Aloha, Again

Aloha!

Yes, yes, I know, it’s been a while. Those of you who read this blog know that my mother passed away in December. And I’ve been a little busy. If anyone ever offers to make you the Executor of an estate and you’re thinking of it as an honor, word of advice: run screaming in the other direction. But I was given no choice, so there you have it.

Being the Executor of an estate (estate? puh-leeze) is a thankless, mind-numbing exercise in futility, and you spend months chasing your tail. To top it off, my parents were pack-rats (they had twelve of everything) and it’s up to the Executor (that would be me) to clear all of that flotsam (unimportant misc. material) and jetsam (material cast overboard in times of distress to lighten the load) out of the house, so it can be sold. The stuff and the house.

And let me tell you, there were times while I was there when I walked out to their over-stuffed garage and wanted to pick up one of the (twelve) hammers on the work bench and smack myself in the face with it. Because that would have been an excellent diversion from the two-foot pile of paperwork waiting for me inside the house:

IMG_1874

This was from just one drawer, in one of the four desks in my mom’s house.

Currently I am back on Maui because, well, because I actually have a life apart from being the Executor of an estate…however, being one leaves you no time for your own life. I had to get out of California while the getting was good, just to get my own taxes done this year. THEN I get to go back and file my mom’s taxes, and the estate’s taxes. And sell the house. Party-time!

I know that I am back on Maui, because that very first morning, a friendly little German cockroach decided to share my cup of tea with me:IMG_1819

Some things never change.

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

Aloha, Jamaica

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Baby Dolphin Birth (Video)

Baby Dolphin Birth (Video)

Aloha!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aloha, Jamaica

Oprah’s Organics?

Oprah’s Organics?

Aloha!

Would you buy organic produce from Oprah Winfrey if you got the chance? It might soon be a reality here in the Islands. It appears she is turning her 160 acre property in Hana, Maui into a new business. The US patent office late last month received seven trademark filings under “Oprah’s Organics,” “Oprah’s Farm,” and “Oprah’s Harvest.” Earlier this year, several websites quoted a National Enquirer story in which Winfrey joked that she might move to Maui to run an organic farm if her Oprah Winfrey Network cable television channel didn’t work out.

According to her rep, Oprah says she wants to use her Maui farm to grow and distribute produce throughout the state. But these filings also clear the way for all kinds of products from frozen foods to beauty supplies. According to an article in Pacific Business News,http://www.bizjournals.com/pacific/blog/2012/11/oprah-puts-her-famous-brand-on-organic.html the Oct. 29 application for Oprah’s Organics said “the trademark is for everything from soaps and shower gels, cleansers, lotions and moisturizers to shampoos, conditioners and sunscreens. The Oprah’s Harvest application filed on Sept. 7 just says it is for food, beverages, agricultural and catering services, but the New York Post’s Page Six reports that the applications also cover organic salad dressings, frozen vegetables, soups, beverages and snack dips. A Winfrey representative told the Post that the trademarks filed for Oprah’s farm were for produce to be grown and distributed on Maui and the rest of Hawaii.”

I feel it’s my civic duty here on Maui to report this to you, because “Where does Oprah live on Maui?” And “Oprah’s Farm” are two of the biggest search terms this blog receives. It would appear that even though Oprah has retired from network television, people still can’t get enough news of her.

It will certainly be interesting to see what this organic produce from Oprah will cost here on Maui. Gerry Ross and Janet  Simpson own Kupa’a Farms, an organic farm in Kula. http://kupaafarms.blogspot.com/. From their website it says that Kupa’a means firm or steadfast in Hawaiian and “describes the hard soil on our farm and our determination to amend and enrich it. The land was first cleared for corn and asparagus in 1979 and went organic in 2003.” I admire Gerry and Janet. Organic farming is not an easy life, unless you are someone who thinks that rising at 4 am is your idea of a good time.

But then if we really believe that Oprah will be gettin’ up at 4 am to pick her own vegetables, then we probably also believe that the Easter Bunny fills in for Santa when he’s sick.

