Michelle Obama Visits Oprah on Maui

Aloha!
Just in case you haven’t heard –because you haven’t dug out from under that snowdrift yet– Michelle Obama is visiting Oprah Winfrey on Maui.

I love how the news sources get it wrong. Breitbart.com said that Mrs. Obama was partying at “Oprah’s Maui Beach House.” And yet Oprah’s house is nowhere near the beach. It is a ranch. A ranch on the side of Haleakala Mountain. Oprah can see the water, yes, but she is not at the beach. (See this blog’s Post “Where Does Oprah Live on Maui?” Nov.25, 2012.)

The news first hit here on Maui because a man trying to take his normal bike route near Oprah’s house was blocked by Secret Service agents and alerted The Maui News. (http://www.mauinews.com)

White House reports indicate the First Lady stayed behind this week in Hawaii to chill out with friends before her 50th birthday. Sources with direct knowledge tell TheDC that the First Lady is relaxing in Maui at Oprah’s estate with CBS’ Gayle King, Valerie Jarrett and Sharon Malone, who is Attorney General Eric Holder’s wife.

“Yesterday, we saw bomb-sniffing dogs and Maui police in the bushes,” Heather Long, the manager of nearby Grandma’s Coffeehouse, told The Dailey Caller. “We’re very close to Oprah’s property. They’ll probably walk up and down the road.”

Winfrey stops by the coffee shop regularly, but employees “try to not to make it a big deal,” Long said.

http://www.Oprah.com says this of the Hawaii home:

Once an ordinary little gray ranch that Oprah saw “for less than 10 minutes” and considered a tear-down, Oprah’s Hawaiian home has been transformed into the perfect 21st-century farmhouse, with great pieces of folk art, beautifully embroidered curtains, comfortable furniture, and inviting colors:

image

Michelle Obama’s extended stay is reportedly part of a birthday gift from the President. The Obama daughters headed home to Washington. A birthday weekend without the children…sounds like Mrs. Obama needed some R&R.

And what better place to get it than here on Maui, land of plumeria breezes and sunsets that make you feel like you’re at the center of the earth?

A hui hou! Mahalo for reading along. If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “Follow” button in the bottom right corner on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

Only in Hawaii…

Aloha!

Let me just say, you chase your tail a lot when you live in Hawaii. Here’s my recent example: I got dinged with a library book fine for “having SAND in the plastic book cover.” You know, like I’d toted it to the beach.

Two problems: I never took the book out of the library. And, there was no way to pay the fine!

Yes, I checked the book out. But I was leaving on a trip… So I walked it from check out to book return, all within one minute. So how exactly did I get sand in this book cover? Yet a very formal (threatening) letter arrived from the State of Hawaii about this fine, and it was all of two dollars! As in, they spent almost in much in postage as the fine would be.

And here was the major catch: the book was from the Pearl City library (books are shipped for free interisland, it just takes a month or so to get them) and there was no way to pay the fine, because the fine had to be paid IN PERSON. I live on Maui, Pearl City is on Oahu, do we see the problem here? I could not mail a check, mail cash, or do it by credit card.

So I drove down to the Kahului library, and had a meeting with the librarian, who told me to write a letter in return and plead my case. For TWO DOLLARS?

I have to laugh, because this is one of those going-around-in circles things that happens when you live in Hawaii. For the most part, the government says no to everything….It was easier for them, back in plantation days, when people were illiterate, or did not speak the language well, to JUST SAY NO to everything! (way before Nancy Reagan jumped on the bandwagon.)
Just try to get a building permit here, for example. The immediate answer will be no, and they will make it about as difficult as you can imagine.

And so it is that they make it impossible to pay a library fine, (for SAND in the book cover) yet are perfectly willing to lend books to another island such as Maui.

Only in Hawaii…

For the record, that major fee was waived after they put an inspector on the case, and determined that YES! the book never left the library under my name. And how much do we think this inspector cost the State? Absolutely archaic. Shake your head and laugh so you don’t bang it against the nearest wall.

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

Aloha, Jamaica

Positive Outlook?

Aloha!
Tourism is still the driving factor in Maui County’s economy, according to economists at First Hawaiian Bank’s 39th annual Maui Business Outlook Forum. But if you’re thinking of moving to Maui and finding a job, or starting a business, read on.

