Saturday, September 15, 2018


Huakaiʻi is the annual fundraiser for the Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives. It is done in a dinner, program, and live auction format, and was hosted at the historic Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki.

At the Imperial Valley Desert Museum we created an annual fundraiser, as a wine tasting, and watched it grow over a three year period. Huakaʻi is in its seventh year. The first five years the fundraiser was done on site at the Mission Houses. Last year, the event was moved to a new, much more glamorous location, and saw large growth. This year, our goal was to grow the event even more. The program was to honor the work of Tahitian Missionaries who came to Hawaii to help with the translation of the Bible. We had two historical characters developed through our History Theater and a Tahitian band, Mana Tahiti, who were amazing.

We special ordered a rainbow to be placed over Diamond Head. Right at sunset. It worked perfectly as a selfie station. It will take a week or more to do all the bookkeeping for the event, and because there is so much work leading up to Huakaʻi several staff people have taken vacation days this week. But, it was a great event to be a part of. See you there next year. 

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Furniture from Trash: Part 2

I struggle whether to think of myself as having a skill at making furniture from trash, or just being cheap. After I got married, I made a bed frame for a water bed that I bought for 1 cent. Deneen and I slept in that bed for nearly 20 years.

In the desert, I made a headboard out of an 8-foot pallet that had been used to ship part of the "Land of Extremes" exhibit. This bed was made from two twin beds put together. It was huge, and the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in.

On September 20, 2016, I wrote a blog about getting a pick up load of trash to make furniture for my unfurnished apartment in Alaska. The score was two signs that had been up at the Unalaska United Methodist Church. These made a fantastic Unalaska coffee table, and a pretty cool bar table. Out of pallets, I made a side table/bar and couches.

The couches were not comfortable. But at least they made the apartment feel like it wasn't empty. Cause you know, it was empty.

I never posted pictures of what the furniture looked like. Alaska was a hard four months. But looking at the furniture makes me a little nostalgic. Richard Barnes, who lived with me in this apartment, is now in Hawaii. He told me that when museum staff moved out of this apartment they sold all the furniture to other people.

I hope they didn't sell the couch. It was not very nice. But I am happy that the tables survived. I really thought they were cool.

One man's trash is another man's furniture!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Hurricane Lane

It is different being back somewhere where you watch Hurricane Central instead of the heat index.

A couple weeks ago we were watching Hurricane Hector as it developed into a cat 5 storm. Though it looked absolutely massive in the satellite image, it did not affect anything here. It just went south.

Tonight, I am waiting on Hurricane Lane. It was a cat 4 storm yesterday, but is now a cat 3. It is south, but not enough south. We initiated our emergency plan at the Hawaiian Mission Houses. In the 1821 House we moved artifacts into the center of rooms and covered them with plastic.

I thought the rain would start at 8pm, but so far it has been a beautiful day. I decided to stay overnight at the museum, but it has been pretty anticlimactic.

I was looking through this blog this evening. I remember being in many storms in the Turks and Caicos, but I hardly wrote about any of them. I went back through the Atlantic Hurricane Seasons to see what I would have experienced.

Tropical Storm Ingrid was in September 2007, mentioned in my second blog post. Hurricane Noel, came through the TCI on October 29, I had just left for Columbus to get Deneen and the boys. On December 11, we ate dinner outside during Tropical Storm Olga, the last storm of the 2007 season. I remember it as one of the best dinner experiences I have ever had. Deneen remembers it as the day we left our kids at home alone during the hurricane.  2008 was one of the biggest hurricane seasons on record. On August 15th, I was in the house on GT during Tropical Storm Fay. I wrote a blog being thankful for the water. Dave Horn came to visit Grand Turk on August 16th. He stayed for a week.  On August 28, I left Grand Turk to get Deneen and the boys who were off island for the summer. In the next ten days, Grand Turks was hit by Hurricane Gustav, Hurricane Hannah, and then Hurricane Ike tore the island apart on September 7th. So, I went through three storms with very little comment. And the other three storms changed the rest of our lives. 

Update: Lane stayed at sea, moving at about 2mph, and was continually downgraded all day. Friday evening it was just a tropical storm and that did not even make landfall in Honolulu. Everyone is glad we prepared for an emergency that never came.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Kerplunk House on Designboom

Last year at the Hello Wood Art and Architecture Festival in Hungary, Lucas and I had a long conversation about "typology."

By definition: a classification according to general type, especially in archaeology, psychology, or the social sciences. 

This past year we have seen several projects built or conceived that, when I put them together, look very similar, like a typology. Though each was a unique project with its own complex issues to solve. Including Cathedral Village, which was submitted for Hello Wood: Cabin Fever

Kerplunk House, at the Imperial Valley Desert Museum.
Photo: Breyden Anderson

Ghost House, at the Space Saloon art and architecture camp in Morango Valley.
Photo: @-danielshwartz

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Furniture from Trash

In 2016, when I went to Alaska, I moved into an unfurnished apartment and then built furniture out of pallets I found. This was discussed in a blog post dated September 20, 2016.

