Heritage Park in Wailuku (Iao)

Today was a day off and I had no orders to fill on deadline, so decided to drive to Iao Valley to finish a book I was reading. However, all the tourists on Maui chose to go on this day as well and the parking lot of full. The closest spaces on the road were about a mile away. I know a mile isn’t that far to walk, but we’re having record heat so it was about 94 degrees. As I was driving out I remembered Heritage Park–a collection of cultural houses built in a tropical garden park. I remember going once before about five years ago but at the time had neither camera nor cell. There are several paths meandering through the trees with small replicas of houses, statuary, ponds and lovely cooling breezes. I tried to capture the essence of each little home.

The first thing I noticed on my journey was a large outdoor oven and I immediately knew this was the Portuguese residence. I could imagine the “ala onaona”, the wonderful fragrance of Portuguese sweet bread emanating from the oven calling the children to dinner or breakfast (and probably any neighbors within smelling distance).
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As the Portugeuse people were predominately of the Catholic faith, there is a statue of the Virgin Mary surrounded my greenery…looking peaceful and serene, calmly watching over her people.
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The house was as colorful as the people of the land. There are striking blue tiles along the top of the white walls and along the doorways.
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Next in line came the Filipino cottage which was open air with bamboo walls.
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The house was being reconstructed with some of the bamboo being replaced, but it looked as tropical as the Philippines.

Then there is the “uptight haole” house in a New England style. It looked prim and proper as I imagine the missionaries must have looked to the Hawaiian population.
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As my phone camera was losing power, I managed to capture the Chinese pagoda style house and the statue with Chinese Kanji reminding the visitors of faith, prosperity and loyalty.
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As my phone died I took one last photo of the trees and palapalai fern. I ended up in the Filipino hut reading to the sound of the breezes whisking through the trees on a spectacular Hawaiian day.
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Finally Found

I moved to the island of Maui from the Big Island of Hawai’i two years ago. I think one of the things I missed the most was my church. Kuhio Chapel is located in the Hawaiian Homesteads and has a large congregation of mostly those that live in the area. It was my idea of what a Hawaiian church should be. Kahu Brian gave sermons from the heart. He never used notes as he knew and lived his material.

On Maui I felt I needed a church again. I first went to Keawela’i. It’s a huge church with a huge congregation. However, most of those there were visitors and there was no feeling of local camaraderie. Although it is purported to be a Hawaiian church, it didn’t, to me, seem to be very Hawaiian. It is located in Makena which is pretty long hike from Kula. Later I went to Keolahou in Kihei. Again, quite a drive but a sweet church. There was a nice feel to it, lots of opportunity to play my ukulele. However, the kahu fractured the Hawaiian language. It too was quite a drive and when my days off changed and I now work on Sunday afternoon, it was difficult to drive all the way there, then home again to get ready for work and then drive down the mountain again.

I tried Ka’ahumanu, but the congregation was terribly small. I do so enjoy going to Ka’ahumanu for the monthly Picnic for Poki which is a Hawaiian musical series on the grounds under the Monkeypod tree. I heard there was a Hawaiian church in Waiehu (another drive) and another very small congregation–five including myself. However, I did enjoy Kahu Roy. He also spoke from the heart. However, it didn’t feel like a community and was another long drive.

I was then told of a Hawaiian church in Paia. Paia is a small Hippie/New Age town right down the mountain from where I live. I would have never thought of Paia when looking for a Hawaiian church. But, when I pulled into the parking lot, it reminded me so much of Kuhio Chapel. It’s a cozy church with an active congregation of about 35. There is a piano and ukulele. The Lord’s Prayer is in Hawaiian, the Doxology is in Hawaiian, the hymns are in Hawaiian. I felt so at home. Their Kahu passed away a couple of years ago so they have an interim kahu–Kahu Roy!  He is fluent in Hawaiian. I felt so comfortable singing (well making a joyful noise). I was moved to tears, so, I think I’ve finally found my Maui church.

Paia Hawaiian Church

Paia Hawaiian Church

Global Warming

This is July, right? In the middle of summer? We are struggling through an unprecedented heat wave that is setting records all over the state. In Kahului at the airport it has been coming in a 92, 93 degrees with little breeze to dry the sweat on my brow. However, last night we had a storm blow through…at least that’s what I was told. I hadn’t slept the night before so last night I slept through it all. This was a little disappointing as I still miss the sound of the rain on my tin roof in Hilo. When I got the newspaper this morning I was surprised to see the photo of Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawai’i (my island) covered with snow! In the middle of July! I do remember getting snow in June around 2011 and occasionally in the 1980’s but it is still incredibly surprising. And, it’s still beautiful. Of course, it has melted now, but what an amazingly stunning site while it stayed long enough for photos.

Changing Neighbors

I have lived in Kula for just about two years. I have a tiny apartment under the main house where the landlady lived. In an adjacent cottage is a 30ish couple. The yard is shared. We grow herbs and share. The cottage renters, Jerry and Sandy take care of several feral cats. We all get along. We carry cookies and muffins between houses. Sandy makes delicious organic soups, salads, organic oatmeal and granola. I have a running order for her weekly surprises. She delivers all over up country. Our landlady, Cheryl, is a landscaper. Consequently we have trees, shrubs, plants ablaze with color all year long.

