...So. Christmas Eve dinner was good fun. Gary decided we needed to have a Block Tower Challenge, so he pulled out the wooden blocks. The idea is to attempt to use every single block in the box, and also make the tower as tall as possible. Granny Lo's bedroom on the third floor has an open balcony that overlooks the living and dining room, so he decided the tower needed to be at least as tall as Granny's carpet. I made the mistake of helping Gary and Darian build the base of the tower, and somehow ended up having to build most of the tower while Gary watched and made critical remarks. I did manage to get the tower just barely taller than Granny's carpet (clinging to a ladder with my toes) before the tower lost balance and toppled, which is pretty good for a tower made entirely of misshapen wooden blocks with a base less than one foot across. I had tons of blocks left, which I think only adds to the impressiveness of the feat, even though I was supposed to try and use all of them. ...Anyway, there was lots of tasty food, and we had a fun time discussing the proper wines to complement More and Beck Family Holiday Gelatin. We gorged on dessert and sang Christmas carols and opened our presents. Mike got me some chocolate from New York and a couple of books, including a collection of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr's unpublished short fiction.
Christmas Day I hooked up with Jen to go see Sherlock Holmes, which was a very fun movie, then brought her home with me to share Christmas dinner with us. It was the smallest Christmas ever (we fit at one table!) but we had a good time; Granny made an amazing roast beef, and it was, of course, very good to see Kink. Jen and I ended up talking until 3:30 in the morning, whoops~!
Saturday Mom, Alex, Mike, and Elena and I went to Diamond Head beach. OH MY GOD BEACH. OH MY GOD. TT_TT It was gloriously hot and sunny, and the water was beautiful. It felt so good to be in the ocean again. Diamond Head is a nice little beach and surf spot; I don't think you can go to a better one so close to downtown Honolulu. Nice sand, not too crowded, clean... uh... lots of sea cucumbers. ^_^ Anyway, it was fabulous, and I managed not to burn all my skin off, which is a plus. After driving back up the hill for showers, Mom, Alex, Jolee, and I went to dinner at Akinono's, the restaurant on King near University where Jen is a cook. I highly recommend the place... it's a cute little hole-in-the-wall Japanese bar and grill type place with traditional Japanese hospitality, good service, and really excellent food à la carte, open from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. We shared kim chee poke, miso soup, rice, shrimp and vegetable tempura, miso butterfish, chicken katsu, and small pile of nigiri. Then we went to see STOMP!, which Mom and I saw a few years ago. It's a percussion/dance stage show where the performers use everyday objects like brooms, buckets, trash cans and lids, plastic bags, Zippo lighters, and so on in incredible choreography and compositions. It's quite witty and VERY LOUD; I highly recommend it. C-Mui was across the street and open, so we went in for some crack seed. I got dried strawberries and li hing cherries, mmmmmmm~.
Sunday we took a clan trip to our new Palehua property for some hiking and hanging out. We parked at the very end of the road by the radio towers and did a ridge-line hike along the spine of the Waianae, starting on our property before crossing over to what will be State land. This was neat for me, as I have never spent any time hiking in the Waianae mountains; I've only ever been hiking in the Ko‘olau. It was another beautiful sunny day, and we had epic views of the island of O‘ahu, lots of quality time with native vegetation, and sightings of native birds such as ‘apapane and ‘amakihi. Oh, and we saw a PEREGRINE FALCON. WTF. I did not know this but apparently we've had peregrines migrating to Hawaii, with one or more showing up every year since the 1990's. ...WTF. I still can't get over this, it's so weird. Way to go birds, though; they picked a nice vacation spot. ...Anyway, after the hike we had a cold picnic dinner at one of our cabins, then headed down the hill to see Avatar in 3D Imax. So, wow, that movie's pretty damn breathtaking. I mean, the plot and script were as predictable as I thought they would be, but it was surprisingly touching and... damn, it's pretty. Very entertaining, definitely worth seeing in the theater. Afters I hung out with Tommy a bit, and ended up staying up pretty late again.
Monday it was back to Hilo, and another gorgeous day. Yesterday was a bit of a whirlwind of luggage mishaps and hanging with young Honolulu lindy-hoppers and eating poke (mmmmm~) and going to doctors appointments and grocery shopping. I saw Air Force Two parked at the Hilo airport, and Ms. Nekoba and Ms. Shindo at KTA. Mom and I went to David and Asifa's for dinner, which amazingly delicious... Asian pears with chêvre and lemon chutney, mushroom and barley soup, sweet potato and turkey pie, salad, taro greens and sweet potato chunks, and two kinds of bread. For dessert, figgy pudding (on fire and everything >:D), English Christmas cake, marzipan cookies, and ice cream with poha syrup. Pretty much all of it was homemade from scratch and DELICIOUS. Asifa's such an amazingly good cook. TT_TT A family from New York, the Buchholz's, were friends of friends of Asifa and David, and were totally cool. Fred Buchholz does special effects for movies and television (look him up on IMDB! :D); I forget his wife's name, but she's a set director (and based on the movies she's done, a search on IMDB leads me to believe she is Ellen Christiansen). Even their son, Rylan (also on IMDB) has been a set technician. Rylan is 24 and intelligent and the right kinds of geeky and personable and very cute... but I think he has a girlfriend (*SIGH*). ...Never mind that he's living in Japan right now, for which destination he boarded a plane this morning. Oh well. Mom and I stayed and talked about deep philosophical things with David and Asifa until 12:30, which was fun. Then I watched the Doctor Who Christmas Special... I'm not sure how I feel about it. I'll have to see what happens with The End of Time Part 2 in January.
Today I had lunch with Dad and looked at pictures and played Bananagrams (I really love this game) and went to the eye doctor. I've been hiding inside ever since (dilated eyes + beautiful weather = OW), although I went out briefly to chat with Mom's yard work guy, Gerry, and his adorable puppy. Tonight I'm going to see Where The Wild Things Are with Dad, since he hasn't seen it (and since his other suggestions were Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Alvin and the Chipmunks *facepalm*).
I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING TOMORROW. Depends on what Fluffy's doing, I think.