August 28, 2011

Today Special: Hibiscus and Gravy

Filed under: Uncategorized — geoff @ 2:42 pm

Good morning and greetings, hurricane season fans. Last week, we had some lovely weather here on the central coast. I’m guess I’m just a sucker for a blue sky. It’s like the song says, “gray skies are going to clear up, put on a happy face. Brush off the clouds and cheer up, and start spreading sunshine all over the place.” I’m all about sticking out my noble chin and slapping on a happy grin. Yup, that’s me in a nutshell.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve zeroed in on Hawaii and particularly the Garden Isle of Kauai. Today we’re going flower wild as Hawaii is a place that has a fragrance that smells like heaven. It is known as the “Island of Flowers” and holds the world record for having the highest numbers of gardens, rare species and for people exclaiming, “was that really Don Ho?”

As we know, this outstanding chain of islands was created by volcanoes and the early producers of Hawaii Five-0. The Four W’s, wind, waves, wings and the wiki wiki shuttle used to be the only way to make an appearance in this archipelago before the first Polynesians started bringing knick knacks with them in their carry-on luggage.

The Hawaiian islands are more isolated than the way I felt in the hours before my wedding, and because of that, it’s remoteness has acted as somewhat of a biological filter, since not a lot of species strolled up to the luscious spot in the South Pacific. But the ones that did should feel damn lucky, because this place, like my senior picture in my high school yearbook, is as beautiful as beautiful gets.

Hawaii is known world-wide for its tropical environment filled with exotically scented plants, stunning underwater marine life and the best prices on honey roasted macadamia nuts. There is a diversity of flowers that I haven’t seen since I was trapped under a float at the Rose Bowl parade. Because of weather patterns that are more consistent than my outside shooting, flowers grow on the island grow quicker than I can come up with metaphors for these posts.

These ornamental beauties are a huge part of Hawaiian culture, with the making of leis for ceremonial purposes and greeting tourists and agricultural inspectors arriving from the mainland. The tradition of giving leis is older that the phrase, “Book em’ Dano” and are used as a symbol of affection. They are given to someone to say hello, goodbye or make sure you wash that damn sand off your feet before entering my home.

My favorite flowers used in leis are plumerias, orchids and dandelions, which tell no lies. Photos three and four feature the fabulous plumeria, with has a fragrance to die for. There are usually white with centers of yellow, pink, purple, red and a creamy milk chocolate, but some feature different hues of exotic coloring. They grow like hot cakes in the Hawaii, but are not native to the islands, emerging instead from a exotic locales like the Amazon Basin in Brazil, the Congo Basin in West Africa and Kim Basinger’s back yard in Beverly Hills.

Photos one and two feature the plumeria’s friend, the hibiscus. A yellow hibiscus (photo #1) is the official state flower of Hawaii, and is called ma ma’o hau hele in Hawaiian, which translated means “this ain’t no California poppy.”

Studies have shown that the extract from the hibiscus flower lowers LDl cholesterol along with your risk of heart disease while keeping your hair looking shiny and manageable. There’s a tasty hibiscus juice and a shampoo, which is helpful in the natural treatment of dandruff, hair loss and tropical comb overs. The petals of this incredible flower are also used for the treatment of fever, curing coughs, helping kidney problems and raising SAT scores. All in all, this flower really packs a Hawaiian Punch, which are now available in new 10-ounce bottles, that are the perfect size to take with you, whenever you’re thirsting for a tropical drink that’s 5% juice.

And here’s one more interesting fact about tropical flowers. In Hawaiian culture, a flower placed in the hair behind woman’s left ear means a she is married. A flower behind the right ear means she is single. If she is wearing a flower behind both ears that means hold on, you could be in for an night of your life.

So for our foray in flora wonder, we start out with a couple of lovely hibiscus, then a couple of plumerias before heading back to the hibiscus front. The last shot was taken in the parking lot of Hilo Hatties in Lihue, which offers great deals on calendars and Hawaii Five-O t-shirts. Photo credits for shots two and three go to my daughter Aimee, who at age 14, has blossomed into quite a young, beautiful flower herself.

Not too much late night action this week. “The CEO of Starbucks said that President Obama shouldn’t be vacationing during a crisis, and that he should be getting Americans back to work — so they can afford a $9 cup of coffee. The White House is pointing out that all presidents take vacation. Teddy Roosevelt took trips to Long Island, Harry Truman would go to Key West, and George Bush would go to Legoland.” –Conan O’Brien

“There’s a fatwa on me. They say the guy that issued it is an Internet jihadist. “The State Department is investigating, but everyone knows it’s Leno. “President Obama is enjoying the fun and sun in Martha’s Vineyard. It’s really sad when your SPF factor is higher than your approval rating.” –David Letterman

“They felt the earthquake at Martha’s Vineyard. It was so bad, President Obama nearly missed a putt. “Today Mitt Romney announced he’s building a $12-million beach house in California. There’s a man who can read the mood of the country.” –David Letterman

So that’s our last blast for August. Still more photos to come from the Hawaiian side, so stay with me sub tropically. I’m glad Hurricane Irene didn’t blow away New York, although I may change my tune once the NFL season starts. We’ll catch you up in the press box. Aloha, mahalo and later, Derek Jeter fans.

2 Comments »

  1. Great floral images. So real, that I can close my eyes and smell their fragrances. Thanks for a great start on the week.

    Comment by Babs — August 29, 2011 @ 10:02 am

  2. Reminds me of our front yard. When are you getting that house in Hawaii?

    Comment by Lei Lady, Lei — August 29, 2011 @ 1:21 pm

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