About six months ago Cheryl decided to sell her business and travel around the world. So we got new neighbors upstairs…Barry and Terri. A super fun couple–a little rowdy, a little wild, joyous. They fit right in. They were previous owners of a catering service specializing in pastries. Yes, fit right in. We had wonderful barbecues in the yard around a fire pit. We drank wine or had a cocktail. We would have cedar-plank salmon or chicken, corn on the cob and s’mores. Last summer was a fun time of the year in Kula. However, our fun came to an end when Barry was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease and the couple decided to move back to the Mainland to be closer to family.

So, in moves Linda. At first she seemed perfect. She was taking tests to become a realtor. She had a good selection of music that I could occasionally hear. She is in her early sixties, I was hoping for a kindred spirit.  But, this was not the case. At first we weren’t sure why her personality seemed to be changing. She didn’t go to work. She was home all day. It didn’t take long to realize she was drinking. Not just a glass of wine or two, but two or three bottles in the morning. By evening she was bumping around her house. She started wearing a black and white striped skirt that did not change for weeks. One night she came to my house and, through tears, told me she had been raped by her Caucasian tennis partner. I flipped. She assured me she had called the police, had a rape kit done at Kula Hospital. I fed her dinner, but during the time spent together she kept asking if she should call the police. Some other things weren’t adding up. She was telling the story with different details. So, the next morning, I mentioned it to Sandy. She laughed! What? She then told me that Linda had told her a couple of days before that she had leukemia. A friend had gone through a litany of “diseases” with her. Then about a half hour later, our gardener knocked on my door and told me Linda told him she had been raped by a black man who came across the yard. He was upset because he has two young daughters.  I assured him this was a fabrication.

Since then we’ve had the police knocking on our doors a couple times a week. When they get a report of a rape, it’s something they can’t ignore. Within the last week, she has been raped by a black and a white man in a Camaro, raped by a bicycle rider, a black man who hit her over the head with a baseball bat and raped her, an assault with a baseball bat and then the man jumped off her balcony. She has had leukemia, flu, breast cancer. She has been taken off to jail in a police car, taken away on a stretcher to the hospital. She been in rehab but checks out in a few days to go to the market. She’s back within a few hours or a few days carrying huge bags of wine bottles. She decided she needed a roommate so she found a man on Craig’s List. He was a older man. I was so afraid for him. If she charged him with rape, since he would be right there and handy, he would be arrested. So, I suggested Jerry talk to him. He has decided to find another place. Our landlady has issued an eviction notice. We are counting the days. I’m now wondering if Linda will even remember getting the notice. She remembers very little. I feel sorry for her. We have all tried to help at one time or another to no avail. We are getting tired of being embroiled in her drama. She needs help but doesn’t feel she needs help. She is losing friends who are getting tired of being called at odd times with crazy stories. I wonder if she is so far gone that she doesn’t even know what she is doing to her life.

She was given 45 days to find a new place. I don’t know if she will have enough of a state of mind to find another apartment.

Cheryl will be back by the end of July. So, the police will have their work cut out for them during the next six weeks.

A Maui Sunset

It’s been cold, rainy, windy and cloudy and I’m so over winter. But, yesterday evening the clouds sat above the horizon and produced the first sunset worth photographing since autumn. I always have to take pause and remember those who are living through some of the worst storms in history on the East Coast and Mid West. However, they have parkas, and hats, and gloves, and boots. I have a sweater, sweatpants and crocheted booties. It’s a matter of acclimation and clothing! It’s dipping into the mid 40’s up here in Kula. I’m not use to it yet. To me it’s freezing and I sometimes wonder if I’m going to make it through the night. In the morning my fingertips are snow white and numb. I can feel nothing and find it difficult to get my sewing done. About 10:00am my fingers finally thaw out. But, last evening it seemed different. The rain had stopped, the wind stopped blowing it’s icy breath from the north, the clouds parted and from my back yard I was able to see the sky brighten as the sun slowly sank, not into the sea, but behind the West Maui Mountains. It makes me think that maybe winter has loosened its grip and I will once again have feeling back into my fingers.

Taking from my lanai up in Kula

Taken from my lanai up in Kula

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Spring is Springing

Today I wore shorts for the first time in about 5 months, and I live in Maui, Hawai’i! But, my home is up the side of Haleakala in Kula. It’s only about 2500 ft. but it gets down into the lower 40’s and I’m acclimated to a warmer climate. So, this entire winter season, when at home, I’m wearing sweatpants, sweatshirt and crocheted boots! Not feeling particularly attractive, but it’s cold. But, today I woke up and I didn’t feel freezing. I’m still wearing a long sleeve tee-shirt and my boots, but I’m wearing SHORTS!

