Summertime Highlights

Where do I begin? I can’t believe summer is almost over…or at least it is for me on the 29th. Why? Because your girl got accepted to graduate school!!! My classes begin on the 29th. If I were to insert a relatable emoji, I’m not sure if it would be the “face screaming in fear,” “the weary cat face,” or the “face with tears of joy.”  Hmm. Maybe all three.

I hope everyone’s summer has been filled with a lot of sunshine and frozen drinks. My summer has had its ups and downs, however for the most part it’s been good and I’ve come to appreciate both the good and the bad. Although slightly cliché, it still is the truth: Life is what you make it.

With that being said, here is a list of some of my “summertime highlights” —

The food! // Yes, I’ve eaten some really tasty food this summer. Lightly golden, fried, filled malasadas. Oh yes. It was good. We actually tried two places that are known for having the BEST malasadas on this island — TEX Drive-In in Honoka’a and Manuela Malasada Company in Waimea. We ordered guava, lilikoi, coconut, and plain malasadas from TEX Drive-In. At Manuela Malasada Company, we ordered mango, guava, and plain malasadas with li-hing sugar on top. I’ve had thai food from New Chiang Mai Thai Cuisine. Smoothies and dreamy ice cream from Makani’s Magic Pineapple Shack. Fish and chips from Mo’s Fish and Chips. Craft chocolate bars from Puna Chocolate Company. One of my goals is to compile a list of amazing places to eat on the Big Island. Would you guys be interested in that?

 

 

The day trips // My mom, Riley, and I would drive all over the island — Kailua-Kona, Mahukona, Waimea, Ahualoa, Honoka’a, Laupahoehoe, Kalopa, Honomu, ‘Akaka Falls, Pepeekeo, Onomea Bay, Hilo, Volcano, etc. It was so much fun exploring our town; I loved it. I swear we saw so many beautiful places this summer. I love how one location can be drastically different from another location with only 5 or 10 miles separating the two. For example, Waimea always reminds of fall (hello, my favorite!), while Onomea Bay is covered with palm trees and a path leading to the most perfect aquamarine ocean.

 

 

My acceptance to graduate school // I was accepted to Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies; I’ll be studying Applied Intelligence. I can’t believe I’m going back to school — I’m both nervous and excited. I graduated last year from college, however it feels like a lifetime ago.

 

Amber Georgetown Letter

 

Hanging out with Riley // My sister Riley came home for the summer before she started her first year at college. It was fun having her home again — We talked a lot (I forgot what it’s like to be young again even though I’m only 22 or 85…depends on the day), ate good food, and explored various places.

Lint Center Scholarships // I love when it’s scholarship season. We have so many patriotic, academically gifted, and dedicated individuals applying for scholarships this summer; it’s wonderful!

 

I hope everyone continues to soak up the last bit of sunshine before summer ends!

 

 

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A Final Salute to Officer Bronson K. Kaliloa

On July 17, Officer Bronson K. Kaliloa of the Hawai’i County Police Department, conducted a high-risk traffic stop of a wanted subject on Highway 11, in Kukui Camp Road, Mountain View. Officer Kaliloa was shot in the neck and leg by the wanted subject; he was transported to the Hilo Medical Center where he succumbed to his wounds shortly after midnight on July 18. Officer Kaliloa served with Hawai’i County Police Department for 10 years. He is survived by his wife, Casey, and three young children — Samson, Grace, and Nathan.

First, let me begin this post by saying how incredibly devastating and sad the death of a law enforcement officer is — To serve and protect citizens, the whole community, and to be killed because of it. And no, I’m not putting law enforcement on a pedestal, but it’s a simple fact: They serve and protect the community as much as any human tasked with that great responsibility is able to, regardless of who “hates” them or how dangerous the subject/situation is; they do it every single day. I work in the criminal justice/law enforcement field as an Investigator. My father is career law enforcement. I work with law enforcement professionals from all agencies. The job does require dealing with combative subjects and a dangerous environment; it’s part of the job. However, the goal is to go home at the end of the day, and when one of your own is killed by an individual who simply couldn’t abide by the law, it hits hard. It’s difficult. It’s sad. It makes you angry — But you still believe in what you’re representing and you still care. Therefore, you go back out there and do your job. Once again, it’s incredibly devastating and sad the death of a law enforcement officer.

