Max Visits a Heiau

Where are going today, Dad?

Where are going today, Dad?

It was a perfect day for a visit to a place of human sacrifice.

There were ominous clouds obscuring the mountain tops.

A lowering sky, brooding with dark, heavy clouds portended an approaching storm.

Today’s destination was the Pu’u o Mahuku heiau.

Visitors to Hawaii learn that the Hawaiian word heiau means an ancient Hawaiian temple or religious site.

Most do not realize that a heiau need not be a grand construction. They came in all sizes from tiny, family altars and personal shines to massive stone platforms. The general rule is: the bigger the heiau, the more powerful the ruler and priest – kahuna –  in charge.

Remains of the largest heiau on Oahu, Pu'u o Mahuka. It covrs two acres.

Remains of the largest heiau on Oahu, Pu’u o Mahuka. It covrs two acres.

There were heiau for all purposes.

There were heiau built by folks who wanted more rain or wanted to catch more pigs.

There were heiau to entreat the gods for better health or more vigorous taro crops.

There were even heiau built on underwater ledges in the hope of attracting fish.

But then there were luakini heiau. These were unique. They were sacrificial temples, often dedicated to the Hawaii god of war, Kū. Luakini heiau were places of blood sacrifice of humans and animals.

1930 aerial photo of the Pu'u o Mahua heiau looking west toward Kauai, about 100 miles distant.

1930 aerial photo of the Pu’u o Mahua heiau looking west toward Kauai, about 100 miles distant.

Pu’u o Mahuka was a luakini heiau.

The temple, which literally translates as “Hill of Escape,” was also a place of refuge for those fleeing persecution and an astronomical observatory for ancient Hawaiians.

The rising of the Pleiades constellation as viewed from the heiau signaled the start of the annual makahiki season, a four-month time of peace and celebration.

Pu’u o Mahuka is the largest heiau on Oahu but it is not a well known visitor attraction. On this gloomy day we were the only people (and Malt) at the heiau, which is now a Hawaii State Monument.

The stone temple is 800 feet above sea level and overlooks the renowned North Shore big surf beach of Waimea Bay. Signal fires from this heiau were used to provide visual communications with another heiau at Wailua on the island of Kauai, nearly 100 miles away.

The red dirt on the North Shore is famous for staining everything it touches including small white dogs.

The red dirt on the North Shore is famous for staining everything it touches including small white dogs.

The site dates at least to the 1600’s and during the mid-1700s was very active during a period of tremendous internal struggles among Hawaii ali’i (rulers).

Pu’u O Mahuka had three distinct “sections” defined by rock walls ranging from three to six feet in height. Within the walls of the heiau existed wood and thatched structures, and the ground was paved with stone.

One of the gruesome aspects of a luakini heiau is that a human being, usually a freshly killed criminal, was placed at the bottom of the hole supporting each of the structural pillars.

Human sacrifices were done for many reasons.

Kauwa, the outcast or slave class, were often used as human sacrifices at the luakini heiau.

They are believed to have been war captives, or the descendants of war captives. They were not the only sacrifices; law-breakers of all castes or defeated political opponents were also acceptable as victims. Later this practice became known as “Washington-style politics” but I digress.

At 800' the heiau overlooks Waimea Bay, known for its huge winter surf.

At 800′ the heiau overlooks Waimea Bay, known for its huge winter surf.

Times were obviously different and human sacrifice was a religious rite and cultural practice, not an act of  barbarism.

As we walked around Pu’u o Mahuka, the AJF and I talked about what life was like back then and decided we liked modern days much better although she kept giving me the eye and mumbling how I might be a suitable offering to the shoe god, Nordstrom.

The actual sacrificial killings were done outside the heiau which was considered sacred. The victim was typically tied to a rock, bludgeoned and then stripped of flesh with his bones made into fish hooks.

So, how are those Cheerios tasting this morning?

The flat area in front would have had a 20 foot wooden "oracle" tower that would have been the center piece of the heiau.

The flat area in front would have had a 20 foot wooden “oracle” tower that would have been the center piece of the heiau.

If you want to know more details about this gory topic, first talk with a mental health professional because you may be scary crazy. If she says it’s OK, check out “Luakini, The Art of Sacrifice” by Stewart Waterhouse. It’s a very tough slog of a book but offers a very detailed discussion of techniques, practices, religious rites and what not.

The Pu’u o Mahuka heiau continued to play an active role in the religious, political and social life of Hawaiians through 1819 when King Kamehameha II abolished the traditional religion. Missionaries arrived in 1820, and most of the aliʻi converted to Christianity.

A ho'okupu left by a visitor.

A ho’okupu left by a visitor.

Over the following decade or so all heiau were officially abandoned; most were destroyed over the years.

Pu’u o Mahuka gradually fell apart and the area was converted to ranch and farm uses and later, Russians and Alaskan Aleuts based fishing and whaling activities out of the adjacent Waimea Valley.

Tourists are often told that it is traditional, when visiting a heiau, to make a small offering (called a ho’okupu) which might consist of a lei, flower, food item or a small rock wrapped on a ti leaf.

It’s a nice story but it’s pretty much baloney, or bologna if you are a traditionalist.

