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

Shark Snack

Shark Snack

Aloha!

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

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

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

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

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

Scotch Mist Sunset Tour Highlights:

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

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

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

Call 1-877-669-1077. Enjoy!

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

Maui Weather Today: High 87, Low 73

Aloha, Jamaica

You Asked for It

Maui Weather Today High 84, Low 72

You Asked for It

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You asked for it!

Let the games begin.

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

Aloha, Jamaica

Hawaiian Airlines Adds Local Food, Free Wine

Maui Weather Today: High 85, Low 73

Hawaiian Airlines Adds Local Food, Free Wine

Aloha!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aloha, Jamaica

Ono Food

Maui Weather Today: High 86, Low 73

Ono Food

Aloha!

Spam musubi, courtesy of Flickr user bandita Spam Musubi

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

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

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

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

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

Aloha, Jamaica

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

Moving to Maui Advice

Maui Weather Today: High 86, Low 70

Moving to Maui Advice

Aloha!

Maui is an island paradise for most people who visit, and some decide to come  back–permanently. For many people, moving to Maui is a dream come true. But sometimes we need to look at our own situations through a different set of eyes.  Sometimes, we need to realize the great things that we might already have. For instance, are you close to your family? Can you really picture leaving them behind? I know a girl with two children, a husband and a business here in Maui, but she just can’t seem to leave her East Coast roots behind. She complains all year and then spends the summer “at home” as soon as the kids are out of school. Her husband is a bit adrift all summer while she’s gone, and misses his kids. But this is what she has to do to make Maui work for her.

Here are my suggestions for a move to Maui:

1) Line up a job. The job market is very tough everywhere, but even more so on Maui. It’s a very small island and the good jobs get handed down–someone who knows someone/is related to someone, etc. I would not move thinking you can get a job once you get here.

2) Save as much money as you can. Moving to Maui will cost several thousand dollars, and you will want to have at least a few month’s worth of living expenses saved up in case of  emergencies. Work overtime, cut expenses, do everything you can to save as much money as possible.

3) Take a trip to Maui, and drive around the island. Better yet, stay in all the areas you are considering moving to. Get a feel for the weather, etc. by talking to the locals. For instance, it rains in Haiku ALL the time. Is that really the weather you want in your own Paradise? Also take into consideration what activities fit your lifestyle. Are you a surfer, a windsurfer, or just a beach-goer? The beaches on the Kahului side of the island are windy most of the time, great for windsurfing, not fun at all if the sand is between your teeth as you try to lie in the sun.

4) Secure housing. Check craigslist.com. The rental market is very tight right now because so many people have lost their houses. It can take a while to beat out all the others wanting to rent in the same area you are looking at. Be patient and realize the timeline might be longer than you’d like for both a job and housing.

5) Once you have both a job and a housing lined up, decide which items you want to move. One friend called this “making the cut” as in “That book didn’t make the cut when I moved.” It’s much easier to find things on Maui than it used to be, however one of the hardest items is a sofa. The furniture stores don’t like to pay to ship furniture to Maui that may not sell, so when you go into a furniture showroom (Latitudes http://www.latitudesinhawaii.com/) in Kahului, Home World in Kahului (formerly BJ’s,it  just got bought out) or Moore’s Interiors in Lahaina  http://www.mooreinteriorsmaui.com/index.htm , etc.,realize that all the sofas you are seeing could have a five-month wait once you order them. So if you have no patience or really, really, love your sofa, consider bringing it with you. Otherwise there are always garage sales, or Costco!

A word about sofas: As a designer, I alway found sofas a dichotomy on Maui. I covered my sofas up with slipcovers, thinking this was the best way to handle the red dirt. The other day I removed the slipcovers to wash them, and there is mold under the sofa cushions from being covered up in a humid climate! Another option is leather, which never makes sense to me in a hot climate, because your bare skin sticks to them. But… you can wash the mold off. So, maybe a leather sofa with some type of slipcover or even a sheet thrown over it when you are relaxing….and then rattan sofas tend to be hard as rocks and not cushy or comfortable to lean against.

If I had it to do over I would probably buy a daybed from someplace like Bali (called a puune, poo-nay, in Hawaiian) with one large mattress that could be replaced, and a ton of pillows to lean against.From the website  http://www.discoveringhawaii.com/Living_Hawaiian_Style: “The Hawaiian pune`e is essentially a daybed, traditional in Hawaii Living since
the time of ali`i. Usually the size of a full bed mattress, it is placed in the
living space rather than the bedroom, as it is meant for lounging alone or with
company. Visit James T. Ferla’s delectable website to view his hand-crafted Hawaiian furniture. He also lists two books that I am very familiar with and can endorse:

Under The Hula Moon, by Jocelyn Fujii is a priceless and endless source of inspiration, as most of the photos in this beautiful book are of local houses of every style, from surfers’ crash pads to Plantation Boss Mansions.

