Maui Home Prices Surge

Aloha!

If you want to check out Maui real estate, it’s helpful to know that the median prices for single-family homes jumped 21.3% to $570,0000 in September, compared to 2013. Condos are up 34.8% to $465,000, according to the Realtors Association of Maui.

It’s worth noting that all of this is based on the area. For single-family homes, Central Maui (Kahului) had 32 sales and a $449,500 median price. Kihei had 12 sales and a $502,500 median price. But Haiku came in with eight sales and a $745,575 median price.

These low-end median prices are usually a typical Maui home made of cement block, and have three bedrooms, one bath, and a tiny kitchen. Perhaps a more accurate depiction of a median is this home in Olinda that I found on http://www.Zillow.com. (I love Zillow, especially the mapping and birds-eye views.) With a nice-sized kitchen, covered porch, etc.

image

Four sales of luxury homes occurred in Wailea, for a total sales volume of $12.4 million and a median price of $1.4 million.

For those interested in condos, Kihei, the town right next-door to Wailea, outpaced all of the regions. It had 31 sales of condos with a median price of $315,000. Up north, Napili/Kahana/Honokowai had 12 condo sales, and a median price of $465,000. And upper-end Kaanapali came in with a median price of $930,000.

This is good news for Maui homeowners who have been hanging on waiting for their house prices to bump up so that they could sell. For those looking to buy in Maui, the time is now!

The full report can be seen at http://www.ramaui.com

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Aloha, Jamaica

Other Side of the Coin

Other Side of the Coin

Aloha!
Without asking, I got to hear the other side of the story from the medical community. I’ve been seeing a physical therapist for my tennis elbow, and we had a chat on Saturday. She told me she’d never worked anywhere else where patients were so uncooperative as they are on Maui. Why do you think that is? I asked. She said as far she was concerned we needed to look at the type of person who typically moves to Maui to begin with… Rebels, those who can’t fit in anywhere else, and misfits (her words). She said she could tell the minute she met me that I would do the exercises she prescribed, however, most people gave her backtalk and told her reasons why other things would work better! And then didn’t do the exercises.

Another piece of this story is that I had gotten physical therapy 10 years ago at the same place but it was owned by different people, a couple from New Zealand. I really liked them, but they’re gone now… This is the cycle on Maui. No matter what or whom you love: a restaurant, a hairdresser, a doctor, a tradesperson… They leave. They open a business, find out how hard it is on Maui with such a small population, and poof! they’re gone.

On another note, this physical therapist told me how hard it is for her to get a date on Maui. She’s cute, funny, intelligent, and holds multiple degrees… But she’s over 40. You wouldn’t know that to look at her, she surfs every day, but she said the guys just don’t ask her out. Again I asked, why do you think that is? She said because she reads at the beach the guys say she’s too smart, and it’s off-putting. They also want someone in their 20s. She’s resigned herself to being alone. Isn’t that sad?

A hui hou! Mahalo for stopping by. If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button on the homepage.
Aloha, Jamaica

Living on this Island

Living on this Island

Aloha!

People are certain a move to Maui will strengthen a marriage; eliminate job stress, and take them away from the grime and crime of their area. People dream about moving to Maui, however, few take the leap due to fear of the unknown and losing touch…

Would you be able to live on an island? I really don’t think about being surrounded by water here, but there are people whom it really bothers. I knew a woman named Linda who lived Upcountry and had this view:

West Maui Mountains

I thought the view was spectacular, but it drove her crazy. She said that because she could see the island end to end, she knew all the time that she was surrounded by water. Her husband was an engineer who had come to Maui to oversee the cleanup of Kahoolawe, so they were only going to be here for a few years… But she left after two years, she couldn’t take it.
Interestingly, people say the cut-off is two years for how long newcomers last in Maui. The novelty wears off of going to the beach every single day. People drive around and around the island and realize they’ve seen everything. What’s next? But that’s it, we’re on an island.

Or they see that their favorite band is going to play on the mainland, and they start realizing all they’re missing. Or they start thinking that the family that drove them crazy back home wasn’t so bad after all. And they think that their friends on the mainland will come visit more often than they do… But airline travel is very expensive and annoying now. And they find out that when the sugarcane is burnt they get headaches and their lungs feel heavy…or if they have asthma, they simply can’t breathe when the Vog (volcanic organic gas) from the Big Island rolls in.

I know a girl who works for one of the moving companies, and she told me this story: a Woman moved here with her two children. She moved everything, and was still unloading the crate from the shipper when they burned the sugarcane. The woman was horrified, both her children had asthma, and she had no idea that they burned the sugarcane. She loaded the crate back up that minute, and left the island. They never even moved in. The girl at the moving company told me they all thought that was some kind of new record.

Moving to Maui is a big commitment. It isn’t like the mainland where you can just put stuff in a moving truck and drive across state line. It takes so much thought, preparation and money, that if you get here and decide it isn’t for you, you can’t just turn around and leave.

Do you think you could live on an island? Would it bother you to be surrounded by water? Could you leave your friends and family? Would you be willing to have your pay cut dramatically and yet have your housing costs practically double? Would your work skills even translate to Maui?

Moving to Maui, like marriage, should not be entered into lightly.

A hui hou! If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button on the Home page. Mahalo for stopping by!

Aloha, Jamaica

Hawaii Dogs Just Wanna Drive

Hawaii Dogs Just Wanna Drive

Aloha!

Apparently, Hawaii dogs have been taking driving lessons while the rest of us sleep. I have heard of two instances now from friends in Hawaii where their dogs have tried to drive their cars.

My friend Shel does Alaskan Malamute rescue. (You have not seen a hot dog until you’ve seen an Alaskan Malamute in Hawaii.) Also, Malamutes “blow their coats” in colder climates, just big football-sized hunks of fur, but in Hawaii their systems are confused because it’s so hot, and so  just shed and shed slowwwwlly. Shel says the Malamutes are on Maui time, too! Shel is a model of patience with dogs, and also can’t say no to a stray or rescue, and is a foster Mom for Maui Humane Society puppies. Which leads us to her dog, Jesse. Jesse was a rescue found in a cave in Tennessee. He had been bit by what they assume was a copperhead, and it got infected and really mangled his jaw bone. When Jesse smiles his doggy smile, you can see daylight through the side of his jaw. But the good news is, Shel became his foster Mom, going to the mainland and flying Jesse all the way back to Maui; not an easy or in no way inexpensive, feat.

Shel and her husband Clay, who is a phenomenal wood sculpture artist: http://simpsonartworks.com/,  built their house in Kula on a hill. The driveway is at the top of the hill and you drive down the driveway to get to the house below. The whole place is fenced in, because of the dogs. Shel had just returned from taking her mom to the airport, and Jesse was in the truck, riding shotgun. Shel stopped the truck at the mouth of the driveway (top of the hill) so she could get out to open the gate. The truck has some transmission/gear issues, and you guessed it–Jesse knocked the truck into gear while on the hill.

Just as Shel got the big gate swung back, she saw the truck start to move, and could only chase behind as the truck rolled down the hill straight for the house, Jesse at the wheel. She noted that he appeared to be having an inordinately doggone good time. Shel could barely watch as the truck rolled smack into the front of her house. I groaned as she relayed this, then asked her who had  won… House or truck? She said since the house is built like a bunker (cement block with rebar inserted for hurricane protection) the house had won. The truck has a smashed-in front end and is currently non-drivable. “And,” she says firmly, “Jesse’s license has been suspended.”

The second instance of giddy Hawaii dog drivers was our friend Mike’s dog, Dawg. Mike owns a backhoe company and was parked on the shoulder of Hana highway, looking at a job. He’d left Dawg in the pickup truck while he checked out the job site. There were numerous barrels of diesel fuel in the back end of the pickup, kept there for the backhoe. While Mike was talking to the site owner, out of the corner of his eye he saw his pickup truck start rolling backwards downhill…and out onto the road. His dog had also knocked the truck out of gear. Mike could envision all manner of mayhem, including a 15-car pileup and mass destruction on the highway… But the truck suddenly switched direction, backed over an embankment, then flipped over and crashed. Endless seconds passed as he watched, waiting to see if the truck was going to explode. If this had been the movies, the special-effects guys would’ve had a riot. BUT…nothing!!

Mike held his breath as he ran for the truck. Score: Dawg fine, Mike furious.

Lest we think it’s only Hawaii dogs who enjoy these hijinks, there was also recently  a mainland couple who took their two small dogs with them on a ride to the dump. While they were unloading junk from the back, they heard the unmistakable THUNK sound of the cars doors being locked. The dogs had hit the lock button.(They probably wanted to go for a joyride and could only do so by locking the owners out.) Locksmith was called. Score: dogs one, owners zip.

What’s next–Dogs who throw their boat owners overboard and start sailing their boats?

A hui hou. If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button on the homepage. Mahalo for stopping by!

Aloha, Jamaica

Have You Laughed Today?

Aloha!

Maui is a pretty loose place. I’m always amused when I’m out and about and notice how feral-like many Maui children are. They haven’t been groomed within inch of their lives, unlike the little mainland boy I saw at Ha’iilimaile General Store the other night. He was about six years old, pasty-skinned, like he never stepped outdoors. Blonde hair parted with military precision; slicked down. Wearing khaki shorts and a plaid button-down shirt, with gleaming white tennis shoes. He looked like someone sat on him a lot.

Then there are the Maui kids: their hair sticking up and out, like it hasn’t been brushed in a week. They wear bright, mismatched clothes, and are tanned and healthy- looking. Usually they sport some interesting choice of footwear, like zebra-print rubber boots with shorts. Surely to grow up to be iconoclasts, all. Another thing about Maui kids: they laugh a lot, and don’t seem to pitch fits like I hear the kids do when I’m on the mainland. It leads me to believe that mainland kids spend way too much time indoors, and Maui kids are pretty much allowed to run wild, so they’re just calmer by nature.

