Has the Rest of the Country Caught Up With Hawaii?

Aloha!
So we get into a cab at the airport on Maui, and it looks a bit like a traveling circus wagon. The driver nods a lot and laughs a lot, as there is a language barrier.
But she certainly understands the local way in Hawaii, according to a worn, printed sticker on the passenger door:
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It says (in pidgin)
8 am Supposed to start work
8:14 We come dragging in
9 to 10 am COFFEE BREAK
10:30 to 11 am We “talk story”
12 noon KAU KAU…time for eat
1 to 3 pm Rest up from lunch
3 to 4 o’clock Coffee Break
4 to 4:30 Shoot da bull on da phone
5 pm. PAU HANA!! Time for quit work

When you move to Hawaii, one of the adjustments is the sssllllooow pace. Things get done when they get done, regardless of your schedule.
But maybe the rest of the country has caught on. Between checking email, surfing the web, and surreptitiously shopping online while at work, -(okay, admit it…are you reading this at work? ūüėĀ) how many mainland workers have their own version of that sticker in the taxi?

The world is becoming homogenous. Now workers can pretend that they, too, are on “Hawaii time.” Now all they need is a palm tree outside their window…

A hui hou! Thanks for reading along. If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button to the right, or on the Homepage.

Aloha! Jamaica

Hawaiian Snow in June

Aloha!
Nope, it’s probably not what you think.
Hawaiian Snow is what the locals call the ash from the sugarcane burn. Makes a mess, gets all over everything‚Ķ your car, your driveway… Inside on your garage floor, on your porch furniture, your sidewalk….your clean laundry on the line. Then if it’s on your car and you open the car door, it blows inside and now it’s on everything inside your car: the seats, the dash, the car mats.
It’s black and greasy and sticks like a son of a gun.

We had Hawaiian snow today. I had to get Mike to the airport, and we didn’t have time to scrub the porches or wash the car before leaving. So as I ran errands after dropping him off, the ash continued to blow inside the car every time I opened the doors. It actually stained the seats. Grrrr.

The snow I pictured in Hawaii was white and you could ski on it, on the Big Island. Not black, tar-like and all over my stuff.

This email arrived today in my inbox:

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Summer school, anyone?

This notice appeared in “Maui Time,” which bills itself as “Maui’s only locally owned independent newspaper” this week:

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They’re getting ready to burn the sugarcane field behind our house in the next few weeks– then we’ll really notice the fallout. Stay tuned for photos of the burn. It’s really quite something to see.

A hui hou! If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button to the right, or on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

Maui Time

Aloha!

“Maui Time” is that elusive feeling that tourists get while vacationing here: that time is standing still, that things are moving more slowly than they do back home. Many people crave a trip to Maui just to experience Maui Time, to step off the treadmill of their lives.

Fantasy? Myth? Or reality?

In his book “Time Shifters,” Stefan Rechtschaffen, M.D.,describes how researchers have found that people who live in the same cities or areas influence each other in how fast they move. Or, in Maui, how slowly move. Study shows that before the year 1900 and shortly into that century, no letters between people ever stated, “Sorry I haven’t written, I’ve been too busy.”

While “busy-ness” is only a concept, we all have things that must be done, and a hierarchy: I WANT to go to the beach. I SHOULD clean out the refrigerator. I NEED to meet my writing deadline.

In February, I ran into my friend April, who I hadn’t seen in months. She immediately apologized for not sending me a Christmas card, and said, “You’ll understand when I tell you that the fresh cranberries from Thanksgiving are still in my refrigerator.” April works as a supervisor and has two small children. Yes, she lives on Maui, but does not operate on Maui Time. She doesn’t have the time!

Mike and I go to Costco and see local families who walk in a horizontal line of four to six across, blocking the aisle. (By the way, we do not experience this at the Costco on Oahu.) This would be fine if they moved at a normal pace, or if people could get around them. But they move like turtles. And here’s the question: how do these people get their taxes done? How do they pay their bills on time?

These are probably the people who don’t keep their properties up. You can drive all over this island and see run-down houses with peeling paint, overgrown bushes, and 15 rusting cars in the yard. (This is not an exaggeration. There is a property down the street from us that has fifteen cars sitting around in the front, back and side yards. I know because I counted.) A property in Maui needs constant vigilance, or it returns to its natural state ‚Äď a jungle. This takes an enormous amount of time, energy, and money‚Ķ If you’re going to keep up with the weeding, the trimming of bushes and trees, and painting of porches, sheds, outside stairways, garages etc. Then there is dealing with the termites. Just getting ready to have a house tented is a huge committment of time. And it’s very expensive. That’s why the houses are falling down around us.

