In Memoriam: RIP Prince Charming

Prince photo 4It’s so sad when a dog friend dies. In their passing we are reminded starkly just how important these creatures are in our lives. We think of their boundless good will, their devotion, and their unequivocal acceptance of their owners, however flawed we may be. We’re mindful, too, that their time with us is too short, no matter how long they may live.

All our dogs are good dogs and we have only good things to say about them and fond memories to recall. That’s quite unlike my recollections of old time Irish wakes where, just as Father O’Malley was extolling the many virtues of the deceased, there would come an inebriated voice from the back muttering, “Begorra! The sonna-na-b died owing me $20.” And don’t even get me started on the time my Uncle Pat got so much of the creature in him that while extending his arm to drop some dirt on the casket, fell into my Great Aunt Mary Margaret’s grave.

But I digress.

Pretty much all of us here are dog lovers. So we know all about the Rainbow Bridge, the Will Rogers’ quotes, and the other sayings, stories and sometimes platitudes that are intended as comfort to our human friends when a beloved pet passes. While we appreciate those kind thoughts and warm wishes, we all know that only time mitigates the pain of loss.

In the comments section of the preceding post on this silly dog blog, I got word from a good friend that her much loved shih-tzu Prince Charming passed away at age 15.

Prince always had a special place in our hearts because he held the position of “Dogfather” in the loose affiliation of small dogs and human companions at our previous condo home in Honolulu.Prince photo 1

When he first met Prince, Max was intimidated.

Granted, it doesn’t take much to intimidate Max but in this case he simply would run away as the Dogfather approached.

Prince was a sweetie-pie who sought only to have a sniff and be friends but it took years before Max finally accepted that the plus size shih-tzu was a kind gentleman and not an existential threat.

Later, they became buddies and would take walks together and afterwards sit in the condo lobby, relaxing and waiting for the usual gang of other little fluffs to join the dog party.

I wrote about Prince a few years ago. You can find a couple of stories here and here. I’m saddened to now have to write about his passing.

Good boy, Dogfather. Run in happiness and comfort through green fields as you play and await the day your family is again together.

And to Jackie, Laura and the pup’s many other friends…

Luʻuluʻu ihola hoʻi i ka hala ʻana o kou hoaloha, a na ke aloha e hoʻōla mai i ka ʻeha a hoʻolana aʻe i ka manaʻo.

(The heart mourns the loss of your beloved friend, may love and compassion heal the hurt and uplift the heart.)

Tom, Machi and Max

Prince photo 2
It was Barzini all along.

Insensitive Lout

Sometimes I’m just an insensitive lout. Other times I’m worse.

The Puna District took a hard hit from the hurricane.
The Puna District took a hard hit from the hurricane.

Recently I was crowing about how Honolulu lucked out on Hurricane Iselle and declared the storm as little more than an inconvenience.

I completely failed to note that some of my fellow Hawaii residents took a real beat down and are still suffering mightily from the effects of last week. Shame on me.

On the southeast coast of the Big Island is the Puna district, one of nine such districts on the Big Island, an area of some 320,000 acres which makes it just a tad smaller than the island of Kauai.

In Hawaiian, “puna” refers to bubbling fresh water and in the Puna district there are several tide pools where cold or hot spring water percolates from the ground.

The Ahalanui Hot Pond at Pu'ala'a County Park in Puna, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan
The Ahalanui Hot Pond at Pu’ala’a County Park in Puna, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

It’s an extraordinary area with the highest volcanic risk on the island, with Hawaii Volcanoes National Park as a main draw, and extensive networks of subterranean lava caves.

Puna is not a wealthy area. In fact, approximately 85 percent of Hawaii Island’s Section 8 low-income rental housing certificate holders are Puna residents.

Puna is a unique ecological and geological environment with profound cultural traditions. It is the home of of the goddess Pele, giving the nearby volcano Kilauea and its surroundings a sacred status. Ancient Hawaiians recognized that human habitation here was subject to Pele’s will.

Pahoa town in the Puna District. A strange mix of old west and old Hawaii with a touch of Forever 1960 thrown in.
Pahoa town in the Puna District. A strange mix of old west and old Hawaii with a touch of Forever 1960 thrown in. Photo by Donald B MacGowan

Close to 50,000 folks live in the district. Due to Hurricane Iselle about 8,000 have been without water, power, ice or ready access to food supplies for almost a week and the prognosis is for a slow recovery because of extensive downed trees and limited resources for infrastructure repair.

So while I was happily crowing about dodged bullets, a lot of folks are toughing out a difficult period.

For that I feel badly – pedio-oral inversion on my part – foot in mouth.

E kala mai…I apologize.

At our condo association meeting last night we agreed to conduct a food and bottled water drive for the folks on the Big Island in connection with the Hawaii Foodbank.

Our “Aid for Puna” drive kicked off this morning and I was drafted to market the program so, of course, I will inflict a sampling of my efforts on you kind readers.

Here are a couple of our posters.

The dog looks familiar.
The dog looks familiar.

The first one features none other than the Malt who beseeches us to give so that he doesn’t have to beg. 

This is proof that there is little truth in advertising.

The FuzzButt doesn’t beg; he demands and, as a money player, will not sit and stay unless bribed with food treats.

We expect a good response to our food drive. Not only because our residents are amazingly generous – and they really are! – but also because we all stock piled supplies in anticipation of a strong storm and now need to clear out some space in our tiny domiciles.

I have a couple of cases of bottled water in the trunk of my car and hot sun plus an enclosed trunk does not improve the flavor of the water over time so I’ll donate that as a starter.

