Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.

The Lost City of Z

April 30th, 2017

Based on the best-selling book, The Lost City of Z is the true-life drama of British explorer Col. Percival Fawcett, who disappeared while searching for a mysterious city in the Amazon in the 1920s.

The adven­ture epic is something of an endangered species. We rarely see explorers on the big screen, venturing into uncharted terrain where foreign dangers lurk, even though those stories are cinematic. The Lost City of Z which dramatizes Percy Fawcett’s adventures in South America, is a thrilling reminder of the genre’s potential. The real-life British soldier made multiple trips to the Amazon during the early 20th century in search of an ancient civilization.

The Lost City of Z was directed by James Gray, who created this sprawling saga that whisks audiences from Cork, Ireland, to the rain forest to the trenches of World War I France. The movie is long, but I never felt it was slow, even as it slowed to allow ample time for viewers to enjoy the breathtaking vistas.

Hunnam gives his best performance to career as Lt. Col. Percy Fawcett. To make Fawcett a logical, upstanding guy, the story never fully convinced me of his obsession with returning to find the lost city. As portrayed by Hunnam, Percy is devoid of ego-driven madness or extreme passion, doesn’t seem the type to leave his family and return to a place that nearly killed him. But off he goes anyway back to the great unknown. The choice might be hard to fathom, even reckless, but it was a thrill to watch from the safety of my seat.

The heavy bearded, bespectacled and unrecognizable Robert Pattinson gives a strong performance as Fawcett’s loyal and brave partner in exploration, Henry Costin with enthusiasm. Together they stumble upon unforgettable dangers and beauty in the Amazon.

Sienna Miller has played the understanding wife in many films and she always adds dimension to the character. In this, as much as Nina supports Percy, she has an adventurous side herself. She even proposes going along on one of his adventures to the Amazon as she grows weary of his goodbyes leaving her to raise the children.

I recommend this film to viewers that enjoy historical adventures that transports you to a world so exotic, lush and mysterious, it feels like you’re on another planet. The Lost City of Z does contain war violence with some disturbing images, brief strong language and some National Geographic style nudity. Best seen on the largest screen possible.


Friday Funnies

April 28th, 2017

Computer geeks are a breed apart, and as with any group of people with mutual references, they often make jokes and observations that are totally incomprehensible to outsiders. So consider this post a litmus test. If you laugh at these jokes, then you are most definitely a computer geek.

A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila.

If it weren’t for C, we’d all be programming in BASI and OBOL.

There are 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary, and those who don’t.

In a world without fences and walls, who needs Gates and Windows?

Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning.

Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft; and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor.

I hope you geeks enjoyed this post as much as I did. Because now I have to return to my latest Windows 10 updates. Not funny.



Devotions from Baba’s Front Porch: Breakfast

April 26th, 2017

In the morning Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:3

Mom taught us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Baba thought so too, getting up at 3am to start the biscuits, and it’s a fact I try to teach my patients. Whether you prefer something quick, or a full sit down breakfast, most people know that eating a healthy meal in the morning gives the body needed nutrients and energy. But if that’s the case, why do so many skip it? Or eat rice for breakfast? We deny our bodies what they need, and then we wonder why we’re drained and unable to focus later in the day.

Spending time with the Lord in the morning is like breakfast for our spirits. Not knowing what a day may hold, it’s important to begin the day with our focus on things eternal. No law or commandment says that believers must have morning prayer. However, the example is set throughout scripture. Job rose early each morning to pray for his children. David sought God in the morning. And Jesus got up very early to pray.

As believers, we need to start our day with full bellies and full spirits. Taking time to connect with God in the morning sets our priorities for the rest of the day and prepares us for whatever may come our way.

If you’ve ever been running late and though, “I’ll grab a bite to eat later,” you know that doesn’t always happen. You end up filling up with the wrong choices because you’re starving. Spending time with God can go the same way. If you think, “Oh, I’ll do that a little later,” it may not happen at all and the enemy will put other things in your path.

