The Home Fires Burning

Aloha!

Ladies and gentlemen, start your air purifiers. It’s the 143rd year of sugarcane burning on Maui.

We had just barely, barely pulled out of VOG season (cough, cough) and they began burning. I am on the email list from the HC&S sugarcane company, and they send these lovely notices the night before they burn:

image

This is so we will know to sleep with our windows closed. My sister was here visiting us from Indiana, and she could hardly believe that we live in HAWAII and have to keep our windows closed, either from VOG (volcanic organic gas) or cane smoke. And we will wake up in the morning to “Maui snow”, the sticky, black ash that covers our cars, porches, and sidewalks.

Then there is this notice. Guess they can’t make up their minds:image

Last week, someone purposely set one of the cane fields near our house on fire. It was touch and go for a while as to whether they would have to evacuate the houses, but luckily the wind stayed in the right direction.

image

image

As I always say….never a dull moment when you live on Maui!

A hui hou. if you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow button to the right, or on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

Advertisements

Calm and Clear

Aloha!
Tropical Storm Ana has moved on, and we suffered no damage. There were high winds, an amazing lightning show that went on for hours (we rarely get lightning on Maui) and a deluge of rain. But we even made it to a party on Saturday night that everyone wanted to go to and no one wanted canceled…(thanks, Shel!)

The thing about hurricanes is that it can look like they’re going out to sea, and then they can turn on a dime and blast back to land. That’s what happened with Hurricane Iniki when it hit Kauai in 1992. So the media has to really hype the hurricane, and get everyone’s attention just in case it does make landfall and there is major damage. People have to be safe. Thus, all the closures on Maui.

It was interesting, though, that Sunday morning–after the storm was on its way out– I was practically blasted out of bed at 3 AM from a flood warning on my cell phone. I don’t know how they even got the volume that loud, way louder than my normal ringtone!

There will be major run-off into the ocean from the storm, which creates murky water (dead fish and animals), and then the sharks move in. There was a report in the Maui News on Sunday morning (www.mauinews.com), about a man and his children surfing Maalaea Harbor after the storm, and a shark showed up. NEVER go in the water after a storm like this!

Anyway, the beauty of storms here is that they blow the VOG (volcanic organic gas) out, and we get nice clean air for a few days…longer, if we’re lucky.

We were hoping it would dial the heat down a notch or two, but we are still having record temperatures, over 90° every day, and the humidity…WHEW!!

Thanks to all the readers who sent good wishes for our safety in the storm, and even wrote to follow up. We appreciate each and everyone of you!

A hui hou. If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage, or to the right.

Aloha, Jamaica

Even in Paradise

Aloha!
So, we thought Mike just had a bad cold…but a trip to the doctor confirmed walking pneumonia (which is pneumonia, just not quite so bad a case of it.) Back when I was a concierge, hotel guests used to comment that it “must be nice to live in Hawaii where you never get sick.” Yep, Mike is living proof of that today. He feels (and looks like) something the cat hacked up.

On another note, the VOG has rolled in and my throat feels raw… and my friend who gets a migraine every time the VOG is in, isn’t yelling “yippee!” either.

Yes, even in Paradise.

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

Aloha, Jamaica

Brief Relief

Aloha!
Regarding my last post about the VOG (volcanic organic gas), and that we’d had unrelenting VOG for 43 days, I wanted to give you an update. Shauna wrote to ask if I had asthma before moving to Hawaii. The answer is no. I’ve written about this in the past, but I really did move to Maui for the “clean” air. So I was shocked to find out that Hawaii has a high incidence of asthma, and particularly the children are at risk. You can check it out at http://www.CDC.gov/asthma/stateprofiles/asthma. An estimated 36,738 children have asthma in Hawaii. Child lifetime asthma prevalence in Hawaii is 18.6%, compared with the 38 participating states rates of 13.3%.

There have also been questions about whether Hawaii is a good place for those with allergies. See also: http://www.allergyclimates.com/2006/06/03/Denver-Hawaii.

