Michelle Obama Visits Oprah on Maui

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

image

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

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

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

Aloha, Jamaica

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Are Hawaiians Happier?

Aloha!
Hawaiians earned the title of “The Happiest State in America” with the highest rate of well-being of any state for the 4th year in a row, according to the annual Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

The index looks at six categories: life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, healthy behaviors, and physical health. According to a Huffington Post blog post entitled “What Hawaii Can Teach the Rest of America About Living Better” by Carolyn Gregoire, Hawaii locals not only live longer, they’re less stressed and happier than any other state. Other states in the top ten were:
10) Massachusetts
09) Iowa
08) New Hampshire
07) Nebraska
06) Montana
05) Vermont
04) Utah
03) Minnesota
02) Colorado
01) HAWAII

Folks in the top 10 states tend to have lower rates of obesity, and fewer medical problems, such as Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, and chronic pain. They also report enjoying their jobs more. They have lower rates of smoking, and exercise more than those who live in the lower -ranked states.

These five states have been in the lowest rankings every year from 2008 through 2012: West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Arkansas and Mississippi.

Almost 60% of those in Hawaii say they are “thriving,” versus about 45% in West Virginia. Hawaiians live longer, according to recent data from the Center for Disease Control.

So what are the secrets to the Aloha state’s longevity and happiness?

A Slowed down lifestyle.

A sense of family and strong community

Sunshine and exercise: more than 60% of Hawaiians exercise, according to Dr. Bradley Willcox, a longevity expert and professor at the John A. Burns school of medicine at the University of Hawaii.

20130908-103019.jpg
Courtesy freedigitalphotos.net arztsamui
“You get vitamin D from the sun when you’re out, it’s easier to be physically active here –you’re not dealing with 2 feet of snow for a good chunk of the year.”

Okay, let’s talk about these things. If you live in Hawaii, I’d love to hear from you. Please weigh in on:
What you think your state of happiness is, on a 1-10 scale, ten being the happiest.
Has your family had longevity?
Are you really healthy?
Do you exercise and get outside regularly?
Do you feel stressed?
Do you lead a slowed-down lifestyle?
Do you have strong family/community ties?

I will publish the results from the feedback I receive.

On another note, living in Hawaii is always interesting, and does pose its challenges. Last evening while we were in our Jacuzzi down in the yard, we had a visitor:

20130908-104934.jpg

I felt something brush my ear, and thought a mango tree leaf had dropped into the spa. I reached for it and it moved. I flung it, screeching, and Mike said it began swimming fast across the Jacuzzi. Well, you’ve never seen two adults in relaxation mode move so fast (or sound like 6 year-old girls).
It was about the size of the span of my hand when open, from pinky to thumb, say 6-7 inches. This is our second centipede in a week. I was headed down the hall the other evening at bedtime and just happened to glance down and saw one on the floor. I could easily have stepped on it and been stung, being that I’m always barefoot. Our chosen mode of removal is a giant pair of cooking tongs, at which point they get very angry… And then they are tossed in the toilet and flushed. A friend lays a flat box down and waits for them to crawl in. (What was that ad on TV? Cockroaches crawl in, but they don’t crawl out?)

Anyway, never a dull moment. And how was YOUR Saturday evening?

If you live in Hawaii, please take a moment to respond to the above questions, if you would. Many mahalos!

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

Aloha, Jamaica

Shark Attack Victim Dies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rest in sweet peace, Jana.

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

Aloha, Jamaica

How for speak Pidgin

Aloha!

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

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

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

Aloha, Jamaica

Real Estate is Hot Again

Aloha!

Real estate is on fire in California… I share this with you because the common wisdom is that Hawaii follows California. So if you’re thinking of moving to Hawaii, the time is now.

Yes, I’ve said this before. However, that was before I became personally embroiled in California real estate, and now I see it in the big picture. Home prices in the Bay Area have hit a milestone: median prices for all types of housing topped $500,000 for the first time in five years.

I am the executor of my mother’s estate, which means I needed to sell her house in the Bay Area. It went on the market, had open houses for two weekends, and got 18 offers. 18 offers, people! Almost all of them were well over asking price. I was floored. Then of course, I had to weed through the 18 offers, and ended up countering five of them. It was a very difficult decision to make the final choice, especially knowing that there are many young families out there who are desperate to buy a home while interest rates are historically low.