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

Aloha, Jamaica

Maui Real Estate Stats

Maui Real Estate Stats

Aloha!
For those of you considering moving to Maui, (and I hear from a lot of you!) here are the latest stats on real estate in the Upcountry Makawao/Pukalani area.
There were 36 properties sold in Makawao from April 1 to October 17, 2012
The highest selling price was $1,780,000. The lowest selling price was $210,000. That was for a three bedroom/1 bath, 820 square-foot house on a lot size of 6595.
This makes the median price $380,000.

In Pukalani the highest selling price was $1,085,000. The lowest price was $220,000. That was for a three bedroom/1 bath 1486 square-foot house on a lot size of 11,221 feet.

Be aware that these sales figures say nothing about the condition of the houses. There are some real stinkers out there. A house in Maui is in a perpetual state of returning to the jungle (rotting) from the humidity, red dirt, wind and rain. It takes a lot of time, love, and money to keep a house in tiptop shape. I couldn’t figure out why so many people let their houses go to pot, in need of paint, weeding and repair, until I owned a house in Maui and saw the kind of time and money it takes to keep one up. It’s like a continual battle between you and the jungle. Paint alone is much more expensive here than on the mainland. Don’t forget, they have to ship it.

National Association of Realtors chief economist Lawrence Yun said 2012 is expected to be a year of recovery for housing. “First-quarter sales closings were the highest first-quarter sales in five years.”

A hui hou!
Aloha, Jamaica

3rd Shark Attack in 3 Weeks

Third Shark Attack in Three Weeks

Aloha!
We are three for three here on Maui. Three shark attacks in three weeks. It’s beginning to feel like we’re living in a small town on the eastern seaboard and Jaws is on the loose. There was also a fourth attack off Kauai.

For the first time in 12 years, I have asked Mike to stay out of the water. Usually I’m glad to see him go surfing. It’s kind of like sending him off to church; he comes back with a big smile and attitude adjustment. But this is worrisome, we’ve never seen this kind of shark activity, and Mike, who has lived here his whole life, says he’s never heard of this many shark attacks this close together. The news reports say it may have something to do with an increase in the turtle population, the shark’s favorite food.

30-year old Marc Riglos was participating in the 2012 Maui Roi Roundup, an invasive species spearfishing tournament. He said the shark took a bite of his ankle then tugged it from side to side. “I thought I was going to die out there. (It) was crazy,” he said. With the help of his dive partner he was able to get back into shore, but they were 300 yards out and it took 25 minutes.

Riglos says he hopes that doctors can save his foot. On KHON 2 news last night, they showed him in his hospital bed at Maui Memorial Medical Center. His right ankle is stitched the entire way around. Riglos said his foot was literally hanging by a tendon.

A marine biologist interviewed on KHON said that the best way to fight off a shark is to get your fingers into the shark’s eyesockets or gills and tug hard, and they’ll back off. Um, easier said than done while their jaws are wide open and headed straight for you. When Mike worked as a professional diver, he said that the divers would stay in a circle and if a shark approached they would take the respirators out of their mouths and scream at the shark, and that worked, too.

Seems to me you don’t need a degree from Harvard to figure out you should maybe just stay out of the water right now.

If you have ever seen the “Shermans Lagoon” comic strip, it is a microcosm of marine life and they all have human characteristics. The big, dumb shark Sherman, his wife and son, the crab and the turtle all talk and comment on what’s going on up top. They stake out Unsuspecting Vacationers floating on the surface and decide which ones will taste best for dinner. It sounds morbid, but it’s quite funny.

Given that, I began to wonder if the sharks have just been watching too much television down there… Too many paid political advertisements. They got so frustrated, they just had to take a big BITE out of someone.

At least today that will all be over! And if the shark activity calms down… Well, what can I say. I was right.

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

Aloha, Jamaica

Be Safe

Be Safe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aloha, Jamaica

Fall for Maui

Fall for Maui

Aloha!

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

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

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

Mango Tree on Maui

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lilikoi Martini

1 ounce (a shot-glass) of lilikoi juice

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

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

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

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

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

Aloha, Jamaica