We have to make the decision to start our day off right, filling our bellies and our spirits before rushing off to face what the day has in store. Lord, fill me with your Spirit so that I exude You for the rest of the day. Amen.

Sunday in Hawaii: Moana Surfrider

April 23rd, 2017

Opened on March 11, 1901, the Moana Surfrider (then simply the Moana Hotel) was the first hotel in the deserted swamp area of Waikiki. The Moana Hotel featured 75 guestrooms which included amenities that were regarded ultimate luxuries at the time, including telephones, private baths, a billiard room, parlor, library, salon and the first electric elevator in the Territory of Hawaii. By the 1920’s the Moana quickly became the choice for accommodations for visitors and marked the beginning of tourism in Waikiki.

The height of Waikiki’s appeal came in 1934 when Harry Owens band launched a radio show “Hawaii Calls” live from the Moana courtyard.  The show’s popularity captured the attention of Hollywood and brought luminaries across the ocean to the hotel.

However, when Pearl Harbor was bombed the flow of visitors came to a screeching halt. The Moana transformed into a rest and recreation area for soldiers and sailors, often a last stop before returning home to the mainland. After the war, the introduction of commercial airline service to Honolulu revitalized Waikiki’s tourism and the Moana quickly regained its popularity.

In 1952, The Surfrider Hotel was built on the east of The Moana. Over the years a new tower was built and the two became one as part of a major renovation and expansion. Today the “First Lady of Waikiki” is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. This iconic hotel continues to perpetuate Hawaiian hospitality. She’s a grand lady on a beautiful strip of beach. http://www.moana-surfrider.com/

This bride was having photos taken when I toured. I couldn’t help but snap this photo, it was such a perfect moment.

This banyan was planted on site in 1904 when the tree was only seven feet tall. Today it is 75 feet tall and provides much needed shade.

Devotions from Baba’s Front Porch: Leftovers

April 19th, 2017

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Luke 5:16

Holiday meals are special times when our family members are intentional about gathering together around the table. (Be there or risk being out of the will!) This Easter everyone was there making for 20 at dinner, with an honorary pineapple sitting in for me. Everyone enjoyed plentiful amounts of food and sweet fellowship. I was able to call in to enjoy Easter conversation and laughter, but sadly for me joining in long distance: no leftovers! When the meal was finished and all the dishes put into Tupperware and put in the refrigerator, everyone retires to the yard to play while insisting they won’t be able to eat for days.

Later that evening however, one of us pulls out the desserts. The ham gets nibbled on and a piece of cake and another roll are eaten, as folks are still happy with the day’s offerings. But by today, the meat is a little dry, the deviled eggs are long gone and the pickled eggs have shriveled up in a most unappetizing way. It isn’t quite as satisfying. The leftovers have overstayed their welcome.

Sometimes, don’t we treat our spiritual lives the same way? We attend worship on Sunday morning, filling ourselves on music and preaching, and we leave the church building feeling full and satisfied. Perhaps it even seems as if we’ve been fed enough to last the whole week.

The example Jesus set, however, was not a once-a-week trip to a spiritual buffet. Christ worshiped in the synagogue, but He also consistently spend time with God alone, filling Himself with the things of God and encouraging us to do the same. Leftovers are simply not as satisfying.

Awaken your hunger for His Word like you do for your secret indulgences.

Mom’s strawberry layer cake doesn’t last long enough to become a “leftover”

Sunday in Hawaii: Waimea Valley

April 16th, 2017

Easter is a celebration, usually spent with families, to remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I spent it celebrating with other worshippers who gathered before dawn at the place Hawaiians call Puowaina, the Hill of Sacrifice. They were serenaded by the Royal Hawaiian Band, and heard words of celebration and of faith for an Easter tradition that goes back 116 years.