Why a Presbyterian from Indiana thinks it appropriate to offer a rock to an ancient Hawaiian god of war confuses me but, hey, we need the revenue so knock yourself out, and the stone walls around Pu’u o Mahuka are littered, quite literally, with misguided ho’okupu.

The profane dog leaves his ho'okupu. Culturally inappropriate and insensitive  dog.

The profane dog leaves his ho’okupu. Culturally inappropriate and insensitive animal.

Max left his own version of a ho’okupu but fortunately we were the only ones there to witness his shameful, scrunched-over gifting.

The profane little animal would have been made into an entrée had that happened in 1795.

We wandered nearby trails for the better part of an hour.

We tried to clean the infamous North Shore red dirt off the white dog knowing that this was a hopeless task and that he would need a thorough bathing at home.

Burger and a beer, please.

Burger and a beer, please.

On the way home the clock chimed “beer time!” so we made a stop and partook, not of the “long pork” of Captain Cook’s time but rather a couple of burgers that we shared with Max.

Full disclosure: no Malts were sacrificed in the writing of this blog post.

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Hot Stuff

Think you have a tough job?

Lava Tester

 

From the website of the  Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (USGS):

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologists get fresh lava samples as close to the vent as possible. Once the sample is scooped from the pāhoehoe lobe, it is quickly quenched in a bucket of water to stop the growth of any crystals and to preserve the composition of the liquid lava. Once cooled, the sample is sent first to UH Hilo for quick analysis of a few components and prepared for a fuller analysis of its chemical components by a lab on the mainland. These data are used, with HVO’s geophysical monitoring data, as another way to assess any changes that may be occurring within Kīlauea volcano.

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Kiku Becomes a Champion

I probably should know what the "opposite" thing is all about but I don't have a clue.

I probably should know what the “opposite” thing is all about but I don’t have a clue. I assume “opposite” is good which sounds like an emo song.

Regulars readers of this silly dog blog (“poor lost souls” in the vernacular) will remember that we have been tracking the career of one of Max’s boon companions, a sweet little Yorkie named Kiku.

See here, here and here.

Well, recently we got the great, good news that Kiku, whose name means “Chrysanthemum” in Japanese, has officially become a champion. As Kiku’s proud Mom informs me:

To become a champion, a dog must win 15 points, which must include two “majors”. A major requires defeating a minimum of three other bitches at one show to prove that she prevailed against worthwhile competition.

I’m told that this is exactly the same way that Beyonce rose to fame. But I digress.

Kiku getting poked, prodded, and otherwise examined by folks with armbands. I have dreams about this if I eat too much pizza.

Kiku getting poked, prodded, and otherwise examined by folks with armbands. I have similar dreams if I eat too much pizza but the folks with armbands are wearing bikinis. That may be too much information.

Thing is, little Kiku didn’t just squeak by en route to the precious “CH” designation before her name; she punished the competition, crushing her sister Yorkies who are also prime contenders for championships themselves.

Really threw her weight around.

All several ounces of it.

Max was thrilled to learn of Kiku’s success. However, when informed of the strict dietary rules that must be followed to climb the heights in the world of competitive dog showing, he gasped, “the horror, the horror” and ran under the bed.

The celbratory cake that weighs much more than the dog. And no, sadly, CH Kiku did not get any frosting, not even a little.

The celebratory cake that weighs much more than the dog. And no, sadly, CH Kiku did not get any frosting, not even a little.

Congratulations, Miss K. Well done.

EDIT and UPDATE: As you may have noticed, Kiku’s proud Mom posted in the “comments” an update on the pup’s next career moves and added some photos of her clothing collection.

Thanks for the info, Daisy, and here are some pics from inside the doggie closet of a “CH” fluff.

 

Handmade dresses, tiny pajamas and other outfits to protect her hair and look cute, too.

Handmade dresses, tiny pajamas and other outfits to protect her hair and look cute, too.

 

 

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Works For Us

Both the AJF and I were pleased to read today’s Honolulu headline:

The annual Emerald Ball, featuring Irish food and entertainment, happens March 17 at the Japanese Cultural Center.

I get my Guiness; she gets her green mochi cakes.

st.patttrick-hat

It works in the whirling, mixed-up ethnic nutri-bullet of Hawaii.

 

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Max Visits Chinatown

Sign at the bridge over Nuuanu Stream into Chinatown.

Sign at the bridge over Nuuanu Stream into Chinatown.

Honolulu’s Chinatown is one of the oldest Chinatowns in the United States and it has an interesting history.

The AJF and Malt thought a ramble through Tánxiāngshān (the area’s Chinese name meaning “Sandalwood Mountain”) would be interesting, so off we went.

In ancient times, before there was a town called Honolulu, there was village built on mud flats and raised coral called Kou. Nearby was Nuuanu Stream which provided the settlement of Kou with fresh water and created an estuary with rich soils and nourished a fishpond archaeologists have dated to 890 AD. Adjacent was Pukaka Heiau, an Hawaiian temple of healing dedicated to the god Lono.

Typical produce market in Chinatown. Good prices can be made gooder if you like to haggle a bit.

Typical produce market in Chinatown. Good prices can be made gooder if you like to haggle a bit.

Kou wasn’t a hugely popular area. In fact, Oahu’s ali`i (royalty) much preferred Waikiki.

Kou offered limited canoe landings while Waikiki enjoyed many channels through the reef for easy beaching of canoes, better surf and closer access to deep sea fishing.

