Because Suze Orman Said So

Aloha!

Many of you have written to me saying you’re planning to move to Maui this June… must be something in the air. And of course the price of Paradise always enters the conversation when people plan to move here.

I never had facts and figures to back up how much more expensive Paradise is, until now. In the recent Oprah Magazine a woman wrote to financial guru Suze Orman to talk about budgeting, and she is living in Hawaii. Suze wrote back to question the wisdom of living in a place that is 55% higher than the mainland for necessities like gas, groceries, and utilities.

So there you have it. Paradise is 55% higher because Suze Orman said so. Now we can all quit wondering.

I spent this winter in northern California, taking care of my mother’s estate after she passed away. There were three people living in the house. And California was having the coldest winter anyone could remember for ages, which meant I was running the furnace all the time.

The  utility bill in California (for three people) was $310 per month cheaper than my house in Maui (for four people), with no furnace running.

And then there are the groceries. In California, I fairly skip down the grocery aisles, tossing things into my cart with abandon. Everything is about one third, to half the price, as Maui. It’s all relative, whatever you are used to. I’m sure the people in California don’t think their groceries are cheap.

The price of paradise is steep. The difference is, I did not get to wake up to blinding sunshine every single day in California like I do in Maui.

It really is all relative…

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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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

Lahaina Ranks in Top Seaside Towns

Aloha!

No one that I know actually stays in Lahaina. They just do the “Lahaina crawl”: shopping, dining, taking a boat ride out of the harbor. They stay in Kihei, Kaanapali, Kapalua. As for my years as a concierge on Maui, my favorite dining experiences in Lahaina are: Io Restaurant http://www.iomaui.com/, Gerards (it’s French, he was a master chef from France) http://www.gerardsmaui.com/cms/index.php, and was awarded five stars by Forbes. If you go, ask to be seated on the veranda; the restaurant is in a lovely old hotel. For luaus, my favorite is the Feast at Lele http://www.feastatlele.com/ because the food is fabulous and you can’t get any closer to the beach. It’s small and intimate (about fifty tables) you have your your own table,your own server, and the price includes champagne if you desire. I always told my guests at the hotel that it was a great last-night on Maui celebration place.Be sure to take a sweater or wrap, ladies, it cools down on the beach after you watch that spectacular sunset.

Lahaina Sunset

Here’s the AP article on Lahaina from  the Maui News May 17th:

NEW YORK – Lahaina was ranked 10th on Coastal Living’s 15 “Happiest Seaside Towns.”

The survey is a first for the magazine that covers life along the coast and is celebrating its 15th anniversary. Beach communities from California to South Carolina were ranked as the “best places to live along the coasts of the United States.”

In an announcement of the ranking, the magazine called Lahaina, “the charming gateway to Maui’s world-famous Kaanapali and Kapalua beach resorts to the north.”

“Its banyan trees add a courtly air to the downtown, and its brightly colored Front Street, busy with shops and galleries, keeps things lively,” the announcement said. “Lahaina has nearly perfect air quality, and when you add its dry, sunny climate in a tropical paradise, that makes life pretty ideal.”

There were no other Hawaii seaside towns listed in the survey. The No. 1 “Happiest Seaside Town” was Kiawah Island in South Carolina, followed by Naples, Fla.; and Sausalito, Calif.

“It’s wonderful news,” said Lynn Donovan, executive director of LahainaTown Action Committee, an organization that helps promote the west-side town. “Our reaction is that we are thrilled that this is happening and that we are lucky that we live Lahaina.”

She noted that the honor comes on the heels of being ranked 21 out of 25 island destinations listed in a TripAdvisor survey and Front Street being named one of the “Great Streets of America.”

The Coastal Living ranking appears in the June issue, which hits newsstands Friday.

…So folks, how do YOU feel about Lahaina? Do you look forward to visiting it when you come, or do you avoid it and its crowds?

A hui hou (til we meet again). If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage.

Aloha! Jamaica

Moving to Maui, Part Three

Aloha,

So I now had a part-time job on Maui and a place to live, at the Aston Maui Kaanapali Villas, which is a combination of hotel and condos:

I had brought along one suitcase and my bicycle. The condo I was renting had four plates, four forks, four glasses. Life was simple, and I was discovering I liked it this way. No boxes of unorganized Christmas decorations haunting me from the attic. No closet full of winter clothes. No grandmother’s china gathering dust.

Actually, my design clients in Maui tell me that that’s the very best part about a vacation home on Maui: no stuff. So if that’s what we all aspire to, why do we own so much stuff? The truth is, it owns us…

Anyway, I was settling in, and deciding what to do about my life back in California. Condo life was agreeing with me. Until, that is, the night of the infamous late-night condo cleaning incident. I’m pretty sure they still talk about it at the front desk there.

Here’s the scene: it’s HOT in Maui. So once the sun went down and it cooled off, I decided to do a little cleaning. I put on a thin white t-shirt. And that was all. Get the picture? Hold that thought.

I opened the door to the condo and tossed out the throw rugs to shake later. Now there are fire codes in hotels, and safety codes, and these all conspire to create self-closing doors. Big, heavy, metal self-closing doors. A huge gust of wind blew through and WHAM! The saying “don’t let the door hit you in the butt on the way out” was suddenly reality.

Except that now I was out. Locked out of my condo on the outside walkway three floors up in nothing but a see-through t-shirt.The only thing that could have made it worse would have been if I was out on a tiny ledge, like in the movies. If there was ever a time I wished to be beamed up, Scotty, it was now.

What to do, what to do?

I yanked my t-shirt down over what  I could cover, got into the (now functioning) elevator and rode downstairs. I moved like a lady in a too-tight skirt, mincing my way to the front desk. I stopped just short of it and called around a support beam: “Hey, excuse me! I’ve lost my key and I’m locked out.”

