Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday Salon: Home Sweet Home

I am all unpacked. The laundry is done and put away. The animals are settling back into their daily routines. My internal clock is not quite back on schedule just yet. And I have a tall stack of books sitting on my desk waiting to be entered into my LibraryThing catalog. I still am behind with my e-mails and responding to all the great comments left for me while I was away. Other than that, life has returned to normal. I appreciate your patience as I get back on track.

Many thanks to my guests over the past couple of weeks. I cannot thank them enough for their willingness to step in for me during my absence. If you have not already, please do check out their posts. Each one is brilliant and more than I could have ever hoped for. Thank you also to all of you who stopped in and visited. It looks like there were some good discussions taking place.

Colleen Gleason
Clea Simon
Joshua Henkin
Karen E. Olson
Karen Harrington
Michelle Moran
Lisa Roe

My husband and I had a wonderful time in Hawaii. It never fails that something goes wrong whenever we take a trip. One year it was a flat tire in the middle of the desert, another a visit to the emergency room because of a severe bladder infection, and then there was the time I sprained my ankle on the day we were catching our flight back home. It was with some relief that we got that out of the way right off the bat this time around.

The night before we were to leave for Hawaii, I made sure to set the alarm for 4:15, figuring that was enough time to be up and ready for the shuttle that would take us to the airport in the morning. At 4:53 a.m. that very next day, we awoke with a start when the doorbell rang. A quick glance at the clock, and I realized my mistake. I had set the alarm to go off in the p.m. instead of the a.m. It was the quickest I had ever gotten ready--drank my cranberry juice, washed my face, got dressed and out the door we went. All in seven minutes. Thank goodness we were all packed the night before!

Major trip disaster this round: The alarm mishap and my husband kicking the door, taking a good chunk and several layers of skin off his little toe that morning in the rush to get out. And, oh, did it ever bleed! At least we got the bad event out of the way upfront so we could enjoy the rest of our vacation.


The flight to Oahu was quite pleasant, and we arrived in Honolulu to sunshine and fantastic weather. When planning our vacation several months ago, my husband and I had decided to split our vacation into two halves, visiting the islands of Oahu and Hawaii. Not only were we interested in visiting Pearl Harbor, but I also wanted to revisit the area where I had spent three years of my childhood.

Waikiki was crazy busy--very tourist oriented with the International Market and all the usual tourist trappings. Waikiki Beach was just across the street from our hotel. We had a nice view of the surfers and surf boarders. We did make it to Pearl Harbor, paying our respects at the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial and taking a tour of the U.S.S. Missouri Battleship. We took it all in--the history lessons and the sights.

A person cannot visit Oahu and not see the more natural attractions, and my husband and I were no exception. Among the places we visited were the Northshore, walking along the Bonzai Pipeline as well as Sunset Beach; we took a boat tour of a royal fish pond, visited the Byodo-In Temple, and spent some time at the Halona Blowhole. We picked up a few souvenirs along the way, including a couple of bells for my collection and a box of chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies.

Our time on Oahu ended all too fast and soon we were hopping on a plane to the big island of Hawaii. Unlike on Oahu, we had made arrangements to rent a car while on the Big Island, which made it easier to get around on our own--not to mention at our leisure. We arrived at our hotel in Kona and were very pleased to discover we had a room that looked out over the ocean. Our room was on ground level, and right outside our patio, just feet away, was the ocean, crashing against the rocks. It would be the sound that would sing us to sleep at night and ease us up each morning. The sunset was a sight to behold--beautiful in every respect. The quiet of the area we were in at Kona was such a change from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki. As much fun as we had in Oahua, it was refreshing to slow down a bit. Although, my husband might argue that we didn't really slow down any--other than in my head perhaps.


We took in as much as we could, visiting the National Volcano Park where we could see the steam billowing out of a crater that had only months before damaged a lookout point at the park. We walked through the lava tunnels and rain forest. And later that day we ventured to a lookout point to see the lava flowing into the ocean. We nearly got lost on our way to the southern most point of the United States (it seemed like a lot of other tourists had the same problem). We spent my birthday visiting all of the water falls we could find along with the botanical gardens. Our final full day on the island, we dedicated to visiting the historical sites. My favorite was the Pu'ukohola Heiau built by King Kamehameha I. It was a temple created for the war god as part of the prophecy in which the king would unite all the Hawaiian islands once the temple was built. What makes it an especially intriguing structure is the way in which it was built. None of the stones used were allowed to touch the ground and so they were handed from person to person for a stretch of about 20 miles. Human sacrifices were made at the temple to incur the war god's favor and eventually King Kamehameha I would, in fact, unite the islands as predicted.