Officer Kaliloa was the first Big Island police officer to be murdered while making a traffic stop — This has never happened here before. When I worked as a PIO/News Reporter for a non-profit organization back in 2016, I covered over a hundred law enforcement deaths, but it was never so close to home.

Yesterday Officer Kaliloa was laid to rest. Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend his funeral. However, I was able to watch it live from Nā Leo TV and Hawaii News Now. The show of support from the general public and the amount of law enforcement from all over the United States, not just Hawaii’s agencies, that paid their respects to Officer Kaliloa was absolutely heartwarming — It was amazing to see. Law enforcement all the way from New York came to Hilo’s Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium. Citizens lined the streets as the funeral procession drove by. The flags were ordered to fly at half-staff. Thousands of people came to give a proper send-off to an individual who served his community and served it well.

I can’t begin to imagine what Officer Kaliloa’s wife, children, and department have been going through. From what I’ve heard from those who served with him, and from what is already evident, he was the type of person that not only cared about his job/role as a police officer but he also cared about others.

Officer Kaliloa, you were an incredible human being. You will be sorely missed.

 

Police Officer Bronson Kaimana Wei Mun Kaliloa

Hawai’i County Police Department

End of Watch: Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Badge: 444

 

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God // Matthew 5:9

 

 

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Travel: Pepeekeo, Honokaa, and Waimea

There’s a certain charm to driving around town, really exploring, with no particular destination in mind — In fact, if I’m being completely honest, it’s my favorite activity to do.

A few weeks ago my mom and I drove throughout East Hawaii; we drove from Hilo to Pepeekeo, Honokaa, and Waimea. It was a beautiful and sunny day with a light breeze; not too hot, not too cold. We grabbed pasta from Pizza Hut (one of our favorite things to eat) and set out to find beautiful places to explore — I’d like to emphasize that here in Hawaii, even if you’ve been to a location a million times, if you let it, it will always take your breath away.

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Tuscani chicken alfredo with breadsticks (or in this case just bread) from Pizza Hut. Pepsi for me. Root beer for mom. You can’t go wrong with Pizza Hut.

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This area is on the left side of the highway past Pepeekeo. We drove up a few winding roads leading us further into tropical farmlands. We saw horses, goats, cows, various types of flowers, and pretty homes — There’s also a killer view of the great blue sea.

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Isn’t red ginger gorgeous?

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We drove from Pepeekeo/Papaikou to Honokaa; from Honokaa we drove through Ahualoa to Waimea. Ahualoa winds, is lined with towering trees, and it’ll make you feel as though you’re in a different place…in a good way. It’s my favorite route. It’s also home to a very pretty vacation rental (Um, Pinterest perfect).

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To end the day, we went into Waimea to buy some steaks for dinner. It was a great day.

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Location(s) – Pepeekeo, Honokaa, and Waimea / Big Island of Hawaii (we did drive through various areas within the Hamakua Coast) – When – Saturday, June 16, 2018 – Time – Afternoon & into the evening / With – Mom / What we did – We took a drive through Hamakua Coast / We explored different areas; drove through small towns and even had time to look at Onomea Bay.

Camera used – Nikon Coolpix L840 / Editing – Fotor photo editor / I edited the photos by adjusting the curves and saturation.

 

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Ruth’s Chris Steak House, The Shops at Mauna Lani

Last year we had an amazing dinner for Father’s Day at Ruth’s Chris Steak House, located at The Shops at Mauna Lani here on the Big Island. It was a surprise that I was planning for quite some time for Father’s Day — When I told dad and the rest of the family (including my brother’s friends), everyone was thrilled!

The Kohala Coast is where The Shops at Mauna Lani is; it’s a beautiful area that feels like a very small Waikiki. The Shops has shopping, dining, and entertainment/events for the family.