Hearing lots of laughter was one of the things I noticed most when I first moved to Maui. At the beach, in restaurants, standing on street corners. Locals are a raucous bunch. I was in an office building yesterday and all the female workers were just cackling loudly, maybe over some bawdy joke. No one sushed them or reminded them they were in a place of business. Maui children running wild grow up to be Maui office workers. And they laugh a lot. Even in bad times.

One of my favorite things about working at the hotel all those years was hearing the laughter from the Front Desk people. The Concierge desk sat further out in the lobby, so I wasn’t really part of the Front Desk. But I could still hear them tell stories, share what they had for dinner the night before, and always, there was laughter.

The other evening, after a long day, I stopped at IHOP in Kahului and put in a to-go order. I had about a fifteen minute wait (should have just eaten there) and while I waited, a local family came in. More and more of them, till they filled the waiting area with ten people, and more of their party was still to arrive. Watching them all together, laughing, telling stories in their melodic pidgin and cutting up, I had a twinge of loneliness–of missing my family on the mainland, the choice that all of us who move an ocean away must  live with.

It turns out this family had just come from a surprise engagment party. They had all gathered, knowing the young man was going to propose to The One. Except, she didn’t show up. She was always running late. They waited and waited. Finally, she arrived. In pidgin the groom-to-be now related, “While we was all dhere waiting, I got to tinking…instead of engagement ring, mebbe shouda got her one watch!” They all roared, and I couldn’t help joining in.

Laughter: it’s good for the soul.

Thought for the day: Live a balanced life–learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work everyday some. —Robert Fulghum

A hui hou! If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button on the Home page. Mahalo for stopping by!

Aloha, Jamaica

Island Style

Aloha!

Are you a Hawaiian music fan?  There is so much to choose from , but two that I personally like are John Cruz http://www.johncruz.com/, particularly his song “Island Style”, which was a big hit, and of course Jake Shimabukura http://jakeshimabukuro.com/welcome/
the young ukulele virtuosa, who was a youtube sensation.

Speaking of music, there is an Internet email game going around. The idea is to name a song that’s so horrendous that it gets stuck in the recipient’s head. For instance, I would say “Muskrat Love”, and you would groan, because now that’s all you hear for the next hour. Then you’re supposed to tag me back with an equally bad selection. “Midnight at the Oasis” , for instance,sets my teeth on edge.  For many of us, the songs that get stuck in our heads came out before we were even born. But still we know them, possibly from  the dreaded Muzak, or from our parent’s collections.

When my dad was a kid in the 30s, his brother Jimmy bought the record “Frankie and Johnny.” (Cue music: Frankie and Johnnie were lovers…oh lordy how they could love…) Jimmy played it and played it and played it. One day my dad, who was five years younger than his brother and absolutely sick to death of Frankie and and her stupid, cheatin’ lover, took that record out across the road and sailed it into the field. Although his brother looked and looked, he couldn’t find it. Winter came and went, and the following spring my dad was out hiking in that field with his English setter. There, wet and mangled, lay,”Frankie and Johnny.” He never told his brother.

“Achy, Breaky, Heart” . “Seasons in the Sun”. Can you hear it?

Then there is Hawaiian music, an acquired taste for some.  I like much of it. I can even handle the high falsetto if it’s live, in person, and done well. Other people, not so much. A few years back I was at the Maui Writer’s Conference.( Don’t bother to Google it, it’s extinct now). Anyway, the line for the women’s restroom was a mile long, as all lines for women’s restrooms tend to be. I had probably been standing there for close to 10 minutes, and Hawaiian music was playing the whole time. I was enjoying it, as it echoed around the restroom and bounced off the walls.

A few feet ahead of me in line was a little Texan woman. She had the big hair, 2 inch nails, and little gold lame sandals. A Hawaiian falsetto song came on. All of a sudden she shuddered, covered her ears, and yelled in a southern drawl, “I just can’t take this horrible noise one more second!” and she bolted out of the bathroom, after waiting in line all that time. As the rest of us watched her go, there was a moment of silence, and then we all burst out laughing.

Seasons in the Sun. It’s a Small World After All.

Tag, you’re it.

Maui Weather Today: High 85, Low 71

A hui hou! If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button on the Home page. Mahalo for stopping by.

Aloha, Jamaica

The Facts of Life on Maui

The Facts of Life on Maui

Aloha!

I always say that owning a house on Maui is like owning the Golden gate Bridge. It’s a fact of life that when those workers get to one end of the bridge and have finished painting it, they turn around and start again at the other end. In Maui, that’s true of both the inside of the house, and the yard.
In California, I worked like a maniac and had a housekeeper. In retrospect I ask, What for? There was no dirt! Just a little dust, every two weeks, and of course the bathroom can always use a bit of attention. But in Maui, it’s really hot, so you open the windows. Then the wind starts blowing. The wind is full of the ubiquitous red dirt.  You know the house is going to get covered with dirt, but it’s too hot to close the windows. And it’s too expensive to run the air conditioning… so you leave the windows open.
Today I cleaned my office. Not organizing, mind you, just cleaning.  Every book I touch has a layer of red dirt on the top of it’s spine. The books feel gritty, as do the bookshelves. My desk, mouse, computer screen; all covered with red dirt.

Then under the bookshelves, in the corners, and along every windowsill is the gecko poop! Another fact of life: the geckos know they own the house, they just let you live there. There is no catching them because they have amazing suction cup feet. You chase them and they just run up to the ceiling, hang upside down, and cackle at you. Literally, they cackle. And continue to poop wherever they like. Then there is the array of other interesting creatures. My friend Shel wrote to me the other day and said she was vacuuming (we spend our lives chasing red dirt) and she heard a caaathunk. She said, “Now just try googling ‘how to remove mangled live centipede from beater bar of a vacuum cleaner.'”

You heard me.
A large chunk of the budget when we built our house was installing wood floors. I would not have put carpet in my house if someone paid me. The reason: I was in a client’s home, who had orange carpeting. Except that then she moved a dresser, and underneath, the carpeting was BLUE. The entire carpeting was so full of red dirt it had turned orange. Tile or carpeting it is!
I am a writer and I love books. I have books everywhere. If I had my way I would own the expensive old Barrister’s bookcases, because they have a glass door that you could pull down over the books to protect them. In Maui, that would help keep out the red dirt.
I know of women in Haiku who take every book off their bookshelves, turn on blower fans, open up all the books, and let the fans blow through to drive the humidity out of them. They do this multiple times throughout the year. Otherwise, they mold.
Just another day in Paradise!
Maui Weather Today: High 85, Low, 72
A hui hou. If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, click the Follow button on the Home page. Mahalo for stopping by!
Aloha, Jamaica

Shark Snack

Shark Snack

Aloha!

As those of you who follow this blog know, Mike works as a boat Captain on the Scotch Mist out of Lahaina www.scotchmistsailingcharters.com/

A couple of days ago he came home from work and told me this story: another Captain out of Lahaina had taken a snorkel tour over near the coastline of Lanai. The group of snorkelers were in the water enjoying themselves.  While the Captain waited on the boat, he looked down in the water and saw a large turtle surface. Under the turtle he saw another shape, and assumed it was a second turtle…when suddenly an eight-foot tiger shark surfaced just behind the turtle, and opening its large jaws–swallowed the turtle whole!

The Captain started yelling, “Everyone back on the boat. Back on the boat, NOW!” but the shark had his snack, and took off, not bothering any of the humans.

I guess he didn’t get the memo that the turtles are endangered and not to get too close.

For those who would enjoy a sailing adventure the next time you’re on Maui:

Scotch Mist Sunset Tour Highlights:

The Scotch Mist is the fastest production line sailboat of her size in the world.

■ Bubbly Champagne, Kula Chocolates, Beer, Wine, Soda & Juice ■ Quiet and Relaxing Sunset Sail ■ Beautiful views of Maui, Lanai and Molokai ■

Snorkel Trips Available (to the brave and fearless!) to Lanai

Call 1-877-669-1077. Enjoy!

A hui hou (til next time). If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button on the Home Page. Mahalo for stopping by.

Maui Weather Today: High 87, Low 73

Aloha, Jamaica

You Asked for It

Maui Weather Today High 84, Low 72

You Asked for It

Aloha!
It seems we’ve been on a food theme for the last few blog posts. I have asked readers what they would like to see in this blog, and the answers came back, “Restaurant reviews.” Being that I lived for 20 years right next to the Napa Valley in California, and did Interior Design work there, I will provide some
restaurant reviews in this blog. I’m a pretty good cook, but I LOVE to eat out.

First of all, I don’t know how any restaurant survives these days. Especially on Maui, with the price of food. We used to buy the good canned crab meat
at Costco on a somewhat regular basis, and it was $ 8.99 per can. (I make a mean crabcake.) Then the price went to $9.99 then $12.99 then $15.99 and the last I saw, it was at $18 can. We stopped buying it. So if crab has doubled on the shelf at Costco, how much are restaurateurs having to pay? The same with our electric bill; it’s doubled on Maui in the last few years. Business people are paying those same rates.

When you come to Maui on vacation, you are in vacation mode. You have set a certain amount of money set aside to spend… and do so gladly. We are the same way when we go on vacation, our filters are different. We just go with the flow and if we want something, or want to eat out, we do it. It’s just the price of taking a vacation.

