Shadows on the carriageway

21 12 2015

For a memoir of Oahu and Waikiki, this image of Leahi (Diamond Head) and the carriageway in Kapiolani Park may be for you. It is available now for your consideration. The path, familiar to island residents like these Sunday painters, is lined with ironwood trees and extends from the Bandstand to the tennis courts. $250 with hardwood frame. $200 unframed. VISA and MasterCard accepted. For delivery information, please email

"Shadows on the Carriageway" 20" x 10" giclée on canvas

“Shadows on the Carriageway” 20″ x 10″ giclée reproduction on canvas of an original oil painted in 2013 by Rebekah Luke

Revisiting Waikiki

12 01 2013

Two Christmases ago, not last month but a year earlier, my brother-in-law Paul thoughtfully gave us a gift card to the Cheesecake Factory. Mmmm, dessert! Thanks again, Paul! I’m embarrassed to say the card stayed hidden among all the other cards until recently. The restaurant is in Waikiki, and we locals hardly ever go to Waikiki—the famous tourist playland in the shadow of the iconic Diamond Head landmark. We oldsters are nostalgic and like to remember what it was like in our youth. It’s our loss, really, not going there today.

Waikiki © 2013 Rebekah Luke

Waikiki Beach in front of the Moana hotel. January 2013. Can you find Diamond Head?

When I think of Waikiki now, or more accurately going to Waikiki, I think of bad traffic, high-rise hotels, expensive stores, and crowded crosswalks in the Disneyland-ish manufactured environment that is Kalakaua avenue. All true. A lot of local residents work in the visitor industry, of course, and that’s a major part of the island economy. The streets and the buildings are refurbished regularly, with every mayor making an urban improvement and the hotels undergoing major renovations, too. I go to Waikiki so infrequently that it looks a little different each time. DH would get lost if I wasn’t navigating.

I decided on my birthday last week to have lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, so over the mountain we went to spend Paul’s gift card and play tourist. In the distance between the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center (where the restaurant is) parking garage and Kuhio Beach toward Diamond Head, I made many photos, but tossed out most of them, preferring to keep just of few pretty images of my old haunts.

Moana Hotel © 2013 Rebekah Luke

Street entrance of the Moana hotel bustles with guests, taxis, and onlookers.

The Moana hotel, a favorite. My parents’ wedding reception and anniversaries were here at the romantic banyan court by the sea. In my teens, my girl friends and I went to the beach in front of the Moana every weekend, right there as shown in the top photo. It is still the best beach. Once I performed on stage with a group, singing and dancing—seems like a lifetime ago. That was even before my time as a daily news reporter when the Honolulu Press Club was located there.

IntlMktPlace © 2013 Rebekah Luke

The International Market Place, halfway between the Moana and Royal Hawaiian hotels on the other side of the street.

At the start of my art career, I took my paintings to the Honolulu Zoo Fence to sell. Kapiolani Park across Monsarrat avenue from the Zoo remains a breath of fresh air and green space. From the Fence I went to the Arts of Paradise gallery at the International Market Place. Once, in my early 20s, I spent New Year’s Eve with my date in and outside a restaurant to the left of the crosswalk in the photo. It was wild!

Come to think of it, I used to live in Waikiki, but I never thought of it that way because to me those areas were on the edges. First at the Ala Wai Boat Harbor on a yawl, then in a highrise condo unit near the Ala Wai Canal. I denied it was Waikiki until a friend I invited to dinner declared, after finally finding his way to my place, “My dear, you are in Waikiki!”

Royal Hawaiian © 2013 Rebekah Luke

Majestic garden entry to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. January 2013.

Beautiful as ever is the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, the “pink lady.” I entertained there, too. I scouted it for Sunset, on special occasions dined at the Surf Room, my favorite restaurant, and drank maitais on the beach with my mother-in-law. We always appreciated the gracious service and royal treatment extended us kamaaina residents. But, no, you can’t see it from Kalakaua avenue anymore.

Copyright 2013 Rebekah Luke

People came. It’s not the same.

26 08 2011

In a roundabout way, from champagne and sashimi at a dinner in Waikiki to a long ride back to the studio via Ala Moana, an anniversary night out made me think of my late dad Arthur.

DH and I reaffirmed our wedding vows yesterday (27 years to the same partner, thank you) and celebrated by going to the “old” Surf Room at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel for dinner. The restaurant is now Azure that specializes in seafood since the grand Pink Lady was renovated a few years ago.

We knew it wouldn’t be exactly the same (it wasn’t) as what used to be our favorite restaurant, but Diamond Head was still in view (kind of) and the service was just as attentive.