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We arrived at Ruth’s Chris ready to eat! Dad, mom, me, Paul, and Noah arrived in one car, while Nick arrived a little later in another car. The inside of Ruth’s Chris is very nice, and naturally the boys did not know how to behave! In fact, within the first 20 minutes, a drink was knocked over, a certain someone pinched a certain someone, and when the flaming hors d’oeuvre arrived at the table I was scared for my hair. Ha! Seriously. It was the best time with the best people.

For the appetizers, we ordered the Flaming Oysters Rockefeller, Calamari, Seared Ahi/Sashimi, and Escargot. The food was amazing. I absolutely loved the oysters.

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Hors d'oeuvre at Ruth's Chris Steak House in Mauna Lani_Fotor

For the main course, I ordered the lamb chops and mashed potatoes. I also ordered a coke, while my drink of choice was a blackberry rosemary cosmo; since I wasn’t drinking any alcohol, the staff was nice enough to change the original raspberry rosemary cosmo to blackberry. Mom ordered a filet with grilled asparagus. Dad ordered either the New York strip or cowboy ribeye (I can’t remember which one), while Paul and Noah both ordered ribeyes…with a side of rice. Meanwhile, Nick ordered a porterhouse for two, and ate all 40 oz.

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For dessert, we had raspberry sorbet (the best!), Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream, and creme brulee topped with fresh blackberries.

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The palm trees were covered in twinkle lights, which made the area even prettier. It was a wonderful night filled with love, tasty food, and a lot of laughter.

 

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Life Today | June

Hello June! Wow, I haven’t done a “life today” post since September. Much has changed and yet much has remained the same —

1. I have begun applying to graduate school for the fall semester. In fact, I started the process in February and it has taken nearly four months to complete. I am not going to list any of the schools that I have applied to (yet), however I will divulge that the academic field that I have chosen is intelligence studies. I am nervous, excited, hopeful — Applying to graduate school is a little nerve-racking.

2. Monsoor is healing wonderfully; he is remarkable. I briefly discussed him in a previous post and on my Instagram, however updates on my blog have been non-existent — I have done a stellar job at writing daily updates about Monsoor, however when it comes to posting those updates on here, well, I have been terrible at it! I want to change that because I want the world to know who Monsoor the cat is; a lovable, beautiful, fighter. We have had him now for almost 10 months; he is 1 year 10 months old. He is no longer 3 lbs — I need to weigh him on a scale, however if I had to estimate his weight, he is probably 10 lbs. He is blind; when we found him on the side of the road, at that point in time, he had an infection that took his eyes and nearly his face. Here we are almost a year later and his face is 98% healed and he has adjusted to living blind. He has his own bed/living area, stuffed animals (his favorite is the hippopotamus, maybe because it’s the softest), and he loves playing with the dogs who, in turn, take care of him; Max is his best friend. Monsoor truly lives up to his name.

3. I have had Ray now for 10 months; I adopted Ray from the Humane Society a week before rescuing Monsoor. Ray is a month or so away from celebrating his fifth birthday! He is slightly bigger than your average Red Heeler; I need him to get used to exercise and a diet. I want him to enjoy hiking like Max, however we will need to start with smaller trails and work from there. With the ongoing eruptions, we have poor air quality (it is improving); we need to find a new hiking trail suitable for Ray and Max. Ray enjoys sleeping on the tiled floor and his air mattress; he loves his dog treats (I know, I know. What dog does not?). He enjoys lounging on the front porch and back porch. He is Max’s best friend and wants to be Sophie’s friend but she is not having any of that, and, well, all I can say is cats man…except Monsoor; Monsoor loves humans, cats, dogs, etc. Anyway, Ray is such a sweet boy.

4. Max is as rambunctious as ever, while Sophie has moved back into my bedroom after living in my office…after living in my bedroom. #Dogs #Cats

5. Blogging — I have been getting into a better habit of blogging regularly, however I have thousands of photos (literally) of beautiful places here on the Big Island that I want to post; I need to find the time to organize my photos and write the stories. At the end of the day, I just want to appreciate the good times I have had. At the same time, social media (not necessarily blogging) has been on my mind lately with a HUGE question mark. I love writing. I love photography. I love being able to share a little of my life with those who are interested. However, I am not sure what role, or if there is a role, social media plays in my life or in my profession. Is it good for my profession? Is it pointless? I have no clue.