Not so when you live in a place. So eating out on Maui can be a minefield… We don’t have it in the budget to eat at the normal tourist places. And when we do eat out, we are more critical than a normal tourist would be.I laugh when I remember the time my stepdad John was here visiting from California, and one day we went to Ruby’s http://rubys.com/ in the Kaahamanu shopping center for lunch. It’s a hamburger place mostly, with a 1950’s diner vibe. John and I spent a lot of time in California comparing hamburger joints. There is so much to choose from there, with Nation’s, and In-and-Out Burger. The first thing we would do when he picked me up at the Oakland airport was go straight to Nation’s for a cheeseburger. It was our ritual. You can get out of In-and-Out Burger with a nice freshly made cheeseburger, fries, and a drink for around five bucks. It’s an eat- in restaurant, and has booths, the same as Ruby’s. And when we opened up the menu at Rubys, and John saw that the hamburgers were going to be about $12 a piece, I thought he was going to fall out of the booth. (He was a big guy, so that would’ve been quite difficult for him to do.) I ordered a cheeseburger and a drink. He ordered a bowl of chili, onion rings, and a shake.

The bill came to somewhere in the neighborhood of $27. He talked about that bill at Ruby’s for the next three years. To anyone who would listen, he said, “How in the world does anyone afford to live on Maui? When you can’t even go out for a cheeseburger….”
And I agree.

Just going out and having a good time without worrying about the tab can be a real challenge on Maui. I remember when I first moved here and was working at the hotel, I met one of the maintenance guys who had also recently moved here from Northern California. He had a good job at the hotel, his wife also worked. But they were moving back to the mainland. I questioned him, but you just got here, why are you leaving? His answer: “Because we are so
spoiled with going out to eat in Northern California, and we simply can’t afford
to do it here.”It was their thing, and it just wasn’t going to fly in Maui.

It does become a bit of of “look, but don’t touch.” I know there are a lot of nice restaurants at the hotels in Wailea and also in Lahaina, but we just don’t go eat there, because it’s not in the budget. This was a huge
adjustment for me, being from Northern California, and having Napa Valley right there at my disposal.

You can find good, honest chef-prepared food in Napa Valley for not much money. Also, a few years ago we went to LA to the Great American Pitchfest, with one of my scripts. Afterward, we drove to Santa Barbara to stay for a couple of nights. This was going to be the “vacation” portion of the trip. And because we were on vacation, I was prepared to pay good money to eat out. We got some recommendations from the concierge and headed downtown.

And were blown away. First, by all that there was to choose from. It was like its own little Napa Valley right there on the main street of Santa Barbara. Once we chose a restaurant (not an easy feat), we were treated to some of the most mouthwatering, gourmet food I have ever had for such a good price. I still think about that meal. We had an appetizer and entrées; I had one glass of wine and we shared a dessert, and were out the door for about 60 bucks. Amazing!
This is never going to happen on Maui. So, any restaurant reviews that I do on this blog will be through the eyes of hard-working Maui people with normal working people’s budgets. Not a tourist’s budget. Forewarned is forearmed.

You asked for it!

Let the games begin.

A hui hou (til next time). if you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button the Home Page.

Aloha, Jamaica

Hawaiian Airlines Adds Local Food, Free Wine

Maui Weather Today: High 85, Low 73

Hawaiian Airlines Adds Local Food, Free Wine

Aloha!

This just in: Hawaiian Airlines has added kalua pork and free wine in economy class. Seems my post on ono (good) food was a little early.

Hawaiian Airlines is revamping the service on its mainland-to-Hawaii
routes by introducing more local foods and free wine in
economy class.The airline has started serving foods such as kalua pork
sandwiches and sweet Hawaiian bread with cream cheese and guava jelly in its free in-flight meals. In addition, it’s selling Spam musubi, ramen noodles and other snacks through a new feature called the Pau Hana (quit work) Snack Bar. Economy-class passen­gers 21 and older are being offered a
complimentary glass of red or white wine selected by Hawaii master sommelier Chuck Furuya. The wine comes with lunch or dinner.

Makes me wonder if Hawaiian is feeling the squeeze from Alaska Airlines on its Hawaii flights. Otherwise, in this age when airlines are cutting back and adding fees, why would Hawaiian make anything free? Alaska is using smaller planes (737’s) to move into Hawaiian’s turf, the Pacific Coast to Hawaii. And Alaska’s 737’s are approximately one-third more fuel-efficient than Hawaiian’s new A330’s, so Hawaiian may be offering free services to make sure its planes stay full. At this website http://airlines.findthebest.com/compare/7-13/Alaska-Airlines-vs-Hawaiian-Airlines these comparisons are offered:

Hawaiian Airlines Travel and Leisure Rating was 78.58 compared to Alaska’s 74.24. But wait, it’s about to get interesting with the other fees. Baggage fees for Hawaiian are $25.00 for the first bag, $35.00 for the second bag, and $125.00 for the third bag!–while Alaska offers all three for only $20.00 each. Then, an unaccompanied minor is charged $100.00 on Hawaiian but only $75.00 on Alaska.

But here’s where Alaska will really make a traveler’s heart sing: carry-on baggage. I have to say that when traveling on Hawaiian it’s always frustrating  that my carry-on that I can get into a bin on other airlines, is a no-go on Hawaiian. It just won’t fit in there. Here’s why:

Both have a weight limit of 25 lbs. Hawaiian’s length is 14 inches, Alaska’s is 24 inches. Hawaiian’s width is 22 inches and Alaska’s 17 inches. But Hawaiian’s  bag size cubed was 2,227 inches, while Alaska’s is 4,080 cubed.

Pets were listed at $100. on Alaska and not listed at all for Hawaiian. Cancellation 12-month average was 0.08 on Hawaiian and 0.6 on Alaska. And perhaps most important of all: complaints were at 1.17 per 100k passengers on Hawaiian, and at 0.44 on Alaska.

We are always happy with the service, the leg room, and the food on Alaska. We signed up for the Alaska Awards program because they are a sister airline to Air France and we would love to go see our friends in France by using only points. So our end-game might be a little different than yours.

So I’m curious. Which airline do you use to fly to Hawaii, and why?

A hui hou (til next time). If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button on the Home Page.

Aloha, Jamaica

Ono Food

Maui Weather Today: High 86, Low 73

Ono Food

Aloha!

Spam musubi, courtesy of Flickr user bandita Spam Musubi

Food is an education in Hawaii. When I worked at the hotel, http://www.astonmauikaanapalivillas.com/, I got a good grasp of just how important food was to the locals. Every day from the time the front desk workers got to work, I could hear them discussing what they would eat for lunch. Who are we going to order lunch from? What are we going to have? Are we going to order as a group, or individually? Discussing food is a major component of life here: “And what did you eat last night?” they would ask each other. No one gets in the way of its enjoyment. Good food is known as “ono grinds.” (Not to be confused with Ono, the fish).

When we were building our house, we had a carpenter’s-helper named Edward. Edward was a short, stout guy from Canada who looked like a leprechaun, and he had a fun, dry sense of humor. Everyone has a story of how they got to Hawaii, and Edward’s story was that he had met a local girl, Lorna, online. Lorna was Filipino, and in due course he moved to Hawaii to be with her. Unfortunately, this meant that Edward gave up a very lucrative career as an engineer in Canada. (Love makes everyone stupid at some point.) And that was how we came to have his considerable talents for not much pay here in Maui.

Edward eventually married Lorna, and we went to their backyard wedding. After that, each morning Edward would show up here for work clutching his stomach, complaining of indigestion. Seems that his Canadian constitution was being subjected to Filipino food on a regular basis now. He described at length the “strange things they eat,” but what got to him the most was the night he visited some of her relatives and there was a goat tied to a tree in the yard…and the goat became dinner. Instead of referring to the ono (good) food in Hawaiian, Edward took to calling it “Oh, no!’ food. We still laugh about it to this day. And in true Maui style, Edward eventually moved back to his home in Canada…and Lorna was faced with the decision of whether or not to leave her family on Maui and follow him. This happens on a regular basis here. She did go, and the last I heard was that she was going to move back to Maui, whether Edward did or not. Some people bounce back and forth to Maui like ping-pong balls.

If the shortest path to love is through the stomach, what happens when the stomach recoils at the sight and smell of the food? Oh, no!

A hui hou (til next time). If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button on the Home Page.

Aloha, Jamaica

Where you stay?

Maui Weather today: don’t care what they say…it’s windy, chilly and looks like RAIN Upcountry! A very unusual summer.

Where you stay?

Aloha!

In pidgin, “Where you stay?” means where are you…or where do you live? We got invited to a friends’ house for dinner Sunday night. They live near Makawao, and I started thinking about why people live where they do on Maui, and on the way I snapped these horses:

Makawao Horses

And then the rainbow behind them got brighter:

Maui Horses

When I moved to Maui I had only been Upcountry once, on vacation. “Upcountry” refers to the area at the base of Haleakala mountain and includes the communities of Kula, Pukalani, Olinda, Makawao and Haiku, plus surrounding areas. When I vacationed here, someone told me it was where the “normal” people lived (whatever normal is!) meaning full-time Maui residents who wanted to buy a house and not live in a condo. Other than that, I had no idea that there were cowboys and horses and ranches and a Polo Club http://www.mauipoloclub.com/. up here. We went one Sunday to watch Polo and it was a lot of fun.

Makes sense that the country music station is out of Makawao. You see cowboys and cowgirls in boots and Western wear here in this cowpoke town. I thought for a brief moment that it might be fun to own a horse until my friend Jody, who had a horse, clued me in on what it costs to keep one fed on Maui. Nev-er mind. People who live Upcountry are different from those who live in say, Lahaina, and usually the twain shall never meet. Friends we knew from when we lived on the Westside have never been to our home Upcountry, including the formal invite to our Hawaiian house-blessing that we had with a Kumu presiding, complete with maile lei. The general attitude seems to be “We live in Lahaina, we don’t GO Upcountry.” (We don’t need no stinkin’ Upcountry!)