The Hawaiian islands are rich in history--and my husband and I couldn't help but be pulled into the stories we learned. Driving around we took in the expanse of diversity of the land--desert-like areas leading into ranch and farmland, volcanoes, mountains, rain forests, and coastal and inland towns.

While in Hawaii, I had the opportunity to meet an online friend. We got together for dinner one evening, and she was a gracious and kind host. She answered all the questions we'd been saving up from our travels that day. She even came bearing gifts--one of which was a couple of slices of homemade pineapple upside down cake. Little did she know, the cake would serve as my birthday cake while we were there. It was wonderful putting a face to a name--and to have such a friendly person behind it!

I finished all three of the books I took on vacation with me. Stay tuned for my reviews of Out by Natsuo Kirino, Murder on a Girls' Night Out by Anne George, and Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman.


You didn't think I could get out of Hawaii without hitting a bookshop (or three), did you? Both my husband and I practiced great restraint, I'll have you know. Okay, so it had more to do with limited luggage space--we didn't want to have to pay extra for another bag--but it could have been much worse.

Those who stopped in last Sunday know that Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo was added to my TBR collection. While on the island of Hawaii, I also picked up copies of two new-to-me mysteries by Chip Hughes, Murder on Moloka'i and Wipeout!, both set in Hawaii. I had just enough room in my suitcase to bring home Song of the Exile, a novel that is described as an epic love story set during World War II through Hawaii's struggle to statehood.

My husband also came home four books richer:
The Girl with the Long Green Heart by Lawrence Block
The Colorado Kid by Stephen King
Shooting Star and Spiderweb by Robert Bloch
Lucky at Cards by Lawrence Block

Although sad to leave the beautiful state of Hawaii, we were looking forward to getting home and back to our animals. The flight home seemed longer than the one that took us there, despite being nearly a half hour shorter. There was a sense of relief when we reached home.


The day after we arrived home, we collected the mail, which included several promising books. I got the look from my husband--but in my defense, I only spent money on one of them. My latest TBR additions include copies of
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
The Tenth Case by Joseph Teller
Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan
Shining City by Seth Greenland (many thanks to Lisa from Minds Alive on the Shelves )

The cats and dog did well while we were gone. Anya has grown considerably. Parker, who had his teeth cleaned while we were gone, had to have one tooth extracted, but he is fully recovered from the procedure. No one gave us the cold shoulder--if anything, the animals have been more attentive than usual. Yesterday morning, as Anjin and I caught up on a little of our TV watching, I had a dog curled up at bend of my knees, a cat on my stomach and a kitten on my chest as I leaned against my husband--the five of us cuddled on the couch. What better way to celebrate our reunion?


Just one more piece of business before I sign off. Thank you to all who participated in the Matrimony Giveaway. And many thanks to Joshua Henkin for offering a signed copy of his great book.

The initial winner, Alyce from At Home With Books was lucky enough to pick up a copy of the book in another giveaway and has graciously offered to let someone else have a chance at the book.

The winner of the giveaway is Lisa from Books and Cooks
Congratulations, Lisa!


Have a good Sunday everyone and happy reading!

40 comments:

  1. That sounds like a wonderful holiday and a pretty cozy reunion, too. Welcome back!

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  2. What a wonderful adventure (minus the injuries)! Vacationing is always fun, but coming home is nice too. Your guest bloggers did a wonderful job in your absence!

    =) Jill

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  3. So good to have you back, Wendy! Oh boy, do I miss you... hehe...

    Love the photos, love the updates! (Minus the injury *ouch*)

    And you and Anjin bought books (yay you two!) and better still, there are more waiting for you at home. LOL.

    Have a great Sunday and enjoy!

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  4. Oh I forgot to mention, I've been listening to Hawaiian songs - beautiful tunes!

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  5. Glad to see you back! What a lovely vacation. Thanks for sharing with us and keeping us busy while you were gone. Your guest bloggers did a fabulous job and were so interesting. Hope you have a good week!

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  6. I'm glad you had such a lovely time. I miss Hawaii so much and would move there tomorrow if I could get a visa!

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  7. Good to see you bak. Lovely descriptions. How I wish I an visit someday, which is impossible.

    Seems you collected a few great books too.

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  8. What a delightful post! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your vacation, etc., but loved your last visual. I felt the warmth emanating from your words. :)

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  9. What a beautiful trip, despite the rough beginning. When my parents went to Hawaii, my father cried at the airport when they had to go home to Ohio. He loved it there, and would have stayed.

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  10. Welcome back, Wendy! Thanks for sharing the stories and pictures from your trip - mishaps and all! Glad you had a wonderful time and are safely home.