Ceremonial Conch Shell Blowing to the four directions to bless the service.

Royal Hawaiian Band established by King Kamehameha in 1836, embodies Hawaii’s rich musical history.

Myself, co-worker Laura and a fellow worshipper from the Marshall Islands sharing our Easter celebration.

Afterwards, I continued my person spiritual time surrounded by the lush beauty of His creaton in Waimea Valley.

Waimea Valley is a historical nature park deeply rooted in Hawaiian history and continues to be a respite for Hawaiian spirituality and traditions on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. The valley includes several historical structures including stone terraces and walls constructed during the time of the Hawaiian monarchy. Much of the garden floor was once cultivated for taro (to make poi), sweet potatoes and bananas, with new crops and orchards introduced by Europeans after their arrival.

After brunch, I took a leisurely stroll through the lush Waimea Arboretum and Botanical Garden which contains 35 distinct collections from around the world.

Peacock showing off for the visitors

Easter egg hunt set up for kids

Easter Bunny beckoning me to join her for a photo. You’re never too old to enjoy the Easter Bunny.

At times I felt as if I’d been transported back to an ancient rain forest with the sounds of birds and every type of vegetation imaginable. The gardens include fine Polynesian plants, as well as excellent collections of very rare Hawaiian plants, and individual gardens dedicated to plants from Guam, Madagascar and the Seychelles Islands. I especially enjoyed the hibiscus garden, the bamboo and begonias.

I saw two natural heart formations today reminding me of loved ones looking over me.

At the end of the flat trail that weaves through the lush, tropical jungle is the grand Waimea Falls and swimming hole which is open to visitors when divers aren’t performing. Unlike other water falls I’ve hiked to, Waimea Falls was once a park where you could drive up the trail and sip on pineapple juice while watching cliff divers and hula dancers perform. Today the road is for foot traffic only and entertainment is more educational in nature. Each of the staff were friendly and seemed to take great pride in their heritage. www.waimeavalley.net

Driving home I was filled with joy (NOT poi) and grateful. Not only for Christ sacrifice, but for the joy of knowing my 20 family members were celebrating the holiest day of the year together and I was able to talk with them thanks to modern technology. May your week be filled with peace and goodwill.

Stopped to enjoy Waimea Bay on the way home




Friday Funnies

April 14th, 2017

Q; What do you call a rabbit that tells jokes? A: A funny bunny.

Q; What did one Easter egg say to another? A: Heard any good yolks lately?

Q: Why does the Easter Bunny have a shiny nose? A: Because his powder puff is on the other end!

Q: What do you call a dumb rabbit? A: A hare-brain.

Q: What kind of books do rabbits like? A: Ones with hoppy endings.

Q: What did Mr. & Mrs. Easterbunny do after their wedding? A: They went on a bunnymoon.

Happy Easter everyone!

‘Twas the Night Before Easter

April 12th, 2017

‘Twas the Night Before Easter by Peggie C. Bohanon

‘Twas the night before Easter on Internet Lane;
From New York
to Russia, spring Holidaze reigned!
Computers were linking from Disney to space;
And folks were solving the Easter Egg

The kids were entranced by a techno-theme,
While visions of dinosaurs appeared on the screen!
And Mom dyed the eggs, while I searched the Net,
For flowers
to send her–or in dog house I’d get!!

When swiftly, my Mac began such a clatter,
The mouse
shrieked, “Explorer”, what’s the matter!”
Away to my window,
I jumped with great speed;
A break for sore eyes,
 I surely did need!

I saw flowers of Spring beginning to bloom,
I welcomed the view from my computer
When what to my wondering eyes,
did I see,
But a Stranger
stooped low, on bended knee.

With a quick glance I knew ’twas a backflash of time,
I envisioned the form of my Savior
More rapid than eagles, my memory raced,
To another time and another place.