At its lowest point in the recent deep recession in 2010, the county lost nearly 9,000 jobs. About 5,000 of those jobs have returned, mostly in tourism and other service-related fields, and the unemployment rate is still well above the 3% rate before the recession. In my personal experience, I was working a part-time job on Maui when I was laid off. I found out firsthand that these jobs numbers are not totally accurate: I would never show up as a statistic, because I could not collect unemployment as a part-time employee. So it was as if my job never existed. And I could not collect unemployment, even though I’d been paying into it for years!

In it’s third-quarter “Outlook for the Economy” published last month, the State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism projected state unemployment rates to be 4.8% in 2013 and 4.5% in 2014.

As for construction, activity has been on a slow but steady climb since 2011 and has made about a 25% recovery after plummeting to its low point in 2010. However, the economists noted, the opportunities are coming from infastructure and commercial construction, and less from residential and timeshares. So if you’re a guy planning to swing a hammer, be aware of that.

The retail sector also is expected to grow. The Maui Mall will add a T.J. Maxx store, scheduled to open in summer 2015.(Yay.) And the Queen Kaahumanu Center is planning to add new “name brand” shops. (That will be nice, especially after we lost both JCPenney and the Gap. Because of that, I tend to shop for basics on the mainland.)

As far as real estate, based on January – through – July numbers this year, sales for both single – family and condo units were well on their way to numbers not seen since their peak in 2007: 1,000 single family units and 1,300 condos sold. “The market is getting back to where it was,” said the President of Realtors Association of Maui, P. Denise LaCosta.”When inventory is low like this, it means prices will rise, and inventory will continue to shrink.” Maui’s real estate inventory has declined 11-14% over the last 12 months.

Make of these numbers what you will…A number of readers wrote to tell me they were planning to move to Maui. If you are one of those people, please write and tell me if you found jobs. Shauna?

Other than that, we have drought conditions here on Maui, because it’s been hot, hot,hot with NO rain. I got my haircut today and was talking with my hairstylist, who lives in Haiku. She said that Haiku (rainy, eastern-Maui, jungle) used to only get in the high 70s, and it has consistently been 85 to 87 this past week. She said she is “over summer” and “so tired of being hot!” I concur. As I wrote in a past blog post, statistics now show that Maui is 10° hotter than it was 10 years ago…

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

Aloha, Jamaica

Shark Attack Victim Dies

Aloha,
I am sad to report that Jana Lutteropp, a 20 year-old German tourist, has died one week after a shark bit off her arm while she was snorkeling in Makena. It is not known what kind of shark was involved in the attack.

“Jana fought hard to stay alive,” her mother and sister said in a statement.”However, we are sad to say she lost her fight today.”

The last time someone died of a shark attack in Hawaii was in 2004. A Tiger shark bit Willis McGuinness in the leg while he was surfing at S-turns, (near Kahana) 100 yards off Maui. He suffered severe blood loss and died onshore. The last fatal attack before that was in 1992.

Tuesday, Hawaii officials announced they plan to spend the next two years studying Tiger shark movements around Maui, amid what they call an unprecedented spike in overall shark attacks since the beginning of 2012.

There have been eight attacks statewide this year, and 10 in 2012. Hawaii usually sees 3-4 per year.

What can be learned from this? Mike Turkington, uber-surfer and former fireman/water rescue guy, said that in both of these shark-related deaths, the water was murky. After a rain, there is often run-off into certain areas and dead fish or dead animals are floating in the water. Exactly what a hungry shark would be looking for.

So heads-up: don’t snorkel, or standup paddle, or surf in, or near murky water. Your life could depend on it.

Rest in sweet peace, Jana.

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

Aloha, Jamaica

How for speak Pidgin

Aloha!

As I get settled back into the way of life on Maui after being gone for so long, I thought I would share with you one of the major differences between the mainland and here. It’s a funny and very true depiction of speaking pidgin.

If you’re trying to keep up while watching it, think, that’s how it would be if you lived in Hawaii!

