Life in These Hawaiian Islands

Trade Winds, Tsunamis, and the Coconut Wireless

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Monarch Butterflies

Dancetta Feary greets her wing-feathered friends — the butterflies she raises PHOTO COURTESY LINDA CHING

Some believe that the purpose of every butterfly is to set aside everything that was once known — to transform and embrace an entire new way of life. Such was the case for butterfly farmer Dancetta Feary. When her brother Mackey, the lead singer for Kalapana, died Feb. 20, 1999, she felt something inside her had ended and her world came crashing down.

Since then, she has come out of depression, survived a divorce and left behind a solace state and devastation to discover a whole new life in the world of butterflies. She is nicknamed the Butterfly Realtor.

“I raise butterflies because they are my passion, and my goal is to keep them abundant for future generations,” she explains.

Over the past 10 years, the Kaneohe resident has reared tens of thousands of her graceful winged friends.

“I can have several hundred eggs, 500 caterpillars and dozens of butterflies in one given day, depending on the season,” she says.

She has set up a safe haven right in her backyard and butterfly house.

Born to Bryant Mackey Feary Sr. and Regina Chong Feary Okimoto, Dancetta was raised on Maunalani Heights (Wilhelmina Rise, Kaimuki) and lived for 30 years on a street called “Mariposa” Drive, which means butterfly.

“The favorite flower of some royalty is the crown flower, which is the host plant for monarch butterflies, where they lay their eggs,” says Dancetta, who organizes educational tours to encourage people to grow crown flowers again. “If there are no crown flowers, then there are no monarchs. During my childhood, there were a lot of crown flowers around, but over the years, more people have cut down the plants, which can grow high if not trimmed. People have lost interest in making crown flower lei,” she says. “We learn from butterflies because they are independent. Once the mother lays her eggs, that’s it. The babies are on their own until they morph into butterflies and fly into the sunset.”

Like her graceful, fluttering pets, Dancetta has become independent and strong. She doesn’t feel that she is living alone now because she is always greeted by her buzzing caterpillars, which eat nonstop and eventually morph into dazzling monarch dancers. There are four stages in the metamorphosis of butterflies and moths: egg, larva, pupa and adult.

Most people walk their pets, but Dancetta sets aside one to two hours a day nurturing her monarchs, sometimes more, depending on whether cages need to be cleaned. “My neighbor Judy Tsukamoto spends four to five hours per day with them, since my real estate business has been keeping me busy,” she says. Tsukamoto peels caterpillars off Dancetta’s plants and transfers them into cages, so that predators can’t get to them. Dancetta’s monarchs are raised from eggs. She keeps some butterflies in an 8-by-8-foot cage so that they have room to fly, eat and mate.

“Everything is here for a reason, butterflies included. They show us how to navigate life, be independent and stay strong. They live in the moment and are loners, but yet they make it,” she says.

The monarchs’ vibrating wings generate blissful tunes as their predators lurk in the thick vegetation.

She has brought comfort to many, including singer Nohelani Cypriano.

“Nohelani came to me for butterflies to use for a photo shoot. It was for her recent album, which was dedicated to her mother, who loved butterflies. Nohelani also was featured at Sheraton Hawaii Bowl and sang her song Pulelehua, (butterfly). We released 300 monarchs into the field. It was an unbelievable sight that impressed the crowd.”

Dancetta credits family for her success in life.

“My maternal grandma raised me to be the overachiever I am today. Grandfather inspired me to pursue athletics. Dad worked hard and struggled to make ends meet for our family,” she explains.

Dancetta says her brother Mackey’s music continues to uplift her in times of need. “Also grateful to my life coach, Natalie Kawai, who helps me to find the strength within me to be freed,” she says.

Sometimes the beauty and aesthetic appeal of butterflies lead people into thinking they are fragile and that they need human intervention to survive.

The fact is, they don’t. Like her butterflies, Dancetta has transformed her weakness into strengths and has become a strong, independent individual.

“I enjoy sharing my butterflies with children to show them just how extraordinary they are, especially when the kids get up close and personal in my butterfly house,” she says. “They love to hold and feed the butterflies.”