I’ve sat in my chiropractor’s office, and listened to parents bringing their children in for adjustments, saying, “I pulled the children out of school today because of the VOG, and they’re doing so poorly, I brought them in for an adjustment.” Many Hawaii schools have open windows and no air conditioning. I spoke with the man who owns Air Filters Hawaii, and he was hired to go to the Big Island and fit the schools over there with air filteration systems for the VOG. I think Maui should be next.

The thing with the VOG is that it’s so in insidious. Most places on the island, you don’t even know it’s there. We can go to downtown Kahului (where the airport is),and not see the VOG at, all because we are IN it. We can go down to Kihei, or to Wailea, on the south part of the island, and it’s the same way. But we come up the mountain and have a view of the valley, and bingo! there it is, hanging over Maui like a gauzy blanket. The shorthand at our house now revolves around the VOG. The question, “Is it thick?” means, is it time to close up all the windows?

I am on the email notification list for the island’s HC&S sugarcane company. This year during our 45 day VOG seige, they would send an email that said they were going to burn in the morning between 4:00am and 6:30am, and then a few hours later another email notification would come, saying “burning suspended due to weather.” They’re not saying due to VOG, but that’s what it means. They canceled the burning so many times I lost track, and the upside to the VOG siege was they were not burning cane. So it’s a choice between VOG and cane-smoke, I guess.

We had a three day VOG reprieve, so we went to the beach. I was so happy to be out of the house I cannot even tell you! However, now I’m thinking I need to do a blog post about “what not to do at the beach.” There was the guy who stood directly in front of me and chain smoked the whole time. Then the guy next to me smoking a cigar. Honestly, people, you can’t do this in your own backyards?

So today the wind is directly out of the south, and the VOG is moving back in. All of our windows are closed, and I am so weary of it, and wonder how long it will last this time. At one point I worked in a law office here on the island, with a large group of women. On voggy days, you could just see the effects all across the office… People with itchy eyes, scratchy throats, and the inability to concentrate. People would think they were coming down with the flu (with the achiness), but it would just be the VOG.

So there’s your report from Paradise today.

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

Aloha, Jamaica

43 Days of Vog and Counting

ImageImage

43 Days of Vog and Counting

Aloha!

I have written about Vog before–it’s an acronym for Volcanic Organic Gas, and it’s sulfur, so it’s a poison. It is also a particulate which lodges in the lungs. This gas escapes from the volcano on the Big Island, and when our trade winds are working the way they’re supposed to, they keep that nasty stuff over on the Big Island.

Lately, though, the winds have died more often than they’ve blown (climate change?) and we have major Vog here on Maui. 43 days with nary a let-up, but who’s counting? Just because I don’t go outside except to go to the grocery store, and I live in Paradise? I have asthma, and I can’t breathe from it, but it’s more than that. Being a poisonous gas, it causes a variety of problems such as burning, itchy eyes; sore throat, concentration problems, and achiness like the flu. 

Above is a photo of the valley with Vog, and under it a  photo of the valley with no Vog. It’s difficult to photograph because, well, it’s a gas. The most telling feature of this photo is the direction the smoke is blowing from the smokestacks at the Puunene sugar mill. If the smoke were blowing to the left, the winds would be coming from the east. But they are blowing “backwards,” from the south. We call this Kona winds, and they didn’t use to be that big a deal, it blew that way for just a month or two in the wintertime. In fact, winter was known as Kona season.

However, it is no longer “winter” here, it is past Easter, and I am quite distressed. This has been going on for a few years now, ever since a new vent opened in the volcano. The shelf (rim) of the volcano has been a collapsing at the rate of the size of a Volkswagen bus per day. When the shelf hits bottom it goes “pooff” and out comes the gas. Oh, joy.

43 days of being cooped up in the house, and I live  in Paradise. But who’s counting?

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

Aloha, Jamaica