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.
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!
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.
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.
I’m sooooo looking forward to the flowers, the trees blooming, the bats crackin’.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
See you soon, my island.
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.
Mele Kalikimaka ame Hau’oli Makahiki Hou…
May you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May all your wishes, dreams and prayers be answered.
While winter generally brings to mind snow, sledding, icicles and freezing temperatures, here on the island of Maui the daytime temperature is still in the 80’s. No one is sledding, there is no snow nor icicles. However up the side of Haleakala mountain it is crisp enough to remind us the winter months are fast approaching. Last night was a perfect reminder of the Christmas season.
Each year the company I work for has a company party. But, this year instead of having a “one for all” they decided to have intimate parties for each of the groups. So, we were escorted in the company Mercedes shuttle up to Kula for our surprise destination. It was magical…a fairy land of lights, a delightful table-scape in the yard and a five course meal that was on par with a five-star hotel restaurant. The night was crisp but there was a fire pit for warmth and ambiance. It is difficult to capture that feeling of togetherness. And, to have the General Manager, the HR Manager and the Staff Manager cooking and waiting on us was exhilarating in how special it made us feel.
We began with an open bar which for me meant a Tequila Gimlet! Next were the pupus (appetizers) of edemame and poke (soy beans and raw fish with onions, seaweeds and spices). Then, came the most delicious manapua I’ve ever had. Next was a luscious salad with homemade croutons. The main course was an Italian seafood soup with clams, mussels, shrimp, crab and white fish. After all this delectable food, we took a break to open gifts and warm our hands by the fire. Then to top it all off, back to the table for creme brulee with the perfect crunchy topping and caramelized bananas.
Since I had left my camera at home, my friend and co-worker Rieko was kind enough to share her photos with me.
I am reminded that it isn’t the snow, presents or cold weather that epitomize Christmas. It is Christ, wonderful friendships, co-workers who care for their employees and times shared with loved ones.
MELE KALIKIMAKA A ME HAU’OLI MAKAHIKI HOU…Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the island of Maui.
Occasionally we have a woman who cooks up a Hawaiian plate lunch and sells them at the airport. I ordered one last week and then forgot all about it. But, today the delivery came at the perfect time when my stomach was starting to growl and I hadn’t packed anything for lunch or snack. I seldom eat plate lunches as on the whole they aren’t very healthy. They usually have things like spaghetti, macaroni salad, rice and bread…a little too many carbs for me. Or they have Teriyaki chicken, rice, mac salad–typical island fare. But, today’s lunch had kalua pig, rice, mac salad, laulau and haupia! Whoo-hoo! Usually kalua pork is wrapped in banana leaves, ti leaves, taro leaves and then cooked in an underground oven called an imu. It’s delicious. But, with a little creativity you can get a similar flavor from your home’s oven. The laulau is package of usually beef, pork and butterfish for fatty flavor. It is wrapped in taro leaves, then wrapped again in ti leaves and steamed for fairly long time. The ti leaves are then discarded and the taro leaves are soft and flavorful, the meats are tender and the butterfish is just about non-existent having done its job. Haupia is a coconut pudding-like dessert that is delicious with a slice of purple sweet potato on top, but alas, no ‘uala on top. But all in all it was satisfying and ono.
There is a new poster in the baggage claim area. I love it. However, the tourists who are the ones who should be reading it, don’t seem to notice it. It has a nice description of the word “ALOHA”. Actually, I know a lot of locals who would benefit from reading it as well.
Several years ago I had an ‘ukulele made for me. It was made by a man by the name of Kaohekalole and he was a direct descendant of Kalakaua, the last king of Hawai’i. Needless to say it has very special meaning to me. Unfortunately, it has fallen on hard times and I’m not sure it will ever be played again. But, I’m hoping that I will be able to have it fixed as I miss it. I do have another ‘ukulele, but it doesn’t hold quite the same history for me. However, it does have a lovely sound. I have fun playing it at church and also on Thursday nights at the ‘ukulele jam where about 75-100 people get together at my church. We learn Hawaiian chants (most of which I already know), we practice the Lord’s Prayer in Hawaiian and sing Hawaiian songs from a big song book which I need to buy again as I left mine in Hilo.
