Does Your Giraffe Have Termites?

Aloha!

We recently attended the Schaeffer International Gallery at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center (www.mauiarts.org) to see an art show. One of the centerpieces was a larger-than-life-sized giraffe and her baby, made entirely from driftwood by artist Steve Turnbull. I was in awe as I stood craning my neck up and up.

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http://www.turnbullstudios.org/steve.html

But then I got to hear a funny story about it while at a party. Apparently, the show was all set up and the docents were manning the door, when someone looked up and said, “Excuse me, but are those termites flying out of that giraffe?” Oh, this couldn’t be good. The docents went into high gear…there were other pieces of art made of wood on display. The termites might decide to move on, and those buggers work fast.
The story goes that the artist had to hire a crane to come in and take the piece down, haul it to a place where they could put it in a box and pump it full of termite poison, then haul it back to the gallery.

A similar thing happened to friends. A wood artist carved them a headboard and nightstands out of earpod, a beautiful wood similar to monkeypod. It was delivered to their house and they found that it had some type of beetle boring into it. It, too, had to be hauled and put into its own special box and pumped full of poison.

I’m telling you, there’s just never a dull moment here in Paradise.

Some days, I find myself pining for a dull moment. Or two.

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

Aloha, Jamaica

Now THAT’S a Papaya

Aloha!
When was the last time you saw a papaya the size of a man’s head? These Tahitian papayas were grown by Mike, from seeds he got from a Tahitian neighbor.

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Here they are in close-up on the tree:

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And here they are in the kitchen. As you can see, they are the size of a butcher knife.
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The taste test? Juicy, and a bit like a cantaloupe. Paradise!
In an upcoming post, I will share a video of Mike stunting a papaya tree, which makes it bear fruit earlier. This was a secret technique he learned from a wizened Japanese gardener on the North Shore, Oahu. Stay tuned…

Hope you have a great weekend! Mahalo for reading along.

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

Aloha, Jamaica

Jumping the Shark

**Spoiler Alert** If you haven’t yet watched the season premiere of Mad Men and intend to do so, wait to read this. The premiere had 3.4 million viewers. Mad Men swept the best drama category at the Primetime Emmy Awards four
four years running.

Aloha!

Last night’s season premiere of Mad Men opened in Hawaii, so of course it had my full attention. Thanks to Elvis movies (and Bing Crosby’s before him), Hawaii tourism was treated to a perfect storm in the late 1960’s of tourists arriving by droves in ships and planes to spend their hard-earned vacation dollars, and often, to get out of the cold of a mainland winter.

In this season’s opener, Don Draper and wife Megan do just that, as they are in Hawaii checking out a hotel property (Marriott) on Oahu as a possible new client for the ad agency.  Back in New York, Don presents his ad campaign to the guys from Marriott.

(So, I am wondering if you agree with Don’s take on Hawaii….?)

DON: I’ve just come back…and there’s a feeling that’s stayed with me…

MARRIOTT GUY: I’ve been there in the winter–its quite a shock coming back.

DON: Well put, but that could be any vacation. This was very, very different. I think we’re not selling a geographic location–we’re selling an experience. It’s not just a different place–YOU are different. You’d think there’d be an unsettling feeling about something so drastically different, but there’s something else…you don’t miss anything. You’re not homesick.

It puts you in this…state. The air and the water are all the same temperature as your body. It’s sensory. The music, the fragrance, the breeze and the blue…Hawaiian legend has it that the soul can go in and out of the body, but that it usually leaves from a leeward point. (Don shows a sketch of a suit coat, tie, and an abandoned pair of shoes, with bare footprints leading away.) The copy reads:

Hawaii…the jumping-off point.

MARRIOTT: What happened to him?

DON: He got off the plane, took a deep breath, shed his skin and–jumped off.

MARRIOTT (considers this): I think people might think that he died.

DON: Maybe he did, and he went to heaven. Maybe that’s what this feels like.

Okay…so what did you think? Many people seem to feel that being in Hawaii is like dying and going to heaven (albeit without the existential overtones that Don Draper brought to this scene.) When I worked as a concierge and saw hundreds of tourists a month, they would all get the same moony look on their faces in describing coming to Hawaii, or being back in Hawaii.

What do you think that “state” of being is, that Don descibes? Do you think, as he said, that you are different in Hawaii?

Oh, and as far as the title of this post, “Jumping the Shark”…that refers to a Hollywood term (created by Jon Heim) that describes the moment in the evolution of a television show when it begins to decline in quality that is beyond recovery, which is usually a particular scene, episode, or aspect of a show in which the writers use some type of gimmick in a desperate attempt to keep viewers’ interest.

The phrase “jump the shark” comes from a scene in the fifth season premiere of the TV series Happy Days (Sept. 20, 1977) in which the central characters visit Los Angeles and a water-skiing Fonzie (Henry Winkler) answers a challenge by wearing swim trunks and his trademark leather jacket, and jumps over a confined shark. It is commonly believed that the show began a creative decline as the writers ran out of ideas and Happy Days became a caricature of itself (Wikipedia, Jumping the Shark.)

To me, Mad Men just jumped the shark when Don ended up in bed, yet again, with a woman who was not his wife. Seems to me that Matthew Weiner had himself a boring episode (who IS Sandy, the girl with the violin? And why should we care?) so gave it a jolt at the end to wake us all up after two hours of saying “huh?”

Even paradise couldn’t resuscitate this snooze fest for me. So did you see it? What did you think?

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

Aloha, Jamaica

Baby Dolphin Birth (Video)

Baby Dolphin Birth (Video)

Aloha!

Dophin Quest on the Big Island http://www.dolphinquest.com/index.php/dgh-2012contest recorded the live birth of their newest baby dophin in a man-made lagoon at the Hilton Waikoloa Village resort, where visitors are encouraged to touch and swim with the dolphins. The female baby was born to Keo, a 12-year-old first-time mother. The video shows the tail emerging first and then the baby popping out. She goes to the surface for air before swimming with her mother. You can view it here on youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYcBJnbpqo8. Dolphin Quest officials said that in the wild the survival rate of babies born to first-time mothers is about 50 percent. The new baby appears to be thriving.

