rule No. 2: Do not stay up past midnight each and every night, thereby guaranteeing that you will drive those fourteen miles at 11:30 p.m. to purchase such items.)

But there are some things I am taking back from Hawaii to the mainland (no, Harmony, I am not going to kidnap Kate and Colin... I don't think):

- The Aloha attitude. It's not just for the tourist, there are just a lot of smiles here, and a lot of relaxed happy people. And happiness is a decision, regardless of where you are.

- My regular 'farmer's' tan (only on my face and arms below the t-shirt line), but at least it's darker.

- Some great computer shortcuts and websites that I have picked up, as well as the determination, after being spoiled by a 'real' Internet connection, to disconnect the land-line and use that money towards a broad-band connection.

- Memories of Kate learning to say, "Please, Grandma, chocolate!", Colin becoming a great sport when he lost at Wii to me (bowling only; the boy still destroys me in tennis), Blake's active participation in "America's Got Talent", and Harmony and I both FREAKING out when the season premiere of "The Office" was NOT recording automatically.

Arizona, watch out, I'm coming back!

Friday, September 26, 2008


Literally just around the corner from my daughter's home is an elite row of model homes for a new development bordering an impressive Oahu golf course. Today I sauntered over there, and while not actually misrepresenting myself, spoke casually to the young real estate agent about possible investment, rental opportunities, second home, and toured half of the homes on display.

By Hawaii standards, very large and spacious room, nine foot ceilings, kitchens with things I wouldn't even have thought of, Roman walk-in showers, walk-in closets that are bigger than my bedroom back home. And, of course since these are unoccupied model homes, perfect linens, clear counters, carefully selected books and magazines, color-coordinated everything.

I am the ultimate peeping tom. I have never once walked past a window without looking inside, and I excuse my form of voyeurism, if you can label it such, as an intense interest in decorating and home building. Yeah, right.

So places like this are perfect to wander through, noting what the designer did with window treatments (I just love that expression - like they are going through physical therapy or something) and what the heck a Roman shower actually is (walk-in with no curtain or door - it does seem decadent since it's all colorful mosaic tile and about 100 square feet). I have fallen in love with ceramic cook tops (no steel brackets or posts - just clear counter until you begin to cook with it), and every home had a microwave built in looking just like a second oven. And the refrigerators! Covered with the same carpentry as the cabinets, they blend in perfectly.

Then I went back to Harmony's.

And you know what?

I completely LOVE walking back into counting books spread out all over the hallway, Little People teamed up with medieval soldiers to play baseball (rule completely interchangeable with tennis and bowling), scattered Legos from Colin building his latest version of Transformers ("Grandma, you can't play Transformers, only Kelly and I can play Transformers"), Kate scribbling on two MagnaDoodles at the same time with three Sippy Cups at her feet.

And no, this isn't what Harmony's house ever looks like, and she will KILL me for this description - this is what the house looks like when she leaves ME in charge.

But I love it. It has my daughter and her family, and any mess is created by my incredible grandchildren.

And I like my manufactured house back home, with enough carpet stains from numerous dogs, cats, illness, and bleeding to make doubtful the original color - with dust accumulations to be measured in feet, not inches - with furniture that has traveled from Europe to Hawaii to the East Coast to Arizona... and was second or third-hand when we got it.

So thanks for the tour, Gentry Homes, but you can keep your $734,900, 2,433 sq. ft. homes for now.

Maybe next year.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I will (and have) discussed religion with anybody. I bring up my church membership fairly quickly when I meet someone because 1) it's a huge part of my life and 2) if they would like to know more, it's a good start and 3) hopefully they know a lot of Latter-Day Saints and will immediately realize that I am not a run-of-the-mill Mormon (at least the First Presidency hopes so). In Arizona, at least, everyone seems to 'know' a Mormon from somewhere, and seems to understand that we aren't contagious or dangerous, just fairly 'off.'
But I cannot discuss the upcoming presidential race with any MALE in my family (please notice the distinction) for more than 45 seconds. Even when I fully agree with them. This primal, sweaty and simply dripping with testosterone force rears its ugly head and begins to blindly throw heavy objects around.
I like logic, I like discussion, but with politics somehow words like 'stupid,' 'idiot,' 'liberal,' and 'conservative' are blasted out of a cannon as fodder for their reasoning - it becomes completely emotional and alarming instead of rational, reasonable and sensible. And the ultimate in blasting comes with blanket statements - "he always, she never, they ALL." It's well known to be one the wrongs in any conversation - but in politics it's okay?
All I can do is watch the blood pressure rise, and being to seriously review the basic steps in CPR so when they do have that heart attack, I can at least be prepared.

(And yes, I do get a royalty off Obama's slogan, thank you very much)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


As I reminded Harmony and myself today, I am leaving the Aloha State at 9:35 p.m. Monday evening. Night flights are considerably cheaper, and because this trip has used up more of my cash than I planned, I definitely need to keep to it.