Plus Waikiki was chock-a-block with maitais and semi-naked dancing girls.

Nah, just kidding about that last part.

Except for Hawaiians, Kou never caught on as a name for the area. For a spell, the harbor area was known among foreigners as “Fair Haven.” In turn, Fair Haven fell out of use by the 1820s. Honolulu became the official name of the growing town in 1825 or so, years after the arrival of foreigners began to swell the population. The name Honolulu means “sheltered bay’.

OK, now that we’ve established how Honolulu got its start, here’s where the Chinese come in…

Chinese immigrants in Hawaii circa 1893.

Chinese immigrants in Hawaii circa 1893.

Historians trace the arrival of the first Chinese in Hawaii to 1789 but they were not a significant social force in the islands until the 1850s.

Up to the mid- 1800s the whaling ships that arrived in Honolulu every Spring and Fall dominated Honolulu harbors’ economy.

But as whaling began to decline, sugar plantations became the main industry in the islands. Needing a source of low-cost, controllable and hard working laborers the plantations started recruiting Chinese laborers in large numbers and signing them to 5-year contracts.

When their indenture expired, many of the Chinese immigrants relocated from the plantations to Honolulu’s Chinatown to work for existing businesses or open their own. The name “Chinatown” was first used around 1870 to describe the community of primarily family-run shops.

Chinese immigration to the island kingdom climbed steadily until the political coup in 1893 that unseated Hawaii’s Queen Liliuokalani.

Honolulu harbor in 1900, the year of the great fire.

Honolulu harbor in 1900, the year of the great fire.

By the mid-1890s, 20% of Hawaii residents were of Chinese descent. Ever industrious. they started families, established schools, newspapers, businesses, cemeteries, temples and ancestral societies. Unlike other groups of immigrants, however, the Chinese did not assimilate well into Hawaiian culture, preferring instead to retain a separate society.

Chinatown in the late 1800s was not pretty. Just the opposite: it was filthy, devoid of sanitary constraints, a ramshackle boomtown of narrow streets, and primitive wood-framed construction. About 7,000 people of diverse ethnicities lived in jammed quarters. There were especially large numbers of Japanese who had succeeded the Chinese as imported plantation workers.

Chinatown had become the hub of organized crime, especially prostitution, a niche business that provided economic entre for new immigrants. At a time when a plantation worker made about $18 a month, Japanese prostitutes were making hundreds of dollars. Surprisingly, in 1900, over 80 percent of Honolulu prostitutes were Japanese; all of the pimps were Japanese. When I pointed this out to the AJF she feigned deafness.

Chinatown was squalor on an epic scale. It was disdained by polite society but while everyone tut-tutted about the horrible conditions, everyone also knew that Chinatown was an economic engine, pumping huge sums into the pockets of the upper classes. Disaster came in the form of the Great Chinatown Fire of 1900 which was a result of an outbreak of bubonic plague.

A very rare photo of an actual plague victim in 1900. Neither the victim nor the photographer's name is known. From the State archives.

A very rare photo of an actual plague victim in 1900. Neither the victim nor the photographer’s name is known. Photo from the State archives.

The plague reportedly started at the Wing Wo Tai grocery on Nuuanu Avenue when a 22-year old bookkeeper You Chong scratched idly at a flea bite allowing the contagion known as the Black Death to enter his bloodstream.

Untreated, black plague is fatal from 75 – 100 percent of the time depending on the version.

Spread by fleas on rats, the bacillus found perfect conditions to spread in Chinatown.

The bubonic plague had the potential to kill everyone in the islands; there was nowhere to run.

It has been said that next to the Pearl Harbor attack, the outbreak of plague was the greatest public-safety disaster in Hawaiian history. The government was determined to do anything to save the city — even burn it to the ground.

Phot of the Chinatown fire in January 1900.

Photo of the Chinatown fire in January 1900. State archive photo.

Within hours of doctors diagnosing You Chong, four more cases of bubonic plague were discovered in Chinatown.

The government took action: ships’ passengers were quarantined, schools were closed and disinfected, guards were posted to prevent movement in and out of Chinatown, and monies were appropriated to battle the disease.

A Portuguese band marched up and down the street playing funeral songs to a frightened populace. This was Armageddon level trouble.

Another view of the Chinatown fire that displaced 7,000 residents.

Another view of the Chinatown fire that displaced 7,000 residents. State archive photo.

After 13 people died, the Board of Health ordered structures suspected of being infected to be burned.

Residents were quickly evacuated, and a few buildings were successfully destroyed while the Honolulu Fire Department stood by. However, the fire got out of control after winds shifted, and destroyed most of the neighborhood instead.

The runaway fire burned for seventeen days and scorched 38 acres of Honolulu.

The fire campaign continued for another 31 controlled burns after the incident. The 7,000 homeless residents were housed in detention camps to maintain the quarantine until April 30. A total of 40 people died of the plague. By June, Honolulu was declared plague-free.

Made in China is not a bad phrase in Chinatown although today the Vietnamese outnumber the Chinese in the neighborhood.

Made in China is not a bad phrase in Chinatown although today the Vietnamese outnumber the Chinese in the neighborhood.

