Travel to Shop

luxuryrow-header-tmb  The main street in Waikiki is known more for its shops than for its obscured view of the beach and ocean.  Japanese tourists have long been the mainstay of the economy as they flit in their stilettos from Chanel and Tiffany to Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, carrying bags of luxury along the sidewalk.  According to author Dave Sedaris, Japan is his preferred place to shop.   In Tokyo, shopping is not an art – it’s a sport.

In the New York Times travel section, “In Transit,” Nell McShane Wulfhart interviews David Sedaris for a list of places to stay (the Four Seasons Biltmore in Santa Barbara – “everyone there looks like Mitt and Ann Romney”) to his dream trip (to India – “I want to go to India for three hours.  So I can leave when I get thirsty, and then I can get back on the plane without any risk of getting a stomach bug.”).  But his favorite travel activity is shopping; forget the monuments and art.

As a seasoned traveler, Sedaris offers a list of must-haves for every trip, including:

  • Vicks VapoRub  (Use on your upper lip to diffuse cloying perfume of fellow travelers.)
  • An extendable backscratcher (to relieve the itchiness brought on by dry air in planes).
  • A wooden hanger that folds in half to dry shirts (because “in a crummy hotel you can’t disconnect the hangers.”)
  • Set Editions’ Stop Talking Cards (useful to give at appropriate times).Set-Editions-Stop-Talking-Cards

Related Review:  Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris

Pilgrimage to a Bookstore

Bookends in Kailua is one of a rare breed here in Hawaii, and I feel compelled to go to the bookstore regularly, visit with the well-read staff, browse the piles of new and used books, and buy books, hoping my purchase helps to keep them in business.

Today, the bookseller and I agreed we may the last people on earth who have not read The Martian.  Of course, I had to buy it – it was on sale.

I found a few others too…assuaging my fear of not having a book ready to read when my library requests are delayed.


The Hurricanes – Double Whammy in Hawaii

1207432755255451633Andy_whirlpool.svg.med1207432755255451633Andy_whirlpool.svg.medAnticipating the two hurricanes heading toward my island home in Hawaii has everyone anxious – some more frantic than others.  Tracking the swirling colors of both storms as Iselle and Julio head toward these isolated rocks in the middle of the ocean, the local weatherman is excited to broadcast more than the usual wave height and surf conditions.  Flights have been cancelled, city bus service stopped, shelters opened.  Most residents are hunkered down watching the news, wondering if they will still have electricity in a few hours.  Vacationers are oblivious – most still on the beach or in the ocean; later, a few will challenge the high waves, despite repeated warnings.

I have my candles, my flashlights, and bottled water.  I even have a hand crank radio from National Geographic.  More importantly, I have a 9781400062126_p0_v3_s260x420book –  Bret Anthony Johnson’s Remember Me Like This – only requires the power of my turning the pages.


Robert Louis Stevenson in Hawaii

2940015565362_p0_v1_s260x420 Isobel Field’s claim to fame evolves around her relationship with her step-father, Robert Louis Stevenson. In her memoir – This Life I’ve Loved – she includes references to Robert Louis Stevenson (RLS) and her experiences as a white woman who graced the court of the Hawaiian king, Kalakaua. Born in Indiana, Field lived a charmed life with trips to Europe, Australia, Samoa, and Hawaii at a time when travel was not easy. Although long, wordy, and gossipy, the historical gems were worth finding – if only the septuagenarian writer (who lived to 94) had had an editor.

Field successfully conjures up life in Hawaii in the late 1800’s, and foreshadows the struggle for power that eventually overthrew the kingdom, but most of her thoughts are with her own daily issues of what dresses to wear and how many cards to leave when paying a formal call – trivia to fill the pages. Her influence on the Hawaiian King Kalakaua, as he tried to establish himself as a monarch equal to the European regents he admired, connected to her artwork. Field created water colors, one on display at the Honolulu Museum of Art, as well as sketches for royal dinner menus and the Royal Order of Oceania,

Joseph Strong, artist

Joseph Strong, artist

which she proudly wore as the first woman recipient. Her husband, Joseph Strong, connected to the wealthy Spreckels sugar baron, sailed with Isobel to Hawaii as the royal artist in residence, creating landscapes for his sponsor and the king.

RLS connects to Isobel only briefly when he visits Hawaii for four months with Fanny, Isobel’s mother, and later in Australia, when Isobel works as his amanuensis, offering glimpses into the famous writer’s poor

RLS with King Kalakaua

RLS with King Kalakaua

health and his well-known story telling ability. Inspired to discover more about the life of RLS, I’ve ordered his biography by Frank McLynn, published for the centenary of the author’s death in Samoa, and a few of his classics to reread. Field mentions The Master of Ballantrae and A Child’s Garden of Verses in her ramblings – might be good places to start.

What Robert Louis Stevenson books have you read?

Eat What You Read – Edible Books

The fourth annual Edible Book Contest, sponsored by the University of Hawaii library, offered readers a chance to see their favorite book covers in fondant – and eat the author’s sugary words.

The Hawai‘i Edible Book Contest is part of The International Edible Book Festival (, a global celebration founded in honor of French gastronome, Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826).  Famous for his book, Physiologie du goūt, a witty meditation on food, Brillat-Savarin’s birthday was April 1.

Samples of some “food for thought”….

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