Dolphin Quest is holding a contest to name the little one, along with two others born recently, one to a 27-year- old named Pele and the other to a 28-year-old named Kona. Submissions for names should be Hawaiian words. The contest runs through Dec. 14th. Submissions can be made in person or online , and winners will get a swim for two with the dolphins and a photo CD.

Sounds like a good excuse for a trip to the Big Island!

Did you ever swim  with the dolphins? What was is it like?

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

Be Safe

Be Safe

Aloha!
To all of my readers on the East Coast, I send out a heartfelt wish for your safety and a swift return to normalcy. I hope you are not without power. Be safe!

To those who have opened up a discussion about the tsunami warning in Hawaii, I offer the following thoughts. One reader, TC, happened to be on Maui during the tsunami warning and asked if the level of panic observed is normal here.

When you live on Maui for a while, the enormity of being a spec in the middle of the ocean grows. It feels a bit like being a flea on an elephant. We are the farthest from any landmass of any Archipelago. (Not just Hawaii, but Maui.) For those who have lived through dock strikes, or a hurricane, or a tsunami, it becomes readily apparent how dependent we are on the outside world for absolutely everything, from toilet paper to rice, to bottled water.

A fire alone can shut down the whole west part of the island. I’ve seen it happen. There is no getting in or out, because there is only one road in, and they now close down the northern route so it will not become clogged with people and cut off emergency vehicle access. More than once I had to get a hotel room and sleep on the west side when I couldn’t get home from work, due to a disaster.

People are very attuned to this when authorities say a tsunami is coming. They immediately picture no electricity, no food, no ships getting in with supplies for God knows how long. The thing about a tsunami is that there is essentially no warning. An hour or two maybe, and then it’s a call to evacuate. Tsunamis travel at 500 mph plus-the same speed as a jet. There is little response time, no planning ahead.

Mike was a fireman on Oahu for 12 years and amazingly, spent less time fighting fires than he he did rescuing people from the ocean, and on occasion, from big waves washing over people’s houses. That’s just what the North Shore is like in the winter time. He says the level of panic of people fleeing during a tsunami warning also has to do with responsibility. Responsible people realize that if they don’t act, they are jeopardizing the life of someone else (such as Mike) who must then come in and rescue them.

One disconcerting fact that came out during the news reports on television for this tsunami warning: there are no buoys between Hawaii and the mainland. None. So when the earthquake struck Canada and reverberated out, they had nothing to look at to check the rising tide between us and them. So we had to prepare for the worst.

The following facts are from this good website: http://ptwc.weather.gov/faq.php#6

1. How fast do tsunamis travel?
Tsunami wave speed is controlled by water depth. Where the ocean is over 6,000 meters (3.7 miles) deep, unnoticed tsunami waves can travel at the speed of a commercial jet plane, over 800 km per hour (500 miles per hour). Tsunamis travel much slower in shallower coastal waters where their wave heights begin to increase dramatically.

2. What does a tsunami look like when it reaches the shore?
As the leading edge of a tsunami wave approaches shore, it slows dramatically due to the shallower water. However, the trailing p art of the wave can still be moving rapidly in the deeper water. This results in a “piling up” of the tsunami energy, and the tsunami wave height grows. The wave looks and acts like giant river of water on top of the ocean that floods the shore.

3. Where and how often do tsunamis usually occur?
Major tsunamis occur about once per decade. Based on historical data, about 59% of the world’s tsunamis have occurred in the Pacific Ocean, 25% in the Mediterranean Sea, 12% in the Atlantic Ocean, and 4% in the Indian Ocean.

Stay safe, and treasure each day. If you are a reader on the East Coast, please let me know you’re okay!

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” Alan Kay

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

Fall for Maui

Fall for Maui

Aloha!

It doesn’t seem like there would be much change in seasons in Hawaii, and it’s very subtle, but it is there. Especially in Upcountry Maui. On the mainland I always enjoyed the change of seasons… Getting out all of the fall decorations, the Halloween decorations, the Thanksgiving decorations… And the places to buy them were of course, endless.

Not so on Maui. Stores such as Walmart or Kmart only bring so much in to the island per season, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. So if you go to Ben Franklin Crafts and see something you like, you’d better buy it now. You also learn to improvise with what nature provides on Maui. In the same way that I might have gathered Fall-colored leaves in California, here I gather Fall-colored shells to make my dining room table centerpiece:

Our mango tree in the backyard also provides a clue that fall is here on Maui. If you look closely in this photo you’ll see that we have older yellow leaves dropping, healthy older dark green leaves, light green brand-new leaves coming in, and to top it all off: it’s flowering with new fruit (that’s the brown  fuzzy-stuff).

Mango Tree on Maui

What this means is there’s never a good time to prune a tree in Hawaii. Our citrus tree in the front yard does the same thing. It’s a tree that’s been grafted with tangerines, tangelos, and oranges on the same tree. The tree has become enormous because there is constantly a cycle of new leaves and new fruit. When the heck do you prune, without losing fruit?

It’s also a season of harvest here. We have more apple bananas (the very sweet ones that taste more like a pear) than we know what to do with. This morning I grilled bananas on the griddle when I made the french toast. Every morning we have smoothies with two bananas in them. We hang the bunch from a rafter in the garage to keep the rats out of them:

And why yes, that IS a surfboard hanging there in the rafters too. Thanks for asking. And that second refrigerator in the background is not a “beer frig”, because in Maui almost all dry goods have to be refrigerated or use lose them to bugs. So that frig has flour, sugar, bread crumbs, bread, cornmeal, etc. in it. If you don’t refrigerate your bread, it can mold in a day or two.