I did an informal poll at the dinner gathering Sunday night. Why do you live where you live on Maui? Our group included a guy who lives in Kihei to be near his job, but is from Madison, WI. (Shout out to my sister Marcia and her husband Richard in Madison!) He said when you’re from the Midwest, the pull to Maui is agricultural. That a Japanese farmer in Maui is no different from a strapping German farmer in Wisconsin. As I toured my friend Wendy’s property that evening I was struck again by how much Makawao looks like Indiana, where I was a kid. Horses and cows and fields. Rapsberry bushes running wild along Wendy’s fence row, just like in Michigan, where she grew up. They say you can never go home again…but do you think we try to recreate what we had as children? It that really why I live Upcountry?

What about you…if you moved to Maui, where would you choose to live and why? The real question is: how would you design your life? Many who live on Maui wish they had a place at the beach for in the winter and a place Upcountry for in the summer when it’s hot. In our dreams!

I saw a funny Facebook post the other day. Someone was vacationing on Maui and said, “I didn’t know until this trip that there was any hiking at all on Maui! I was always all about, ‘Why would anyone ever leave the beach?'”

Exactly. The reasons are as many and varied as the people. The carpenter from Kula who helped us build our house, in referring to Lahaina said, “That’s Disneyland down there.”  Another friend who’d lived in Lahaina but moved Upcountry said that she “grew weary of the transience: everyone’s just there for a year or two…there’s no real sense of community”. And yet the Lahaina people can’t understand why Upcountry people would ever live away from the ocean. For Mike and me, it was a matter of 1) being better able to afford a house, 2) cooler weather (he napped all the time when we lived down there, it was SO hot, he never naps Upcountry and 3) we eventually got our fill of the crowds. Especially Mike. I thought maybe a vein was going to pop in his head or something…

Example: you go to Safeway in Lahaina and the tourists, who have no idea where anything is, have their carts parked sideways, blocking the aisles. And they drive sooo slowly. Looking at the scenery, or more likely, lost.  And clueless that we need to be somewhere, like now. I totally understand this, because as a tourist in Napa Valley a couple of years ago, I nonchalantly headed out from my hotel onto the old two-lane highway for breakfast one morning, and when I glanced in my rearview mirror, a local girl was making a rude gesture and pounding her fist on her watch. Then she sped around me. Stupid tourist, indeed. Yes, they have jobs and time schedules, but don’t they know I’m on vacation?

On Maui, do tourists realize we have jobs, doctor’s appts and dentist appts. to get to, kids to pick up from school…just like they do back at home? Vacation is a bubble people live in for a brief moment that they wish could last and last…so they stretch it out. Slowwwllly.

I find it one of the most interesting phenomenoms that people stake out their little corner of Maui and don’t leave it. You tell yourself you won’t do that when you move here…but somehow it happens. Maybe it’s the winding road into Lahaina that keeps people from going over there. And then you certainly don’t want to drink at a restaurant and then drive that road back home. Or maybe it’s that people work over there and don’t want to drive back over for entertainment? But how does that explain that Lahaina people who don’t want to leave there? Seriously.

Here’s my parting story: when I began my women’s group on Maui, the group of women met for the first time. The idea was to rotate houses for the meetings. There was one girl, April, who lived in Kihei. The rest of us were Upcountry folk. When Karen heard that April was from Kihei she said heatedly, “I am NOT driving to Kihei.” This, my friends, is is a thirty-minute drive, and no one wants to do it. Don’t ask me why, I can’t explain it. I lived in the corn fields of Indiana where we drove thirty minutes for a gallon of milk.

They say there are beach people and mountain people. Maybe it’s as simple as that.

Where you stay?

A hui hou (til next time). If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button on the Home Page.

Aloha, Jamaica

The Road not Taken

Maui Weather Today: High of 85. Low of 72.

The Road Not Taken…in Maui

Aloha!

My niece Alyssa just graduated from high school. This is what I will tell her:

When you move to Maui, it’s a pretty sure bet that you are not one to follow the crowd. This sounds counter-intuitive, I know, since the crowd thinks it wants to live here. But to actually leave your home, your family, and move to Maui is something entirely different. Now you’re walking the walk, not just talking the talk. I sorta envy those who grew up here..they have such close family ties. I miss my family and thought they would visit much more often than they do.  But it’s a different world now, it’s expensive to fly, it’s expensive just to get by.

All I knew was that I wanted to live somewhere warm. I was sick of being cold my whole childhood and I was determined to do whatever it took to leave the Chicago area. First I moved to California. Then to Hawaii. Everyone wants to know: how can you afford to live there? How can you own a house? They write to me and ask me that.  I once saw an interview with Michael J. Fox where he talked about the concept of “selling your twenties to buy your thirties”. While my friends were grooving at concerts, going on cruises and living the good life in their twenties, I was saving money, then building a house and delaying gratification.

It’s about choices.

I have a friend who built a house and also bought a bookstore in Mexico. People ask her, too, how did you afford to do this? Her answer: sacrifice. She and her husband lived in the Bay area, worked very hard, and saved every penny they could. They chose not to have children. They bought the land, then built the house with cash, little by little, making trips to Mexico to do the work themselves.  Choices.

Today the choices are even less clear: technology whispers from every corner “buy me, buy me”. Eric Gilliom http://ericgilliom.com/and Willi K http://www.barefootnatives.com/ from Maui did a song about Maui where they talk about not owning a cell phone and driving a Maui cruiser (junk) car. The Road Not Taken is often a beater car covered with red dirt in Maui. It’s often a cinder-block house with jalousie windows. It’s often a bunch of roomates.

My Kenmore dishwasher is 33 years old. I am not making this up. It came with the house we tore down to build this one. It looks like someone tied it to the bumper of a car and dragged it behind.  The racks inside are broken and rusting. It’s quite noisy. But is still works. So we are not rushing out to replace it to the tune of $700-$1,000. Every single thing on Maui is expensive.

I was in Foodland in Pukalani yesterday and they have hit a new personal best of $6.49 for a loaf of rye bread. I will soon not be buying bread! Also, our coconut tree in the front yard was dying, so we had to have it removed. The Samoan guy wanted $200. but Mike talked him down to $150. plus all the tangerines he wanted off our tree. The Ironwood tree is enormous and was threatening our roof. It was going to be a King’s ransom to get it trimmed, so Mike shaped a surfboard, had it glassed, and traded the tree trimmer for the board. (A Mike Turkington surfboard is a coveted item: www.amazon.com/The-Curt-Mastalka-Collection…/B002M4NM0M  or https://www.google.com/search?q=mike+turkington+surfer&hl=en&prmd). Every day now it seems we say “There is more going out than coming in.” I know it is the same across the country…but what is the cost of living where you live?

Between the cost of gas, and food (bread!) and electricity on Maui, I don’t know how people with three children are keeping up. A commentary by Lisa Darcy in the Maui Weekly http://mauiweekly.com/ Executive Director of the Ho’omoana Foundation, talked about how she is “witnessing more people in need who are doing everything right and still unable to meet their basic needs or their family’s basic needs” because so many agencies have had to make cutbacks. Lisa ended with these words: “As long as I have (dental) floss, I am in a socioecnomic bracket well ahead of most of the world. This is not something I take for granted, nor that fact that I have a warm, safe place to sleep tonight.”

Moving to Maui is The Road Not Taken. It’s well and good to tell yourself the beaches and warm weather will make up for not having “things.” It’s another to be able to afford bread and to be able to put gas in your car.

A hui hou (Til next time). If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button on the Home Page.

Aloha, Jamaica

End of an Era

Aloha!

If you follow this blog, you know that I worked part-time as a concierge/Activities Coordinator at the Maui Kaanapali Villas (http://astonmauikaanapalivillas.3dhawaii.com/ for about ten years. I loved my job. I was good at my job. I really enjoyed meeting tourists from all over the world, and the best day ever was meeting some folks from France whom I invited up to the house, we became friends, and then they invited us to France. We went and it was fabulous. Wow.

I began my job at the Villas in 1999. The main reason I took the job was to have someting to do while I built my interior design business in Hawaii. Also, with that job, we’d get to do the Activities on Maui for free (a major perk). So about once a year we could go do something fun with each company, and we’d also get a discount for our guests who were visiting. This job was totally commission-based and that’s something people need to understand about jobs in Hawaii. They are low-paying or commission unless you have a great office job, or a job in the medical profession, law profession, etc.

There are also instances of people being private or sub-contractors, which is what Mike is as a Captain on the Scoth Mist out of Lahaina. He doesn’t make a great wage and then must pay self-employment tax on that. So people like him, in edition to waiters, waitresses and bartenders, rely on tips.

At my job, two things happened: the first was September 11th, which absolutely froze tourism to Hawaii. My take-home pay dipped dramatically. Very slowly people started coming back to Hawaii, and then we got the second hit: the stock market plunge of late 2007. No tourists. When they did finally start coming, we saw a shift: people who before would have stayed at a resort such as the Four Seasons were looking for less-expensive places to stay. Or, people were coming who were getting killer deals on airlines that wanted to fill seats, and these people just wanted a place to stay.

But people weren’t coming to Maui to spend any extra money, so my pay dipped again. And again. By the time it was all said and done, I was making one-half to one-third what I had been when I started there. At the same time our gas prices on Maui shot to the highest in the nation, so it was no longer feasible for me to drive all the way to Lahaina for what little pay I was making. I simply couldn’t stay in a job where I was making less than the kid at McDonald’s.

In these low-paying Maui jobs, you hope for tips. But I can count on ten fingers the number of times I was tipped in ten years, and I was someone who bent over backwards for people and always has a smile on my face. I made sure people were going to have the time of their lives in Maui. So why didn’t people think to tip? Because they assumed I was getting a per-hour wage.

I addition to what has gone on in our nation’s economy, Hawaii’s economy is tourist-based. We also took some very hard hits as both Aloha Airlines went under, and then Maui Land and Pine. I have a friend who worked at ML&P for years and retired with the understanding that she would have health insurance forever. When they went under, there went her health insurance.