Hawaii, A Sense Of Place by Mary Philpotts McGrath features the gorgeous homes of the rich and famous, but even if you’re poor, you’ll find a lot on island decorating ideas here.

So when you’re finally ready to buy that one-way ticket to Maui, ideas abound!

Thought for the day:The world is full of cactus, but you don’t have to sit on it.

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

Aloha, Jamaica

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

Progress

Progress

Aloha!

There have been lots of changes in the 12 years since I began going to Oahu’s North Shore. So much of what passes for progress is really just a tearing down of the old and established.

In the old days people build a simple beach shack on the waterfront. Now those shacks are being torn down and fancy mansions are going in. This is all outside money, locals can’t afford to buy beachfront anymore. Just as anywhere, someone will always have deeper pockets. But the simple, laid-back beach lifestyle seems to be disappearing. Any given weekend on the North Shore shows cars lined up, jockeying for positions to park. People who own land get aggravated, trying to keep tourists from parking on their lawns, and in their driveways. Mike finally had to sink posts and string chain across his mom’s lawn to keep Tourist’s off it. There is a 30-year-old avocado tree in her yard there with the best avocados I’ve ever had. The pit is small, and the flesh is like butter. People come along and pick the avocados without asking, and one girl was picking so many she was reselling them at a fruit-stand. Not cool.

Here is a before photo of a beach shack on the North Shore, right at waterfront:

North Shore Beach Shack

They tore down the house next to it, and here is the brand new one being built:

New Beachfront House, North Shore

It may become a vacation rental, which will mean a clash of the old and the new, with lots of people, cars and loud parties.

Mike has three brothers and someday they will be faced with the decision to keep the beach house or sell for a tidy sum. I don’t know which way it will go, but I do know the North Shore is not the laid-back place it was. And people from thirty or fifty years ago would really have some stories to tell.

As Carly Simon sang, These are the Good Old Days.

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

 

What is Pono?

Maui Weather Today: High 85, Low 70

What is Pono?

Aloha!

While visiting the North Shore, we ate at Ola’s Restaurant. It’s at the Turtle Bay Resort, http://www.turtlebayresort.com, the only hotel on Oahu’s North Shore. It’s also the only restaurant on the sand on Oahu. We like it because the food is good, and we go order from the bar menu which keeps the price down. As far as I’m concerned, you can’t beat it for the killer view.

Turns out a guy we know is now managing the restaurant. We were happily surprised to see him there, and then he told us how he got the job. They asked him three questions:
What is Ohana?
What is Pono?
And what is Aloha?

Can you answer these questions? Being able to answer these questions will give you a huge leg-up in Hawaii. I feel like an outsider here, always. And after thirteen years, I really don’t think that’s ever going to change. However, understanding what is important to the Hawaiian people makes a difference. You will see the bumper stickers: Respect the Culture. They had a monarchy and it was overthrown and they have never forgotten. Activists in the 1970’s revived the issues and there is a contingent pushing for seceeding from the U.S. Did you know that? When you live here, you are well aware of it.

Living Upcountry, we see far fewer tourists. Friends who are visiting go to the Foodland Center in Pukalani and come home and say, “Why are the locals so unfriendly? Why doesn’t anybody smile?” This is because they don’t have their  “luau” faces on. This is their daily lives, they don’t have to be “on.”

What is Pono? Do what is right.

And what is right? Respect.

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

North Shore Oahu

Aloha!

Today this blog is coming to you from the North Shore of Oahu:

Ke’Iki Beach, North Shore

Always when we get to Mike’s Mom’s North Shore house, I am struck by how moldy everything is. When a house is a half-block from the beach, there is salt spray, then dirt and mold grows on top of that .Also, the house sits in the trees

North Shore House

which keeps it cool, but the mold likes that even better. If no one has been here in months it can take a week to clean it all, easy (the geckos think they own the place, and gecko poop is like cement) but the beauty of having the beach a half block away usually makes it all worth it. I love this beach because it has trees that overhang it.

Ke’Iki Beach. North Shore

Someone told me when I first moved to Hawaii that Hawaii is best done in the shade. I thought they were crazy. Now I crave the shade, especially after having a suspicious spot removed twice from my nose. One friend calls living in Hawaii the “20 year skin-cancer plan.”