The other bounty we can barely keep up with is the lilikois (also known as passion fruit). Here is a few days’ worth that have been gathered:

It doesn’t help to call my friends and ask if they’d like some fruit, because they have the same problem. So I’ve taken to hauling fruit to Kahului when I go down the hill, and giving it away. Yesterday a doctor got eight apple bananas in a brown bag. He is a fierce Korean guy who pretty much scares me spitless. I gave him the bananas and he lit up. As he was leaving the room he said “This will be my lunch” and I teased him and said, “Hey, I know you have children!” and he just laughed, because those kids weren’t getting any of those bananas. That’s the first time I’ve heard him laugh! Food, the universal language.

Here’s a recipe for Lilikoi Martinis. My thanks to Shel and Clay Simpson for turning us on to these intoxicating gems.

Lilikoi Martini

1 ounce (a shot-glass) of lilikoi juice

1 ounce of Vanilla Vodka (I’m a wuss and use half that amount)

Fill a glass with ice. Shake the above two ingredients together, add to glass, then top it off with ice-cold water.

I get creative and substitute out recipes that involve lemon juice, such as a Lemontini or Lemon Drop. So, to the above recipe I will also add a little St. Germain (YUM) and substitute club soda or seltzer water for the plain water.

Next time you get your hands on some lilikoi juice, enjoy a martini. You can possibly find the Perfect Puree of Napa Valley lilkoi puree in your gourmet grocer’s freezer section. And if anyone has figured out a fool-proof method for pruning the ever-flowering fruit trees in Hawaii, give a shout.

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

Luau Feet

Luau Feet

Aloha!

Do you know what luau feet are? It’s the term used in Hawaii to describe flat feet caused from wearing rubber slippers (“rubbah slippahs” in pidgin, thongs or flip-flops on the mainland.) Mike has flat feet. Until he saw my feet with their impossibly high arch, he didn’t even know feet were supposed to have an arch. And the first time I heard someone local refer to slippahs, I was confused and thought they meant house shoes. Slippers. This gives you just a tiny peek into the confusion that reigns supreme in our household.

Right now I am in mourning. I lost one of my best rubbah slippahs. And I had only worn them twice! I had been looking for this pair for about five years. “Reef” makes a certain type of very cushioned flip-flop with a soft fabric band between the toes. They became very hard to find… and I was even more specifically looking for BROWN ones. I finally found them in a tiny shop on the North Shore of Oahu. I was as excited as if someone had given me a diamond ring. Then the proprietor told me the bad news: Reef was discontinuing these! How could this be? They’re so comfortable.

I read that podiatrists say if you’re going to wear rubber slippers, that it should be these cushioned Reefs. I could walk all day in them and my feet don’t hurt. Podiatrists are not fans of flip-flops. Besides leaving your feet vulnerable to injury from stepping on sharp objects or getting stepped on themselves, flip-flops offers little support, slip off easily while walking, and can actually affect your gait–making you vulnerable to potential heel, arch, and back pain, plus putting you at higher risk for fractures. If you’re going to wear them at all, foot doctors caution, you should not wear flip-flops for long periods of time.

Like Jimmy Buffett mourning his blown-out flip-flop in “Margaritaville”, I feel the loss of my brown Reef. The crazy thing is, I cleaned out my closet and suddenly it was gone. Just ONE of them! (Another instance of getting organized and then not being able to find anything. Does this happen to you, too?) Reefs aren’t cheap, plus now these are discontinued. I don’t know how I’m going to replace this thing.

There was a time in my life when I would’ve been coveting the latest fall shoes in October. Instead here I am, just wanting a good rubber slipper.

Some funny stories we have had with rubber slippers: I always take my shoes off in the car. One time we got to a store and when I looked on the floor, one of my slippers was missing. They’re so light, I must’ve kicked it out at the last stop. So back we drove to the Ross parking lot, circled around a couple of times, and there it was. Mike stopped, and I jumped out and retrieved my rubber slipper. This explains why you see so many orphaned rubber slippers in the road and on the sidewalks in Hawaii.

Another time Mike was surfing in Lahaina and left his slippers on the shore as he paddled out. When he came back in, his nice rubber slippers were missing and had been replaced with a pair of “Locals” a very cheap rubber slipper from Longs. To add insult to injury, the end of the slipper had been chopped off with a pair of scissors, like it had been too big for the wearer. Possibly a hand-me-down from an older brother! Mike was not a happy camper.

Then we were at a party on Oahu, and the people had a new dog. Out of the whole pile of slippahs left by the door (removed when entering the house, local-style),the dog chose to chew Mike’s rubber slipper, which happened to be new. But what can you do, besides laugh!

So, how often do you wear flip-flops? Have you had foot problems related to them? Let us know in the comments section.

A hui hou! If you’d like to have this blog delivered to your in-box, please click the Follow button on the Homepage. Mahalo for stopping by!

Aloha, Jamaica

Shark on Board

Shark on Board

Aloha!
It seems that everyone is paddle-boarding these days in Maui. Mike’s nephew Robert was in Maui this week, visiting from Colorado, and Mike took him to Kanaha Beach in Kahului to teach him to stand-up paddle. The very next day, a stand-up paddle-border was attacked by a shark at Kanaha beach. David Peterson of Pukalani, 55, was uninjured, because he beat the shark off with his paddle. But what’s the reason for the attack?

I went straight to the source, surfer extraordinaire Mike Turkington! to see what lies behind it. He explained, “Think about it. What is a shark’s favorite snack? The green sea turtle. As a turtle moves through the water and surfaces, it makes a slapping sound on the water. This is a similar sound to a surfer paddling, or a standup paddle-border’s paddle moving through the water. All of these sounds get a shark’s attention.”

However, kite boarders and windsurfers are not making the same type of sound, because their boards move so quickly through the water. So unless they fall off and are just bobbing in the water, a shark isn’t going to be as interested.