Where Christ, Lord of all, called each one by name–
“Follow Me,” was His Word, and they willingly came.
They watched Him perform deeds of wondrous love;

They knew His power came from  God

Yet we (you and me, folks!) just led him to die;
In the dark of a tomb our Savior did lie.
But then in another flash of great power,
I saw Him arise
–death conquered that hour!

He was robed all in white, with radiant glow;
He stood in great splendor this Savior I know,

His eyes with loving compassion shown,
I knew
in that moment I need ne’er be alone.

His hands were outstretched as this One bid me come;
The work of redemption forever done.
I stood there in silence, in humble awe,
As the Reason of Easter – (
1 Corinthians 15 KJV) – I now clearly saw.

Then quickly as the scenes had appeared,
They faded–I felt not one moment of fear.
I bowed low in worship; earth’s sight now so dim;
I had seen Easter’s morning
; I had been there with Him.

As I saw Him, with faith’s eyes, lifted above,
The night before Easter
was filled with pure love.
And I heard him exclaim as He rose out of sight,
“A Blessed Easter
to all! I have conquered your night!”


Going In Style

April 10th, 2017

In summer, heat waves can strike areas of the country where cooler temperatures are the norm. In these areas, many homes do not have air conditioning and surviving in the extreme temperatures (>85) becomes a challenge. It was 92 in Manoa, Hawaii yesterday and most homes do not have air conditioning by choice. To survive the extreme heat I decided to see “Going in Style” for 2 hours of air conditioned comfort. It was worth every penny.

Joyful, hilarious, touching, exciting, “Going in Style” fits in all these categories, proving how age does not deprive actors of comedic spirit. Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Alan Arkin are each legends on their own, but seeing all three of them together is a pleasure for any film fan. The viewer can tell the three of them had a blast filming together and it clearly shows in the final product. The film won’t knock your socks off, but I’ll watch anything with these actors who played each of their roles convincingly and vigorously.

It’s not all giggles, though. There’s a deeper message about chasing after your dreams, no matter how old you are, living your life fully until the very end, and not letting others ruin your life. Whether its watching these guys tear up at the site of the granddaughters, or just busting each other over the smallest of things, I felt like I was watching a group of men having coffee at a local shop motivated and scheming to live their lives better.

Before watching this film, I was already aware of the 1979 version. When I went to the movie, I assumed that I would see the same story, only with the eyes of another director. But, as it turned out, the film’s writers foresaw this and pleasantly surprised me by changing the plot in key places. Both films are worth watching for their own pleasure, the difference being I felt Braff’s new interpretation is more energetic and cheerful compared to the previous version.

I had air-conditioned fun watching “Going in Style.” It’s not perfect, it’s silly and even a little cringe worthy at times, but within five minutes my stomach hurt because I was laughing so much. Then, to top it off, Ann Margaret, Matt Dillon and Christopher Lloyd light up the screen in small, supporting roles. They add to “Style’s” lighthearted fun.

I recommend this film to adults because they’ll relate to the personal issues these men face. The comedy has something for everyone in the family because it leaves a smile on your face. Use it as an excuse to enjoy air-conditioned comfort – you’ll be glad you did.

Sunday in Hawaii: Byodo-In Temple

April 9th, 2017

The Byodo-In Temple is a non-practicing Buddhist temple which welcomes people of all faiths to worship, meditate or simply appreciate its beauty. Located at the foot of the lush Ko’olau Mountains in Valley of the Temples Memorial Park, it was built in 1968 to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. The Byodo-In Temple in O’ahu is a smaller-scale replica of the over 950-year-old Byodo-in Temple, a United Nations World Heritage Site in Uji, Japan.

The Bell House contains a five-foot-high, three-ton brass bell, called bon-sho (sacred bell), cast in Osaka, Japan. It closely resembles the bell hanging in an identical Bell House at the Uji Byodo-In. The original is said to be more than 900 years old and to have come from India. It’s customarily rung before entering the temple to bring the ringer happiness, blessings, and a long life.