By the 1920s, Chinatown was back on its feet economically speaking but the Chinese population had been shrinking. After the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 slowed immigration from China, sugar plantations turned instead to Japanese immigrants and then later Filipinos and Portuguese sources of labor.

You can buy a whole pig's head in Chinatown. This one looked past its expiration date but seemed surprisingly happy.

You can buy a whole pig’s head in Chinatown. This one looked past its expiration date but seemed surprisingly happy.

By the late 1930s, Chinatown had begun to decline as many of the Chinese residents moved to other areas of Honolulu to live while still keeping their businesses in the district.

During World War II, however, Chinatown enjoyed a new vitality as the “red light district” with cheek-to-cheek nightclubs, restaurants and brothels along Hotel Street with gambling parlors targeted at the military population.

After the booming war years, Chinatown fell into a long slow decline, becoming known as a hotspot for illegal activities.

In the Vietnam war era this bar was the place to go to get into serious trouble. Don't ask how I know that factoid.

In the Vietnam war era this bar was the place to go to get into serious trouble. Don’t ask how I know that factoid.

During the 1950s and 1960s, the number of people living in Chinatown continued to drop and businesses began to suffer.

Shopping centers displaced the Chinatown markets, tourism displaced the plantation economy and, with the arrival of Statehood and jet air access, Waikiki grew as the center of Honolulu’ visitor trade.

In 1973, Honolulu’s Chinatown was listed in the National Register of Historic Places as an historic district.

As a result, the area began to revitalize and the city started to invest in Chinatown and its unique history.

Today, Chinatown Historic District is the largest area in Honolulu that reflects an architectural and historic character with a distinctive sense of time and place. While virtually everything pre-1900 was destroyed by the fire, there are secret spots where you can see a glimpse of the past.

Street scenes along the heart of Chinatown.

Street scenes along the heart of Chinatown.

The sidewalks, for example, are embedded with some rough looking stones which were originally ballast for clipper ships that arrived in Hawaii, left behind when the hulls were loaded up with the islands’ precious native woods of koa, sandalwood and ohia.

Fans of Hawaii 5-0 will recognize the name.

Fans of Hawaii 5-0 will recognize the name.

Rather than throw them overboard, the ballast stones were re-purposed as sidewalk pavers.

A Bank of Hawaii branch on King St. looks unassuming from the outside, but inside are teller cages framed in polished wood and a historic drawing of the Honolulu waterfront hanging on the wall.

Look carefully and you’ll see the signs of the Chinese zodiac are represented by medallions embedded into the upper perimeter of the Chinatown Gateway Plaza building and if you know where to look you can spot the Lucky Lions, marble sculptures that guard the eastern gateway to Chinatown on Hotel and Bethel streets.

The Malt was confused by the multitude of smells and the overall hubbub of the area.

The Malt was confused by the multitude of smells and the overall hubbub of the area.

By day, today’s Honolulu Chinatown is bi-polar. On the one hand the traditional open markets remain popular, especially with Asian immigrants. But it is also all about trendy start-up restaurants of all flavors. By night Chinatown is all about the clubbing scene with bars ranging from dive to swank. It’s about art gallerys and lofts.

It’s still more than bit dirty. It’s more than a little seedy. There are still plenty of rats both bipedal and quadrupedal. Interestingly, there are more Vietnamese than Chinese living in the neighborhood, a sign of the progression of immigrants through Honolulu.

But Chinatown, schizophrenic as it may be, is a unique part of urban Honolulu and a place where the Malt’s sensitive nose works overtime.

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He Gets No Respect

The noble Malt wearing the ignoble Cone of Shame.

The noble Malt wearing the ignoble Cone of Shame.

Our favorite Malt has been complaining of late that he does not receive the respect to which he believes he is entitled by the accident of his birth. The problem is that he has been condemned to a short stint in the Cone of Shame due to excessive ear scratching which led to a small infection. He will be fine but hates being the center of comic attention as he walks around bumping into everything in the condo.

But what about this issue of Malts deserving respect? Perhaps we should look back into Malt history.

It was none other than Charles “Chuck” Darwin, who said that Maltese originated about 600 BC thus qualifying the fluff-butts as one of earth’ s oldest holders of Canidea status. But even Chuck could never settle on just one name for the beast.

At one time or another, the Maltese has been called the Maltese Terrier, the Lion Dog of Malta, Ye Ancient Dogge of Malta, Melitaire Dog, the Roman Ladies’ Dog, the Spanish Gentle. The Shock Dog and The Comforter.

The Elizabethans couldn't tell one of these from the other.

The Elizabethans couldn’t tell one of these from the other. So they called both “Comforters.”

All these names hint at the breed’s long history traipsing around the ancient trade routes of the Mediterranean. The names “Maltese” and “Melitaire” suggest that the pup hails from the island of Malta. Aristotle said that the breed was living there during his time (384-322BC).

But Ari could have been wrong. There is good evidence that the Maltese is not really an islander at all but rather a dog of the mountains that started out in Switzerland. Other evidence points to Egyptian origins or perhaps Phoenician.

Maltese dogs appear in art and literature as early as the fourth century B.C. They were treasured by both Greeks and Romans of old and kept at the courts of Turkey and China. A Maltese appears as a symbol of fidelity in one of the renowned fifteenth-century Lady and the Unicorn tapestries.