David Peterson said he was on top of his board, and when the shark bit it, he fell off and landed on top of the shark. The shark had hold of his board and would not let go of it, so Peterson hit the shark with his paddle as he was in the water. The shark released, but then came between him and the board. With his hands, David pushed the shark away. When he was interviewed on KHON2 news, he said he scrambled to get back on his board while the shark circled, all the while fending him off with his paddle. The shark finally gave up and swam away.

Peterson said he felt bad because all of his friends who were surfing had to get out of the water when the lifeguards closed the beach. The sign on the beach said “Shark Sighted.” (I am laughing because I am dictating this to my iPad, and it auto-filled in with “Shark Excited.” Probably quite true.)

While the ocean can be a surfer’s playground, it’s also a feeding ground. So go ahead and enjoy your water sports, but remember: the safest form of surfing these days seems to be the one that involves a paddle that can also be used as a weapon.

A hui hou! If you’d like to have this blog delivered to your inbox, please click the follow button on the Home page. Mahalo for stopping by!

Aloha, Jamaica

On Men and Muumuus

On Men and Muumuus

Aloha!
Yesterday It was 92° Upcountry. Get out! It’s never that hot Upcountry. (That means it had to be like 109 in Lahaina). In heat like that I don’t even want to get dressed. I prefer nudity, but it seems to be against the law. So I was in First Hawaiian Bank Upcountry and saw a lady about 75 years old who was wearing a muumuu and a big hat. Pretty typical of older ladies in Hawaii. I’ve thought about it, and I actually look forward to the time when I get to wear wear a muumuu. They cover the flabby arms, big belly and spider veins that everyone gets as they get older… But the best part is they’re cool and loose. I was looking at her muumuu with envy on this 92° in the shade day.

Fast-forward four hours. I have been to the pharmacy, the library, and two grocery stores. I am standing in Costco and I see a hat out of the corner of my eye and glance up from the rosemary bread. There’s the same lady in her hat and muumuu. When you live on Maui you constantly hear “it’s a small island,” and that means everywhere you go you run into the same people. Even four hours and four stops later. Sometimes they’re even on the same track as you, and you see them at all four stops. This always makes me laugh… It’s a small island, but it’s not like it’s a small town in the middle of nowhere. Or is it? I once heard that an Island resort is nothing more than a provincial small town with thousands of tourists thrown in. That makes sense.

It also means you see the same people week after week as you run your errands. When I went to the library yesterday I had 22 books on hold. Seriously. At the counter I said apologetically, “I’ve had a few books come in'” and the librarian, a big, jovial Chinese lady said, “A FEW?!” She is used to this now and gives me a hard time. I’m a writer, I do research. In fact, after about the third time this happened she said, “Let me guess, you’re a writer.” Guilty as charged. Though I did hit a new personal best this month: I found out that when you have 27 books on hold in the system they cut you off on the library website (www.librarieshawaii.org) I was crushed! Hauling a stack of books home from the library is like Christmas for me, especially since they closed our Borders store. When I saw my doctor recently, she asked, as usual, what I was reading, because I always have a book with me . She said, “I miss Borders! I miss being able to browse by actually opening a book and paging through it.” It’s just not the same thing on Amazon, so we commiserated together.

Anyway, as we ended our day yesterday, Mike and I were talking about the unusual heat and I mentioned having seen the lady in the muumuu twice. (We were eating Mexican food at our favorite place: Fernando’s in the Kau-Kau marketplace. He commented that he’d also seen the guy at the next table in Costco. See what I mean? It’s a small island). Mike then said, “So why don’t you just wear a muumuu?”

It was loud in there. I was sure I hadn’t heard him right. “Did you say wear a muumuu? At my age?” (I’m thinking, isn’t that only for ladies over the age of 75? Isn’t that something only the workers at the hotels wear?) He said “Sure. Why not?”( Let’s not forget, this guy grew up in Hawaii.) But my head is reeling… You mean I can stop trying to find pants that fit my nonexistent bum? I can stop thinking about fashion or having any kind of style at all and just drift off to muumuu land? Men probably don’t understand this, because they are ALWAYS comfortable, but a muumuu is like a get out of jail free card. And then Mike shrugged and said, “I don’t know why you haven’t done it sooner.”

The earth tilted further on its axis. The man will never cease to amaze me. Muumuus are like the fanny pack of fashion… They mean, “I give up, I’m gonna just let it all hang out.” Right? If you’ve ever watched the new version of Hawaii 5-0, moving to Hawaii and all the confusion it entails is embodied in almost everything Dano says. He’s always a half step behind. And here I am, after 13 years, finding out I could’ve been wearing a muumuu all this time.

That’s me, late to the party. At least they are legal, unlike nudity. Unless, of course, I get arrested by the Fashion Police.

So tell me honestly, if you’re a woman would you wear a muumuu in Hawaii on a regular basis? And if you’re a guy, what do you think about women under the age of 75 in muumuus?

A hui hou! If you’d like to have this blog delivered to your inbox, please click the “Follow” button on the Home page. Mahalo for stopping by!

Aloha, Jamaica

Stupid is as Stupid Does

“Stupid is as Stupid Does” — thanks, Forrest!

Aloha!
It’s a fact of life that if you’re living in Hawaii, you’re living with cockroaches. They like to hide and make you feel all smug and superior, like that you’ve dodged that bullet, but it’s a fool’s lie. Yesterday I poured myself a glass of water and left the room and by the time I came back two minutes later there was a brown cockroach floating in the glass. We never drink the water from the tap here, we buy it, so that good water got thrown out. The light brown (German) Cockroaches fly, so it doesn’t matter how clean you are. They’re coming in! It’s just another one of the joys of life in the tropics.

I consider cockroaches rats with wings, since they spend so much time rooting through the trash. So I found it particularly disconcerting when an AP article today stated that the winner of a cockroach-eating contest in South Florida died shortly after downing dozens of the live bugs. (Altogether now…Eewwwww!!)The grand prize in Friday night’s contest was a live python.

