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8.20 a.m., the sound of tropical birds, the feel of the hot sun outside. Beside me, my suitcase. Goin’ home.

So much to report. Briefly: after the art gallery and Waikiki, Harriet, who is half Japanese and half Hawaiian, and her son Sean, who is half English, took us to a Japanese restaurant for dinner – an inauspicious place on the second floor of a little mall, packed to the brim with Japanese diners. A superb meal, especially because Sean knew what to order – including tuna broiled with a cheese sauce, which is 100% unJapanese but delicious, and tofu done the way it should be, creamy and full of flavour.

Yesterday morning, Penny and I set off at 7.45 a.m. for Pearl Harbour, as we’d heard it’s a must see in Honolulu. As I’ve mentioned, the American military machine, particularly the navy, is a giant industry in this state. Someone told us the Pearl Harbour site is a theme park, and it turned out to be true – yes, respectfully honouring those who died, but both Penny and I were uncomfortable with its celebration of might, sacrifice and war, its cruise missiles on display for children to admire. We were ushered first into a movie theatre to watch a film about the day – Dec. 7 1941 – an even-handed telling, pointing out why Japan felt it had to take out the American fleet (all about protecting natural resources and business interests, of course, on both sides.) And then we got onto a boat which took us out to a memorial built on top of the S. S. Arizona, which was sunk that day and left where it was.

Not much to see – some rusted ruins and the names of those who died, and then we got on the boat back. There was much ordering around and many rules.

What was fascinating to me was the huge number of Japanese tourists visiting; one woman was taking selfies in front of everything, including the wreaths honouring the dead. Much time has passed, and a new generation, I guess, feels no connection. But P and I were glad to get out of there. Not a word, anywhere, about peace, about making sure this never happens again. Perhaps not a surprise as one of the sponsors of the film was Boeing.

Then my intrepid friend drove us, in Sean’s old car and on the wrong side of the road for an English driver, across the island to a glorious beach, perhaps the best yet, at Kailua on the east coast.

Incredible, no? It was actually quite crowded, which the photo doesn’t show… Unlike on Kauai, there were no rocks or coral in the water, which was warm. A dream beach. We floated and walked, finally dragging ourselves away to eat a sandwich from an old market nearby and drive back, through a blinding rainstorm, to the city. Harriet then drove us to her son Sean’s girlfriend Yang’s house in a gated community on top of a mountain, with an incredible view. There was a UFC party – I gather that’s something about a fight club, there was a big fight yesterday, men attacking each other with fists and feet, and a group was gathered to watch. P and I mostly stood on the deck, looking at the view right over the city.

The TV room with distant view

The view

Sean and Yang, whose brother lives in Scarborough – so I will see them again, I’m sure.
Harriet drove us to see a last view, and I caught a last sunset from the car.

And then one of the greatest treats of all – a ukelele concert. Yes. When she suggested it in an email, I said a tentative yes, imagining the sweet plinkaplink we associate with the ukelele. But we went to a beautiful old movie theatre restored to a performance space, the Hawaii Theatre, to see a virtuoso – Jake Shimabukuro, of Japanese descent – brilliant. He made that tiny electrified instrument sound like a Spanish guitar, a sexy lead guitar in a rock band, a balalaika, a cello; he played a version of Freddy Mercury’s Bohemian Rhapsody and a spectacular version of George Harrison’s While my guitar gently weeps. Various others appeared, including a dancer, a pianist who accompanied him in a ukelele concerto, incredible, and best of all, an elementary school class playing Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer – 22 small children on ukelele, unforgettable. What an end to my stay here – starting the day at Pearl Harbour, and ending it watching a brilliant Japanese musician playing the local instrument of choice.

Now to finish packing – Harriet is coming at 10 to take P and me to church with her this morning. Her church means a great deal to her and it was clear she’d enjoy taking us with her, so off we’ll go and then directly to the airport, landing in Vancouver late tonight, one night at the airport hotel, home tomorrow. Chris will come to the hotel tomorrow morning bringing my big suitcase and winter clothes – sigh. I will miss so much, but will also be very happy to be home.

At church, I’ll send all my gratitude to heaven for sun, birds and ocean, for music and friendship, and most of all, today as a new climate change deal dawns, for a clean planet and for peace.



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I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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