Notice the Malt on the tapestry. It's a symbol of fidelity or perpetual appetite, one or the other.

Notice the Malt on the table in the tapestry. It’s a symbol of fidelity or perpetual appetite, one or the other.

In Elizabethan times, the Malts were called “Comforters” in the belief that they could relieve pain and cure illness simply by snuggling under the bedclothes next to the sufferer.

And if the dogs didn’t really have a medicinal effect, there’s no doubt that having a fluffy and sympathetic bedmate to warm your toes or provide a consoling lick on the hand when you’re not feeling well can’t hurt.

The “Shock Dog” appellation does not relate to the reaction of owners when presented with the grooming bill, but for their “shock” of long hair. Buying a Malt in the early 1600s would also be a shock – they sold for a five-figure equivalent price.

Mary Sturat was a Maltese fancier and see where that got her.

Mary Sturat was a Maltese fancier and see where that got her.

Rival queens Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots, both owned representatives of this breed, and it was one of her Maltese that accompanied Mary to the axeman’s block, hiding under her skirts until after she was beheaded. The faithful pet, its white coat now drenched in its mistress’s blood, was finally rescued by one of the executioners.

Happily, it was spared the Queen’s gruesome fate and (after a bath) lived out its life with a French princess where no doubt it enjoyed a tastier diet and then pooped on the sidewalk like every other French dog in existence. But I digress.

In the 19th century small Maltese were all the rage and bred to be the size of a squirrel. The tiny doglets spent much of their time burrowed in the billowy sleeves and ample, heaving bosoms of their mistresses’ clothes.

The breed continued to draw admirers near and far, especially among the glitterati of the time. Queen Victoria (of cruise liner fame) wrote a letter of condolence to the Duchess of Kent upon the passing of the duchess’s Maltese, Lambkin, indicating the high esteem with which this dog was regarded by its royal acquaintances.

In 1877 the Maltese made its debutante appearance at the Westminster Dog Show. Its popularity as a “trophy dog” in the 19th century helped promote similar breeds such as the Bichon Frise.

Maltese are still celebrity dogs whose owners include folks as diverse as Lindsey Lohan whose dog is named Chloe and Britney Spears who calls her fuzzbutt “Malt Liquor.” Oh wait, there’s no diversity there at all and Brit’s dog is not really named Malt Liquor either, but her fuzzbutt is.

Britney, Lindsey and Leona...celebrity Maltese owners. Poor dogs. Poor, poor dogs.

Britney, Lindsey and Leona…celebrity Maltese owners. Poor dogs. Poor, poor dogs.

Eva Longoria has a famous Maltese named Jinxie. Elizabeth Taylor had a Maltese named Sugar. Heather Locklear has a Malt named Harley and Halle Berry has 2 Malts: Straw Berry and Blue Berry. Nope, lieing again, their names really are Willy and Polly but I like my version better.

Other well known owners of the little white dog are/were Frank Sinatra, Liberace, Lee Remick, Kristin Chenoweth, Mia Farrow and Star Jones.

Leona Helmsley’s (The Queen of Mean) Maltese dog named Trouble, was left a $12 million dollar trust fund. Her will declared that the dog was to be buried alongside her and her late husband in a mausoleum. Leona also left $3 million for the continuous care of that mausoleum. A judge later overturned this, and the dog was given only $2 million dollars. They say late at night at the mausoleum you can hear her dead husband still crying over Leona’s financial decisions.

We don’t pay much attention to our favorite Malt’s noble lineage. He’s only as good as his latest tricks. Speaking of which, here is a short video of Max doing a few tricks. The (cough) “film” was produced and directed by the AJF who is normally computer-averse. She is inordinately proud of this epic and I’m smart enough to keep my trap shut.

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Max Visits The Queen

What? Did you just say we are going to see a Queen?

What? Did you just say we are going to see a Queen?

The majestic cruise ship Queen Victoria arrived for a one day port call in Honolulu enroute to the South Pacific and a continuation of its around the world voyage.

The Queen Victoria visited for only one day enroute to the rest of her around the world journey. Here she is at Pier 8, Honolulu Harbor.

The Queen Victoria visited for only one day enroute to the rest of her around the world journey. Here she is at Pier 8, Honolulu Harbor.

Max and I invited the Alpha Japanese Female (AJF) to join us on a walk down by the docks to take a peek at this ship and join us for an imaginary cruise with the rich and famous.

It was a misty day with mauka showers passing overhead so not prime photography weather but, hey, this Hawaii so how bad can it be?

The MS Queen Victoria, to give her proper name, is a sister ship with Cunard Lines two other “Queens”, the Queen Elizabeth 2 and the Queen Mary 2.

Max and my date for our imaginary voyage across the 7 Seas.

Max and my date for our imaginary voyage across the 7 Seas.

This 965 foot Panamax-sized vessel has twelve decks for 2,014 passengers and 900 crew and features seven restaurants, thirteen bars, three swimming pools, a ballroom, and a theater. Yet, at 90,000 tons, she is the smallest of the ships. Launched in 2007, she is also the newest of the Three Queens.

Interestingly, the Queen Victoria is not considered an ocean liner. Rather, she is classified as a cruise ship, the distinctions being fixed routes and schedules, heavier hull plating, larger fuel capacities and storage areas and a different mission: ocean liners are primarily mercantile vessels with pleasure passengers being a sideline. As of 2015, the RMS Queen Mary 2 is the only ship still in service as a true ocean liner.

