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

Advertisements

Try Wait

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The VISW was not amused.

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

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

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

Aloha, Jamaica

The Art of the Staycation – Part Two

Aloha!

As I told you in my last post, we took a Staycation to the Wailea Marriott on Maui this past weekend. Here are a few things we spotted on our morning walk:

It is so evident here that Maui is just one big hunk of lava. This is facing the West Maui mountains. Then there were these guys out enjoying a stand-up paddle:

That is Molokini crater behind them, the one that is shaped like a horseshoe, though you can’t tell it from here. It’s good they were out there early, because shortly after this the wind came up and it felt like a hurricane was coming. We exited poolside and headed back to our room. On the way we passed the other two pools at the Marriott, the ones for kids and families:

As far as Staycating, there is a poolside bar and grill here that charges $18.00 for a hamburger. That is simply not in the budget. Knowing this, I shopped then packed a cooler and food for the room. I took everything we would need for breakfast and lunch, plus drinks, snacks, etc. It was a pain to get it all together, but I kept my eyes on the prize: no credit card bill for anything other than dinners out.

I also challenged myself. What would my favorite Food Network chefs do to keep it interesting? I packed a breakfast basket, lined with a good linen napkin, and added Biscotti, and small jars of regular and decaf Kona coffee. I got fresh bluberries and papayas, and blueberry muffins. I put organic yogurt in the cooler, and packed nice small china bowls to eat it from. The point was to not feel cheated by eating in the room, making things pretty and interesting.

I also discovered the beauty of small party trays at Safeway. Instead of having to haul along all the fixings for sandwiches, I got the tray, which had individual packages of crackers, cheese already cut into bite-size pieces, and the honey ham was shaped into small ovals (I don’t want to think about how they do that). All I added was a teeny jar of mustard and a knife. Also a five-layer bean dip, already in a nice sized tub, and blue corn chips. Hummus. Spiced almonds. Things we could eat in the room or take down to the pool.

All in all, it was a lovely time. And we didn’t have to pay the prices at the bar because I’d gotten a nice bottle of Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin at Costco and carefully wrapped champagne flutes in the linen napkins and put them in the basket. I really like the looks of that bar, though. They did a nice job:

FYI: We’ve heard some disappointing things about the “Mala” Restaurant on site, such as bad service, long waits and the food not great for the price. If anyone has had a good experience there, let me know.  It’s a shame because Marc Ellman and his wife Judy own Maui Tacos (nine locations), Penne Pasta in Lahaina and Mala Ocean Tavern in Lahaina. http://malaoceantavern.com/markellman.html Though I find Mala in Lahaina overpriced, the food is good and it sits right on the water. Not so the “Mala” at the Marriott, and it’s curious to me since ownership includes Clint Eastwood and Alice Cooper. Does anyone know if Clint still owns the Hog’s Breath Inn Restaurant in Carmel, California? I loved my dinner there, so cozy with the cool temperatures, yet the fire was blazing outside on the patio…

Okay, I admit it’s been really hot here on Maui and I’m daydreaming of being nice and cool somewhere…

Thought for the day: Apprearances can be deceiving. Riches can be temporary. Look for someone who makes you laugh because sometimes that’s all you’ll have to brighten a dark day. That laughter will make your heart sing.

I have someone who makes me laugh every day, and I am grateful.

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

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

Stuff you probably didn’t know

Aloha!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aloha, Jamaica

Stuff and Nonsense

Aloha!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aloha, Jamaica

Differences Too

Aloha,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And lastly:

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

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

Aloha, Jamaica