The Temple is home to Amida, an immense 9-foot golden Buddha. This area is popularly known as Hoo-do, or the Phoenix Hall, because a pair of the legendary birds of good omen perched on both ends of the roof with their wings spread to symbolize stability and ready to fly away.

The meditation pavilion is located up the hill behind the Temple. It’s a good place to sit in the shade for private thoughts and inner peace away from the chaos of our world.

The Temple grounds are a lushly landscaped paradise nestled in a cleft of the pali and are home to black swans and hundreds of colorful koi fish. The beautiful grounds include a large reflecting pond, meditation niches, and small waterfalls. I would describe this Hawaiian landmark as beautiful, peaceful, serene and one of Hawaii’s best kept secrets.

The Byodo-In Temple, its grounds, and Valley of the Temples Memorial Park are privately owned property and photography on the premises requires the purchase of a photography permit. Also, the Temple currently undergoing a massive restoration, so I am sharing their photos.

Friday Funnies

April 7th, 2017

Q: What do you get when you cross a hula hoop and a boxer?
A: Hawaiian Punch.

Q: What do you call a Hawaiian murder mystery?
A: A Hula-Dunnit.

Q: What is a volcano always trying to get rid of?
A: It’s lava handles.

Q: Why did the Hawaii football team cross the road?
A: Because it was easier than crossing the goal line.

Hawaiian asked to use chicken nut bread (she cannot breathe) & sea shore in a sentence: “”Oi, is dis dee 911 num-bare? You must hurry dee ambulance.. my wife.. chicken nut bread and she iss having d’ sea shore!”

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Hawaii who?
I’m fine, how are you?

Devotions from Baba’s Front Porch: Spring Cleaning

April 5th, 2017

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. Acts 3:19

There are different levels of cleaning the home. There’s the kind of cleaning you do on a regular basis: wash the dishes, mop the floors, do the laundry, and makes the beds. Maybe rewash the laundry that sat in the machine overnight. Then there’s the quick cleaning you do for unexpected company: shoving toys into closets, light a candle, and close all the bedroom doors!

During certain times of year, however, cleaning takes on a whole new meaning. There’s no specific date on the calendar for this chore – you just wake up one morning and you know it’s spring cleaning time. It’s time to begin to deal with all those tasks that you’ve been ignoring (or just unable to do) over the winter months.

During this deep cleaning, ceiling fans are finally dusted, curtains are taken down and laundered, carpets cleaned and the windows are opened to allow the breeze to blow through the house. Closets get reorganized and furniture gets re-arranged. Long-neglected tasks are completed and the entire home seems fresh and new.

When it comes to our spiritual lives, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day kind of cleaning. We do just what is necessary for the immediate maintenance of our faith. If we aren’t careful we might let some tasks go undone. Dust bunnies begin to accumulate. Before we know it, we need spiritual spring cleaning.

We must seek the Lord and ask Him to reveal any sin that may be making itself at home in our hearts. When it’s revealed, we can repent and turn from it. Then God is able to make our spirits fresh and new again. Open the doors to your heart and let God’s refreshing breeze blow in.

Sunday in Hawaii: Dole Plantation

April 2nd, 2017

The most visited tourist attraction in Hawaii is the Pearl Harbor National Monument. The second most visited attraction is 20 miles north: The Dole Plantation. While it’s true that Hawaii was once the big kahuna in global pineapple production, the industry had a meteoric rise and fall over the course of the 20th century.

Famously delicious Dole Whip

The pineapple—fierce on the outside, sweet and juicy on the inside—was so named for its resemblance to a pine cone. Christopher Columbus brought this native of South America back to Europe as one of the exotic prizes of the New World. In later centuries, sailors brought the pineapple home to New England, where a fresh pineapple displayed on the porch meant that the sailor was home from foreign ports and ready to welcome visitors.