Speaking of church. I am now the proud owner of a Hawaiian bible with a translation in English side by side. I love it. It’s beautiful to look at, easy to read and gives me the opportunity to learn new words, phrases, etc. I like to use Hawaiian phrases when dealing with tourists. Maui is so very tourist oriented that I don’t think they ever even hear the language. So, it they have had to wait for the shuttle I tell them,”Mahalo i ka ho’omanawanui”…thank yor for your patience. Or, I might say, “e launa kou kama’ima’i o Maui” or enjoy your visit on Maui.
As many of you know I have an on-line Etsy shop. I sew hula pa’u, tops, blouses, aloha shirts, etc. so I’m going to add a few of these little gems since they, too, are included in all things Hawaiian.
My favorite flower of Hawaii…plumeria. They use to grow everywhere. When I first lived on O’ahu in 1962, the fragrance was pervasive. When I sailed to the Big Island of Hawai’i in 1963, you could smell the plumeria in the air before you could see the islands. They always evoke those special memories of returning home. This photo has always made me smile as on one of the flowers is a tiny little geiko.
And, last, but certainly not least…hula. I’m adding a couple of photos from my halau ho’ike of last year. We are now practicing for our next ho’ike and I’m looking forward to it…a lot of work, but such an uplifting experience.
Since moving to Maui I have been working two jobs and my free time is limited to random days off. But, this past weekend I found, due to schedule changes, that I had two days off in a row from my full time job and no pressing orders for my own on-line business…the first time this has happened in over a year. Sooooooo, I took advantage of this amazing opportunity and decided to go camping in Hana. For those of you who have been following my blog, you will remember my trip to Hana with my son. It’s a beautiful journey, however on that trip we had a lot of rain which dampened the experience a bit. This time the weather was perfect. I packed my tent, sleeping bag, a cooler with snacks, etc. a beach chair, bathing suit and away I went. Of course I had to make a few stops between my onset to my destination of Waianapanapa. You can not travel the Hana Hwy. without stopping for banana bread! Or, making a little detour to the Keanae Penisula, or having coffee and Blueberry/Lilikoi muffins at the Hana Bay Cafe or…
The Hana Bay Cafe is a jewel. They have everything from local plate lunches to pastries that are made fresh each morning. It overlooks the blue waters where families gather to swim and picnic. In the same building next door there were church services going on–hmmmm on Saturday. It was a lively group–singing, playing ukulele and guitar. Most were dressed in beach clothing, wearing slippers and shorts. But, they were equally vocal in their praise. It was open for anyone.
Onward to Waianapanapa State Park. Since I was camping alone I was glad to see other campers at the site. The grounds of this state park are filled with trees, most chose to pitch their tents away from the trees toward the back of the park, I pitched mine under the trees near an ancient Hawaiian cemetery. I was happy to know that when the State Park was formed, they didn’t disturb the burial area and simply left the rock wall separating it from the rest of the grounds.
My trees and my tent. I love my tent! It sleeps four, but I love having all the extra room to myself. It’s easy to put up. And although I folded it before my departure, I was unable to get it back into its carrying case, so that’s something I will have to do again at home.
Since the sun was shining, I was settled in, so I went for a swim down at the black sand beach. Well, not really sand, more like small smooth black pebbles which were very hot on the feet! I think I could hear a sizzle when I stepped into the cool water. Next time I will leave my slippers closers to the water’s edge. There was a fairly strong current and I’m not a strong swimmer, so I didn’t venture far. But, the water was so refreshing.
After my swim I took the trail to the Waianapanapa Caves. I think if I had someone with me I would’ve gone into the crystal fresh waters of the cave, but I wasn’t brave enough to chance a slip and fall with no one within shouting distance. The caves are somewhat dark, lit only partially by the sun. The water is so clear that each stone on the bed was visible. I was unable to judge the depth, but I think it was deeper than it appears.