The Broward County Sheriff’s office says in a news release that it is waiting for an autopsy to give the official cause of death.

Do you think there’s a checkbox for “died of stupidity”?

And here I was counting on using all the cockroaches as a back-up food supply when the next Tsunami or hurricane hits…

A hui hou! If you’d like to have this blog delivered to your inbox, please click the Follow button on the Homepage. Mahalo for stopping by.

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

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

Knock-Knock

Aloha!
There was a bellower in the hospital bed across the hall from me. He
would yell Eeeyyyy! (not in the cute Arthur Fonzerelli style), and because this
is Maui, the nurse would bellow back. He’d bellow, she’d bellow. My pretty young doctor came in and said she’d only been on Maui a month but she was already moving to the hospital on Oahu. Seems she couldn’t take the “community” style of doctoring here, which is a nicer way of saying what might be considered “unprofessional” elsewhere…Like that bellowing nurse.

The reason I’m in the hospital is because of a botched (gallbladder) surgery from five years ago. Everyone told me not to have surgery on Maui, and because I hadn’t done it before, I didn’t believe them. What could possibly go wrong? Plenty. Three more procedures later, I thought everything was solved, but no, Here I am, back in the hospital.

I’ve lost track of the number of physicians I’ve had at Kaiser on Maui. You see, they move to Paradise thinking everything is going to be perfect, and when they find out how little they make compared to the cost of housing, or how much private school will be for their children, they leave. Then there are the ones like my young doctor in the hospital who just moved here from Chicago and simply can’t take the country-style feel of medicine on Maui.
Remember the movie “Doc Holiday?” It’s kind of like that, except there’s no
happy ending, where the doctor actually stays on.

The big joke here is that when you check into Maui Memorial Hospital, you don’t check out. You’re dead. A friend of mine is married to a radiologist on Maui and when he got blood poisoning he refused to stay in the hospital. And he cited the above quote as the reason why.

Another practice on Maui is “rent a doctors.” Doctors and nurses come here because it sounds like fun to be in Paradise for a while. And they are only temps. The question is, where did they come from? How good are they? Are they running from problems elsewhere?

I’m not saying you can’t find a perfectly fine physician to treat your cold or flu on Maui. I absolutely love my GP and my OB/GYN (both female.) You just might want to rethink the whole surgery thing. So that means getting on a plane when you feel like snot to FLY to Oahu or the mainland to have your surgery. And guess what? Kaiser frowns on the practice and won’t pay for your airfare!

Much of the basic problem with my healthcare started with the fact that I had a surgeon five years ago who hadn’t had enough practice. We’re only a population of 150,000 people (100,000 twelve years ago). How much practice can they get? Always ask how many procedures a surgeon does per year and compare it to Information online that states how much experience a doctor should have. My doctor on Maui was performing about 1/10 the number of procedures needed to stay proficient. Another thing people don’t think about when they move to Paradise…

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Orange.
Orange who?
Orange you glad it was me in the hospital, and not you?

Many, many thanks to those of you who wrote to express your
good wishes while I was in the hospital. Mahalo nui loa for your care and
concern!

A hui hou!  Mahalo for stopping by.
Aloha,
Jamaica

The Best of Maui, 2012

The Best of Maui, 2012

Aloha!

Every year The Maui News runs a contest for people to vote on the best of everything Maui, including restaurants and activities. It is the Valley Isle’s “Best of Maui” survey, established in 1992. The results are in…and while I whole-heartedly agree with some, others leave me scratching my head. Huh? For instance, Alan Wong’s new “Amasia” won “Best New Restaurant” and since we were just there for my birthday (and the review will be posted later on), I can’t say I back up those reader’s opinions.

But that’s what Opinions are all about, right?

However, as we sat at Amasia (at The Grand Wailea) we looked around, and comparing it to other restaurants, said, “You just can’t beat “Mama’s Fish House” for ambience on Maui–and sure enough, listed under

“Best Ambience” was Mama’s Fish House.

Best Water Activity: Teralani Sailing Adventures. I have been on almost every boat EXCEPT the Teralani!

Best Lu’au: Old Lahaina Luau. I disagree. I would move in and live at “The Feast at Lele” luau and let them feed me their gourmet food for the rest of my life. (We have friends in Europe who say that their night at The Feast at Lele was the highlight of their entire Hawaii trip, which included multiple islands.) But I’m talking food here, and the Old Lahaina Luau’s buffet line and watery drinks just don’t do it for me.

Best Restaurant Overall: Lahaina Grill.  Oh, my. Don’t get me started on the last time we went there. A mix-up with our gift card (we were in the right, they were in the wrong)– had the waiter chasing us down the street as if we’d robbed the place. Not a fun way to end the evening. Anyway, as Mike just said, “Why would anyone go there, when Gerard’s French Restaurant is just down the street? It’s way better.”  I can’t agree more, though Gerard’s did win for Best French Restaurant.

Best Ethnic Restaurant: A Saigon Cafe www.mauivietnameserestaurant.com 1792 Main St., Wailuku. Again, sorry. Just can’t agree with those who say they crave the “exotic and fiery rice in a clay pot.” Their food doesn’t win me over, the place has a strange smell from those clay pots –maybe Chinese Five Spice?  and it has always seemed a bit seedy, but the article on its win says that it’s under a renovation that should be completed next week. But there are obviously people who love this place.

Best Kid-Friendly Restaurant- Ruby’s Diner 275 Queen Kaahumanu Center www.rubys.com  Kids’ menu available for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Best Resort Restaurant: Ko at the Fairmont Kea Lani Foods from Maui’s illustrious plantation heritage: Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Portuguese. It just re-opened this spring after a $5.1 million renovation. It’s next on our list of places to try, but I’ve heard really good things about it from friends.

Best Sushi: Sansei, in both Kihei and Kapalua www.sanseihawaii.com This is also our choice for sushi because of their early-bird and after-10 pm discounts.