When you come to Hawaii and are wondering whether to tip, consider this: hotel bellhops and Skycaps at the airport see turnover all day long. We know a Skycap who owns a large house on Kaanapali hillside, he does so well.  But I would spend a minimum of an hour and and a quarter with guests planning their vacations, sometimes two hours. In an eight hour day, how many people could I really serve? When things slowed down, sometimes I would sit all day with no one. Tips would have helped bridge the pay gap, but I served far fewer people than most tip-related jobs. Every once in a while a guest would ask “Am I allowed to tip you?” and I would say “Of course!” So if can afford to tip when you come to Maui, please do. Please realize that workers here depend on it. If you can afford to tip well, all the better.

I will now get down off my soap box.

As it turns out, the company I worked for all those years just lost their contract with that hotel. Owners bid on the opportunity to have thier Activity company at a hotel, and if they have a monopoly of many Activity Desks in hotels, they can bid more. That’s what happened. So sad to say, the company will no longer be there. And the women I worked with are now out of jobs, because the new company has their own workers. Takeovers happen even in Paradise.

I am sad for my former co-workers and can’t really believe that an Activity company that has been there for 30 years is no more.

A hui hou (til later). If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button on the Home Page.

Aloha, Jamaica

Name that Wind

Aloha!

Many people write to tell me they want to move to Maui. One of the ways to be sure where you want to live is to sleep around (the island, that is). I have friends who came to Maui on vacation numerous times and each time stayed on a different part of the island to get a feel for where they would want to live. Seemed like a good plan. When I met them, they said they had ruled out Pukalani because it has “wind like a freight train.” I just wish I’d met them before I moved to Pukalani.

The Italians have eight words for wind. Vento is one of them. Then there is the French mistral. What we need is a name like that just for the Pukalani wind. Pukalani means “hole in the sky” or literally, beautiful hole in the sky…which means we get lots of sunshine, as opposed to Kula and Olinda (up the mountain) which are often shrouded in the clouds, and I love that about Pukalani. When I met Mike he owned a house in Kula and when you opened the windows up there, the clouds literally blew right through the house. It was beautiful to watch them. The downside to that was that everything he had smelled like mold, and he had bronchitis repeatedly. I said no thank you.

When we built our house in Pukalani, we lived first in a rental, and it was a mile away. Talk about micro-climates…I didn’t know Pukalani had the wind (please name that wind) because the rental was one mile up, toward Kula. (There is also a  wind line in Kaanapali, right at the stoplight at Kai Ala drive. Anything north of there means wind. Like Kapalua.) So we built, and one of the guys we hired to help work on the house casually mentioned the wind. As in “It’s gonna blow every single day because of the convection effect with the mountain.” Seems that the mountain literally pulls the wind up, my guess is from Maalaea (which deserves it’s own special name for wind down there, whatever Hawaiian words that mean “wind from hell’.) I just didn’t realize this was going to be a daily occurance, I thought it was a fluke type of thing.

My next door neighbor said it blew so long one time he thought he was going to lose his mind. I understand now, having lived here since 2002. If I known I would have positioned the overhead garage door differently, it’s just a big open invitation to red dirt every time we open it. That goes for our front door as well as the kitchen door…each time they’re opened everything on the kitchen table, on the counter, on the desk, blows all over tarnation. It’s a paper chase to pin things down, paper weight them. It’s like a sitcom where the same thing happens over and over. And if the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, I guess I’m insane.

Or need to stop going in and out of my house.

A hui hou, (til next time). If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button on the Home Page.

Aloha, Jamaica

Try Wait

Aloha!
I’m writing this tonight with a glass of champage and a shot of St. Germain by my side, so we’ll see how it goes. I discovered that stuff in France. Need I say more?

The need for alcoholic assistance came in the form of a trip to the Maui DMV today. Need I say more? Also, Mike is off-island on Oahu visiting his mother, who just flew in from Savannah to spend the summer (not winter) in Hawaii.

Huh? That’s the reaction I get when I tell them she has a house here that she only uses in the summer, but the mosquitos in Savannah are the size of Volkswagens and there’s a long tradition there of leaving in the summer to escape the heat. So she heads to the North Shore, and Mike heads over there to see her. I’m a big believer in the relationship adage “If you don’t go away, how can I miss you?” so I’m a happy camper as I tuck into a huge stacks of books while he’s gone.

Normally I don’t break out the bubbly, but like I said, I visited the DMV after dropping him at the Kahului airport this morning. The DMV is right next to IHOP, so I had a game plan: get my new driver’s license and then hop over to IHOP for breakfast. So I didn’t eat. Then I left my cup of coffee on the kitchen counter as I was rushed out the door because Mike was gonna be late. Those who know me know I don’t function in the morning, especially without coffee. Quote:”I’m incapable of anything other than marmalade and mumbling before noon. ” (10 am for me.)

Here’s the thing about the Maui DMV. They lie. Right to your face! I got there at 8:50 am and there was NO ONE in line ahead of me. There were about fifteen people seated, but I told myself that they were there to do everything from pay their Real Propery Taxes (as opposed to their phoney ones?) to registering their Maui cruisers. So when the girl at the front desk told me “It’ll be forty-five minutes, tops” I, like an idiot, believed her. I’d brought “Blogging For Dummies” along (I have the computer skills of a rock) and pretty little stick’em notes to notate stuff. I was all set.

Except I hadn’t had any breakfast. And I’d only had a half-cup of coffee. And there are all these new RULES in our increasingly bizarre post 9-11 world, the least of which is you have to bring your passport to the DMV now. Passport, check. (Put it in the car the night before). Then she told me I needed my Social Security card. Would you believe I’d put that sucker in the car to take it to the safety deposit box, unbeknownst to me that I’d be needing it? I jogged back out to the car, afterall, I only had 45 minutes. …

An hour and ten minutes in, I had to pee. I watched the marquee anxiously and the “A” window where I was supposed to appear wasn’t budging. In fact I began to suspect that whoever was in charge of the “A” window had gone to pee herself, because there is NO bathroom in the DMV. I had a dilemma. Do I jog halfway acaross the mall to the bathroom and lose my place in line, or do I risk leaving a puddle on the seat (I have a bladder the size of a gnat. My Mom and I are affectionately called “Tiny Tank” and “Tiny Tank 2”. We are loads of fun to take on car trips, especially together.)

I careened up to Window “C” as soon as someone left it and asked the VISW (Very Important State Worker)  if I could be excused. I felt like I was back in school and needed a hall pass. Now I had been there an hour and fifteen minutes. She checked her screen and admonished me to “hurry.”

EXCUSE ME. Isn’t the fact of them not hurrying what had put me in this pickle to begin with? And wasn’t I told 45 minutes, which I accepted in good faith? I ran. All around the building and through the mall, like the wind, which is tough with a full gnat’s bladder. I made it just in time, then ran all the way back, puffing in my rubbah slippahs. I screeched back into the DMV.

“Try wait”. It’s a bumper sticker you’ll see a lot here, along with “Slow down, this ain’t the mainland.” There is nothing that will hurry them up. They are on island time, which, just in case you were wondering, is not a myth.

An hour and a half later, hungry and cranky, I got my shot at the “A”  window. The VISW took one look at my paperwork and rejected it. Seems in all the confusion of “Where’s your passport? Where’s your social security card? Please deposit your firstborn at the next window”…I hadn’t filled out my application for a new license.

The VISW was not amused.

In all, it took an hour and forty minutes, but I now have a new Hawaii State driver’s license and my hair looks Mah-ve-lous, darling. Happens about twice a year on Maui. Must have been the wind-blown look from all the running.

Disclainer: All errors and typos on this page are entirelt the fault of the St. Grermain.

A hui hou (til next time). If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button on the Home Page.

Aloha, Jamaica

You know you live in Hawaii when…

Aloha!

You know you live in Hawaii when…

  • You find a dead gecko in your toaster in the morning and a slimy black lizard in your bed at night. The lizard was the hardest. I was dead asleep and felt something in the small of my back. Groggily I put my hand under there and it came up full of lizard. The geckos I don’t mind, but those black lizards look and move like snakes. I screeched loud enough to wake Pele.
  •  You get into your closed car on a summer day and your sunglasses steam up when you put them on. Now that’s hot.
  • If the menu lists macaroni salad as a vegetable, you know you’re in Hawaii. Locals go to the mainland and complain, “How come they no get plate lunch heah?” Plate lunches (with minor variations of meat) are: teriyaki beef or teriyaki chicken with two large scoops of rice and macaroni salad. They LOVE their starch.
  • You’re at the beach and there are chickens running around.
  • Everywhere you go people are eating and partying in their garages and car ports, not inside the house.
  • A local family has built a barn, planted a large tree or otherwise blocked out entirely their stunning view, completely oblivious. Meanwhile, the haoles are howling if someone plants a twig in front of a view they paid dearly for.
  • Termites are eating everything you own no matter what “guaranteed” method you used to control them. Our neighbors down the street tore down their thirty-year-old house and built another right on the same spot because the termites were eating it to the ground. Also, there are no Antiques stores on Maui. There’s a reason for that: the termites ate everything long ago.

A hui hou! (til next time). Thought for the day: There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

Aloha, Jamaica

 

The Art of the Staycation – Part 1

Aloha!

This is where I spent the weekend. Nice? It’s the Wailea Marriott on Maui. http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/hnmmc-wailea-beach-marriott-resort-and-spa/. Check out their website for great photos. Anyway, it took me years to convince Mike that there was any value in staying at a hotel on Maui when we already lived on Maui. In fact, he flatly refused to spend the money. So that left me bereft for the days when I used to come to Maui to vacation and just reeellaaaaxx.