But how much can you do on a night flight?
I doubt there will be the two full-length movies we had on the flight in ("Leatherheads" and gee, what was the other obviously memorable one?) - I can just see the only two people on the flight watching it laughing and waking the rest of us up.

Could I get away with taking a sleeping pill, and subjecting the cabin to my snoring?

Should I use the time to complete Chapter Two of my novel?

How many games of Solitaire can you play in six hours?

Drink Diet Coke, eat chocolate, and pace the airplane for the entire flight?

Anyone else out there had experience with this type of flight, let me know of any workable plan and/or suggestions - Id be most grateful.

Monday, September 22, 2008


"The Office" begins again, and barring another writer's strike, should have a full season.

Now that I think of it, however, there are a lot of people who affect a television show. I mean, what (God forbid) if John Krasinski got seriously ill and had to spend six months or so recuperating in, say, Southern Arizona - or gets cast as a not-so-sweet character on "NUMB3RS" (an ill-tempered CalTech student that plots against David) - or becomes one of "The Others' on 'Lost' (Juliet's main love interest) - or (worst scenario of all) gets sucked into movie acting (worse for ME because I live a half-hour away from any movie theatre, and I'd have to pay to see him) or goes on Broadway (which means I would curl up in a little ball and simply die).

I mean, sure, some characters like Toby has left, and I can see possibilities for others - Kevin goes to debtor's prison, Darrell moves to take over Ryan's place at corporate, Phyllis opens a dance studio, and Stanley may actually take that job at Utica.


It would be like... well, like if Michael got smart, or Dwight sold his beet farm, or Meredith went sober, or Angelia got... drunk. We need to keep Jim as the one even-tempered, smart, funny and NICE guy (pranks on Dwight don't count).

So everyone hold their breath, cross their fingers, and wait for Thursday (man, I should be paid by NBC for such good advertisement).

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Sometimes a hearing problem can be a true blessing. You aren't expected to pick up on everything everyone says, I can say I didn't hear the phone and most people believe me, it's easier to ignore people you really don't want to talk to, and for me, at least, it's not difficult to fall asleep - if I roll over on my 'good' ear, almost all sound ceases.

But people get tired of repeating themselves for your benefit, I am constantly asking 'what is that noise?!' when the washer, dryer, refrigerator and/or '65 Mustang next door start up or shut down, and I do miss a lot of every one's conversation if they are not turned towards me so I can lip-read (necessary... nay, essential when more than one person is speaking).

It's be a running 'joke' with more than a little bit of an edge to it with my husband that I have 'convenient' deafness - he believes I can control it at will. It's going to be harder (that's what she said) as I continue to age, and his hearing isn't at all what it used to be - I just see it:

Wilt: Whaddamenekslensseth?

Hope: Excuse me, what did you say?


Hope: I'm sorry, I still don't understand what you are saying.


Hope: You don't have to swear!

Wilt: SEE!?! You CAN hear me!!

Friday, September 19, 2008


Two completely different images form in my head when I hear the word 'volunteer' - the first one is a Peace Corp volunteer giving polio immunizations in some third world country to starving orphans. The next is an 'older' woman (the term 'older' obviously is getting older the older I get - she's about in her 70's already) serving tea with the full china-cup things in an auxiliary meeting where delicate ladies, all with Southern accents, nibble on cake and discuss how to make clown dolls for the children's ICU unit.
Guess which kind of volunteer I want to be.
I live in a rural area, where the nearest town is relatively small (42,000, which is a huge thriving metropolis to some, the smallest city I've lived in so far), and has limited volunteer opportunities. We have a large percentage of retirees already, and I have friends who volunteer as VICAP drivers, in the public library, and take meals to the bed-bound (I'm sorry, doesn't that just sound like a masochistic delight?).

I guess I just want to be able to volunteer for wilderness medical trama that is only a very short walk from the nearest Pizza Hut. Perhaps animal rescue of only extrememly ugly creatures so I won't be tempted to take them all home. Helping homeless people who are nevertheless clean and well-groomed and don't smell. Assisting elderly people who are able to climb into the cab of my truck without help, are chatty and cheerful, and only need for services for about 8 minutes.

So - wannda ya think?


Instead of a tripod, Harmony is using me to hold her expensive camera and take photos of her family. The main problem was, a tripod normally doesn't argue with you about placement, method and manner of the shooting - I do.

Some of them turned out wonderful, and I'm very happy with them. Unfortunately, they are not the ones that Harmony is happy about, but who cares, she isn't paying me enough anyway.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


The theme song from "A Fiddler On the Roof" is stuck in my head this afternoon, and besides having images and certain lyrics replaying in my head (one in particular about mothers' work 'so papa can read the holy books'), I'm reviewing how many things we do simply because... well, because that's the way it's done. Tradition.