So those of us who work normal jobs, own houses, and take care of our yards don’t experience Maui Time the way the tourists do. We are not at luaus watching slow, beautiful hula shows, listening to laid-back Hawaiian music. (The Feast at Lele is $110.00 per person. Not in a normal Mauiian’s budget. We only go if we get company.(www.feastatlele.com)

The closest I get to Maui Time is at the beach, or when I am driving and turn on the radio and catch some really soothing Hawaiian music. Hawaiian music can always put me in a good mood. And every day I watch the sunset from wherever I am. That is how I remember that I am in Maui. I take a deep breath in gratitude.

What is the pace like where you live? Are you in New York City, Fargo, N.D., or Austin, Texas? And is “Maui Time” one of the reasons you love to visit Maui?

A hui hou! Mahalo for reading along. If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

Smokin’ New Year on Maui!

Aloha!
If you’ve ever been to Maui for New Year’s Eve, you know that the celebratory fireworks are even bigger than Fourth of July here. I’m talking legal at-home fireworks. The air in our neighborhood was so thick that we couldn’t see, as a neighbor and his buddies set off firecrackers, etc. for four hours (I’m pretty sure that copious amounts of alcohol were involved) and we stayed inside with all the windows closed and the air conditioner on (I have asthma and am no fun when I can’t breathe). Since we don’t have a fireplace, of course, we made a picnic supper on the coffee table and lit candles and told New Year’s Eve stories. Then we started a new tradition: we lit a pillar candle, our “New Year’s Eve Candle” and everybody made a wish, and we all blew it out at the same time.

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2013 was the Year of the Shark on Maui. And Same-Sex Marriage, and a new group called SHAKA (opposing Monsanto GMO’s) and…Shopping!

There were numerous sharks sightings on Maui but in August, visitor Jana Lutteropp, 20, from Germany, was bitten in south Maui waters and died a week later. It was the first shark bite fatality in about a decade. Then in December, kayaker Patrick A. Briney died after a shark bit the foot he had dangling in the water while fishing with a friend.

Environmentalists think the exhaustion of the food supply due to overfishing has caused the predators to move into shallower waters, while the followers of the “old knowledge” say the sharks, a potent Hawaiian aumakau (family god), are a symbol or omen that call attention to desecration of Hawaii’s land and ocean resources.

The attack on Briney came three days after an unidentified woman was attacked (but survived) at Keawakapu Beach about five miles to the north. This presents a worrisome trend: There have been at least eight shark attacks around Maui in 2013, with 13 shark attacks overall reported around the state, according to state data and recent reports.
Attacks in Hawaii have risen sharply over the last two years compared with the last decade, when Hawaii saw only one fatality, in 2004.

In 2013, Maui victims have been attacked while swimming, snorkeling, surfing, and now kayaking. “We are not sure why these bites are occurring more frequently than normal, especially around Maui,” Hawaii Land and Natural Resources Director William Aila Jr. told the Associated Press. “That’s why we are conducting a two-year study of shark behavior around Maui that may give us better insights.” http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-maui-shark-attack-20131203,0,457677.story#ixzz2onWTovvb.

As for Same-Sex Marriage in Hawaii, in November, the House passed SB1, the Same-Sex Marriage Law, and the Senate followed, to the chagrin of some and celebration of others…but not without a whole lot of shoutin’ and fightin’ going on all along the way.

The SHAKA group: Monsanto was in the news frequently, in regard to what the heck they are growing on Maui and what anyone can do about it. An article in the Maui Weekly said it best: “Who could have guessed that a generation that ingested practically every known chemical substance in their youth would, as they aged, suddenly converge on food safety as a major threat to public health? But that indeed was the big story of the year.

The GMO (genetically modified organism) protests drew the largest crowds seen on Maui in recent years, and larger, louder gatherings throughout the state. The show of force gave credibility to the existence of a broad base of support.

On Maui alone, there were three different mass marches, with a very large and vocal contingent of “Mother Power.” The moms and their kids in strollers, wagons and on foot were highly visible at all the local events.