6. Post-grad life brings new meaning to the phrase “take the bull by the horns.”

7. Nick has been in college now for nine months, while Riley is graduating from high school on the 20th. Time flies!

8. Dad is now the security manager overseeing the security at the hospital in Kailua-Kona; he drives roughly 212 miles a day because work is on the other side of this massive island.

9. I spend a lot of my time with mom, which I love; I spent seven years working with dad in the field and it is now nice to spend quality time with her.

10. Lava — I want to delve deeper into this at a later date, however I am sure many people are aware by now of the lava in Puna. I actually heard over the radio, prior to the fissures opening up in Leilani Estates, that Puna needed to be on alert due to the threat of lava. A couple hours later, the eruptions started in Leilani Estates on May 3, and here we are now with many areas in lower Puna completely destroyed. I live 10.4 miles from the fissures, however the only issues we have experienced in our neighborhood is an influx in traffic and sulfur dioxide from the Kīlauea eruptions. Over 600 homes have been destroyed due to the lava and many people/pets are displaced — It is very concerning and I can only imagine what these people are going through. I am incredibly saddened by these homes burning to the ground, places that I have grown to love being lost, and people that are in trouble. A big THANK YOU to the U.S. Marine Corps, Hawaii Army National Guard, Hawaii Police Department, Hawaii Fire Department, County of Hawaii Civil Defense, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Volunteers, and anyone else that I have missed.

 

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Maizie K. Roberts – An Extraordinary Woman | Chapter II | Hospitals, Part I & II

You can read Chapter I of “Maizie K. Roberts – An Extraordinary Womanhere. Chapter I looks back on Mother’s Day 2012; the last day I had with nana before she went to the hospital and passed away three days later, on May 16, 2012.

Again, I contemplated not writing this; mostly because I wasn’t sure if it had a place here on my blog. And then I realized that it does because it’s important to acknowledge both pain and beauty in life. “Hospitals, Part I & II” occurred six years ago; it’s written exactly as the events on May 14th and 15th occurred, however it’s narrated from both a 16 and 22-Year-Old me.

Hospitals, Part I & II: May 14 — May 15

It’s a sinking feeling really; the feeling of losing someone you love, losing them rapidly yet slowly (what an oxymoron), and not being able to do a single thing about it. It’s frustrating. And terrifying. And it’ll make you angry and make you feel lost, that you’ll have to step away from everyone for a while to get a grip – At least that’s how it is for me; how I feel.

The following events unfolded quickly: I woke up mid-morning on the 14th, checked on nana, made her breakfast, and when I went to give the breakfast to her she wasn’t hungry; she hasn’t been eating much these past few days. I tried to convince her to eat, however nana can be so stubborn at times; then again so can I. My parents were out of the house that morning and I was home with nana, Nick, Riley, and Paul – I did make a call to my parents, informing them that nana’s condition looks seemingly worse; the hip pain she’s been experiencing is increasing and she’s not eating, or should I say, refusing to eat. I’m at a total loss; above all else, I detest the feeling of helplessness. And right about now, I feel helpless. A million thoughts run through my head; how can I help nana better, what can we do, what is going to happen, what could I have done better. And, even though I have these questions and thoughts, I know that there comes a day when these things happen; you get older and you’re not as physically strong as you once were. I don’t want to believe it though! I don’t want to face a reality without her; without nana. Without my friend. Even though I can look directly into the face of a problem and in the face of reality, I have a tendency of thinking that somehow, I could possibly change the inevitable outcome. And, more times than I’d like to admit, I often can’t. This would be one of those times.

When my parents returned home, there were many decisions that needed to be made. One of the decisions, most difficult decision made, was to ask nana what she wanted and to hear that she felt that it was time for her to go the hospital; there was a brief discussion of possibly going to a nursing home as well. Unfortunately, due to the fact she was growing weaker, we had to call an ambulance to transport her from our home to the hospital; I went to nana’s bedroom and began helping her get ready to go – I removed some of her jewelry; her necklace and a few of her rings, while the EMT, when EMS arrived, was able to remove her other ring. I didn’t say much to nana, mostly because I felt sad for her and I also felt guilty – I felt guilty because maybe if I would have been able to get her to eat more, or if I didn’t say anything at all that morning on the 14th, she would be able to stay at home with us. With me. It was a difficult situation for all involved, for nana, especially for my mom – No son or daughter wants to ever see their parent in pain or see them declining in health, especially when that parent was always the strong one. It’s very heartbreaking to witness and even more heartbreaking to be a part of.