Not necessarily driving on the right-hand side of the road and putting salt on french fries, but how we handle relationships, the way our families interact, what makes us angry, what frightens us. Looking back over fifty-plus years, I see way too much baggage that I am still carrying, and more shockingly, some baggage my parents left me and which I never wanted, I am still dragging around in the Central Station of my life.

Traditions can be wonderful, stable and binding forces - but also scary, negative and horrifying ones that we may not even recognize because they have 'always' been part of our life - in short, traditions. If you were forced to clear your plate as a kid, you probably have your kids do the same thing - even if you hated being yelled at, you most likely are a yeller - whatever type of dysfunctional family you grew up in, that particular type isn't viewed by your subconscious as dysfunctional - it's tradition.
All this because a movie tune got stuck in my head.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


The following facts have been scientifically proven:

1. A diet soda, drunk within 30 minutes, cancels out all chocolate calories.

2. Macaroni and cheese prepared for a child under ten years of age is a dairy product and helps fulfill your daily calcium requirement.

3. Any food item prepared for a birthday, wedding and/or anniversary celebration, as well as any food consumed at a church function and/or inside a church building, is all healthy food.

4. Food snuck into a movie theater has no calories. Food purchased at a movie theater has triple the normal amount.

5. Food eaten after 11:30 p.m. actually counts as your next day's breakfast, so if you skip breakfast the next day because you overslept, it's fine.
6. Any food drunk with a glass of milk is changed into calcium.

7. A multi-vitamin taken within an hour of a meal reduces the caloric count by one third.

8. Exercise, to include walking the dog, doing laundry, and watching more than one advertisement for Bowflex in the course of one day, stimulates your metabolism for the next two weeks.

9. Membership at a gym counts, as well as knowing the day and time of all the pilate's, yoga and/or kick-boxing classes you would like to go to but don't have the time.

And last but not least:

10. Belief in any or all of this will continue to contribute to the 10 (20,40,50...)+ lbs you are currently carrying on your hips.

Friday, September 12, 2008


My oldest child turns 29 years old today, which means 29 years ago today I was trying to figure out why my huge stomach was tightening every 20 minutes.

Birthdays are cute when you are little, fun when you're a little bit older, become meaningful as you reach certain societal landmarks, sobering as you approach adulthood, and perhaps, if you let them, a bit emotional as you get older and older.

I love the way that hobbits' birthday celebrations are described by JRR Tolkein; presents are given away by the celebrant. not the guests, and presents can be given again and again (early efforts in recycling, I assume). Presents are nice, but I don't like giving (or receiving) meaningless ones. My husband used to get me flowers and something 'nice' (i.e. something I would never wear and which would already have it's tags all removed so I couldn't return it) until I finally convinced him that I was never going to insulted by cash.
So - what did you do for your last birthday?

Thursday, September 11, 2008


There was an extremely bad pop song back in the 70's - "torn between two lovers," with a young female singer deciding between two guys (forget any moral or female power-figure relevance, it was just BAD).

It's easy to choose between one very good and another horrible situation, but not when the running is close. I can't believe I am going to mention this, but in "America's Got Talent," the contestants have been narrowed down to actually all pretty good performers, and it is more difficult to choose who I/you/us would like to win (although I have not stooped low enough to call 866-223-0110 to make my vote count... give me another week).

Actually, my son-in-law and I have been watching it together, and it is a lot of fun to argue about whether the opera singer is better than the flaming baton twirler (my money is on the batons) instead of Kurds in Afghanistan. It's a fun distraction, an escape from the presidential race and makes us feel good about doing something for the environment simply through watching commercials that talk about doing something for the environment ("No action on your part is necessary, you are reducing green-house emissions simply by sitting there on your fat ass watching this expensive commercial!").

But I am faced with a little bit of a heavy decision right now. On one hand, I have two incredible grandchildren to play with, I am in Hawaii, I have access (most of the time) to a RAPID Internet access as well as a car, and have been promised an opening night party for the session premiere of "The Office."

On the other hand, I have a eight+ hour flight back, a six-hour drive home, a clinically depressed spouse, an obese and argumentative ("no, I'm not arguing!") offspring - as well, on the positive side, two horses, one dog and one cat that I seriously love, Arizona lack-of-humidity, my own bed, own bathroom, and ESPECIALLY my own tub, my "The Office" DVDs as well as my own computer (although with the slowest Internet access in the continental United States).

So cast your votes now! Call 1-520-226-6074, and YOU decide what will be Hope's decision! Call NOW - operators are standing by!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Large cities, in the United States at least, do not just bustle and/or buzz with activity. Rather, envision the screeching agony of locked brakes heading straight into a brick wall. Nothing sedate, pastoral or comforting - instead, Imax images of huge pieces of random metals bashing off each other with profane expletives, suicidal driving techniques, and obscene volume.