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  11. Welcome back! The pictures are beautiful. Glad to hear you had a lovely time and got the "major travel disaster" out of the way early. =)

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  12. Welcome home! I'm glad you got in safely, and I'm pea green with envy over your Hawaiian adventure. Mostly, though, I'm glad it was wonderful and you're sharing the pics! :D

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  13. Wonderful pictures and great travel diary! Thanks for sharing. You have some great books there. I finished Child 44 a week ago and I still can't stop thinking about it. I'll be looking forward to your thoughts.

    Aloha.

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  14. Sounds like you had a wonderful vacation! My husband lived on Oahu for 3 years, and would love to go back someday. So far, we haven't made it. Hopefully, we will be able to save enough for the whole famiily to go out in a couple of years.

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  15. What a wonderful trip. I felt like I was right there with you. Great, great photos. Such a beautiful place. But, did you see Sawyer?? :<)

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  16. Welcome back! Thanks for posting the pictures and filling us in on the highlights of your trip.

    I'm glad the potential vacation disaster was relatively easy to overcome and out of the way early in the trip!

    Enjoy your new books ... I agree, it's so nice to be home after a great vacation (you appreciate the everyday stuff more!)

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  17. Welcome home Wendy! Glad you had such a wonderful trip, mishaps and all. There is no place like home, though!

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  18. Welcome back, Wendy! It sounds like you had a lovely time. The pictures are so pretty.

    I look forward to your reviews, especially of Practical Magic as I plan on reading that one soon myself.

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  19. Glad you had a great time!

    My husband and I went to Hawaii back in 1994, and it was one of the best vacations we've ever had. We only stayed on Oahu, but we had a great time while we were there. Visiting the Arizona, hiking Diamond Head, snorkeling and relaxing at the beach. Was the picture of the waterfall on Oahu? It looks very similar to one that we hiked up to while on our trip. It was a magical vacation. The flights we had were free, too!

    We want to go back to Hawaii with our two sons sometime in the next 3-4 years while they're still at home with us. This time I want to see the volcanoes!

    1morechapter.com

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  20. Wendy, I'm so excited that I won a signed copy of MATRIMONY! Thank you so much and also to Alyce for allowing me to be the winner in her place. This is my first time winning and I'm really looking forward to reading this book! Thanks again!

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  21. Glad that you had a wonderful vacation. Can't wait to see your reviews :)

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  22. Wow what gorgeous pictures! Glad you had no further mishaps. Now I just have to talk my husband into taking me to Hawaii lol ;)

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  23. Well, it certainly looks like you had an amazing time! And your pictures are lovely. Glad to see you back, though!

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  24. The photos have made me jealous!

    I'm glad you had a good time and a safe trip, in spite of the beginning.

    cjh

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  25. Sounds like youhad a wonderful holiday, I enjoyed your beautful pictures.
    Whenever we travel, I always find the best part is getting back home to our dogs :)

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  26. Welcome back and thanks for sharing your vacation photos. What a beautiful place! It sounds like you had a really grat vacation!

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  27. Oh my goodness! Already so many comments! Thank you so much everyone for stopping by!

    Laura (Musings) - Thanks! It was a nice holiday--I'm not sure I want it to end. :-)

    Jill - There always has to be something. LOL I admit that I was just glad it wasn't me this time! Not that I would wish anything bad on my husband, but it usually is me that ends up being sick or hurt.

    I enjoyed the guest posts very much much--and am so grateful to everyone who participated, including those who stopped in.

    Alice - It's good to be back, Alice! Although I do feel a bit overwhelmed. LOL I'm still trying to get caught up.

    There's nothing like coming home and finding more books in the mail, is there? A great end to a vacation. :-)

    Hawaiian music is beautiful, I agree!

    Kay - Thank you! I am glad you enjoyed the guest bloggers. :-) It was fun to organize. I hope you have a good week too!

    Mariel - It would be a wonderful place to live again, wouldn't it?

    Gautami - It's good to be back! Sort of. Haha. Never say it's impossible, Gautami. You never know what can happen in the future, no matter how slim the chances. :-) And you can always visit through books, right? That's probably the closest I'll come to visiting most of the world myself.

    Joy - Thank you! I am glad you could feel that special moment too. With Anya, I assumed moments like that would be nonexistent--too many animals and only so much of me to lay on! :-) It's memories like that that I treasure the most.

    Lesa - I wouldn't have minded staying if it didn't mean leaving my animals behind. :-)

    Florinda - Thank you! I do wish I could have extended our vacation just a little longer, but I was anxious to get home to the animals. Not so much work though. ;-)

    Megan - Thanks! It was a relief to get the disaster out of the way early. I don't think my husband thought of that as the disaster though because he kept waiting for me to trip and fall or something. Haha I guess that's what happens when the bad things usually happen to me. :-)

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  28. Andi - Thank you! At least pea green is a pretty color. :-)

    Karen H. - Thanks! We had such a great time. I keep going back and looking at the photos, wishing I could walk right into them.