Cunard photo of QV's central atrium area.

Cunard photo of QV’s central atrium area.

QV, as I call her, is theoretically a classless ship with all passengers being equal.

But we all know that some passengers are more equal than others based on the price of their tickets and so it is on the Three Queens where there are different dinner restaurants.

It all depends on which class you are classless in.

Other than that, the great unwashed from the lower decks are permitted to mingle in all public areas and pollute the rarefied air intended for the better class of traveler.

I want Max to come along with us so we can all play together. There's plenty of room.

I want Max to come along with us so we can all play together. There’s plenty of room.

A 120-day around the world ticket on her floating majesty will pinch your Visa to the tune of $62,000 for a rather modest suite.

You can spend lots more if you are motivated towards plushier accommodations such as one of the four Master Suites which offer you about 2,000 square feet to spread out.

They are located aft, with great ocean views from their private wrap-around balconies, which contain a complete wet bar.

The suites have two bedrooms with walk-in closets; bathroom with bathtub and separate shower enclosure; lounge; and a dining room with seating for six. The Malt approves; two paws way up.

I'll wear out my tuxedo shoes prancing from venue to venue. I wonder if there is a casino?

I’ll wear out my tuxedo shoes prancing from venue to venue. I wonder if there is a casino?

On the other hand, if you are a cheapskate, $20,000 will get you a room on bottom decks for 120 days where you can spend your miserly and miserable existence re-enacting scenes from Titanic, the movie.

Returning home from their world cruises, the Three Queens will line up together in Southampton on May 3rd and then will meet again in Liverpool on May 25th to celebrate Cunard’s 175th anniversary.

When they sail up the Mersey together on May 25 it will be only the fourth place on the globe where the trio of ships has met. In 2011, Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth 2 and Queen Victoria gathered in New York.

The Queens sailing in Lisbon in 2014, photo by James Morgan.

The Queens sailing in Lisbon in 2014, photo by James Morgan.

In 2014, the Three Queens met once again, this time on the River Tagus at Lisbon.

Finally, the Queens came together formally twice in their regular home port of Southampton – once to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, and again shortly after their Lisbon meeting last year.

The AJF and I have been on two cruises, one to Alaska and one around the Hawaiian Islands, both aboard lovely Norwegian Cruise Lines vessels.  She is a big fan of this type of holiday; I was less impressed although I enjoyed my time on-board.

One wonders if any Royals have actually used the spa? If so, please pass the Royal Loofah while I exfoliate.

One wonders if any Royals have actually used the spa? If so, please pass the Royal Loofah while I exfoliate.

Neither of us are enthralled by all-you-can-possibly-shove-down-your-gullet consumption which appeared to be one of the major attractions for many cruise passengers but we liked the shows and entertainment, the lectures and lounging. I liked the gym and the AJF liked the spa so all in all we were happy cruisers.

I think it would be different on the Queen Victoria. I told the AJF she would have to wear a ball gown better than any seen by Kate Middleton and I a baby blue tuxedo that would shame Jared Leto. Wait a minute…   The Malt would have a jeweled harness and a collar studded with 500 Swarovski crystals. We giggled.

Is this too feminine or dainty for Maxwell? What do you think?

Is this too feminine or dainty for Maxwell? What do you think?

She told me we would dine on pheasant and keep the glass it came under. Champagne would flow and we would dance as though our hips don’t hurt and we would teach Max to pirouette and properly bow when meeting other posh dogs.

Our imaginary voyage was marvelous and we enjoyed the trip, full of dreams about sailing in a style we will never experience and maybe that’s the best trip of all – the perfect one in your mind’s eye where nothing ever goes awry and Maltese are always welcome.

He dreams of meeting canine princesses and sipping his water from crystal bowls.

He dreams of meeting canine princesses and sipping his water from crystal bowls.

By the time we got home, the princely pupster was tuckered and ready for a nap.

That night we ate rolled cabbages and it was almost as good as pheasant.

Fair winds and following seas, Queen Victoria!

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Max Visits Sandy’s

Kohelepelepe on the right with snorkel-Mecca Hanauma Bay on the left.

Kohelepelepe on the right with snorkel-Mecca Hanauma Bay on the left. Sandy’s is the beach on the far right.

To get to Sandy’s we first have to get past the lady parts.

See, the road from Honolulu to the popular bodysurfing beach known as Sandy’s takes us past Koko Head Crater, a dramatic volcanic tuff cone whose name in Hawaiian is Kohelepelepe which means, uh, cough, “labia minora.”

In the legends of Pele, the goddess of the volcano, one of Pele’s sisters attempted to attract a demi-god by the name of Kamapua’a by throwing her va-jay-jay to this spot. Kamapua’a, by the way, appears in Hawaiian legends in the form of a pig. A handsome pig, but pig nonetheless.

Carving of the demi-god Kamapua'a by Kawika Eskaran at Kualoa Ranch. Irresistable dude, just drop the Kohelepelepe.

Carving of the demi-god Kamapua’a by Kawika Eskaran at Kualoa Ranch. Irresistable dude, just drop the Kohelepelepe.