I have become accustomed to the quiet pace of rural southern Arizona where, discounting the numerous Border Patrol helicopters chasing illegals. I can hear the birds sing, my spoiled horse whinny for attention, and the neighbor's lonely dog's pitiful yelp. At night you can listen to coyotes howl (or at least pretend that the abandoned wild dog packs are coyotes), see the owls and bats whisper through the darkness (and pray you don't get pooped on from the sky - a much scarier experience in total dark), and watch the moon rise over the San Pedro Valley.

And while Oahu, I freely admit, has grown in numbers, highways, and tourist traps, I feel is still brightened by the smiles of the drive-through lady at the local McDonald's (true, she does see me at least daily - and I am accustomed to my own Joy's scowl when I go through back home), the cashier's cheerful 'aloha!' and the driver who waves 'shaka' out of his window instead of the middle finger of his left hand when you let him into traffic.

There are the frantic drivers, firmly convinced that civilized life on the planet will end if they don't get to the next red stop light ahead of the driver next to them - the parents with three kids in car seats grazing your rear bumper at 65 mph - and (my personal favorite) the lane-jumpers weaving in and out of rush-hour traffic who end up behind when you exit. And I feel confidently racist when I note that the grand majority of these types here in Honolulu are Caucasians - what is called, and not always complimentary, on the islands as 'haole.'
So (back to the main point that I was trying to get to way back at the beginning of this post for those of you who might still be reading this... wait a minute, what is the point I was trying to make?) while Honolulu is becoming more like a big city... it still isn't.
And this shows what happens when you hard at work with a blog entry and your two-year old granddaughter comes downstairs and wants your FULL attention - later, gator!


Sunset on a beach on Oahu. And not just any beach. This is a artificial, man-made cove that is perfect - perfect sand consistency, perfect amount of scattered shells, perfectly constructed rock/wave breakers... and on this particular evening, a perfect sunset with even the green flash.

Imagine Walt Disney constructing a personal beach for J.W. Marriott - manicured lawn right up to the sand, precise number of rustic looking shady-retreats (but all made from secure artificial plastics), and just enough controlled ocean to either wade or actually swim in.

But the one thing that was completely OUT of control at this little spot of man-made wonder was the ocean. There was a pretty nasty undertow even just a few feet out, and no lifeguards.

Kate, my granddaughter, decided right after sunset that this would be a good time to swim to Maui. And I, in my innocence, caught up with her and took hold of her hand, thinking this would suffice.


Instead of frolicking in the gently lapping edge of water, hand-in-hand with a two year old girl, I was DRAGGED into the waves almost to my waist, and felt Kate almost immediately being pulled out by the current.

Now, I did consider Kate's life a priority in this situation, but I must admit I was concerned about 1) my newish cell-phone (not guaranteed to be salt-water resistant) in my front pocket, and selfishly 2) my own safety since Kate was completely unfazed by any of this.

I ended up hauling Kate (and myself) out of the waves, completely soaked, and convinced her that sitting right on the water's edge and throwing wet sand at Grandma Hope was as much fun.

Remind me to wear my snorkeling gear next time we go.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Our personal little realities are confusing. We don't see things as they are, we see things as WE see them. What to one person is the random giggle of a passerby to another is someone making fun of them. An individual sees a room full of people staring at them - a person in the room isn't even aware of their presence. You can witness a beautiful sunset - or worry about cleaning the glass.

My husband and I argued for years about 'different' realities until I finally understood that 'his' reality was the only one he could be aware of. Mean people live in a mean world - suspicious people will always have great reasoning for their distrusts and paranoia - loving, caring people live in a happy world.

I came across this quote from (reputably from the Dali Lama - "The whole purpose of our life is to be happy." And to me most of that happiness comes from NOT concentrating on ME, but on YOU (i.e. the world at large). Not worrying about how silly/stupid/fat/ugly I might appear, but realizing how I can help all other other people who are scared silly about those exact same things.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

When you are depressed, cheer someone else up. When you feel unappreciated, give out compliments. When you feel like just moping around, help someone out.

I need to get my big fat butt in gear. I am missing my writing horribly, but I have access to a laptop. I am eating and sleeping way too much, but there is an elliptical trainer upstairs and perfect weather outside. And I have the option of limiting contact with life-sucking depressed slippery eels... or, even better, can change my attitude towards aforementioned depleting life forms.



Today was one of those days. My two major depressed family members were, guess what - majorly depressed.

I grew up dealing with a suicidal parent - keeping the peace, not rocking the boat, providing solutions, doing whatever it took - I was doing that from infancy, I feel. It's extremely difficult even now to let someone experience their own consequences, to not step in and take over the problem(s).

So I keep repeating to myself - "I am not responsible for any one else's mood or happiness except myself."