For a woman who learned through the death of a loved one just how fragile life can be, she continues to showcase her passion in life by educating Hawaii about her graceful and fragile floating creatures. Dancetta treasures her precious moments with her monarchs as they wing off happily into their new world of sun and air.


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Kona’s Ellison Onizuka

Posted January 28, 2015 – 9:58amUpdated January 28, 2015 – 10:17am
Kona’s hero: Remembering the legacy of Ellison S. Onizuka

Ellison Onizuka is seen on Kailua Pier with a 420-pound marlin he boated on March 14, 1985. WHT file photo

Ellison S. Onizuka

Ellison Onizuka is seen with keiki in this March 1985 photo. WHT file photo

Ellison Onizuka signs autographs on April 22, 1985. WHT file photo

Ellison Onizuka waves in this March 9, 1985, photo. WHT file photo

Ellison Onizuka’s brother and nephew, Claude and Russ Onizuka, of Kona, look over a memorial exhibit to the late Kona-born astronaut at the space exhibit during the 1988 Hawaii County Fair in Hilo. WHT file photo

Ellison Onizuka speaks at Kealakehe school in March 1985. WHT file photo

A visitor walks past a bust of astronaut Elison Onizuka in the space center at Kona International Airport. File photo/West Hawaii Today

Ellison Onizuka speaks at a Big Island school in March 1985. WHT file photo

Sunbeams illuminate flowers placed at the Space Mirror Memorial Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015 as NASAs Kennedy Space Center in Florida pays tribute to the crews of Apollo 1 and space shuttles Challenger and Columbia, as well as other NASA astronauts who lost their lives while furthering the cause of exploration and discovery, during the agency’s Day of Remembrance on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel, Red Huber)


West Hawaii Today

Today, Jan. 28, 2015, marks the 29th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986 that claimed the life of Kona native Ellison S. Onizuka and six other American astronauts.

On that fateful day, the astronauts launched at 11:39 a.m. from Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Fla. Seventy-three seconds later, the shuttle exploded claiming the lives of all seven aboard. It was later determined that two rubber O-rings, which had been designed to separate the sections of the rocket booster, had failed because of cold temperatures during the morning.

Onizuka was born on June 24, 1946, in Kealakekua, according to Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Memorial. He graduated from Konawaena High School in 1964 and attended the University of Colorado, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering in 1968, and a Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering in 1969. He joined the United States Air Force in January 1970, and attended the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base in California in August 1974.

Onizuka was selected in 1978 as one of 35 astronauts for NASA’s Space Shuttle Program. On Jan. 24, 1985, Onizuka first successfully entered space as a mission specialist aboard the space shuttle Discovery.

He was the first Japanese American selected to participate in America’s space program and the first Asian astronaut to venture into space, according to the memorial.

Soon after, Ellison was selected for the ill-fated Challenger flight.

In addition to a scholarship, buildings and other memorials named in his honor, the Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Space Center was established by the State of Hawaii after his death. Located at Kona International Airport, the center opened to the public in 1991. It is an educational facility dedicated to Onizuka’s memory.


Ellison S. Onizuka gave this speech to the 1980 graduating class of Konawaena High School:

If I can impress upon you only one idea … Let it be that the people who make this world run, whose lives can be termed successful, whose names will go down in the history books, are not the cynics, the critics, or the armchair quarterbacks.

They are the adventurists, the explorers, and doers of this world. When they see a wrong or problem, they do something about it. When they see a vacant place in our knowledge, they work to fill that void.

Rather than leaning back and criticizing how things are, they work to make things the way they should be. They are the aggressive, the self-starters, the innovative, and the imaginative of this world.

Every generation has the obligation to free men’s minds for a look at new worlds … to look out from a higher plateau than the last generation.

Your vision is not limited by what your eye can see, but by what your mind can imagine. Many things that you take for granted were considered unrealistic dreams by previous generations. If you accept these past accomplishments as commonplace then think of the new horizons that you can explore.

From your vantage point, your education and imagination will carry you to places which we won’t believe possible.

Make your life count – and the world will be a better place because you tried.

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