Vog Blog


Okay…brace yourself, Bertha. You may not want to hear this. If so, feel free to stick your fingers in your ears and go neyh, neyh, neyh. But here it is: the Vog is THICK here on Maui. Tourists on the Scotch Mist sailboat yesterday were asking Cap’n Mike, “What IS that?” (They think it’s fog.)

Sadly, not. Vog season has cometh. A blog reader wrote the other day to say that she and her husband were planning to move to Maui, but she has chemical sensitivities. She asked when the Vog comes in, how long does it stay? And the answer is… It can come in as early as September and stay till May. If we’re lucky, as we were this year, it didn’t get thick until November. But November happens to be NaNoWriMo month for authors (www.nanowrimo.org) and I had committed to write a novel (50,000 words) in 30 days. No problem, right? Yeah, as long as I can breathe, don’t have a Vog headache, don’t have itchy eyes… And can think straight. Alas, I had “Vog brain” three weeks out of four, and no novel. Not even close.

So Jenna, the reader with chemical sensitivites should think twice about the Big Island, Maui, Oahu, and right now, even Kauai. Here’s a photo from our news. (I tried to do the video, but apparently I need a Premium WordPress site…)

Vog Forecast on Maui

Many people just want Maui to be Paradise. They don’t want to hear about the problems, they’re looking for fantasy. Sometimes I wonder if this is because Maui is, as one friend put it, “The last bastion of hope on earth…the place I can go when it all falls apart.” But if you can’t breathe well, where the heck does that leave you?

Now, to be sure, there are worse things. This is not terroristic bombing. But to be able to breathe is pretty important. My doctor doubled the dosage for my asthma medication, and our house is all closed up. I don’t go in the jacuzzi or out in the yard.

Many people want to know if it’s on all the islands. When it’s bad, yes, it’s on all the islands.

And here’s a photo of our Maui sunset:

Vog haze on Maui

Vog haze on Maui

I doubt you’d be able to see the famous “green flash” through that haze, since you can’t see the West Maui mountains and they’re right there. A friend said she had a Vog headache all day yesterday. Not everyone is affected, but many are.

Don’t shoot the messenger. Much of why I write this blog is so people can make informed decisions about a move to Maui.

And now a moment of silence for our allies in France. And to our own dear French friends….Bonjour Christine, Olivier, Roxane, Maxime, Jo and Regis. Please know that our hearts go out to you! Je suis Charlie.

A hui hou.

Aloha, Jamaica

Stuff you probably didn’t know


I met my first fan. How cool is that? I was seated on an airplane when the lady next to me asked what I did and I said I was a writer…she asked, “what do you write?” and then she said, “I read your blog!” It was one of those warm moments that I’m sure Jennifer Aniston gets to have about 800,000 times per day (more on the embarrasing way I met her in another blog) and hopes to never have again as long as she lives. http://www.people.com/people/jennifer_aniston/0,,,00.html

I have been MIA from this blog because life intruded in the form of blood poisoning…Mike’s, not mine. I got on that plane in California and left taking care of my mom to come home to Maui and take care of him. The blood poisoning is not unusual in Hawaii. It’s a warm climate and cruddy stuff thrives. Mike’s a boat captain http://scotchmistsailingcharters.com/  and got a splinter in his bare foot off the dock in Lahaina. It festered and the blood poisoning moved to knee-high, as well as a strep infection in the foot. Not fun, and he’s been on crutches for over a week so far.

Another really fun thing that people get in Hawaii is Ciguatera poisoning: Ciguatera (say: “seeg-wha-terra”) poisoning: This happens when you eat a reef fish (any fish living in warm tropical water) that has eaten a certain poisonous food. This poison does not go away when the fish is cooked or frozen. The first symptoms of ciguatera poisoning include abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms can then progress to headache, muscle aches and skin that is itchy, numb or tingly. You may notice a change in your ability to feel hot or cold temperatures. For example, you may think something feels hot when it is actually cold.

The lady on the plane was named Lisa and she asked lots of questions about what it’s really like to live in Hawaii. I also went to a BBQ while in California, and there was this guy there from Winnepeg. While not one person asked him “So what’s it really like to live in Winnepeg?”,they asked me so many questions about Hawaii, it got to be embarrassing that all the attention centered on me.

As our converstaion went on, I found myself sharing things like, “did you know that when they burn the sugar cane in Maui that they also burn the PVC pipe used for irrigation? Here’s a photo of the burning cane by Amanda Brightbill:

Approximately 32,900 children and 72,700 adults living in Hawaii currently have asthma.

• It costs Hawaii’s economy approximately $43 million each year to control this complicated disease.

• Each year approximately 4,000 people in Hawaii are rushed to the emergency department because of asthma.

• Infants and very young children (0-4 years of age) in Hawaii continue to make up the majority of hospitalizations caused by asthma.

• The asthma death rate in Hawaii remains above the national average.

I have asthma. I did not have it before moving to Hawaii. Just sayin’.

And the people at the BBQ  were surprised that we don’t drink the water. “Why not?” they asked.  “Because all the chemicals used to fertilize the sugar cane and pineapple run-off right into our water table.””And people think that Hawaii is such a pristine place to live,” they said.

I was especially naive when I moved here because I didn’t even know they burned the sugar cane. How could I not know that? Well, they only burn ten months out of the year, skipping January and February historically. Guess which months I had always vacationed  in Maui before moving here?

Well, I have a guy on crutches to attend to. One thing about it, living in Hawaii is never boring.

A hui hou! (til next time). If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, click the “Follow” button on the home page.

Aloha, Jamaica