There were marches through the spring and summer, and by year’s end, a new group called the SHAKA Movement (Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for the Keiki and the ‘Aina) announced that they would put a GMO moratorium on the Maui General Election ballot in 2014.”

And finally, Shopping: a new outlet mall in Lahaina! Mauians will now have more choices and may even save a few pennies. The Mall is located behind Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse Lahaina, where the Front Street Cinema used to be (it’s now a Gap.)

If you seriously want to know everything that went on on Maui this past year, you can see more at: http://mauiweekly.com/page/content.detail/id/532057/Year-End-Wrap–GMOs–Boldface-Names—Shark-Bites.html?nav=13#sthash.cJCCC9kM.dpuf

And also: mauitime.com

A hui hou! If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage.

Hau’oli Makahiki Hou! (Happy New Year!)
Aloha, Jamaica

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Those Boots Aren’t Made for Maui

Aloha!

The calendar might say that Fall is supposed to be in the air here on Maui, and the unrelenting heat did drop a couple of digits for a couple of days last week, but then it zoomed right back up there. Still, I hear the word “Autumn” and I start thinking about school supplies (I’m a stationery geek) and decorating for Halloween.

At which point, Mike just rolls his eyes‚Ķ “Seriously, you’re going to decorate for Fall, and you live on Maui?” It is a bit incongruous, when it’s 90¬į out, to be hauling out gourds and pumpkins. But it’s just ingrained in me. And then yesterday I saw woman who was obviously jonesing for an Autumn fix here on Maui, but she just wasn’t going to find it…

We were at the movies, and she was ahead of me walking into the theater. The first thing I noticed were her riding boots, a shiny, high pair with her jeans tucked into them. Then a long-sleeved Navy blue shirt, and a blue scarf wrapped around her neck, just so. It was 87¬į out, people! Everyone else was in shorts and rubbah slippahs. I was trying to make sense of this‚Ķ At first I figured she was from Upcountry, but quickly dismissed this, because anyone coming down to Kahului from Upcountry knows it’s going to be god-awful hot down there. Then for a moment I thought she was a tourist, but realized that a tourist would not bring shiny, high riding boots on vacation to Maui.

Then I got to her hair. A short, sassy, expensive cut. Aha! (Women here do not have short hair. Maui is the Land of Hair.) Final deduction: She has just moved to Maui, is missing Autumn, and is alone‚Ķ which means she hasn’t made friends yet. (I have shared in past blogs how difficult it is to “break in” here. Harder than anywhere else I’ve ever lived. For the record, I was talking to a friend on the North Shore of Oahu, and she said she’s never been so lonely in her life as when she first moved to the North Shore. She just couldn’t make friends…it was “full of cliques”, as she put it. It took a few years, plus having children, for her to finally break in.)

Anyway, as a writer, I’m an observer. And I will say this: I never studied people in other places I lived, like I do here. The indicators, the clues, just scream on Maui like they never did anywhere else. It has to do with it being a tourist society. People are very attuned to when someone looks like, or acts like, a Tourist here on Maui. (The person who just cut me off in traffic, was it a Tourist? I look at the car, the way they’re dressed… do they seem insanely happy, like they’re on vacation? If it’s a Tourist, I find myself being more patient). It’s a small island, and people try to stake out their own bit of Paradise. Almost an “us vs. them” mentality, and not in a good way.

It will take a while, perhaps a few years, but this new woman will eventually realize that you just have to let go of the old ideas about everything (including those boots) when you move here, because Hawaii is a foreign land. And though the calendar says “Autumn”, it will be still be 90¬į outside.

In case you’re wondering, we were at the movies to see “Captain Phillips.” Mike is a boat Captain, and his dad was a Rear Adm. in the Navy, so I thought it would be a good fit. Instead, we found it uncomfortably intense. INTENSE in that it never let up for a second. If that’s your thing, by all means, go for it. Some might say it was good because it kept them on the edge of their seat. But good filmmaking, to me, must have highs and lows, it must give the audience a breather once in a while.

I learned this in high school when I was in a small traveling singing group (sixteen people:four sopranos, four tenors, etc.) called The Choraliers. We went down to compete in the State finals. We were good. We KNEW we were good (Hi, Randy!), but after our performance, our score was withheld and we were sent home for the day. We were crushed, as only high schoolers can be, trying to figure out why. The judge was kind enough to tell us: “The piece you sang was pitch perfect. You hit every note. You were energetic, smiling; in a word, Perfect. But the audience isn’t looking for perfect. They’re looking for a way to emotionally participate in the experience.” The judge sent us back to our hotel rooms, told us to think about the problem, and to return the next day to perform again.