The fine-dining room is now set farther back from the beach and does not include the terrace next to the sand, and pillars and the fancy tents from a different restaurant block the million-dollar view that was the Surf Room’s.

Instead of real tablecloths and that cute and endearing pink candle fixture of the hotel, there were place mats the server kindly encouraged us to keep our dishes on.

That part of the critique aside, the chef’s preparation of the fish DH ordered was excellent (apparently, because I don’t recall that he offered me any to try ;-)), the sashimi melted down my throat, and I got a little tipsy on the champagne. No hangover this morning either.

And, oh, I almost forgot to tell you, our table was next to Senator Dan Inouye’s, and I’m pretty sure the secret service folks could pick up our conversation.

Going home we picked the wrong route. By the time we figured that out, it was too late, we were stuck. Long story short, only one traffic lane was open on Ala Moana boulevard leaving Waikiki for many blocks. One. Or, I should say, it looked like the Board of Water Supply had coned off all the others.

I began a Facebook thread about traffic/driving conditions and found it interesting that I would think it interesting to write about routes and directions. A few people have told me I should be a taxi driver because I know my way around pretty well.

When I was a kid, Dad drove a dump truck for a living. Went riding everywhere, and he would teach me.

When he decided working for the government would give him more financial security, he quit independent driving and applied to the Board of Water Supply, starting there as a pipe fitter’s helper. (My uncle, his brother, also drove truck, and he quit driving because of the bad traffic. He said it wasn’t fun anymore.)

Dad, a Chinese-Hawaiian who left school before finishing the 8th grade, eventually worked up to traffic inspector, a job he held until he retired. He was the person you went to see down at City Hall for a permit to bend the rules affecting traffic flow. He was smart and important (to borrow key words from The Help). He knew how to adjust traffic flow to make it safe and smooth for motorists. He was honest and earned the respect of contractors.

The test in the job application process involved identifying streets and neighborhoods on Oahu. For example, where are the streets named after men’s first names, in alphabetical order? Answer: St. Louis Heights. Name them. He did well from his experience of driving loads all over the island.

He missed the answer to a question about a little street in Wahiawa. He really got a kick out of the fact that it was one block from our house!

All this was in the 1950s and early and 60s while there were still pineapple fields and a scenic view, before Mililani and subsequent subdivisions and towns sprouted up on our ag land. This was prior to H-2.

During those days it took about 40-45 minutes to travel from Wahiawa to Honolulu along two-lane Kamehameha Highway, which we enjoyed every Thursday—me with my mom in a taxi on her day off to buy music books, and on the weekend to call on the relatives—the three of us, first in the dump truck and then in the car when we got a car. I think it might take that long or longer on the freeway today during rush hour.

In 1963 our family moved to Honolulu, a sacrifice on my parents’ part so I could walk to Punahou School.

Today the places south and west of Wahiawa and Pearl City are unfamiliar if not foreign to me. What happened? People came.

I can’t help thinking that Dad might have something to say about last night’s road set up. I can hear him now.

Copyright 2011 Rebekah Luke

Green and healing

15 07 2011

The Transpac yacht race is nearing the finish line, and I’ll be delivering some boat lei today. But first I have to make them. One is 20 feet long! I gathered the lauae yesterday afternoon from my patch.

Lauae patch

This morning while it’s cool I’m picking the ti leaves. I’ll be putting the lei together all day long. The boats, racing from Los Angeles, finish at Diamond Head buoy and then cruise into Ala Wai Boat Harbor in Waikiki. The first boats have already finished, so I’d better get busy.

Then, tomorrow from 9 to 2 I’m giving Reiki sessions at the Kaneohe Yacht Club Green Market Day while DH, Miss Marvelous’s mom and family will be showing folks how to make a ti leaf lei. We’ll be in the longhouse.

Ti leaves. Easy to grow, and so many uses!

Ti leaves

Copyright 2011 Rebekah Luke

Japanese food art

26 08 2010

For special occasions, a fine meal may be in order. One of those times was last evening to celebrate my wedding anniversary with DH (darling husband). The fine meal was the kaiseki prix fixe menu at the Japanese restaurant Miyako in The New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel at Sans Souci Beach at the foot of Diamond Head.

Sashimi. Everything on the plate in this beautiful presentation is edible.

The artistry in the presentation of all seven courses served one at a time over two hours was a treat—a reminder to incorporate good design in everything we do 😉 —as were the flavors from the food. It reminded us of TV’s Iron Chef. The difference was that we ate everything and sipped sake to softly played music while enjoying the view of Waikiki and the spectacular sunset.

Anniversary couple

Copyright 2010 Rebekah Luke

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