The night clerk was named Mary. Mary was suspected of doing a little nipping at the bottle she kept stashed behind the desk (actually, a lot of nipping) because the boss wasn’t there at night to know the difference. Mary looked over in a fog and tried to focus on me.

“Who’s that? Who’s there?”

I called out my name. I told her which condo I was in. But Mary didn’t know me from a tourist.

“Well, what do you want? I can’t hear you. Come over here to the front desk!”

I sighed, clutched my shirt, and began my slow journey into the middle of the lobby. At just the same moment that a tourist couple entered and wanted to check in. I sidled up to the front desk, turned my back to them and whispered loudly,  “I’m locked out. I can’t get in. Do you have a spare key to my apartment?”

“Well no, of course not. I’ll have to call the maintenance guys. I don’t know who’s on duty.”

The maintenance GUYS? Great. Just great. The gods who had come out of the sky in my deux a machina moment and given me a great apartment and a job were now extracting their pound of flesh. Literally. I was sure I could hear them laughing up there.

I yanked my t-shirt down as hard as I could as the tired tourists glared at me. I steeled myself for the moment my Savior With a Key would get his eye-full. Luckily he was a gentleman, and pretended that it was common-place for him to have to have to let stranded women in see-through t-shirts and no bottoms into their apartments. Let me tell you though, I made sure he walked ahead of me on my walk of shame.

Like I said, I’m pretty sure they still talk about this at the front desk, because let’s not forget, I NOW WORKED THERE!  And I know I made the maintenance guys’ Hall of Fame for stupid guest tricks at the hotel. Except, that is, that just the week before I had dropped my key down the teeny little crack in the elevator shaft and they had to rescue me from that.

What are the chances? And how could a woman who was smart enough to own a home and manage a business keep pulling these incredibly dumb stunts? Deux a machina.

And the gods laughed.

A hui hou! (til next time). 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 reserved. May not be reblogged or reprinted without express written permission of the author.

Moving to Maui, Part One

Image

Maui Kaanapali Villas

Aloha!

Would you like to move to Maui? Ever wonder what it’s really like?

Here’s how I got here: I fractured my tailbone and then had a small stroke. But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.

An acquaintance owned a lovely condo at the Maui Kaanapali Villas, www.astonmauikaanapalivillas.com  with a little bit of an ocean view and a short walk to the beach. Her mother on the mainland had cancer, and she needed to go care for her. She asked me if I’d like to stay in the condo and pay her mortgage (there are no free lunches.)

I was running my interior design business in the San Francisco Bay area and wearing high heels to work every day. The first thing that happened was I fell down a full flight of stairs. A client’s carpet was worn out (duh…part of why I was there) and my slick heel slid off the top step and I flew through the air, legs over my head, to land at the bottom in a heap. Result? A fractured tailbone. The doc said the only thing he knew to help that was to swim in warm salt water. Reason to say yes, #1.

Then I was leaving another client’s home and things got a little wonky with my vision. I chalked it up to fatigue and stress. The next thing I knew, I was driving on the sidewalk on a very busy main thoroughfare. Oh, this was not good at all. I could have taken out a light post; heck, I could have taken out a pedestrian, several, in fact.

I shakily drove on to the store to order furniture for my client, and when I opened my mouth to speak to the salesman, gibberish came out. Needing to recuperate from a small stroke: reason #2.

So I found myself on Maui, basically in the lap of luxury, see above. (Except for the pesky elevator that broke down and they had to bring a guy in from Oahu to fix it, but he kept not showing up. Little did I know this is how EVERYTHING works on Maui. In other words, it doesn’t.) Then, they raised the condo fees to pay for the elevator, so my acquaintance raised my rent. But the beach made up for it:

I talked the guy at the  beach shack into renting me a chaise lounge by the month, with two pads instead of one, for my poor tailbone.I spent every day at the beach. I walked, swam, sunned, ate, and slept. I got better. I contemplated my life back home and saw that I’d been driving myself into the ground like a crazy person. You know the old saying: self-employment is where you go from working 40 hours a week to 80 hours a week for half the pay? It’s so true.

I started thinking about running away from home. Permanently.

But how in the world would I make a living?

A hui hou! (til next time). 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 reserved. may not be reblogged or reprinted without written permission of the author.

Banana Harvest and Muffin Recipe

Aloha!

So, it’s banana harvest time. Where you’re so excited to see those beautiful little nubs growing, then turning yellow. Until you realize they will ALL turn yellow AT ONCE. And suddenly you’re in the kitchen pulling out every banana recipe you have. Bananas flambe. Banana cake. Peanut butter on bananas (now you’re desperate.) We have apple-bananas, which I didn’t know existed until I moved to Maui, just like so many other things. They taste a little bit like a pear to me, so I don’t know how they got their name.

Did you know that you can freeze bananas? If they are starting to get too ripe, wrap them in a brown paper bag and put them in your freezer just like that. We also like the “Green Bags” for helping them stay fresh longer on the counter.

Bananas take LOTS of water, so they aren’t exactly free when you grow them. That water is in the tree, and when you cut it down with a big cane knife, the water pours out of the stalk.

Here’s my favorite recipe for using up bananas. The muffins freeze well.

BANANA CRUNCH MUFFINS

3 C flour

2 C sugar

2 t baking powder

1 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

Sift the above together. Wet ingredients to be mixed separately:

2 eggs

3/4 C milk

2 t vanilla

1/2 lb. melted butter

Add to dry ingredients. DO NOT OVERMIX. Then add:

2 mashed bananas

1 C granola or bran, ground fine

1 C nuts

1 C coconut

Put into muffin tin or paper muffin cups. Sprinkle some extra coconut on top, it will brown nicely. Bake 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Enjoy!

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

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