In his defense, his parents had a home on the North Shore of Oahu near the beach and we used to go over there about three times a year, so I did have a getaway. Then a few things happened to knock the stuffing out of vacationing over there: Aloha Airlines went belly up and took all of our hard-earned points with them. No more free flights. Grrrr. And what used to be a $25.00 flight interisland became a $50.00 flight, then a $70.00 flight. Mesa  Airlines http://iflygo.com/ started the airline wars in Hawaii and they are the only ones who won. The people who live here can’t afford to “go interisland” anymore because a round-trip is now $160-$190 depending on the time of day. Times that by two people, and suddenly a Staycation was more in the budget than a flight. Mike said yes! Especially after his bout with blood poisoning…he knows I’ve been up to my a%* in alligators around here for a long time. We both were in need of a break.

I chose the Marriott for a number of reasons. Most of all, their Infinity pool

is to die for, and the best part is, it’s kid-free. They don’t call it the “Serenity Pool” for nothing. Also the Marriott is very small in comparison to say the Grand Wailea http://www.grandwailea.com/ or The Fairmont Kea Lani http://www.fairmont.com/kealani/. We took the walking path in Wailea, which is another reason I love to stay down there (Mike can walk again, yay!) and went by the Grand Wailea. It was just wall-to-wall chairs by the pool all the way out to the pathway. Way too crowded for me. I love vistas and open space, but that’s not to say those hotels might not be perfect for you. Here’s the path:

and also the tree in front of the Marriott on the path. What a great spot.

 I used to attend the Maui Writer’s Conference every year here, but they did a major, very expensive overhaul since then. I remember taking my lunch and sitting under this tree when it felt like my brain was going to explode from classes (particularly the Screenwriting Retreat,where they basically locked us inside and wouldn’t let us out!) From that retreat though I met a wonderful writer and true friend, who is now a bestselling author: Graham Brown. http://grahambrownthrillers.com/ Start with “Black Rain” and work your way through. You won’t be disappointed. He’s just a stand-up guy and so humble, and the best part is, no matter how big he gets (co-writing with Clive Cussler now, ahem!) he still reads my scripts! Highly unusual in my business. Thanks, Graham!

Another reason I love the Marriott is it’s within walking distance of the Shops at Wailea http://theshopsatwailea.com/ and that means restaurants, and that meant we didn’t have to get in the car for three days. We discovered too late that there is cart that makes a loop to the hotel and back, which would have been nice to know. I can’t get enough of the Crab Bisque at Tommy Bahama’s Restaurant http://www.tommybahama.com/TBG/Stores_Restaurants/Wailea.jsp Actually, I take that back. I order the cup of soup because it’s so rich. A bowl is too much!

I will be sharing more with you more about this trip in the next couple of posts. People have written asking for restaurant reviews and hotel suggestions, so here you go. All from a local-yokel.

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

Aloha, Jamaica

No Worries

Aloha!

I’m reading a novel and there’s a character in it that asks, “Do you think people on an island ever worry?” Her father answers: “They fish a lot. How much can you worry if you fish?”

Nice thought. Wish it were true. I have a friend who is considering a move to Maui, but says it’s “the last bastion I have where I truly relax, and I fear that if I move there, that will be that.”

And it is. I used to really be able to relax when I vacationed on Maui. It would take almost a week, far away from my super-busy California lifestyle, but eventually I’d sink down into relaxation, and like most people, I hoped it would carry over when I moved here.

In the beginning, every single time my mother called, she asked: “Are you at the beach?” with this hopeful giddiness in her voice (obviously living vicariously). I hated to burst  her bubble with No, Mom, I’m in the grocery store. I’m at the bank, post office, work…fill in the blank. But she really wanted to believe I was running around in a bathing suit all the time, living the good life. And perhaps if you are 20, don’t own a home (or have any aspirations to), if you are living in a three-bedroom house with five room mates, you could possibly have that life in Maui. But people quickly grow tired of that. Lahaina is a party town full of young people who don’t even own cars, just bicycles. But age keeps creeping, and eventually they wake up and realize they want more. So they move home.

The current state of agitation taking me away from the “No worries” island lifestyle  is a tax issue. (Yes, there really is a tax man everywhere, Virginia). Last year my accountant told me not to make a quarterly payment to the State of Hawaii because I was getting a refund, and she’d just roll it over. I told her this made me nervous, and she assured me she does this with “hundreds of clients!” That little voice inside nagged at me, but I said okay.

To muddle things further, I shredded my bank account statements this year for the first time ever, after reading yet another get organized article that stated “When did you last need a bank statement? And even if you did, the bank could provide it, right?” Yes, of course!

Guess what was the very first thing my accountant asked for when things went haywire with the State of Hawaii tax system? (COMPUTERS WILL BE THE DEATH OF US. Just sayin’.)

So yes, we can dream that life would be very different in Maui. And it is. Just not in the ways we thought!

A hui hou (til next time).

Aloha, Jamaica

Working on Maui

Aloha!

A picture perfect day on Maui this morning. Sometimes when I ponder what to write, I wish you guys would write and tell me what you’d like to know more about. Daily life? Moving here?

This past weekend I attended a symposium with Maui filmmakers at the college. One of the speakers said he’d like to create a group of people who got together to support each other in their creative endeavors. He’s been trying to do that, but it’s a challenge on Maui. Why? As he said, when everybody’s working two and three jobs, how do you get people together? It makes for a fractured society.

One of the biggest surprises for me when I moved here:  75% of the population works in the hotel/visitor industry. In California, almost every weekend my group of friends got together for brunch, games, or dinners. Here, unless you work a 9-5 job, you are working evenings and weekends.  How do you plan a group dinner when both wife and husband are working the night shift, or weekend shift? I spent a year working at a law firm on Maui.Those people had a normal schedule, but if you’re in the medical field you are on call for nights and weekends. So there goes another big segment of the population. That leaves government or city workers with 9-5 jobs. Otherwise, it’s like Mike and me. He’s a boat captain, so he works the sunset sail and is home around 9 pm. I was a concierge, which gave me 9-5 hours, but I worked weekends. We rarely had the same days off or the same schedules.

There are the waitresses and bartenders, boat crew, massage therapists (quote: “you can’t throw a rock on Maui without hitting a massage therapist),  the hotel front desk worker and housekeepers, the grounds and maintenance guys for the hotels and condos, realtors…the list is endless, and all of them have non 9-5 jobs. And guess what? They all work holidays! Guests come to Maui specifically for holidays, so everyone must work. Again, a fractured society, when families can’t even be together for holidays.

Then there is the phenomenon of being “off-island.” I am part of two different groups of women who meet once a month, and am amazed at how hard it is to get five women together in one place. When you live on an island, as nice as it is, one of the goals is to get off the island. It’s a rock in the middle of the Pacific,and it can get small after a while. Those who can, leave as often as they can. Also, so many people are from somewhere else…and they go there to be with their families. So you call them to get together and they are “off-island.”

The island lifestyle sounds good to many who want to live here. The reality is, you have a heck of a time getting together with your friends.

A hui hou! (til next time). If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the follow button on the Home Page.

Aloha, Jamaica

Castles in the Sand

Aloha!

Ultimate_Sand_Castle

Castles in the sand…castles in the air…I am daydreaming. Isn’t this gorgeous? They have sand castle contests all the time on Maui. My dad was quite good at it and I remember him making a mermaid when I was a kid that just blew me away.

I’m sorry I haven’t blogged in a while.We thought we had Mike’s foot all healed up and the blood poisoning under control, then BAM, it was back with a vengeance. This is not something you want to mess around with, especially  in the tropics. Friends write with well-wishes and since he’s a boat Captain, say things like “Pirates have peglegs, likely from trying to use crutches on a boat” and “We don’t want to have to call him “Hopalong.” Thanks, guys. :)Then there was the doctor friend who wrote to warn of flesh-eating bacteria in a case like this.

Wow, I hadn’t even GONE there in my head.

Anyway, I am still quite busy waiting on him hand and foot (har, har). I mean, the guy can’t even whip up his own breakfast. So until life calms down around here, this blog will most likely suffer.

Just visit among yourselves and I’ll be back soon!

A hui hou (til next time),

Jamaica

Lahaina Ranks in Top Seaside Towns

Aloha!

No one that I know actually stays in Lahaina. They just do the “Lahaina crawl”: shopping, dining, taking a boat ride out of the harbor. They stay in Kihei, Kaanapali, Kapalua. As for my years as a concierge on Maui, my favorite dining experiences in Lahaina are: Io Restaurant http://www.iomaui.com/, Gerards (it’s French, he was a master chef from France) http://www.gerardsmaui.com/cms/index.php, and was awarded five stars by Forbes. If you go, ask to be seated on the veranda; the restaurant is in a lovely old hotel. For luaus, my favorite is the Feast at Lele http://www.feastatlele.com/ because the food is fabulous and you can’t get any closer to the beach. It’s small and intimate (about fifty tables) you have your your own table,your own server, and the price includes champagne if you desire. I always told my guests at the hotel that it was a great last-night on Maui celebration place.Be sure to take a sweater or wrap, ladies, it cools down on the beach after you watch that spectacular sunset.

Lahaina Sunset

Here’s the AP article on Lahaina from  the Maui News May 17th:

NEW YORK – Lahaina was ranked 10th on Coastal Living’s 15 “Happiest Seaside Towns.”

The survey is a first for the magazine that covers life along the coast and is celebrating its 15th anniversary. Beach communities from California to South Carolina were ranked as the “best places to live along the coasts of the United States.”

In an announcement of the ranking, the magazine called Lahaina, “the charming gateway to Maui’s world-famous Kaanapali and Kapalua beach resorts to the north.”

“Its banyan trees add a courtly air to the downtown, and its brightly colored Front Street, busy with shops and galleries, keeps things lively,” the announcement said. “Lahaina has nearly perfect air quality, and when you add its dry, sunny climate in a tropical paradise, that makes life pretty ideal.”

There were no other Hawaii seaside towns listed in the survey. The No. 1 “Happiest Seaside Town” was Kiawah Island in South Carolina, followed by Naples, Fla.; and Sausalito, Calif.