EMS transported nana to the hospital and we all piled into the car; mom, dad, me, Nick, Riley, and Paul; we followed the ambulance a few cars back. It was a weird feeling; a feeling of being stuck in some sort of limbo. We arrived at the hospital, Hilo Medical Center, and we waited in the waiting room of the ER while mom and dad went to speak with someone to determine what was happening with nana – I didn’t see nana during this time at all; we weren’t allowed in the patient area. We sat in the waiting room for a very long time; enough time passed that I was able to watch the sky change from varying shades before it was sunset. I sat in nearly the same chair for over five hours; not caring to move, not wanting to move forward. Hospitals are a very odd place to be – It’s this place of transition – It’s a place where babies are born, where the sick can be healed, but it’s also a place where you don’t always make it out alive. I was wondering what would it be? What category would this fall into? Nana is 95. Would she get better and live to 100? Would she ever see her home again? Would I ever hear her voice again?

Nick, Riley, and Paul were seated in the waiting room as well; eating snacks out of the vending machine and watching TV. The room was full of people all waiting for answers about the people that they cared about; one of the ladies even complimented my flip flops I was wearing – “Thank you!” I said. It was nice of her to say that. Finally, both mom and dad returned to the waiting room – They explained that nana was in the process of being admitted to the hospital and that she did have cancer that had spread throughout her hip/back area; that would be the source of her hip pain that she had been experiencing lately. It was becoming clearer – She had been tired, in pain, loss of appetite, declining in the health that she had. Cancer made sense. It also didn’t make sense, but then again, I suppose it never does.

It was dark when nana was finally admitted; my siblings and I waited outside on the bench. My mom and dad went up to make sure nana was settled. While we waited on the bench, I recognized one of the Poolees from the Marine office; he was with his family, probably visiting someone who would make it out of here, I thought to myself. I went back to talking with my siblings and we eventually decided we would devour numerous ice cream bars from the vending machine; I lost count of how many we ate. Ice cream sure does have the ability to cheer you up. It was probably 10 PM, when dad came down from the third floor (or second floor; I always get the two floors mixed up), and he told us we could go visit nana before it was time for us to go home. I’ll leave out the details of my bratty behavior towards my dad, regarding the comment of us having to eventually go home – It’s not as though I could camp out at the hospital and it’s not as though it was his fault for anything that was happening. At the end of the night, of course, everyone was dealing with their own feelings and thoughts in their own way. Unfortunately, no amount of creamsicles would make the night better, not for me or for anyone else. My siblings looked at me as their leader to take them up to the right floor; it was time to face a reality I didn’t want to acknowledge and that was to see nana lying in a hospital bed. And I did just that. I took them up to the floor and we said goodnight to nana. As I was leaving the hospital room, nana called out to me; she was cheerful, and she wanted me to get her a glass of water – I couldn’t get her a glass of water because the nurse was already getting it, however this would be the very last time I would hear nana’s voice.

It was a strange feeling going back home knowing that everything would be different – Nana wouldn’t be there, mom and dad were having to make difficult decisions, my siblings were going to have to adjust and yet they were still able to be children, and I felt as though I was responsible for nana; I wanted to change the circumstances and it was beyond frustrating knowing that I couldn’t.

Nana continued to decline on the 15th; she mostly slept and was administered a morphine drip. By this time my mom let the entire family know that nana was in the hospital and her condition was not improving. Family members started visiting nana at all hours; those that lived off the island started calling. It was both a calm and hectic time; the two things that helped me throughout this time was remaining focused on school and helping my mom. In fact, those were the only things that I wanted to focus on. I spent many hours at the hospital, as did the rest of my family.

The startling realization occurred to me as I sat next to nana, and that was the fact that I would not be having any more conversations with her; she was right there next to me, but she was so far away.

 

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