So we did. We realized that we needed the song be loud in some places, soft in some places, emotionally gripping, yet subtle. (Like any good piece of music, a lone piano piece, on up to a full orchestra…) We fixed it, and we won.

To me, this must also be the experience in film. I have remembered this lesson for the rest of my life, and I apply it every time I write, specifically as a screenwriter. “Captain Phillips” was like a roller coaster ride. We got on at the top, and we just gripped our seats until we were allowed to get off. It didn’t help that the film went on about 15 minutes too long. It wrung us out, and made us grumpy. We were glad to get out of there.

So at the risk of also going on too long, I will stop here. Wherever you are, I hope you’re enjoying a beautiful, cool, crisp autumn day, as you wear your shiny boots and decorate your abode.

Excuse me while I go turn on the air conditioner.

A hui hou! Mahalo for reading along. If you would like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

Maui War Brewing

Maui War Brewing

Aloha!

For the past two weeks,¬†Maui Time Magazine¬†www.mauitime.com has run articles in regard to the practice of burning sugar cane on Maui. Until you live here, you just can’t imagine how the cane burning and its attendant smoke can affect you. This taken from my back porch:

One physician’s (a radiolgist) letter to Maui Time is excerpted here:” I am in excellent health and am not sick…yet I have been coughing non-stop today. As my windshield was covered with cane ashes this morning, ¬†I assume that my cough is due to cane burning…particularly disruptive as my job as a radiologist requires me to dictate for approximately nine hours per day…if I can’t do my job effectively I may have to move. If I move, it will likely be out of Hawaii. I live and work in Kihei.” He goes on to say that he was talking to retirees who spend part of the year on Maui, and they stated that the smoke made them cough and “feel lousy.” They were¬†discussing not coming to Maui as often, because of it.

The radiologist wraps up his letter with: “I have two small children and although I love otherwise living on Maui, I feel irresponsible as a parent¬†to continue to subject them to forced inhalation of cane smoke. I hope that those in charge of making decisions regarding the burning of cane on Maui also feel some responsibilty to care for the health and welfare of it citizens.” Please note that Hawaii has the highest incidence of asthma in the country, which particularly affects children, and early on.

Sugar Cane Ash

I took this photo of sugar ash by a curb in Kahului. Imagine what that does to your lungs! It is greasy, tarry and sticky, so it sticks to your car, your porches, your garbage cans, and your walkways at your home.

Maui Time states “Maui’s fight over sugar cane burning gets even hotter.” The truth is, there isn’t¬†much of anything¬†that gets Mauians more¬†fired up¬†than the cane burning and its smoke. This past week it lead to a woman having rocks thrown at her and being called a “Haole *%@^” when she wound up on the wrong side of the street during a planned sugar-cane rally! The opponents were employees of HC&S, which employs 800 people. A recent petition, circulated to stop the burn, garnered 8,000 signatures.

HC&S burns 400 ACRES of cane per year, which comes out to about 70 acres per day (roughly the size of Disneyland.) Try as you might to think you can escape it, if you are out and about, your are breathing it. Also,many Maui people don’t have air-conditioning (they didn’t move to Hawaii to live in sealed boxes) but with the cane smoke, are forced to keep their windows closed and as one woman put it “to circulate the smoke already in the house.” (My experience is that even with the windows closed, some smoke seeps in.)

A woman with the initials A.I. wrote: “Today my daughter is home sick , after weeks of burning (the accumulative affects that her immune system just can’t handle indefinitely)…she has been home bound all weekend and her asthma is too bad for her to go to school.I am an independent contractor, and I don’t get sick pay when I stay home with my children.” She ended with:

“It may cost HC&S profit to change their farming practices, but think of all the other businesses that won’t be paying sick leave due to cane-related illnesses.”

And what about health care?

I personally am one of the people whose asthma is aggravated by the smoke. I did not have asthma before moving to Hawaii. We are fortunate if our trade winds blow the smoke out. If the trades are down, this is what we look at and breathe for hours:

Sugar Cane Smoke on Maui

Another piece of the puzzle to think about, when you’re wondering what it’s really like¬†to live¬†in Paradise.

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

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