“It’s wonderful news,” said Lynn Donovan, executive director of LahainaTown Action Committee, an organization that helps promote the west-side town. “Our reaction is that we are thrilled that this is happening and that we are lucky that we live Lahaina.”

She noted that the honor comes on the heels of being ranked 21 out of 25 island destinations listed in a TripAdvisor survey and Front Street being named one of the “Great Streets of America.”

The Coastal Living ranking appears in the June issue, which hits newsstands Friday.

…So folks, how do YOU feel about Lahaina? Do you look forward to visiting it when you come, or do you avoid it and its crowds?

A hui hou (til we meet again). If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage.

Aloha! Jamaica

Afternoon Delight

Aloha!

I’ll warn you straight up, this post is not “G” rated. It’s about love between two Jackson Chameleons in my backyard mango tree, with photos included, so brace yourself. Okay, really, it’s more like they’re smitten with each other. He’s the one with the horns (duh) and she is black instead of green because she’s just not that into him. We had a Jackson for many years. Her name was “Lovebug” because she was shaped like a VW Bug, and she lived in a giant habitat on our back porch. She was also visited by a gentleman caller, so we’re fairly certain this is her grandaughter. Jacksons turn turquoise blue when they’re really happy, like when we were hand-feeding Lovebug grasshoppers from the pet shop. I think if I had to choose a color to be when I’m really happy, it would be turquoise blue also. Like the ocean.

Have you ever seen a Jackson? Gotten to hold one? Their little claws look prettty sharp, but they don’t hurt at all as they hold on. Also, they have AMAZING hearing. Lovebug got very excited when we got home because she could hear us, and would cock her head in the direction of the living room, waiting for us to come outside.

In the mango tree

The male is six to seven inches in the body, before his tail begins. Note how she has her tail wrapped around the tree, holding on. After the little mating ritual, Lovebug gave birth to about fifty babies. Only four or five survived. Such is nature, it’s the law of  averages. The babies were about the size of the fingernail on your pinky.

That’s a stalk of bananas that aren’t ripe yet, behind her. Pretty cool picture, huh?

Most people never get to see a Jackson, they are very shy. The only reason I saw this one was that I had gone out to hand-fertilize the vanilla flowers (lots of fertilization going on yesterday) and there she was, quite low on a branch. She was waiting for him. He was on his way up to see her. I intervened with my camera, so he lost interest.

Too bad it couldn’t work that way with human teenagers.

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

Stuff and Nonsense

Aloha!

All the guys I know on Maui who are homeowners, are hoarders. There’s something about living on an island that does this, and I kept trying to put my finger on it. Now, I know. THE BOAT MIGHT NOT COME IN!

When I first moved to the island and was living at the condo (see the previous “Moving to Maui” posts) I loved that I had brought only my bicycle and one suitcase. I felt free and unburdened from all my stuff back in California.I could really get used to this lifestyle, I thought. Then I met Mike.

I honestly think he kept it from me as long as he could. The “don’t ask, don’t tell” he was hiding from me wasn’t another woman, oh, no…it was his collection of “stuff.” A lifetime’s worth. The detritus of an adrenaline junkie’s sports equipment, to start with: About a dozen surfboards (google “Mike Turkington” or www.imdb.com and you’ll know why). He surfed professionally, and is an acclaimed board shaper. He co-owned “Country Surfboards”, the first surf shop on the North Shore of Oahu. Okay, so I’ll give him the surfboards.

But then he raised me the windsurfing equipment, enough to outfit six people. And the two motorcycles. And the two bicycles. AND a shop full (three bays worth) of tools, board-shaping equipment, and things I don’t even know the name of. I just know it takes up lots of room. What happened to my zen-like lifestyle? Gone, baby, gone.

When you’ve grown up on an island, you have lived through the reality of “the boat didn’t come in”  through dock-workers strikes, hurricanes, etc. You have lived through the infamous toilet paper and rice shortaages. You also know how expensive everything is to replace, so you never, ever throw anything away. In short, you hoard.

I had this illustrated to me personally during one Christmas, when I wanted to bake Christmas cookies and went to Safeway to get butter. I looked all over the store, and finally asked the produce guy: “Where’s the butter?” He answered in pidgin, with a straight face: “da boat tip ovah.” I just stared at him, expecting him to laugh. “No, really,” I said. “Where’s the butter?”

DA BOAT TIP OVAH!” he said, more loudly than necessary, like I was deaf or something, and mimed a big ship going over.

I blinked. So this was how it was going to be.

Then there was the empty shelf at Long’s in Lahaina when there wasn’t a single envelope to be had. And the Foster Farms chicken shipment that never came in when I had planned to feed Mike’s visiting folks honey-drizzled almond chicken. Lesson learned: always go to the grocery store with a back-up plan. The shelves could be empty, and they often are.

I think I’m missing a huge opportunity here. I should create a new reality show: “Hawaii’s Hoarders”. I’d be willing to bet that the stuff they hoard on an island would be more interesting than the stuff mainlander’s hoard, and the islander’s stuff gets passed down from generation to generation, because they all know that boat might not come in.

Do you know where your backup stash of toilet paper is??

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

Aloha, Jamaica

Differences Too

Aloha,

Happy May Day, which is “Lei Day” in Hawaii. The origins of Hawaii’s celebration of May Day as Lei Day date back to 1927, when Honolulu Star-Bulletin writer Don Blanding advocated for the creation of a day dedicated to honoring lei-making and the custom of wearing lei. Blanding’s co-worker at the newspaper, columnist Grace Tower Warren, suggested holding the celebration on May 1 and coined the phrase “May Day is Lei Day.” (HawaiiMagazine.com) Hawaiians stay busy trying to keep all the holidays straight such as King Kamehameha Day, Prince Kuhio Day, Statehood Day ( ironic, since Hawaiians didn’t want to be part of the States to begin with). Employers go nuts trying to decide whether employees should get Hawaii State holidays or Federal holidays off work.

So on this May Day, when I went to put my tennis shoes on this morning, I stuck my foot in without hesitation. I did not pick it up and turn it over, trying to shake out whatever critter might have made a home in there. Critter, meaning the lizard that one time, and the threat of centipedes, always.  I have nightmares about sticking my foot in a shoe with a centipede in it. Don’t judge me till you’ve had one slither over your foot at the dinner table.

The reason for this shoe confidence is that I am in Northern California, not Maui. I’m here taking care of Mom after surgery. So I was reflecting this morning on some of the differences, so far away from home. Home being relative, because Northern California will really always be “home.”  Home is where the family is, and this is where I spent a pretty happy 17 years.

Difference One: stuff dries here in this hot dry climate, unlike Maui’s hot humid climate. I hung stuff on the clothesline at 9 am this morning and it was totally dry by noon. In Maui that takes until 5 pm, and you’re lucky if it’s dry by then.

Difference Two: Allergies. California? Zip. Happy camper. Maui? Whoa. I really should buy stock in kleenex.

Difference Three: Seeing the apricot and peach trees setting fruit on the tree in Mom’s yard. I can’t wait for my first juicy tree-ripened apricot for the first time in years. Don’t ever bother buying a peach or apricot in Maui. You’ll be supremely disappointed. The papayas on the other hand, no contest. One time my stepdad and I decided to do a swap. He sent me a box of apricots and I sent him a box of papayas. We were really hoping they’d get through the post office, but I’m still waiting on those apricots and it’s been four years.

Difference Four: Heat. I’m always in CA in the wintertime (Thanksgiving, Christmas and Vog season in Maui) so I almost forgot what it’s like be hot, yet not sweat. I tool around all day without soaking through my clothes once. Bliss.

Difference Five: A completely different social life. It’s very hard to “break in” in Maui. I wondered why for a long time until my first Maui friend finally explained it to me: “the mainlanders move here and you get close to them, and then they break your heart by moving back. Most people don’t last two years. It’s happened over and over. After a while people just stop trying.” She also told me she’d lived in Maui for 20 years and had NEVER been invited over to someone’s house for dinner. This just made my head spin. Why?? I asked her, as she sat at my dinner table, her first dinner invite. “Food is very expensive here. Maybe someone will do a barbeque pot-luck, but a sit-down dinner, no.” Since I’d been the queen of the dinner party and brunch in CA, this blew me away. But it has held true. The thing I look most forward to when I get back to CA  is getting invited over to my friend’s houses for dinner!

Difference Six: You can get your fashion on here! Women in Maui have no reason to dress up. It’s so casual you can wear shorts to the nicest restaurant, and I mean really, how many ways are there to wear a sundress? Jewelry is just hot and scarves are a joke. And the women all complain that the guys in Maui dress like dirtbags. Surf shorts and ratty t-shirts. When you live in Maui you can spot a tourist because they are dressed nicely. I can practically pick them out in Costco with my eyes closed. Expensive purses, matching ensembles, and nice jewelry (which they will then wear in the ocean and lose. People have metal-detecting businesses in Maui just to recover tourist’s jewelry.) It does get boring after a while that most everybody dresses alike in Maui. So I come to California and get my fashion on.

And lastly:

Difference Seven: Noise and Safety. Maui is so quiet.And safe. I truly love that. This part of CA is a cacaphony of sirens, the boom-boom-boom of car stereos, and even gunshots at night. I’m talking close by, too. Mike worries about me while I’m here. He’s afraid I’ll come home dead.

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

Aloha, Jamaica

Moving to Maui– Part Five

And the gods kept laughing…

About the time I really relaxed into Maui mode and thought if I just had some friends (Lahaina was a lonely place unless you hung out at bars, one of it’s mottos is: “Lahaina– a drinking town with a fishing problem”)… the owner of the condo I was renting from informed me that she was selling.