Last night there was a wedding at the beach. The groomsmen all wore long-sleeved white dress shirts with khaki pants which they rolled up to keep them out of the surf and sand. The bridesmaids all wore bright yellow sundresses. The ringbearer, who was about three years old, also had a white long sleeve shirt, khaki pants and a teeny tiny yellow tie that matched the sundresses. It appeared to be a destination wedding but where were the parents? There were no parents or grandparents in evidence. To me that is not a wedding.

One of the things I love about the North Shore is a hike in the mountains where I rarely see anyone else. A problem on Maui at times is that it has become so overrun with tourists. When you vacation on Maui it is not so obvious, but when you live here and have guests and want to take them hiking, it’s frustrating.

In the same way that Maui has many different personalities each island has a distinct personality. So within Oahu are many different personalities also. The North Shore is determined to retain its laid-back charm. The motto here is “Keep the Country country.” Currently there are plans to build an old-style hotel in downtown Haliewa. If you Google photos of Haliewa, the old hotel on the river was spectacular. Andy Anderson wants to re-create that, however the locals want a Beachpark and restrooms. I don’t live here; who am I to say who is right or wrong?
It is easy to get worked up about issues like this on Maui but as a tourist to a Oahu, it doesn’t affect my day-to-day life. Isn’t this true no matter where you live?

I would say in all the years I’ve been coming to the North Shore, the biggest change has been the traffic, it used to feel like the Country, and the traffic was in “town.” But that was BTB: “Before The Book” that changed everything. In Maui, it was “Maui Revealed“, then the other islands got their own versions. At my job we called it “that damn book”, because it gave every last secret away…every hiking spot, every waterfall. It made the locals crazy, there was no place left for just us. On Oahu they must have written about the turtles on the North Shore, because the tourists swarm the spot on the highway where the turtles are on the beach, darting across the highway at every point helter-skelter, and tying up traffic into an irritating snarl. What should be a ten-minute trip into Haleiwa Town becomes 30 minutes or an hour…just what we want to do on vacation. Then winter comes with the big swells, and more traffic from the surf contests. There is no escaping it now
I am here, resting and playing and hiking…and sitting in traffic. Not the North Shore we all used to know.

Thought for the day: All intellectual improvement arises from leisure.

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

Your Opinion, Please

Maui Weather Today: High of 84, Low of 72

Your Opinion, Please

Aloha!

Sociologists tell us that the reason we are never quite satisfied is in our hunting and gathering DNA. If our ancestors had been satisfied after finding those first berries, they would not have kept looking for more, and would have starved to death.

So here in Paradise, the something more that many of us wish for is 1) A Target store (it’s in talks) 2) a Trader Joe’s (will never happen) and 3) lower prices (ain’t never gonna happen.) Or is it?

There is something all over the Maui news sources now that I wanted to get your opinion on. A developer from the Mainland is trying to build a huge Outlet Mall in Kihei. Many locals don’t want it, they say it will just cause traffic and congestion.  One of our biggest concerns here on Maui is that we don’t want to become Oahu. If we wanted to live on Oahu, we’d move there. The developers maintain that it will be good for the economy here and create jobs.

The people on both sides of the argument seem to be missing the bigger picture:

1) how are they going to keep prices low, at Outlet Store prices, when they have paid to ship this merchandise across the ocean? and

2) Who is really going to shop there?

Your opinion please: Would you spend your time shopping at an Outlet Mall on Maui?

What do you mainly come to Maui to do? Relax? Swim/go to the beach? Boating/Diving/Water activities? Hiking? Driving around to see the scenery?

Shopping on Maui? And if so, what do you buy? Souveniers? Clothing?

My experience with Outlet Malls is limited, though I do know people who are addicted to them and basically plan their trips to the East coast around them. It seems these malls are always full of merchandise that didn’t sell well otherwise. And here’s something I’ve always wondered about chain stores in Maui in general: how do they move the Winter merchandise? If you walk into the Gap or Banana Republic in the Shops at Wailea and see boots and hats in there, are you moved to buy them and take them home? Because I know the Mauians aren’t buying them. Unless of course someone is making a trip to cold country, but my experience has been that when I really needed something like that, it wasn’t in the stores right then anyway.

So let’s say the Outlet Mall goes in. Who is really going to buy those winter goods and haul them home, when they can get them back in Milwaukee just fine? Also, and this is the biggee for me–airlines now charge good money for bags that used to be free.