When I moved to Hawaii I moved into an unfurnished apartment, but I decided I would buy all new furniture. But it soon became apparent that I like the furniture I had built from trash more than the furniture I could buy. So, as I walked back and fourth to work, I began looking for discarded materials.

What was needed first was a very large pallet, not the usual ones you see. I found one in front of a Japanese restaurant that was being remolded. It had originally had kitchen equipment on it when it shipped to Hawaii. Perfect for a headboard. Others followed. And soon I had the makings of a set.

For several days I worked in the small wood shop at the museum, cutting, sanding, painting, sanding, and varnishing. Before Deneen arrived, I had put together a more than functional bedroom.

Her first week here we happened to walk by a Sears appliance store and happened into a $4,000 display mattress that was 75% off. An extra 10% "if we bought right now" was an offer we could not refuse and our functional bedroom has become quite nice.

And, the only cost was a 75% off mattress. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Making Connections

Last week the Maile Wreath, the newsletter of the Hawaiian Mission Houses, was completed and mailed. This was the first issue I had to write something for and I though a few people would enjoy it. 

As I am very new to the Hawaiian Mission Houses, and new to Hawaii, I have spent my first few weeks trying to make connections. I have been meeting individually with trustees and have found that I have lots of connections here - from families who owned property in the Imperial Valley, where I have just come from, to the many connections to Ohio, where most of my family still lives.      
The connection that has perhaps been the most surprising is my connection to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. When Samuel J. Mills shared his vision for foreign missions with his friends, James Richards, Ezra Fisk, John Seward, and Luther Rice, the five college students formed a secret society that they called “The Brethren.” It was not long after this that Mills, Rice, and Richards moved to Andover Seminary where The Brethren was reorganized and new students recruited, including Adoniram Judson. It was within this small group of friends that Henry Ōpūkahaʻia became a catalyst.

Adoniram Judson became one of the first five missionaries to be sent out by the ABCFM. Arriving in British India right at the beginning of the War of 1812, this original mission faltered and Judson moved on to Burma as a Baptist missionary. He studied the Burmese language, wrote a Burmese grammar book, and translated the Gospel of Mathew. In 1817, a printing press was sent to Burma and Judson oversaw the first materials printed in Burmese in Burma.

The history of Adoniram Judson was a fixture in the mission-oriented American Baptist churches pastored by my father. Judson University is an American Baptist college where my father served as a trustee, where all four of my siblings attended, and where all three of my children graduated. This past September, my family received a Legacy Award from Judson University. Connections are important, I am glad to have made this one.  

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Spring Break

Well, Spring Break came a went - rather quickly. Deneen was here for a visit. We had a great week of trying out local restaurants, swimming in our pool, and finally eating at a table.

The Metal Punch Folding Patio Bistro set from Target served as the perfect place to have dinner on the lanai.

And an even better place to watch the fireworks over Waikiki Beach that happen every Friday night at 7:45pm.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Hale Pili

The construction of the Hale Pili began last week.

In Hawaiian, "hale" means house and "pili" is a type of grass. The hale pili is a traditional grass house that was the standard building typology in the Hawaiian Islands. The hale pili has been a project in the process of planning or permitting for more than three years. But my experience is that the project has gone very fast.

In one week, we had a traditional blessing ceremony, started excavation, visited another hale under construction, secured traditional wood, completed archaeology, completed the framing, and poured concrete.

The hale will be built over the summer as a community-oriented project trying to engage people in the process of traditional construction techniques.

The major component will language instruction. At the IVDM we called this "situational fluency" and it was a way of teaching traditional language through traditional arts. The hale will also become a new space for programming, hopefully, traditional craft programming and language instruction.

This is a small project that should result in a big summer!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Baby you're a firework

Last night, I was invited to a dinner party on the 32nd floor of the Pinnacle. That is probably unimportant. Though, unbeknownst to me, it was also the night of the 24th annual Honolulu Festival that ended with a very large display of fireworks. It was very cool.

Tonight, I updated my new Instagram account and reviewed the posts from this last year. I also did our taxes yesterday.

When I look at Instagram, I am amazed at both how fast 2017 went and what the year entailed. Deneen and I were traveling nearly once a month throughout the entire year. Martin and Kelsy hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. Lucas and I built two large inhabitable art projects. Davis spent three months in Yellowstone National Park.

When I review it, the year looks nuts.

On December 11, 2016, I returned from Dutch Harbor, Alaska. We were in Columbus in March. Martin and Kelsy came to the Imperial Valley for Coachellain April, then the next week we put them on the Pacific Crest Trail. Deneen and I flew to Chicago in May for Lucas's graduation. I was in St. Louis the following week for AASLH. And that week we put Davis on a train to Yellowstone. At the end of June Lucas and I went to Budapest. Then at the end of July we were in Columbus, again, where both Deneen and I celebrated our birthdays. The last weekend of August I interviewed at the historic site of Woodstock - Jared drove 11 hours to meet me and we saw Sting (a highlight of the year). In September we accepted th eLagacy Award at Judson, in Chicago, and then I went to Austin for the AAM conference. In October, back to Columbus again. In November, Deneen and I interviewed in Hawaii - the weekend after Thanksgiving. Lucas left for Japan. Martina  and Kelsey came for Christmas. And then I moved to Hawaii!