Look, I just report this stuff; I don’t make it up. Okay, that’s enough morning TV talk for the moment.

Once past the urogynecologist’s dream site the road to Sandy’s passes some very beloved spots favored by our 8 million visitors each year as well as locals.

We pass the famed snorkel spot Hanauma Bay and the Halona Blowhole, where sea water rushes through a submerged tunnel in the lava rock, compresses vast quantities of air and then geysers into the atmosphere in time with the waves.

Next to the Blowhole is a small inlet and beach area that garnered attention as the place of the William Holden/Deborah Kerr love scene in the 1950s movie From Here to Eternity.

Burning passion at Cockroach Gulch. "I love how your fingers feel." "Those are not my fingers."

Burning passion at Cockroach Gulch. “I love how your fingers feel.” “Those are not my fingers.”

Hollywood and the Hawaii Tourism Authority would like visitors to call this idyllic place “Eternity Cove” but to locals it’s known as “Cockroach Gulch” after the sizable population of 3” Periplaneta americana that inhabit a narrow lava tube at the base of the wall framing the cove.

After the Blowhole, we start along the last wild stretch of Oahu coast line, an area called the Ka Iwi Coast. Ka Iwi literally means “The Bones” in reference to its historical significance as the launching point for King Kamehameha I’s campaign to unite the Hawaiian Islands and where Pele, the Goddess of Fire, first arrived and then departed from the island on her travels. Ka Iwi is also the name of the adjacent channel between Oahu and Molokai, our nearest neighbor island and a reliable place to whale-watch in the winter months.

Finally, the Malt arrives at Sandy’s. The name itself is a bit of a puzzle. Most newcomers refer to it as “Sandy Beach” and that makes sense because the sand there is very fine and notorious for getting into everything including, probably, your Kohelepelepe.

Heading towards Sandy's, the part known as Wawamalu in Hawaiian.

Heading towards Sandy’s, the part known as Wawamalu in Hawaiian.

But locals and makule (well-seasoned) guys like me always refer to the beach as Sandy’s using the possessive form which recalls old tales of a fisherman of that name who frequented the rocks near the blowhole. Others say that “Sandys” without the apostrophe is just a local pidgin form. Whatever.

In Hawaiian there is no single name for the beach. The bodysurfing area is called Wāwāmalu which sort of means tumultuous or thundering roar. The other end is named ʻŌkuʻu which means to crouch and probably refers to folks hunched around a healing stone near the ocean.

Ebony and ivory. Watch out, Max, a crab might get ya.

Ebony and ivory. Watch out, Max, a crab might get ya.

In addition to  its super-fine sand, Sandy’s is known for some really rugged shore break surf. How rugged? Well, more injuries occur annually at Sandy’s than any other beach in the State of Hawaiʻi. It is also a formidable consumer of bikini tops.

The problem is that many experienced bodysurfers are always in the water, making riding the waves look easy. Visitors unfamiliar with the beach misjudge the dangers and often get into trouble. For this reason, lifeguards have been stationed at Sandy since 1971 and they are very busy. Searching for missing bikini tops among other activities.

The brown is the water is sand. The water is about 18 inches deep at the wave bottom. Oof.

The brown is the water is sand. The water is about 18 inches deep at the wave bottom. Oof. The photo is of a contest, that’s why they are wearing colored hats.

Sandy’s famous waves are formed by a quick change in the ocean bottom. The sea bottom at Sandy’s is mostly sand patches and shallow rock ledges.

At the water’s edge the bottom drops off abruptly to an average depth of eight to ten feet.

This abrupt change in depth creates the steep, hard-breaking waves in Sandy’s shorebreak, which in turn generate ferocious rip currents.

Besides the shorebreak, Sandy’s has several other popular bodysurfing and bodyboarding sites: Pipe Littles and Half Point in front of the bathroom and a board surfing break called Full Point on an offshore reef near the east end of the beach.

The non-beach dog consents to a short walk bu the a'a lava is too sharp for soft paws.

The non-beach dog consents to a short walk but the ‘a’a lava is too sharp for soft paws. The malt disdains the great outdoors.

In my younger days, I was an avid bodysurfer owing mostly to a lack of the fast twitchy muscles that would have made me a better board surfer.

For years I surfed at Sandy’s but it was never my preferred location simply because of the beating it delivered on every visit.

This part of Oahu was quite remote until recently. In the late 1800s and early 1900s it was used for ranching, a practice that changed the ecology as native vegetation like beach sandalwood was replaced by Kiawe (mesquite) and Wiliwili for cattle feed.

It is a harsh land of low, wind-swept dunes and ‘a’a lava – the very sharp crumbly kind of volcanic output not at all like the smooth, flowing, gloopy stuff (pahoehoe) produced by the current eruption on the Big Island.

It's a rugged coastline, the last wild coast on the island of Oahu.

It’s a rugged coastline, the last wild coast on the island of Oahu.

Sandy’s was not accessible by automobile until 1931, when a coastal road following the cliffs from Hanauma Bay was completed.

The new road attracted sightseers and campers, along with the fisher folk, but few swimmers because of the rough seas and rip currents.

The area was ripped by major tsunamis at least four times during the last century, involving the Aleutian tsunamis of 1946 and 1957, the 1952 Kamchatka Tsunami, and 1960 Chile Tsunami.