So are you really going to come to Maui and fill up a suitcase at an Outlet Mall and pay to haul the stuff home? Are you going to spend your time on Maui shopping at an Outlet Mall, or will you think “I could do this back home”? I will tally the responses I get and submit them as a Letter to the Editor of both The Maui News http://mauinews.com/ and The Maui Weekly http://mauiweekly.com/ Your opinion, please…

And if you are local, are you in favor of the Outlet Mall?

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

Aloha, Jamaica

The Road not Taken

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

The Road Not Taken…in Maui

Aloha!

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

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

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

It’s about choices.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aloha, Jamaica

End of an Era

Aloha!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I will now get down off my soap box.

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

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

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

Aloha, Jamaica

Name that Wind

Aloha!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aloha, Jamaica

Try Wait

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The VISW was not amused.

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

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

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

Aloha, Jamaica

You know you live in Hawaii when…

Aloha!

You know you live in Hawaii when…

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

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

Aloha, Jamaica

 

The Art of the Staycation – Part 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

Differences Too

Aloha,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And lastly:

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

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

Aloha, Jamaica

Moving to Maui- Part Four

Aloha!

I figured after the embarrassment and absurdity of the late night cleaning incident (see The Move to Maui, Part Three) things were bound to calm down for a little while. Right?

People often ask me if it’s true that you must work two jobs to afford to live on Maui. The truth: it depends on what those jobs are. The General Manager of the hotel is obviously not going to need  a second job. The waitress, bartender, or lowly concierge working part-time (Me!)…probably yes. It also depends on how lavish a lifestyle you’re used to, what you like to eat, where you want to live, how extensive your vices….pretty much like anywhere else.

I took a second job as a Tennis Court Supervisor at another hotel. This sounds important,doesn’t it? But all I did was check players in, sweep the courts twice a day (by hand) and haul five-gallon jugs of ice-water out to the courts and hoist them up to waist-high stands out there. (Arrrggh! He-man style.) Being that I weighed 100 pounds dripping wet, this was not the wisest thing to be doing, which came back to haunt me, more on that later…but in the meantime I looked for a job in my own field of interior design.

As I’ve said in earlier posts,it’s pretty unusual to be able to move to Hawaii and keep your former lifestyle…unless that former lifestyle involves a hefty trust fund or you need a Brinks truck to move your bank account.

Since I had been in business for myself as a stressed-out designer, I thought it was time to go to work for someone else. (This was back when the idea of finding another job was not absurd.) I got a job nailed down with a place that imported Balinese and Thai furniture.  The owner was leaving on a buying trip and said I could start work when she got back. Whoo-hoo! A job! Then she got back and said she’d “changed her mind.” That was all. No other reason given.

This was my first of many lessons about Maui-ites. They are….different. (Disclaimer: obviously this does not mean everybody, it just seems like it when you live here.)

I’m trying to figure out how to put it delicately. I guess I’ll go with “quirky” as a nice way to say spacy, flaky, and unpredictable in one all-purpose word. It’s as if all the disenfranchised and disenchanted people in the world who can’t quite seem to pull it together in other places all wake up at some point and say, “I know! I’ll move to Paradise! That will solve everything.” So they do. But then everybody else is expected to deal with their… eccentricities.

Case in point: My next job interview was with a design firm (I’ll never tell!) that was owned by a husband-and-wife. I wore a silk dress, looked and acted professional, and was told I had the job. But whoa, nelly! Not so fast. The husband had interviewed me. Then the wife entered the room and the whole climate changed from warm Hawaii breezes to Iceland.

Turns out they were divorced but still in business together. And she saw me as some sort of competition for her husband (therapy, anyone?) but of course I was ten steps behind, my head swiveling from one to the other as they argued. I was trying to make sense of all this as a scene from Jerry Springer erupted and I thought they were going to come to blows right there on the floor. The last thing I heard as I hoofed it out of there in my high heels was her screaming at him, all the way out to the parking lot.

For the record, I didn’t want the job. I had asked a simple question: “Since you have to order all the furniture sight-unseen to get it to the island, what happens when it gets here and it’s hard a rock?” Their answer: “You lie through your teeth and tell them it’s the most comfortable couch you’ve ever sat on.” So I was out of there anyway, even before they went at each other’s jugulars.  Not the way I do business, folks. And good luck with those anger management issues.

So I kept working my manini (small) jobs, learning that nothing in Paradise was as it had seemed when I had come here on vacation, and wondered what was in store for me next.

Whatever it was, I was hoping it wouldn’t involve Jerry Springer.

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

Aloha, Jamaica

The Smell of Chicken, Not Frying

Aloha,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aloha, Jamaica

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