    I am looking forward to reading Child 44. My husband wasn't too impressed with the title, but then he doesn't know what it's about. :-)

    Stephanie - It was wonderful. And all too short! Prices will hopefully be much better for family travel down the road. We were lucky to get our reservations in before the big price hike in airline tickets.

    Nan - I didn't get to see Sawyer, but we did see some of the areas where LOST and several movies have been filmed! That was exciting!

    Dawn - Thank you! Our vacation disasters usually don't spoil are trips even though they may try to. :-)

    I am definitely appreciating some of the everyday life stuff right now, that's for sure. :-)

    Terri - Thanks! It's good to be home with the animals again. I didn't realize just how much I missed them until we were all together again.

    Nymeth - It was a successful vacation. :-) And Hawaii is so beautiful. I look forward to reading your thoughts on Practical Magic when you get to it!

    Michelle - We probably could have spent the entire time on Oahu and not seen everything we would have liked. It's a beautiful island, isn't it?

    The waterfall photo is actually from the Big Island. It's of Akaka Falls.

    I hope you and your family are able to go back in a few years!

    Lisa - Congratulations on winning the signed copy of Matrimony! I do hope you will enjoy the book as much as I did. :-)

    Samantha - I finally got the reviews written--I procrastinated for as long as I could in writing them, I admit. Haha I should be posting them soon. :-)

    Jen - Thank you! Do you have a big anniversary coming up? That's the excuse I used in getting my husband to agree to go. ;-) That and offering a few more expensive spots that made Hawaii look like a real deal.

    Meghan - Thank you! It is great to be back.

    CJ - And to think the islands are much better in person. :-)

    Joanne - Yes, the homecoming and reunion with the animals is one of the best parts. :-) I just wish I didn't have to leave them behind in the first place.

    Laura (RR)- Thank you! We definitely did have a great vacation. :-)

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  29. Welcome back, Wendy! I missed reading your posts, but I had a great time reading all your guest appearances posts and these had given me an opportunity to get to know them more!

    BTW, the pictures are beautiful! I'm glad you guys had a wonderful time! I'm definitely looking forward to reading your reviews soon! :)

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  30. Welcome back. It sounds like you guys had a fantastic time and the pictures are beautiful.

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  31. Hi Wendy :)

    Welcome back ! I just received your post, you might have to figet, I just started a few pages. I read the Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides and really liked it, saw the movie to but never got around Middlesex. So I am kind of looking at reading it.

    Looks like you had fun, beautiful photos, hope you are all refreshed :)

    Have a nice week Wendy

    Sylvie

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  32. Glad to have you back! It sounds like you had a fabulous time! (Except for the departure day incident - why I hate early morning flights!) The photos are lovely. The one of the temple looks like you could've been in Japan! :)

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  33. Melody - Thank you! I missed all of you too. :-)

    Trisha - Thanks! Hawaii is very photogenic. :-)

    Sylvie - Thank you! I won't rush you--Middlesex is a book to be savored not rushed through. ;-)

    Nat - It is good to be back! Hawaii was wonderful. Japan has had quite an influence on Hawaii, especially Oahu. :-) The temple was so beautiful. It was such a peaceful place too.

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  34. My husband and I are going to Hawaii in December, so I really enjoyed seeing your pictures! I'm glad you had a great time.

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  35. Welcome back! It sounds like you had a lovely trip. I love the pictures you posted. Is the building the temple you mention in your post?

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  36. So great to see you back Wendy - sounds like you guys had a fabulous time (save the beginning) and what a way to celebrate your birthday!

    Your guest posters were fabulous - I may not have commented on all but definitely read them :)

    And, hey, I just finished reading Out too. We'll have to compare notes :)

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  37. Glad you made it home safe and sound, sounds like you almost didn't make it out of your home!

    The pictures are fabulous and I would so be stealing your husband's books.

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  38. Colleen - I hope you have a great time! Maybe you will get to see the whales while you are there. Or some good surfing. :-)

    Terri B - Thank you! The temple in the photo is of the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu--it's a Budhist Temple. The grounds are so beautiful. Very peaceful.

    Iliana - It's good to see you again too. :-) I look forward to reading your thoughts on OUT.

    Carrie K - Thank you! It was definitely a close call to start off with, but there always has to be something with us. LOL

    I do plan to "borrow" my husband's books. They sound good, don't they?

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  39. Welcome home, sounds like an excellent trip!

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  40. It was, Lisa. Thanks! I know I still owe you a review of the bag. I really haven't forgotten! Honest!

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