Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Aloha, and pardon my hula

In Texas it's grey and raining, temperature 14C. Such a contrast to our last week when we were luxuriating in the balmy airs of Hawai'i, where it's low 30s every day and high 20s every night. And that's every day and every night.

When we arrived in Honolulu thirty-odd years ago, the first thing Jo did was to vomit on the sidewalk. We did it better style this time, since the best way to get into Waikiki was in a stretch limousine; same price as a cab, and it swallowed all of us, Roo in his car seat, and Jac's colleague Mel, with room to spare. So we cruised into the Hilton Hawaiian Village, with everyone looking to see who the celebrities were.

The only way to travel in Hawai'i!

Nothing in the mini-bar, fortunately

The Village is best thought of as a beached cruise ship: it aims to provide its guests with the complete, "authentic" Hawaiian experience without having to leave the complex. There are four or five 30+ floored towers and a multitude of shops and restaurants, several swimming pools and an artificial lagoon, all set in beautiful gardens with pools, waterfalls and exotic birds (even flamingos), none of which are actually Hawaiian at all. But I must say that the gardens and the plantings were delightful, no doubt all tended by an invisible legion of gardeners.

View from our lanai, over the Ala Moana boat harbour

And the other way, classic Diamond Head

The Rainbow Tower.
We were 17 floors up.

Hilton Hawaiian Village.
View from the lobby.

In the "village"
(Not too many natives)

Signature scent of Hawaii.

So many exotics.

Unlike the cruise ship, there's nothing free in the Hilton after you've paid for your room, so we had to go out to forage. Breakfast was easy in Wailano diner just across the street where we ate quick, cheap and sometimes very large meals, cheerfully served. Jac quickly sniffed out a cheap Vietnamese pho restaurant for our evening meal, and later a rather good Japanese place which was a bit hidden off the main streets.

But we didn't have to pay to swim in the pools, the sea or the lagoon (the latter two are public and well frequented by the locals). It was lovely to get in the water, and even Jeannie swam a bit.

One of the Village pools.

Waikiki Beach
No one has heard of skin cancer, apparently.

Our range was a bit limited by The Boy's sleeping patterns and Jac's conference responsibilities, but we explored a few old haunts around Waikiki, including our apartment block in Tusitala Street, looking a bit faded now. Jean and I went to the Hawaiian Academy of Arts, which is notable as much for its lovely building as for its collections. And we all went down town to the Foster Botanical Gardens with it huge old trees and exotic flowers, and back through Chinatown where Jac walked wide-eyed through the food markets.

What I did on my holiday.

Foster Botanic Gardens.

We have pictures of Jo at this spot at age 3 and 14.

Honolulu Academy of Arts.
One of the beautiful courtyards.

Our only major excursion was a birdwatching tour around the eastern end of the island with a guy called Mike, who showed us most of the introduced small birds in the gardens and parks, but also several native sea birds and water birds. Our only native bush bird, an amakihi, we found up one of the valleys, but even here the bush is all introduced plants, mostly eucalypts!

The steep "pali"on the windward side.

Obligatory shot.
Sorry I can't pass on the temperature.

All in all it was a great week.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Last Post from SA for a While

We are chasing around getting stuff into the suitcase in preparation for the trip to Hawaii tomorrow. It's a one hour flight up to Dallas and then eight straight to Honolulu. The Big Question, of course, is how young Marty will take to it, but I must say that having seen how well-behaved he was when we went out for Jeannie's birthday dinner last night I'm more hopeful that he will cope with it.

It almost seems a pity to leave San Antonio today since the temperature has dropped to a very pleasant 24C and the sky is blue, but I daresay Hawaii will be bearable (!)

A few photos follow for the Roo-watchers!

This motorized swing is an important playing place
(Didn't do a very good job with the red eye, did I?)

And it often has this desired effect.

He has a HUGE wardrobe.
This was today's gear, for a slightly cooler day.

Halloween is approaching fast.
No doubt what Marty will be wearing.

And you thought he was perfect, didn't you?

Of course he is when his Papa looks after him.....

......or Granma.
All lies of course. Jac and Jo get him when we have failed!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mostly for Roo-watchers

Week one is will be complete in a few hours! It doesn't seem that long yet.

We are settling into a routine, and it's pretty simple. We see the girls off at 9-ish and go out for a walk pretty much straight away, touring the local shopping malls and the quieter streets (not many of those!). Since this area is a mosaic of apartment complexes, which are all fenced and gated, and shopping malls, there are few places to walk. But the malls are pleasant enough and when we are a bit more confident of Marty's sleeping patterns there are several coffee places to settle in, or outside of, for a while.

Inside, it's sleep-play-feed on a fairly short cycle until the girls get home between 5.00 and 6.00. Rather like his mother and grandfather, Marty does not waken smoothly from daytime sleeps, so we are now prepared for a short period of grizzles when he gets up.

A few pictures of daily activities follow.

Meeting Myla
Marty's downstairs neighbour, a real cutie. They smiled at each other.

Games with Papa.
Hard on the neck! (Mine, I mean)

Granma is better at calming him down.

Bathtime is always a hit.

Shampoo and set.

Thanks, Mum.

And finally.....
There's a lot of stereotyping about blokes and nappies, sorry, diapers. Anyone can do it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Only in America........

......are people so kind and hospitable?

This morning (Primary Carer Day 2) there was a knock at the door (cue Men at Work). And there was a delivery man with a huge thing, for us!

What can it be?
Not quite flowers.

Closer inspection revealed an "Edible Arrangement", a welcoming gift from Lorena, one of Jo and Jac's work chums who took us birdwatching on our first visit. What a lovely thing to do.

The Edible Arrangement!
Thanks, Lorena.

We are developing our baby-wrangling skills (he's asleep as I write), and for most of the time everyone seems happy. We've been having a short walk with Marty in the frontpack in the mornings while it's still bearable outside, then feed-play-sleep on a reasonable regular cycle. Jean found enough space to bake bread and Anzac biscuits this morning, and I've been able to get a couple of jobs done too. Hopefully a routine is developing.

This babysitting is a breeze!
(But who photographs the grizzley times?)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Here at Last!

Getting up at 3.45 am was well worth it. The whole trip went very smoothly and we had the best Premium Economy seats on the plane: just behind the Business Class section, so we were in good shape when we arrived in Los Angeles, and despite the horrendous queue to get through security and onto the flight to Dallas, the flight there and on to San Antonio were easy, and in overall we were only 20 minutes late.

A380 Airbus.
We didn't get to fly in one (maybe on the way home), but this one is for Angus.

Jo was waiting for us, and San Antonio had laid on a very moderate day with temperature just in the high 20s and in no time we were at Heubner Oaks and meeting Marty Roo and Jac. He is, as we all guessed, a darling and in no time we were getting big smiles. Since then we have been out for a couple of walks with him, off to the supermarket and even to church. There are a couple of other people who seem to be hanging around; they prepare food and look after him when he cries. Their names begin with J......., but Marty is definitely the Main Event.

But seriously, tomorrow we take over full responsibility when Jo and Jac set off for work. We've practised the feeding, the changing and the pacifying, so I hope we'll be OK. Watch this space.

The rarely-photographed Jac and Marty.

Granma getting in some practise.

And we have domestic duties, too.