Best Pizza: Flatbread Pizza Company, Paia www.flatbreadcompany.com

Best Seafood: Mama’s Fish House www.mamasfishhouse.com What’s not to love about Mama’s?(other than the large dent in your wallet) Its ocean-view, cove-like setting makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time to Trader Vic times, only better, much better. I once asked about their many wow-factor tropical floral arrangements and was told they have their own floral designer who works only for them. So that explains it. I’m not even a fish eater…but I love Mama’s.

Best Bakery: Komoda’s Store and Bakery in Makawao. They’ve been in business for 96 years, they must be doing something right! They’re best known for their cream-puffs, however all the breads are done by hand, 100% from scratch. No automation involved.

Best Steak: Ruth’s Chris Steak House. www.ruthschris.com. They have two locations, one in Wailea and one in Lahaina. We go for their prime time special, between 5 and 6 PM; the three-course special runs $42.95 and is more than we can possibly eat.

So that about wraps it up… What is your opinion of this year’s winners? Who would you add or subtract from the list?

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

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

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

A Silver Lining

A Silver Lining

Aloha!

Police say a California woman robbed a bank and fled to a Pacific Gas & Electric office to pay her utility bill. The Fresno Bee said the woman was arrested shortly after the Bank of America heist.

Kinda makes you long for the days when a good old-fashioned bank robbery netted you enough to buy diamonds or retire for life. Now it only pays the electric bill. Hawaii’s economy closely follows California’s…so I expect to see a rash of bank robberies here, since Hawaii’s kiilowatt per hour electric cost is five times higher than the mainland’s. That’s another one of those shockers that people experience when they move to Paradise.

I hang my clean laundry and sheets on the clothesline, as do most of my neighbors. It’s a lot more work that way, almost like doing the laundry twice, vs. tossing it into the dryer, but it shoots our electric bill sky high if we use the dryer. There is no natural gas on Maui.

But for these many things that make living on Maui so very expensive, there is a silver lining. Each time we get in the car to drive anywhere, we are treated to sublime views. I never tire of heading down the mountain and seeing the cloud formations over the West Maui Mountains, seeing the pinky-sunset hues shoot up into the sky and color those clouds every evening.

On our way out to dinner for Mike’s birthday, we saw this, the very essence of a silver lining.

West Maui Sky

It’s been doing this every evening for a week now. I’ll never grow tired ot it.

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 reading!

Maui Weather Today: High 85, Low 72

Aloha, Jamaica

The Beach Blues

Aloha!

Hoo-boy, I am so glad that they didn’t burn the sugarcane yesterday. They burn the cane in the wee hours of the morning, and I know they’ve burnt before I ever get out of bed. I have a sinus headache, my body aches, and there’s just a weirdness about it all. I thought maybe it was just me, but other people say the same thing. They have been burning for months now.

But yesterday they didn’t burn, and I had a nearly perfect day. I made all the stop-lights on my way downtown to take a course. When I got out of the car at the UH Maui campus, the salt air was pristine with a gentle breeze blowing. I had a spring in my step. I just never, ever feel this way when they burn cane, because the smoke is so full of toxins. Not at all what I expected when I moved Maui, let me tell you.

Anyway, I was down at the campus taking an I-pad course. A number of years ago at a writers conference they told us the best way to accomplish our goals was to limit our screen time. For years I have dutifully spent hardly any time watching television. I watch maybe two movies a week, and other than that I work. The only way to write screenplays, market screenplays and sell them, is to keep your butt in the seat. That’s not my line, I stole it from Neil Simon. But it’s true.

I also dutifully avoided getting caught up in having to have the newest technology. For one thing, I just didn’t have the time to put into the learning curves. I didn’t get a BlackBerry. I didn’t get an iPhone. And the purpose of this new iPad was so I could dictate my blog posts and emails, because my elbow is shot from typing all these years. Well I have to tell you, now I know why they called them CrackBerries. When you have a tiny screen sitting on the counter- top that’s on at all times, the pull to check emails and go online is enormous. I will glance up, and 90 minutes will be proof! Gone.

I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve been feeling like I spend more time with my inboxes than I do with the people in my life. Then I started this blog, and every morning I have to wade through and eliminate all of the German and porn site spam associated with it. Somehow these people just track you down. It’s disheartening. One more inbox to keep cleaned out. 20 minutes that I won’t be relaxing on the porch reading a novel.

Did you know that in the 1950s the government was actually worried that people were going to have too much leisure time? With all of the time-saving devices like washing machines and dishwashers, and cars to take people places, and lawnmowers to mow their lawns, people were getting just a little bit too leisure-minded for their own good. I am the last person to discuss conspiracy theories or government mind control, but you have to wonder… I mean, how much leisure does ANYONE have now? I am really just joking, but there are days when it gives me pause. I envy the older generation that just doesn’t have to bother with computers, email etc. Our parents (Mike’s and mine) simply refuse, and they have all kinds of leisure time. They call up the travel agent and do it the old-fashioned way instead of sitting online booking their own airline reservations. They get on the phone and have a conversation if they want to talk to someone, instead of waiting to see if an email that went out into the ether actually reached it’s destination. What a concept. My mother asks me how many movies I’ve seen lately, and I say none. She’s 78 and she goes to the movies every week…do we see a pattern here?

This isn’t at all how I pictured spending my time when I moved to Maui–breathing sugarcane smoke and cleaning out inboxes. Can’t remember the last time I went to the beach. Yesterday was a crystal-clear perfect day, and I spent three hours in a classroom learning the latest technology, along with 20 other very baffled people.

I used to know what leisure was. I just haven’t figured out how to get it back.
How about you?

Got the Beach Blues…

A hui hou ( till next time). If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button on the Homepage.
Aloha, Jamaica

The Paradox of Paradise

Hawaii Weather Today: High 86, Low 71

The Paradox of Paradise

(Thanks for today’s title, Marianne!)

Aloha!