I read a lot, something I’ve not had a lot of time to do. Though I enjoy my Nook, I still enjoy turning the crisp pages of paper. I snacked on cold chicken, cheese, an apple and when night fell, I moved inside with my lantern to read myself to sleep.
I didn’t stay long on Sunday as I wanted to drive the back way home and knew this would be slow-going. I had never gone around the back side of the island and wanted to make a stop at ‘Ohe’o Ponds before heading home. Oh my, I’m so glad I stopped. This area is usually referred to as Seven Sacred Pools. The water falls from high up the mountain forming pools as it tumbles down on its journey to the ocean. The higher pools are quite a trek up so I decided to go to the lower three. The pool I finally went swimming in was quite large, the water clear and cool, the water fall refreshing. The ponds are deep enough so as not to be able to touch bottom. Though closer to the edges rocks from a kind of mossy stairway. I am generally freaked out by mossy, slimy rocks, but for some reason these didn’t bother me. The freshwater limu waved back and forth with the water’s movement and seemed more like a carpet than critter-filled .
I was told of another pool with a higher waterfall just mountain side of the Alelele Bridge so I stopped there as well, but no one at the lower pool knew about it, so I decided not to hike there. I did discover ‘ili’ili heaven though. For a hula dancer these are smooth stones that are held two to a hand and clicked together much like castanets.
In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have stopped at all as when backing out, I scraped the paint off the rear fender of a rental car!
The following photos were taken along the drive which, at times, was harrowing. At one point the road narrowed to a one lane narrow dirt trek with the mountain on one side and a steep precipice to the ocean on the other with no guard rails. Needless to say it was slow going. This is not a trip for the faint-hearted! But, it was very scenic.
When I reached the top of the narrow drive, the road widened and appeared to be recently paved. What a blessing! I rounded a corner and there across the ocean was Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawai’i. I was filled with nostalgia. My home for 40 years, it was a little sad to see it from such distance. The rest of the drive was easy…a stop at the Ulupalakua General store for an Elk Burger and at the Tedeschi Winery for a bottle of Ulupalakua Red and down the mountain to Kula where I unloaded my car and thought of where my next day-trip would take me.
Yesterday I had an incredibly stressing incident at work that had me shaking for hours afterward: We had a couple come in and needed a shuttle to a hotel, however they didn’t speak English, only Spanish. I tried to explain to them with drawings, sign language and what little Spanish I remember from high school how much it would cost to go one way and for a round trip. Well, apparently he didn’t comprehend and when I printed out his round trip ticket he started pounding on the desk and yelling No, No, NO!!! He tore up his receipt then grabbed all the scraps and stalked off. I had the supervisor cancel his order. A few minutes later he comes stomping back with the police in tow. We had to explain the circumstances to the police while the man was screaming at me and pointing to my drawings and costs. He then went to another shuttle company who quoted him $2 less which seemed to infuriate him further so continued to yell at me from across the airport. Apparently they were better at drawing so he bought a ticket from them. His wife got involved by wanting to make sure the credit card was cancelled, but spoke no English and started yelling at me to speak Spanish. I had had about enough so I said, “‘olelo Hawai’i ame pelekane au. Keia Hawai’i ma ‘o Amelika, ‘a’ole Espana kakou! ‘olelo pelekane kakou!” Then I translated it for her, “I speak Hawaiian and English. This is Hawai’i in America. We don’t speak Spanish, we speak English!” I wrote a note telling her the charges had been cancelled, told her to give them to someone to translate. They left.
I love working in transportation at the airport. I so enjoy meeting people from all over the world. But, occasionally we run into people who have just had a bad day, don’t understand or are just curmudgeons. I’m thankful they are few and far between.
So, this weekend I’m going to go to Waianapanapa State Park to camp overnight. I’m so in need of some time away from work, my sewing machine and a new place to explore. I will take photos!