I have a friend in California who has been actively trying to buy a condo. One of the units she placed an offer on got 28 offers. She was very discouraged, but after five months of looking and putting in offers, she prevailed. The secret in this market is to be extremely patient. Also, to be excited about a house, but not crushed if you don’t get it. Easier said than done.

The reason for the on-fire real estate market in the Bay Area is that housing prices have risen to where underwater homes can finally sell at a profit. And yet, people are still leery of the market, and many are holding back to see where the prices will land. This has created a seller’s market, and a huge demand for very few houses. “I’ve been in real estate for 32 years and this is the lowest inventory we have ever had,” said Caroline Miller, president of the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors.”We’ve had multiple-offer markets before, but it’s just incredible. There are anywhere from three offers up to 20 or 30 offers, it’s just been crazy.”

As I said, Hawaii follows California. Are you planning to move to Hawaii? Do you hope to buy a house? Then hurry, please.

What is the housing market like in your area? Please share your stories.

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

Aloha, Jamaica

Jumping the Shark

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

Aloha!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hawaii…the jumping-off point.

MARRIOTT: What happened to him?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aloha, Jamaica

The Patchwork of Life

Aloha!

When people start writing to ask, “Are your okay?” I know it’s time to blog again.

Interesting question… are you okay? Having lost my mother, I have to say it’s hard to realize I will never again pick up the phone and have her be on the other end. She was 77 years old. That would’ve seemed old at one time in my life, but this was a woman who still went to water aerobics three times a week, who went to lunch and the movies with friends every single Friday of her life, no matter what. In fact, three of us went to the movies the evening of my stepfather’s funeral…nothing like a good comedy to ease a transition. Mom was all about enjoying life. (Which begs the question, where are all the good comedies? But that is another post.)

I want to write about the concept of chogak po. I am reading the book “Honolulu” by author Alan Brennert. (I don’t know how this one escaped me; it was published in 2009 and was the winner of “Elle’s” Lettres 2009 Grand Prix for Fiction.) It’s about a Korean woman who travels to Hawaii as a “picture bride” in 1914, but she does not find the life she has been promised, and instead must make her own way in a strange land. Chogak po is the Korean word for patchwork cloth, cobbled together from leftover scraps of material. They have an abstract beauty, but the protagonist asks her mother why she does not make more elegant creations, because she is capable. The mother replies, “When we are young we think life will be like a su po: one fabric, one weave, one grand design. But in truth, life turns out to be more like the patchwork cloth–bits and pieces, odds and ends–people, places, things we never expected, never wanted, perhaps. There is harmony in this, too, and beauty.”

I am trying to see harmony and beauty in my life, at a time when so many things I never saw coming and never wanted to deal with are expected of me. It has been four months since my mother passed away, and I am still wading through the paperwork and making daily phone calls in connection with her business affairs. Who knew?

One bright spot is my friend, Suzanne, who went through this a year before I did, and has been my mentor and guide. There was a time in my life when I was ahead of all of my friends in doing the important things such as buying a house, starting a business, etc. and they were constantly relying on me to guide them through the intricacies of those things. I used to think, “When is it my turn? When do I get someone to explain things to me?” I am just so glad that when it has come down to important decisions such as the timing on when to sell my mom’s house, I have had Suzanne to say, “Take your time…don’t let anyone push you or hurry you. As Executor, you are in control.”

Moving to Maui is much the same as that patchwork Korean cloth. Everyone thinks life here is going to be perfect (it’s Paradise, right?) and they have a grand design in mind when they come. But in truth, it turns out to be full of things no one can understand until they have fully lived here…not just part-timed it, or vacationed here. Vacationing in Maui means hanging out with other tourists and doing tourist things. Living here means reality: understanding pidgin and the local ways. Accepting that everything moves at a glacial speed.

Some things just can’t be fully understood until we’ve lived them ourselves.

A hui hou! Thanks for stopping by…If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button on the homepage.
Aloha, Jamaica