Enjoy!
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=GLmfQSR3EI0&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DGLmfQSR3EI0

Aloha, Jamaica

Brief Relief

Aloha!
Regarding my last post about the VOG (volcanic organic gas), and that we’d had unrelenting VOG for 43 days, I wanted to give you an update. Shauna wrote to ask if I had asthma before moving to Hawaii. The answer is no. I’ve written about this in the past, but I really did move to Maui for the “clean” air. So I was shocked to find out that Hawaii has a high incidence of asthma, and particularly the children are at risk. You can check it out at http://www.CDC.gov/asthma/stateprofiles/asthma. An estimated 36,738 children have asthma in Hawaii. Child lifetime asthma prevalence in Hawaii is 18.6%, compared with the 38 participating states rates of 13.3%.

There have also been questions about whether Hawaii is a good place for those with allergies. See also: http://www.allergyclimates.com/2006/06/03/Denver-Hawaii.

I’ve sat in my chiropractor’s office, and listened to parents bringing their children in for adjustments, saying, “I pulled the children out of school today because of the VOG, and they’re doing so poorly, I brought them in for an adjustment.” Many Hawaii schools have open windows and no air conditioning. I spoke with the man who owns Air Filters Hawaii, and he was hired to go to the Big Island and fit the schools over there with air filteration systems for the VOG. I think Maui should be next.

The thing with the VOG is that it’s so in insidious. Most places on the island, you don’t even know it’s there. We can go to downtown Kahului (where the airport is),and not see the VOG at, all because we are IN it. We can go down to Kihei, or to Wailea, on the south part of the island, and it’s the same way. But we come up the mountain and have a view of the valley, and bingo! there it is, hanging over Maui like a gauzy blanket. The shorthand at our house now revolves around the VOG. The question, “Is it thick?” means, is it time to close up all the windows?

I am on the email notification list for the island’s HC&S sugarcane company. This year during our 45 day VOG seige, they would send an email that said they were going to burn in the morning between 4:00am and 6:30am, and then a few hours later another email notification would come, saying “burning suspended due to weather.” They’re not saying due to VOG, but that’s what it means. They canceled the burning so many times I lost track, and the upside to the VOG siege was they were not burning cane. So it’s a choice between VOG and cane-smoke, I guess.

We had a three day VOG reprieve, so we went to the beach. I was so happy to be out of the house I cannot even tell you! However, now I’m thinking I need to do a blog post about “what not to do at the beach.” There was the guy who stood directly in front of me and chain smoked the whole time. Then the guy next to me smoking a cigar. Honestly, people, you can’t do this in your own backyards?

So today the wind is directly out of the south, and the VOG is moving back in. All of our windows are closed, and I am so weary of it, and wonder how long it will last this time. At one point I worked in a law office here on the island, with a large group of women. On voggy days, you could just see the effects all across the office… People with itchy eyes, scratchy throats, and the inability to concentrate. People would think they were coming down with the flu (with the achiness), but it would just be the VOG.

So there’s your report from Paradise today.

A hui hou! If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the follow button on the homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

Because Suze Orman Said So

Aloha!

Many of you have written to me saying you’re planning to move to Maui this June… must be something in the air. And of course the price of Paradise always enters the conversation when people plan to move here.

I never had facts and figures to back up how much more expensive Paradise is, until now. In the recent Oprah Magazine a woman wrote to financial guru Suze Orman to talk about budgeting, and she is living in Hawaii. Suze wrote back to question the wisdom of living in a place that is 55% higher than the mainland for necessities like gas, groceries, and utilities.

So there you have it. Paradise is 55% higher because Suze Orman said so. Now we can all quit wondering.

I spent this winter in northern California, taking care of my mother’s estate after she passed away. There were three people living in the house. And California was having the coldest winter anyone could remember for ages, which meant I was running the furnace all the time.

The  utility bill in California (for three people) was $310 per month cheaper than my house in Maui (for four people), with no furnace running.

And then there are the groceries. In California, I fairly skip down the grocery aisles, tossing things into my cart with abandon. Everything is about one third, to half the price, as Maui. It’s all relative, whatever you are used to. I’m sure the people in California don’t think their groceries are cheap.

The price of paradise is steep. The difference is, I did not get to wake up to blinding sunshine every single day in California like I do in Maui.

It really is all relative…

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


Aloha, Jamaica