No one knows when the first pineapple (“halakahiki,” or foreign fruit, in Hawaiian) arrived in Hawai‘i. Francisco de Paula Marin, a Spanish adventurer who became a trusted interpreter to King Kamehameha the Great, successfully raised citrus, mangoes and pineapples in the early 1800s. A sailor, Captain John Kidwell, is credited with founding Hawaii’s pineapple industry, importing and testing a number of varieties in the 1800s for commercial crop potential. But it wasn’t until James Drummond Dole arrived in the islands that the pineapple was transformed from an American symbol of friendship and exotic locales into an American household staple.

James Drummond Dole arrived in Hawai‘i in 1899 eager to prove that Hawai‘i could take part in the boom times for farming that were sweeping across America. The following year, he bought a 61-acre tract of land here in Wahiawa, where he established the first plantation of what would in later years become an agricultural empire that reached around the world. Dole wasn’t the first person to grow pineapple in Hawai`i, but he was the first to realize its tremendous potential, and eventually became known across America as the Pineapple King.

Dole knew that there could be an enormous market for pineapple outside of Hawai‘i, and the technology to distribute it had finally arrived. The process of canning food to preserve it had been around for decades, but had only been perfected in recent years. Packing and sealing pineapple in a hard-traveling can was the perfect way to keep it fresh over long distances, and thus Dole’s first pineapple cannery was built in 1901. Several years later, the cannery was moved to Honolulu Harbor to be closer to the labor pool, shipping ports, and supplies.

Although the pineapple was considered a desirable exotic fruit and had appeared in the arts and crafts of New England and Europe, very few Westerners actually knew what to do with one. Dole joined forces with Hawaii’s other pineapple distributors and set out to create a national market for the tropical fruit by showing the world how sweet a pineapple could be. Nationally distributed advertising campaigns featured recipes for pineapple pie and pineapple salad and taught readers how to choose and use different grades of fruit. In 1925, the classic American recipe for pineapple upside-down cake was popularized during a pineapple recipe contest sponsored by Dole. The contest drew 60,000 entries and canned pineapple had secured a place in the American pantry. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/232612/pineapple-upside-down-cake-from-dole/

As the demand for pineapple grew, so did the need for more land. In 1922, Dole bought the Hawaiian Island of Lana`i and transformed it into the largest pineapple plantation in the world, with 20,000 farmed acres and a planned plantation village to house more than a thousand workers and their families. For nearly 70 years, Lana`i supplied more than 75% of the world’s pineapple, becoming widely known as the “Pineapple Island.”

By the 1930s, Hawai`i was famous as the pineapple capital of the world. The Hawaiian Pineapple Company James Dole had founded was now processing over 200,000 tons of pineapple a year, helping to make pineapple Hawaii’s second largest industry. By the 1940s, eight pineapple companies operated in Hawai`i. By far the largest was James Dole’s Hawaiian Pineapple Company, with vast plantations and a cannery in Honolulu, employing about 3,000 permanent and 4,000 seasonal employees.

James Drummond Dole passed away in 1958 at the age of 80 leaving his plantation and gardens behind. The Hawaiian Pineapple Company he founded is now known the world over as Dole Food Company, one of the most recognized brands in the world.

The Honolulu site, at one time the world’s largest cannery, remained in operation until 1991, its landmark pineapple-shaped water tower visible from every part of the city. After World War II the canned pineapple industry spread to Thailand where labor costs were significantly lower. Dole’s competitor Del Monte, moved out of the islands in 2008.

Today the state’s pineapple industry exists primarily to satisfy local demands, much as it did before the arrival of Mr. James Dole. Even the legendary Dole Pineapple water tower was allowed to be cut up and disposed of. I wonder if Joni Mitchell was thinking of Honolulu when she wrote: “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot, with a pink hotel, a boutique and a swinging hot spot…you don’t always know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”?

Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.