Keeping the feet nice and toasty

Keeping the feet nice and toasty


Another sign of a coming Spring is the glorious sight of a few Jacaranda blossoms in my driveway. Of course, I immediately looked up to see if the tree was finally blooming, but alas, not yet. I think the few flowers on the ground were those that thought maybe it was time, but when the temperature dipped, realized it was still a little too chilly. Come March the tree will be covered in purple bliss.
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And, for my favorite Spring sign…Spring training for the San Francisco Giants is underway. The regular season will start is just a couple of weeks and I’ll be able to follow my team to, hopefully, another championship season.

The Dynasty

The Dynasty

I’m sooooo looking forward to the flowers, the trees blooming, the bats crackin’.

Kilauea in Fabric

Occasionally when I am wandering through the aisles of the fabric store, especially when a new shipment comes in, I will spot a Hawaiian fabric that catches my eye and tells me its story. So, last week when looking for yellow gingham I came across a print that immediately took me back to the Big Island and our very active volcano.WP_20150205_001

Kilauea had been erupting non-stop since 1987. There are periods of time when the lava flow is just a trickle and doesn’t put anyone in harm’s way and there are those times when it threatens and then carries through with that threat by inundating a district or now, threatening the town of Pahoa on the East coast of the Island of Hawai’i. As it travels through the upland forests (Waokele) it can be a flaming yellow and red hot molten lava burning the forest in swaths of destruction or it can branch off into rivulets of lava circling around with a path through the trees and once again joining the main stream further down the slope. This leads to an area of untouched forest of ferns and foliage that flourish as an island. These verdant islands in the middle of a flow are called a kipuka. Once the particular flow slows or stops it cools, the lava changes colors from a burnt orange to a solid black.

And so, this hula pa’u tells the story of the kipuka..the flow changing from molten yellow, orange, red, through the cooling stage to black with the flowers, ferns, foliage remaining untouched.

A Short Trip to my Big Island

I decided to take a little time off of work and return to the Big Island for a 30 year tradition. On New Year’s Day close friends have hosted a crepe breakfast for all their many friends. Everyone brings something to roll up inside the crepes or a yummy on the side. Over the years we’ve had sweet and savory. The pancake “flippers” have changed over the years, but the recipe has remained the same. I’ve watched little girls twirling around the lanai grow to become beautiful women with children…girls who twirled around, boys watching. Boys changing into young men. I missed this last year as I was still trying to get my life together. But, this year, I was determined not to miss another. It’s always so comforting to know that this is the one day of the year when things don’t change. As we age, I’m sure this will not always be the case, but I know now that most of the same people will be there, there will always be champagne and orange juice–long before this pairing became popular as Mimosas. The Rose Parade will be on the TV, now larger and more spectacular with HD. The Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl will follow with fans drifting in and out. I usually watch a good deal of the games as I’m what some call a “sports-nut”.

I flew in on Thursday–New Year’s morning and only had until Sunday morning before flying out again so I tried to cram everyone and everything I wanted to see and do in just a few short hours. Things don’t always work out. I dropped by my old hula halau to dance again with my hula sisters and brothers, but alas the class had been cancelled. I was so disappointed. A couple of friends I wanted to see were out of town, but other things worked out. I was able to see a good friend and former neighbor, a rock for me during difficult times. We see each infrequently, but it always seems like it was just yesterday. It also worked out for me to see two close friends that I have danced with off and on through different halau for about 25 years. We gathered for lunch and wonderful conversation at Luquin’s Mexican Restaurant in my favorite town of Pahoa. From afar I’ve watched the news as a lava flow has threatened this sweet town. Lava is just a football field away from Malama Market where I bought groceries, Subway where I went for lunch, the hardware store where I bought my propane. It’s hard to watch the lava slowly creep closer and closer. I just keep the town in my prayers. The people who live in the Puna district are hardy, resilient and live close to the ‘aina (land) so they will accept what comes, pick up and go back to work even through the hardships they will have to endure. I went to see some of the flow after it had cooled.

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There have been some remarkable preparations. The electrical poles have been wrapped with layers of rock and other materials. So far the lava has gone right around them and the electricity has stayed on. I understand the idea came from students at the Pahoa Charter School HAAS and the county ran with it. This gives me hope for the future. Hawaii Academy of Arts and Sciences. It sounds like science is alive and well. I’m standing in front of one pole to give some perspective. They are large!

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That same night I was able to go to a holiday play in Volcano. Six of us met at The Volcano House for drinks and pupus and then off to the play. There in the cast of singers was another friend I was happy to see. The night was crisp and cool but the forecast was for whipping winds so we drove straight home afterwards. They came screaming in in the night, keeping the household awake except for me. I slept like a baby!

Sunday was clear and bright. My friend dropped me off at my church. I was so happy to see my church family. They were happy to see me. It’s been a long time since I’ve said the Lord’s Prayer in Hawaiian, sing hymns in Hawaiian. I always feel a little closer to God there in Kuhio Chapel.

From church to the airport. Seeing the Big Island get smaller as I fly leaves an ache, but I know I will return to see Mauna Kea with Poli’ahu’s white kikepa wrapped around her shoulders…in the form of snow. As I was flying away I took this photo out of the window.
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See you soon, my island.

In the Future…

Oh, the comfort–the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person–having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.
Dinah Craik