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Tribute - Lillian Robben

Our Family and some Photos

Frank Robben
June 1999

Cynthia says she misses living on Kialoa, meeting the morning with her coffee in the cockpit of Kialoa, observing the sea, other yachts, people, surroundings. With Kialoa we have been in crowded marinas, commercial ports, isolated bays surrounded by mountains, in turquoise waters off tropical islands with swaying palm trees, and, of course, at sea under sail. I am glad Cynthia misses it, and I have many wonderful memories.

Daily living on land is rather different, we become swept up in a round of activities and information, overload perhaps. Maybe it is just the modern places, like Honolulu, that create this perspective, perhaps life in a remote place without modern amenities could bring some of the pleasures of living on a yacht.

Our temporary home is at the very upper end of Manoa Valley, Honolulu, with tropical forest rising behind us and the high-rise buildings of Waikiki silhouetted against the sea at the mouth of the valley. The mountains shield us from the prevailing north-ease trade winds, but also create rain and strong gusts as the moisture laden air rises over the 2000 foot ridge. We are in a very wet spot, but 3 miles down the valley in Waikiki there is very little rain. Such is the local weather here. From our house we can easily hike to the popular Manoa waterfall, and with a bit of climbing can visit the two upper falls with spectacular views over the valley and Pacific Ocean. A pleasant location, and our rented house is open and spacious.

In our house there are 6 of us. Cynthia's elder sister Sylvia arrived at the end of March, it is the first time she has ever been out of Sri Lanka, or been in an airplane. She was widowed 2 years ago and lives in her own home near Kandy with her daughter Gehanie and son Gehan, both working. Her younger son Nalin is studying engineering at the university in Colombo, all her children encouraged and helped her to come and visit us. My sister-in-law impresses me as a very kind, rather quiet and dignified person. The children love her dearly, she was their second mother in Sri Lanka. I enjoy her presence and we all love to show her the things here that are so different than in Sri Lanka. Sylvia will return to Sri Lanka in August.

Dalreen, now 20, is working for Roberts of Hawaii, a large local tour company. She is a hostess on a party ship, a large catamaran which takes up to 500 guests out for dinner cruises. She enjoys it and we are happy that she has a compatible job. She just received her High School diploma from the adult school here in Honolulu.

Adrian and Dalreen left high school in Dixon in 1997 and sailed with us from California to Pitcairn Island, Tahiti, Tonga, arriving in New Zealand in November. In January 1998 they returned to Dixon and high school and lived with their brother Anthony in an apartment. In January of this year they again left Dixon High School and joined us here in Honolulu.

Adrian, now 18, entered Roosevelt High School and has formed several friends. He purchased a small moped and so has his own transportation - and a machine to keep running. He has grown a lot since he joined us in Dixon three years ago.

Maria, 11, has finished 7th grade at Sacred Hearts Academy, a Catholic, academically oriented private school. She has been with us on Kialoa, attended a couple of schools for a short period when we were in New Zealand, and reentered schooling mainstream last year in November. Perhaps a bit hard, but she has done well and learned a lot, both academically and socially. She is anxious to return to Dixon, to familiar friends, school and places.

Anthony, Cynthia's oldest son and now 23, sailed with us from New Zealand and is living in an apartment in Honolulu and working at Chai's, a somewhat posh restaurant on the waterfront, as a waiter. He likes it here, goes surfing almost every day and dresses very mod. He plans to stay.

Cynthia and I are at a bit of a crossroads, we are not sure how life will develop now that I am retired. Yes, it does really seem like retirement even though I retired from the University 14 years ago, as at the moment I have not begun any intensive project and I also have one of the traditional retirement goals of traveling (by normal means) to a number of places. We enjoy living here in Honolulu, but it seems best, for the present at least, to return to my hometown of Dixon.

More on family. My mother Lillian, 91 and my stepfather Irvin Bulkley, 92, live in Dixon. Irvin has not retired from limited cattle raising and farming, he commutes from town to his farm 6 miles in the country every day and is pleased to still be "in business". They are doing quite well but age is taking its toll. I am so glad that they are still able to enjoy life. It will be good being in Dixon again and seeing them regularly.

My daughter Pippi, 31, lives in San Diego and, as I understand it, works getting clothing together for television shows and commercials. It is a freelance sort of job, sporadic, she has graduated from a clothing design school and enjoys the work. She visited us in February for a week, we toured Hawaii and had a great time. Maria and Pippi get on very well together, they are the youngest and the "pets" of the respective families and have generally cheerful and outgoing attitudes.

My older daughter Katie, her husband Thomas Fox and my three grandchildren Bjorn, Anders and Linnae spent the week just before New Year's with us, we went sailing for several days and visited the neighboring islands of Molokai, Lanai and Maui. We had beautiful weather, the winds were relatively light and the sea was "sailing friendly". They live just north of San Francisco, in Stinson Beach, and Tom works in the city for a small firm involved in computer programs for financial trading. He is expert at both programming and economic problems and does well, works hard and travels quite a bit. The grandchildren are wonderful, cute kids and they enjoyed the sailing. When Bjorn was less than one he sailed with us from Portugal to Gibraltar (with his parents also, of course) and has memories of that trip, albeit from photos and discussions.

My oldest son Michael has been living in Tokyo for several years and teaches english there. He also visited us in Honolulu in January and we toured some museums and archeological sites, passions of his.

We have had other visitors, Hawaii is an attractive place and easy to visit. Life here is pleasant and we have been fairly social. Dawn Smith, who sailed with us from Fiji, stayed quite a while and plans to return. Our next door neighbors when we lived in Dixon, Alisha and Chuey, spent a week with us. Jim and Polly Ann Naylor visited for a couple of days on their way to Kaui. Nigel Robertson and Marty Bransgrove, who skillfully performed 3 months worth of maintenance and upgrades on Kialoa for her for the trip Turkey, became good friends and we have shared meals several times. Marty, an Aussie, is working on a neighbor's boat, and Nigel, more nearly my age and a respected sailor and ship's carpenter, is delivering a yacht to San Francisco. We have met more friends through the children, parents of their friends, and Cynthia has made several friends from Sri Lanka.

Our next door neighbor, who recently retired, has an interesting and somewhat unusual project. He is raising and training racing pigeons and has constructed an elaborate pigeon house with about 30 young pigeons. Both morning and evening he lets them out for flight and exercise, they swoop around the area here, all in a group, and after a while he calls them back with various whistle commands. Later he will enter them in races, the object seems to be to have the whole group return to their "home" from a remote location in the fastest time. But a bit more complicated, I am sure.

Our stay here in Honolulu will draw to a close shortly, it will be interesting to see how we will live and work in California, how the children do in school and jobs.