Last vestige of the rock walls that once divided the ranch lands, destroyed by the tsunamis in the 1930s and 1940s.

Last vestige of the rock walls that once divided the ranch lands, destroyed by the tsunamis in the 1930s and 1940s.

These tsunamis had the side effect of destroying all of the recorded archaeological sites within the coastal plain.

To this day, parts of the Ka Iwi coast line are sterilized by the salt washed ashore by the tsunamis which are reported to have reach 36 feet in height.

During the late 1940s and 1950s, when not dodging tsunamis, bodysurfers taught themselves how to ride the shorebreak and by the 1960s, the beach had become a popular destination.

The malt heads for what little shade is availabale. "I'm ready for my ice cream, now."

The malt heads for what little shade is availabale. “I’m ready for my ice cream, now.” Note the AJF’s cold weather gear. It was below 80 degrees so she bundled.

In 1968, when the City of Honolulu improved the park and added a restroom/shower facility, Sandy’s became one of the most popular beaches among teenagers and its reputation as a dare devil wave-riding site was solidified in the 1970s with the introduction of the bodyboard or paipo.

In the 1980s and 1990s there were many attempts by developers to build on the precious resource of wild coast line. Fortunately, citizen action and push-back defeated the developers. The City re-zoned sections of the land to put it off-limits to moneyed interests and, finally, in 2010 the state of Hawaii protected the last sections by re-designating them from “urban” to “conservation.”

Beach flower.

Beach flower.

In October 2014, Honolulu City Council member Stanley Chang proposed changing the name of Sandy’s to “President Barack Obama Sandy Beach Park.”

That proposal really got our collective Kohelepelepe in a twist. The plans were dropped due to howls of opposition from the public.

Max enjoyed his visit to Sandy’s but he liked the ice cream cone we bought him even more. He’s not much of a beach dog but he’s always a willing companion as we travel Oahu exploring our island home.

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Max the Catfish

Urban Dictionary:

A catfish is someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.

Example:”Did you hear how Dave got totally catfished last month?! The fox he thought he was talking to turned out to be a pervy guy from San Diego!”

or

“I was really falling for that gorgeous gal on Facebook, but she turned out to be a catfish.”

Deceptive dog is deceptive.

Deceptive dog is deceptive.

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Bruce, I Feel Your Pain

Again the Fates conspired to mock what little dignity remains in my life. Here’s what happened:

The Alpha Japanese Female (AJF) was scheduled for one of those regular check ups of female plumbing parts about which we males know little and want to know even less.

It was gynecology time, and I was dragooned to drive her to the appointment because this was a new doctor and new location and she was concerned about finding a place to park in time.

Ever compliant I agreed to the trek and we arrived about 15 minutes early. The AJF was the first appointment of the day. She asked if I would mind coming into the office with her and helping her fill out the reams of forms that a new doctor visit entails.

As an English-as-a-second-language person, the AJF shares with others of that ilk an unfounded insecurity about her comprehension of medical terms and a reluctance to fill out “official” documents without assistance. It makes no sense as her vocabulary, word choice and handwriting are all superior to mine and I tend to doodle on the forms when bored which really annoys the girls at the desk but I digress.

The point is, I foolishly agreed to follow her into the doctor’s office. Turns out the guy is a “urogynecologist”, a subspecialty I never heard of before. That should have been my cue to flee.

Anyway, we are alone in the office. The nice desk lady hands over a sheaf of documents and I dutifully start to complete them – by now I know all the AJF’s details, meds and dates and such, a side effect of being together so long.

The nurse then comes out and says, “Ma’am, I’ll take you in the back for vitals while your husband completes the forms.” The AJF stands and asks me to hold her purse while she goes into the other room.

I am now the only person in the waiting room, but not for long. Soon, in come gaggles of females. Some tall, some thin, some pregnant, some with children but all female. Like hyenas on the Serengeti they sense an interloper in their midst, an anomaly, a singularity that must be destroyed.

There I am: a big, bearded dude in a ball cap, tee shirt, shorts and flip-flops sitting in the waiting room of a urogynecologist completing medical documents with no corresponding female unit in sight and…I have a purse.

They look askance at me and I realize they are concerned they’ve met Bruce Jenner’s doppelganger, only bigger.

Wait, it gets worse.

The nice desk lady says, “Sir, if you are done completing your medical history form, I’ll take that from you.” She said “your” medical history. The implications are clear to the assembled females who start twittering amongst themselves. Children start pointing. I recall the saying that downed Russians used in Afghanistan, “Always save one bullet for when the women come for you.”

It continues to go south.

The nurse comes out and says, “I’ll take you back to the doctor’s office now.” I guess the AJF asked for me to be present to help with the lingo but the nurse makes it sound like I’m due to hit the table and spread ‘em. Come on big boy, put your feet in the stirrups and cough (or whatever gets done there.)

I get up and do a long walk of shame because the office door requires me to traverse the entire length of the waiting room while under the now disapproving stares of about 9 women. Hisses, forked fingers and spit follow me.

I longed to dig a hole, crawl into it and die.

You would think that when we finally emerged all would be understood and my presence accepted, but no. By the time we came out, all the original females had been shuttled off to wherever they go in these offices and the best I can say is that my escape was quick, painless and most importantly, anonymous.

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