The year has been nuts!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Starting from Scratch. Part 4

On September 9, 2007, this blog began with a post called "Starting from Scratch." That post was repeated on October 1, 2011, when we moved to El Centro, and again on September 20, 2016, my 30th day in Alaska.

This is the fourth move in last ten+ years to a remote location where I came with nothing but a suitcase. This is actually my favorite part. The idea of rebuilding your life from scratch is intoxicating to me. It allows you to separate your needs from your wants - but more than that - it allows you to really appreciate your "wants" when you get them.

The last 30 days have not have been comfortable. I did not really like where I lived. But it allowed me to look for an apartment. When I moved to Alaska it was really different - there was one apartment available. It was too expensive and unfurnished. And no fun.

Yesterday, I signed the lease on a the place we are renting in Hawaii. It is too expensive and unfurnished. But unbelievably FUN! It is so close to the beach that State Farm would not give me renters insurance; across the street from a brand new grocery store that has a wine bar in the center; a block from the "Ward" district; has a heated pool, hot tub, weight room, and a wood shop; and the lanai looks down the crescent shaped sandy beaches of Waikiki.

Also, it has two bedrooms. Not at all what we were expecting to get. More than we need. But exactly what I wanted.

Friday, March 2, 2018

First 30 Days

Today brought an end to my first 30 days in Hawaii.

As the last four transitions to remote places go, Hawaii has been pretty easy. I have been living in a pretty gritty, small AirBnB about a mile from the museum. Without a car, I have been walking, so nearly everything in this 30 days has occurred in a 1.5 mile radius of the museum. The walk to the AirBnB is not unpleasant, but it is in a residential area with absolutely nothing to do except sit in my small room.

30 day highlights: I have seen four bands; got my Club membership; submitted my first grant (historic paint analysis); and successfully got through the first of the planned bicentennial programs the museum will be doing over the next three-years.

30 day disappointments: at the beginning of week three - my first day after onboarding - four staff people were out sick. That Friday night I started having a sore throat and spent the next 48 hours in bed with a fever and chest cold. For the next week I was on meds operating at about 60%. Blah!

I was not sick a single day of the seven years I spent it in the desert!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Opukahaia Day

Yesterday was the first day of the bicentennial of the Hawaiian Mission Houses. It was a celebration of the life and passing of Henry Opukahaia, the first Hawaiian to convert to Christianity. He had a goal of bringing the Christian message back to Hawaii, and worked within the movement of the Second Great Awakening to see this happen. His untimely death, on February 17, 1818, meant that he was never to see Hawaii again, but the published memoirs of his life was a best seller in America and had a similar effect as Uncle Tom's Cabin in calling Northern Protestants to action.

In my own life and history, it seemed I had very little connection to the eventual mission that came to Hawaii. But through the celebrations surrounding the life of Opukahaia, I find that is not necessarily the case.

Along with Samuel Mills, Edwin Dwight, James Richards, and Adoniram Judson, Obukahaia was in a society of young men committed to beginning foreign missions. All of them were attending Andover Theological Seminary. Mills was one of the founders of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, which sent the first missionaries to Hawaii. Judson became the first missionary to Burma. Judson is also considered the first Baptist missionary.

When studying in New England, Opukahaia lived with Judson's wife's family.

I am a long way away, in what is turning out to be a very small world.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Phase 3

It is hard leaving a museum that is not finished. Since 2013, we have been working on the design, fabrication and installation of the permanent exhibit at the IVDM.  Phase 1 was completed in April 2015, and Phase 2 in August 2015. But Phase 3 did not get finished. 
A couple month ago, we received a $30,000 grant to begin the work on Phase 3. This included the
building of the valances and drywall finishes - similar projects that were completed in December 2014. This work, we did in house. Which really means in the last three weeks I built walls, hung, and finished drywall. The new interim director at IVDM, Dr. David Breeckner, has a work ethic that is pretty outstanding, and the two of us were able to finish - at least the to a point where the walls could be painted.

I am disappointed that I will not complete the entire exhibit that was designed by Weldon Exhibits in 2013, but we sure came close!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

So, Let's Catch Up

Mid Ocotober, I applied for the position of Director at the Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives.

I had applied last January, but they did not make a hire at that time. So it was a job and a place we were familiar with. When I applied the second time, the process went very quickly. A phone interview the week before Thanksgiving. A site visit the week after Thanksgiving.

The phone call with an offer to hire came just a few days later. They wanted someone the first of the year, but I still had some projects to tie up.

So, February 2, was my on-island date. And to tie things up, I had to work right up to the day I flew out.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

New Year, New Adventure

Well, here we go again. On Friday, I arrived in Honolulu, Hawaii, to take my post as Executive Director of the Hawaiian Mission Houses Histoic Site and Archives.

We are very excited for this new opportunity. It has been a whirlwind of activity since Thanksgiving. Tying up projects and trying to finish a couple grant projects at IVDM.

This part - the first few weeks - is always the hardest. I have arrived with two suitcases.

I am staying in a one-room AirBnB for the month and trying to figure it out. Start work tomorrow.