Last Sunday The Maui News http://mauinews.com/ ran an article about how the country of France has decided its people are too rude. They have begun a billboard campaign in bus and train stations to encourage people to be more courteous. It cited the statistic that France is the world’s most visited country (I didn’t know that, did you?) and the French needed to step up their game with the tourists. We just happened to have French friends staying here. I asked Maxim what he thought. He said he agreed with the article and that basically it was a sad commentary on their nation.

At least the French know they have a problem, and they are, afterall, mostly French. Here in Hawaii the lines are blurred, in that it’s a melting-pot of cultures, with each being represented at roughly ten percent. I didn’t know that before I moved here. Did you?

Today I was at Kaiser for a doctors appointment. I have a wicked tennis elbow and in fact can barely type anymore. (I got an I-Pad and am learning to dictate to it, so there’s hope for this blog). Anyway, as the nurse’s aide was taking my vitals she looked me up and down and said in pidgin, “So where you from…Wailea?”

Well. You have to live here to know how rude that was. She might just as well have said, “How much money you got, Haole lady?” And the silly part was I was wearing a $29 dress off a sale rack that was missing it’s belt, and a pair of $22 sandals from Marshall’s. I had on no jewelry, no usual markers of wealth or status, (though it’s normal to see local girls/women with 3-5 gold bracelets piled up their arms, with Hawaiian words carved into them…words like kuuipo; sweetheart). Because I am haole and I’m not in shorts and a tank top, the aide assumes I’m prosperous. She thinks I live in Wailea, also known as Haolewood. But I just smile, because she doesn’t even realize how rude it is.

This is part of the paradox, this type of racism. After all these years, it still catches me by surprise. If a Filipino lady had come in with her Chanel bag and large diamond the question never would have been asked. Case in point: the “local” lady in a blue silk dress and high heels at Taco Bell today. No one is ever going to ask her if she’s from Wailea. (If you haven’t been to Maui, Wailea is the chi-chi area. Except I can’t really say that, because in Hawaii chi-chi means “to go potty”.) Go figure.

Until you have lived in Hawaii these nuances are hard to fathom. People think they know what it’s like here because they vacation here. But until you live it day to day, year after year, and experience the many, many layers, and realize it’s pretty much a foreign country, it’s hard to explain to someone else. Just like anywhere I suppose, except I don’t think a New Yorker is going to say to every Black person, “So you live in Harlem right?”

I was in LA one time and a waiter in a coffee shop said he could tell I wasn’t from there. How? Because I had short hair at the time and wasn’t carrying a $1,200 bag? Elsewhere, it’s considered wise to always look your best. For a haole in Maui, it’s a minefield…if you’re not careful you’ll be taken for a tourist, or worse, a realtor!

And if luck is really against you, you’ll be accused of being from Wailea. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a really nice place. I have done lots of interior design work there in high-end homes. Clint Eastwood has a home on the beach there. It’s that kind of place.

In her book “The Descendants,” set in Hawaii, Kaui Hart Hemmings describes an encounter between the main character and a Chinese gift shop owner. It says, “A Chinese woman enters the shop and stands behind the register…She is wearing a muumuu over navy polyester pants. She looks like she has escaped from an insane asylum.”

With what seems like about nineteen cultures represented in full force in Hawaii,  it’s hard to know what’s considered normal for each culture. A neighbor girl moved here from the Phillipines and plied me with questions about daily life in Maui. She made this observation about Maui: “No one dresses here when they leave the house. They all look like slobs. Where I’m from, you have clothes you wear at home and clothes you wear out. Why don’t they do that here?” I couldn’t answer her question, but apparently, a cotton dress and sandals were too much for this haole girl’s doctor’s appointment.

Silly me!

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

Aloha, Jamaica

Affordable Housing in Maui

Maui Weather Today…More of the same.

Affordable Housing in Maui

Aloha!

People write to ask me about living in Maui, and how to afford it. One of the ways that many locals make it work is to build an Ohana. “Ohana” means family in Hawaiian, but in this case refers to a living space, technically attached to the main house. Like an in-law unit.

When we built our house we added an attached ohana. It’s one-bedroom with a nice sized covered lanai, and it shares one wall with our part of the house, which makes the main house more like a duplex. This is a smart move in Hawaii, as many people can’t afford to buy, so it’s a win-win for everybody.

Until it’s not. We got spoiled with our very first tenant, a woman with a big Labrador. She also loved our cat, Lili, and was in fact a vet tech.  “Auntie Amy” as we called her, was heaven sent: she was quiet, clean, and loved to take care of Lili if we had to leave the island (and even took it upon herself to vacuum the house because Lili has allergies to dust and red dirt). I am not making this up. Auntie Amy was with us for five years. I kinda hoped she’d stay till she was eighty.

But then Auntie Amy got cancer and was down for about a year. Then it came back, and she decided she had to move. That’s when we found out about Crazy Tenants.

Crazy Tenants are people who look good on paper but in fact will make you question your own sanity for renting to them.There was Bernard, the old Japanese carpenter who was from Oahu and wanted a temporary place to live while he built a house on Maui. He signed the lease and the next thing we knew he had covered up all the windows with brown paper grocery bags and the place was emitting a very strange odor, like fish left out for two weeks. Then Mike came around the corner and found Bernard changing the locks. A no-no, and against the lease (how can a landlord get in if there’s a fire or a dead person in there?) He muttered something and Mike realized he was paranoid and possibly schizophrenic. His daughter threatened to sue us because there was a spot in the sidewalk that was raised a quarter of an inch and he might trip on it. Bernard moved out.

Then there was the Maui fireman (Mike was a fireman, so we figured this was a sure bet) who lived in the unit for almost six weeks. Then, when the yearly influx of German cockroaches began (it was a  particularly bad year) he accused us of hiding them from him. Um…so we were like keeping them in a cardboard box and only released them once he’d lived there six weeks? Another one moved out.