Puna Cat

Back to the ads. We tossed in a few Pity Cats to tug at the heart strings. Kittens are always good for food drives.

No, not as food, I meant as symbols of need to get folks to move from “Awww” to “Give”.

As a dog guy I am immune to Pity Cat marketing but, hey, whatever works.

Finally we used our best shot, an ad that was voted best in show at our previous Food Drive. The thing is, this one will be largely incomprehensible to folks not very familiar with Hawaii because it draws on a famous saying that embodies the Tao of Pidgin English.

“If can, can, If no can, no can.”

If can, can. If no can, no can. Kinda, sorta but not really exactly if you know what I mean.
If can, can. If no can, no can. Kinda, sorta but not really exactly if you know what I mean.

To us in Hawaii that pretty well says it all. Faced with a seemingly insurmountable challenge? Invoke the Tao of Pidgin. Reluctant to dive in but don’t want to refuse a request? Yep, works there, too. The closest comparable expression may be the Arabic “Inshallah” but our version lacks any religious connotations.

Aid for Puna

Again, e kala mai, my humble apologies, to my fellow residents in Puna and anywhere else who have have faced adversity from the hurricane.

Marketing the Condo Party

Hawaii is the 50th State and as American as apple pie. Except we don’t really identify much with apple pie. We’re far more likely to identify with haupia pie made from coconuts or taro pie or any of a bunch of other pies that exceed apple in popularity; things like coconut cream, custard and lilikoi pie.

I was reminded today that for some folks newly arrived to the islands this slightly foreign nature of Hawaii can be confusing.

Each year our condo has a summer party for all residents. It’s a very nice affair that we hold around the swimming pool and cabana area with music and games and  a tremendous variety of great food.

As a member of the condo board, one of my jobs is to handle the marketing of the party which includes posting signs in our three elevators reminding residents of the date and time. I try to make these signs interesting and humorous and that can be a challenge because our residents span so many ethnicities.

Let me give you a couple of examples. The first one will be immediately understood by anyone who has lived in the islands for a few years. Here it is:

For local folk this is immediately understandable. They get the joke and can relate.
For local folk this is immediately understandable. They get the joke and can relate.

Explanation: The big Swedish furniture retailer IKEA is well known to Hawaii people even though it has no stores here. When said with a Hawaii pidgin accent, the company name sounds like “I Care” which, of course, generated the blowback of AINOKEA which sounds in pidgin like “I No Care.”

Over time, AINOKEA has become the go to word for any situation where one simply does not give a fig. There are AINOKEA bumper stickers. What do you think of local politics? AINOKEA. You get the drift.

So, of course, his and her license plates would feature AINOKEA and the companion plate MENEDA which is the pidgin version of “Me neither.” Sigh, if you have to explain this stuff it loses its humor.

When folks who know Hawaii saw the sign they thought it was funny. For others, it was cryptic. I could see it in their eyes. The look that says, “there really is something not quite right about you, isn’t there?”

Now here’s the other side of the story. This next sign is readily understood by many folks on the mainland and it gets a giggle. However, for many of our residents it is a huge puzzle. They know there is a joke in there somewhere but darn if they can figure it out. Here ya go:

Local folk don't readily relate to the language word play. They think I've lost my mind.
Local folk don’t readily relate to the language word play. Even my auto-correct has problems with this sign.

Explanation: none needed is there? The “cat, sank” is an obvious play on words for the French words for 4 and 5, “quatre” and “cinq.” Well, maybe not so obvious in Hawaii. In fact, judging by the popular reaction to the sign, we need a Rosetta Stone.

I’ll share some more condo party stories soon. In the meantime here’s a link to the write up about last year’s party.

Condo Party!

Wifey and I have owned our little condo on Kaheka since it was erected in 1982/1983. Over the ensuing 30 years we have been absent more than resident and during those times we simply rented out the place but always kept it as our fall back for a residence in our (cough) “Golden Years”.

Ours is a great place to live. The neighbors are diverse and interesting. The staff and manager are good people and competent. It’s a friendly building and, while we know more pet names than pet owner’s names, everybody is willing to help each other. There’s plenty of humor and goodwill – the social lubricant that eases the inevitable friction of packing 175 units into a very small footprint. Perhaps most of all, we residents love the garden-like atmosphere of the grounds.

Last Saturday we had condo party to celebrate the unofficially official 30th anniversary of Hale Kaheka. The AOAO Board (of which I am a member) cooked up the scheme and we attacked the advertising and planning of the event with a vengeance because previous social functions during the holiday season were not well attended. We vowed that this production was to be different; an affair to remember if you’ll pardon the shameless movie reference.

Party Food

It turned great. We got over 2.5x our expected turn out but still had plenty of food and goodies for all. The AOAO provided burgers, hot dogs, potato salad and fixings while enthusiastic “Potluckers” kicked in some of their favorite recipes – they were all tasty! – ranging from kimchee to cheesecake and from pasta to kalua pig. The kids played in the pool while the adults lounged on the lawn under umbrella tables and a canopy area. Many stayed the entire 3 hours of the event.

It was a great day and an exhausting one. Our team of volunteers worked very hard to make everyone welcome. We had door prizes, party favors, a history table extolling the past 30 years of the building and music.

Living in a condo is a compressed lifestyle. You are surrounded by people all the time. Your neighbor’s dinner is your room fragrance for the evening. Privacy is relished and protected as a scarce commodity. That’s part of the challenge to break through and get folks to mingle and it’s a great thing to see folks come together as a condo ‘ohana and spend an afternoon talking story, eating, laughing and reaffirming the bonds of a common residence. Good fun.

Hale Kaheka

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