Would I like to buy it? she asked. YES, I’d  love to buy it– but I still had a house back in California to deal with. Purchase price wasn’t even the big issue, things were cheap then. It was the bleepin’ Homeowner’s Fees. For a one-bedroom condo: $1,200 month. I almost swallowed my chewing gum.

So I started searching for a place to live. I looked in the paper–this should be a piece of cake, right? Right. Maui was in the middle of a housing crisis in 1999 and there were no rentals. Craigslist didn’t exist yet, so the newspaper was the only resource.

The reason there was a housing crisis, ironically, was that things WERE so cheap. People from the mainland (listen closely here, because it’s the reason Hawaiians have no time for mainlanders) were coming to the island and buying things up faster than Lindsey Lohan lands in jail. So all the condos were disapperaing from the rental market, because the owners were buying them and them leaving them sit empty. They had been taken out of the rental pool and turned into vacation homes, effectively leaving the locals no place to rent.

I didn’t know this at the time, of course. I just couldn’t understand why every time I called on a unit it was already gone. ALWAYS. But I had about a month to look, so I wasn’t panicking. Yet.

The panic was to come later.

An acquaintance recommended a room-mate situation, and starting to get savvy to the way things worked on Maui, I saw that word of mouth would probably be my only hope. Getting desperate, I said yes. The guy offering the room was a well-known Lahaina realtor, about 65 years old, and the place had a view, was gorgeous, and cheap. (This should have been my clue.) I thought, why not? It’s an adventure, right?

The adventure turned to oh, *&%*!  when I stumbled out of my room that first morning and found him standing facing the kitchen sink, STARK NAKED. I tried to flee, but not fast enough, because he turned around in all his glory.

I hadn’t even had my first cup of coffee for the morning, and I was faced with a room-mate who was not only a pervert but a nudist. I had already signed a lease.

The smile on his face said it all.

My cute house back on the mainland where I had a business, and friends, and family was sounding better all the time. Maybe I was supposed to just cash in my chips and go home…

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

Aloha, Jamaica

Moving to Maui, Part Three

Aloha,

So I now had a part-time job on Maui and a place to live, at the Aston Maui Kaanapali Villas, which is a combination of hotel and condos:

I had brought along one suitcase and my bicycle. The condo I was renting had four plates, four forks, four glasses. Life was simple, and I was discovering I liked it this way. No boxes of unorganized Christmas decorations haunting me from the attic. No closet full of winter clothes. No grandmother’s china gathering dust.

Actually, my design clients in Maui tell me that that’s the very best part about a vacation home on Maui: no stuff. So if that’s what we all aspire to, why do we own so much stuff? The truth is, it owns us…

Anyway, I was settling in, and deciding what to do about my life back in California. Condo life was agreeing with me. Until, that is, the night of the infamous late-night condo cleaning incident. I’m pretty sure they still talk about it at the front desk there.

Here’s the scene: it’s HOT in Maui. So once the sun went down and it cooled off, I decided to do a little cleaning. I put on a thin white t-shirt. And that was all. Get the picture? Hold that thought.

I opened the door to the condo and tossed out the throw rugs to shake later. Now there are fire codes in hotels, and safety codes, and these all conspire to create self-closing doors. Big, heavy, metal self-closing doors. A huge gust of wind blew through and WHAM! The saying “don’t let the door hit you in the butt on the way out” was suddenly reality.

Except that now I was out. Locked out of my condo on the outside walkway three floors up in nothing but a see-through t-shirt.The only thing that could have made it worse would have been if I was out on a tiny ledge, like in the movies. If there was ever a time I wished to be beamed up, Scotty, it was now.

What to do, what to do?

I yanked my t-shirt down over what  I could cover, got into the (now functioning) elevator and rode downstairs. I moved like a lady in a too-tight skirt, mincing my way to the front desk. I stopped just short of it and called around a support beam: “Hey, excuse me! I’ve lost my key and I’m locked out.”

The night clerk was named Mary. Mary was suspected of doing a little nipping at the bottle she kept stashed behind the desk (actually, a lot of nipping) because the boss wasn’t there at night to know the difference. Mary looked over in a fog and tried to focus on me.

“Who’s that? Who’s there?”

I called out my name. I told her which condo I was in. But Mary didn’t know me from a tourist.

“Well, what do you want? I can’t hear you. Come over here to the front desk!”

I sighed, clutched my shirt, and began my slow journey into the middle of the lobby. At just the same moment that a tourist couple entered and wanted to check in. I sidled up to the front desk, turned my back to them and whispered loudly,  “I’m locked out. I can’t get in. Do you have a spare key to my apartment?”

“Well no, of course not. I’ll have to call the maintenance guys. I don’t know who’s on duty.”

The maintenance GUYS? Great. Just great. The gods who had come out of the sky in my deux a machina moment and given me a great apartment and a job were now extracting their pound of flesh. Literally. I was sure I could hear them laughing up there.

I yanked my t-shirt down as hard as I could as the tired tourists glared at me. I steeled myself for the moment my Savior With a Key would get his eye-full. Luckily he was a gentleman, and pretended that it was common-place for him to have to have to let stranded women in see-through t-shirts and no bottoms into their apartments. Let me tell you though, I made sure he walked ahead of me on my walk of shame.

Like I said, I’m pretty sure they still talk about this at the front desk, because let’s not forget, I NOW WORKED THERE!  And I know I made the maintenance guys’ Hall of Fame for stupid guest tricks at the hotel. Except, that is, that just the week before I had dropped my key down the teeny little crack in the elevator shaft and they had to rescue me from that.

What are the chances? And how could a woman who was smart enough to own a home and manage a business keep pulling these incredibly dumb stunts? Deux a machina.

And the gods laughed.

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

Aloha, Jamaica

Copyright Jamaica Michaels, 2012. All rights reserved. May not be reblogged or reprinted without express written permission of the author.

The Smell of Chicken, Not Frying

Aloha,

That’s Tallulah and Moose above. We interrupt our normally scheduled programming to ponder how it was that today I found myself drying a chicken’s butt with my blow dryer.

Actually, I know the answer to that. There was a time that  I worked as a veterinary surgical tech. I thought I wanted to be a vet, so I assisted in animal surgeries. Good thing I test-drove that career first…if the science tests hadn’t killed me, my allergies to animal dander would have. I could barely get my work done, I was so busy blowing my nose.

The point is, I know my way around animals pretty well, and Tallulah has been sick off and on for eight months now. She’s been to see Dr. Allan Kaufman, Maui’s chicken vet (Okay, so I know that some of you have stopped reading because you think I’m crazy. Who takes a chicken to the vet?) You’d be surprised. In addition to providing breakfast eggs and garden manure, they are ace pest and bug control agents. And chickens are like dogs. They have distinct personalities and you get attached. Moose is a brat and Tallulah is loveable and likes to be held:

And she gets so relaxed, she’ll fall alseep in your arms…

But last August some wild chickens, the “Wild Women” we called them, showed up on the property and it took us three weeks of running all over the place to catch them, because they were expert at survival and hiding in the bushes. And Hello, chickens can FLY! If they got cornered, they just flew up to the roof and sat there and laughed at us. We finally nabbed them with a swimming pool net on a pole, of all things. In the meantime, they infected our flock with some kind of crud. Just about the time I think I have them well, it starts all over again.

A bed in a box in the garage. A hot water bottle. Antibiotics administered with an eye dropper that look and smell like bananas. They love bananas, but do you think they’ll take the medicine without a fight? Noooo. Hand feeding, hand-watering…I’m exhausted. So why won’t they get well?

Today Tallulah got a warm bath. Again, not crazy, you can google it. Sometimes an egg gets caught in the chute and that can make them sick. The bath is supposed to dislodge the egg, except there wasn’t one. But who knew that chickens won’t dry once they’re wet? It’s hot, it’s Maui, I thought what the heck? But by bedtime, she was still soaking wet, so out came the blow dryer. She was not happy about going to the beauty parlor and I got pecked for my efforts.

Let me tell you, the smell of chicken, drying, is not something you want to live through twice.

A hui hou!  (til next time)…when we’ll pick back up with the move to Maui. If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “Follow” button to the right.

Aloha, Jamaica

Copyright Jamaica Michaels, 2012. All rights reservevd. May not be reblogged or reprinted without permission of the author.

Moving to Maui, Part Two

Aloha!

So here I was in Maui on somewhat of a permanent vacation. I was ignoring the calls from clients back home and getting in a little Margaritaville time. Jimmy Buffet played on a loop in my brain as I sat in my lounge chair. Oh, this was SO not me.

I strolled through the lobby of the condo/hotel on my way back to the apartment I was sub-letting, and noticed The Concierge sitting in the lobby. Check this out: an open-air lobby with balmy breezes blowing through. A mango-wood desk and a job where she got to sit down all day. Working with tourists so very happy to be on vacation in Hawaii, helping them plan their fun activities. A breathtaking vase of tropical flowers nearby.

I did a double-take and thought: I want her job.

No more demanding clients, legal contracts, furniture orders gone missing! No more commuting with 4 zillion other people in the Bay area. No more lying awake at night, worrying that I’d gotten a measurement wrong or put in an erroneous product number?

This was sounding better every minute. Jimmy Buffet sang louder.

And then a miracle happened.

Okay, I’m a screenwriter, and when you go to film school the first thing they teach you is this: at all costs you are to avoid writing the deux a machina. This is Latin, and means: “god out of the machine.” Wikipedia says “It is a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly solved with the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability, or object.” You know, a “miracle.”

In other words, the Calvary can’t suddenly ride in and save you like in an old Western.

So how do we explain the fact that the Concierge spontaneously invited me to an art show, and she then out of the blue asked me if I was looking for a job, because they needed someone to fill in? Deux a machina, baby. Box office poison, but so golden in real life.

I now had a job.

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

Aloha, Jamaica

Copyright Jamaica Michaels, 2012. All rights reserved. May not be reblogged or reprinted without written permission of the author.