Then there was Crazy Katie. She promptly moved a boyfriend in (breaking the lease) and then got a cat without permission. We are animal people…we just told her she’d need a pet addendum to the lease. She refused. She started sending strange emails and quoting landlord/tenant code to us. About the time it appeared she was going to spin out, she moved. We breathed a sigh of relief.

After that came a girl who shall remain nameless because she was so scary. I thought I was going to spin out with that one. And each time we said, “We sure miss Auntie Amy.” And we surely did.

These people all appeared normal and looked great on paper. Appearances are deceiving.

This last go-round, we gave up on Maui people and imported a couple from Alaska. Mike teases that he had to import me from California…so we figured it could work with tenants, too. They are a joy. They are quiet and polite and we are happy. They tell us they are happy too.

Affordable housing in Maui? An ohana really only makes your mortgage more affordable if you aren’t putting up with Crazy Tenants.

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

It’s a Whole Different World in Hawaii

Weather in Maui today: Abundant sunshine. High around 85F. Winds NE at 20 to 30 mph

It’s a Whole Different World in Hawaii

Please Note: This post was published two days before Andy Griffith passed away. Weird timing. RIP, Ange. “Andy Griffith Dead at 86”.

Aloha!

Recognize the guy in the image above? Good ol’ Barney from the Andy Griffith show. There’s a magic show in Lahaina called Warren and Annabelle’s, and the magician, Warren, is from North Carolina. So the running schtick of the evening is that we are in “Mayberry” and he assigns show names to audience members who participate, such as “Goober” “Andy” and “Ain’t Bee” (sic).  To show you that it’s a whole different world in Hawaii http://www.warrenandannabelles.com/ I will tell you about our time there. First of all, Warren is an amazing magician and great comedian. As a concierge, I sent guests from the hotel there constantly, telling them. “you will laugh till your sides hurt.” The first time Mike and I went, I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes as Warren managed to make the Goober character look ridiculous, and Aunt Bee found someone else’s watch in her purse from across the room.

I noticed as the evening went on that Mike wasn’t laughing. I thought maybe he didn’t feel well. The whole audience would erupt and he would just sit there, stony faced. I decided to not let it bother me and just enjoy the evening. Afterwards as we were walking out I said, “Don’t you feel well?” No, he felt fine. “Then why weren’t you laughing with the rest of us?” He looked at me with a strange expresion and said he had no idea what Warren was talking about up there. “What’s a Goober?” he asked.

It took a moment for this to compute. “You mean you never saw The Andy Griffith Show? http://www.imayberry.com/. Uncomfortable silence. Andy? Barney? Opie? You know, Ron Howard as a kid? http://twitter.com/RealRonHoward/ By now he had that deer in the headlights look which I had come to know meant I was traveling dangerous ground that was no doubt rooted in a Hawaii upbringing. He does not find this amusing.

After a little more careful prodding he admitted: “We didn’t get TV out on the North Shore.” (He grew up on Oahu.) “The mountains were in the way and we couldn’t get the signal.”

You know the sound of a needle scratching across a record? That was my brain. I had been together with this man for how many years now….and hadn’t managed to stumble across this piece of information? Don’t get me wrong…Mike has been around the world twice, surfing (it didn’t hurt that he had a brother who worked for Pan Am and back then immediate family could fly for free!) so it isn’t like he’d never been off the island. It’s just his experience of living on an island and the gaps in his popular culture knowledge that amaze me. “What the heck did you do at night?” I asked. “Slept!” he said. “I’d been up since dawn surfing.”

I envy Mike his childhood in Hawaii. It’s as near-perfect a childhood I’ve ever heard anyone describe, filled with the ocean, water sports, sunshine, cutting school to go surfing (with little to no reprecussions!) going barefoot to school, and sneaking out at night to go down to the beach. He has an impressive collection of  “floats” : Japanese fishing floats made of what we think of today as sea-glass, light blue and sea-green, some of them still wrapped in the thick twine used to hold them to the line. http://www.glassfloatjunkie.com/They are some of his most precious possesions, and it’s rare to find them intact anymore, at least in Hawaii. Note the rolling pin shape, or “roller”:

Mike found these on the beach in Kailua, where he grew up. If you’d like to learn more about these floats, go to  http://home.comcast.net/~4miller/aboutfloats/about.html

In the inverse of the way Mike’s never seen a raccoon, chipmunk or snake (three staples of my Indiana upbringing) he can go into the jungle in Hawaii and name every tree, plant and berry…and know which ones are safe to eat. If I were ever to get shipwrecked on a deserted island, he’s the guy I’d want to have along. He’d have a wild pig caught and roasting over a fire on a spit in the time it would take me to figure out which way was North.

Just don’t ask him to name the guy in the picture at the top of this post.

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

Thanks for stopping by!

Aloha, Jamaica

Just Another Day in Paradise

Just another day in Paradise…

Aloha!

I woke this morning to sunshine, as almost every morning. I LOVE that, it’s one of the main reasons I moved to Maui. It’s like I just jones for sunshine. It makes everyone feel better, don’t you think? Shortly after I got up, they began burning sugar cane. We look out across the fields from our back porch:

and then it grew:

Let’s not forget that they burn the PVC irrigation pipe as well…all those toxins released into our Maui air. Then it started raining, at the same time that the sun was out. And I was treated to a rainbow:

Which kept metamorphasizing, and then the sky grew brighter:

And it stopped raining.

I came inside, washed my hands and when I picked up the hand towel in the bathroom, under it was a baby centipede. No matter what people say about the babies of all creatures being cute, that does not apply to baby centipedes. They just looked ticked off and like they can’t wait to find someone to sting.

All this within a 60-minute time period.  When you live on Maui, who needs television? Just another day in Paradise.

Question: When you’ve been to Maui, have you ever seen the burning sugar cane? What was your understanding of it?

And…what was the best rainbow you ever saw, and where?

Thought for the day: “The greatest part of our happiness depends on our dispositions, not our circumstances.” — Martha Washington

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

Thanks for stopping by!

Aloha, Jamaica