My thoughts on Maui

Now that I am packing up my three years on Maui and heading back to my home on the Big Island at the end of the month, I wanted to gather some of my thoughts on my stay, both good and bad…in no particular order.

I love the drive to Hana. Although the drive is only 56 miles from Kahului town, it is several hours drive if you take your time going around the 617 curves in the winding road and 56 one-way bridges. One must stop to see all of the wonderful sights–waterfalls, vistas, valleys, Hana Bay. I must stop at Waianapanapa State Park to see the beautiful black sands beach, the caves with crystal clear water. It’s fun camping here. Going around the entire body of Maui, stopping at O’heo Ponds for a swim under a waterfall, checking out the paintings at a roadside art stand, buying banana bread on the side of the road, continuing on around for an elk burger at Ulupalakua General Store and getting a bottle of wine across the street at the winery. This is such a satisfying trip.

Crystal waters of O'he'o Ponds

Crystal waters of O’he’o Ponds

I will miss the Maui Arts and Cultural Center, The MACC. It is one of things I will miss most on Maui. They have such an array of performances, art, concerts of all kinds. I’ve gone to hula halau ho’ike or shows, Hawaiian musical performances. I love the annual Ukulele Festival, the Slack-key (kiho’alu) Guitar Festival. I love the free family movie night sitting on the grass under the stars, the incredible works of local artists with painting, ceramics, woodworking, etc. Wonderful performances of symphonies, country-western artists, incredible ballet and modern dance troupes. I recently saw a concert of the Midtown Men (the original cast of The Jersey Boys) singing songs of the sixties. I’m going this Friday to a modern dance/ancient hula performance–“Pohaku”. The MACC has offered such wonderful opportunities to hear panels on subjects as “Language Matters”-keeping native languages alive. One of the places on Maui that really is No Ka’Oi.

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People on Maui do not know how to drive in the rain. Why are they so adverse to putting on the wipers and flipping on the lights. Before moving to Maui, my Mauian ex-boyfriend use to drive me crazy as he would drive in the pouring rain and reluctantly turn on the intermittent wipers leaving about 10 seconds of driving blind. Now I know where he learned that. No one on Maui (except tourists or those that live with rain) uses wipers or lights. What’s up with that?

I love the spring in Kula. When the Jacaranda trees are in bloom it is incredibly beautiful. However, I really have a difficult time getting through the winters, especially in my apt. which is under a main house so gets no sun on the roof. The windows are only on the west, so no sun until it is going down. My inside temperature is generally about 10-15 degrees colder than outside. The other day when the lid slipped off, I inadvertently poured boiling water from the tea kettle across my hand…I didn’t even feel it because my hands were still not thawed out from the cold! Every morning at about 9:00AM, my fingers go numb. It makes sewing really difficult. It’s hard to thread the needles, I can’t feel pins to pick up. They usually thaw out by about 11:00AM unless I go down the mountain early for work.

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I will sorely miss my neighbors Gary and Sundya. We have lived side by side for three years. They actually moved closer to the beach at the end of March, so I’m missing them a little earlier than expected. We have had some fun times together. Sundya is a vegetarian chef and makes delicious soups, salads, granolas, oatmeal. She delivers her goodies once a week and has a waiting list. I’ve never had lasagna like her mushroom/zucchini with a Béchamel Sauce that was so delicious. And her veggie enchiladas are to die for. Gary works at home so was always available to help with heavy lifting, etc. My cat Ariana is still going over to their house to look for him. She just loved Gary.

There are way too many tourists on Maui! And way too many mainlanders buying up the land, condos, houses, etc. They never seem to assimilate into the culture and try to change everything that makes Hawai’i Hawai’i. Rents are high. Houses to buy are astronomically high because they are priced for the influx of the rich. We have a very high rate of homelessness.

I love Paia. I think I love it because it reminds me so much of Pahoa on the Big Island near where I live. Paia is more of a surfing town. It has a ton of little boutiques, shops, cafes. There is a wonderful little café on Baldwin Av. (I forget the French name). It has crepes of all kinds from savory to sweet. The floor is course gravel. Although not entirely open, it still has a feeling of being outside on the sidewalk of a little French café. My Hawaiian church is in Paia. I will miss this congregation. They welcomed me like a local. I love singing the hymns, doxology, Lord’s Prayer, etc. in the Hawaiian language. Though I’m looking forward to going back to my Hawaiian church in Keaukaha, I will my miss church family in Paia.

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One thing I love are the sunsets, sunrises, rainbows.
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I will miss my Maui hula halau. My kumu hula, Kahulu Maluo has had such great patience with me. It has been a trial for me to change styles of hula. I never really got the hang of it. It’s been fun and a great way for me to relax after a stressful week of working at the airport and trying to keep up with orders.

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Speaking of the airport. It has been fun working with Roberts Hawaii. Since most the staff are under 30, I’m “the grandma” of the group. Sometimes they are soooo hard to deal with. The swearing is out of hand and no one seems to have a filter even when people are within hearing distance. Many are so under-educated this is the only job they could possibly find. I’m often astounding at the questions they ask me–“Where is Brazil”, “what does the work finance mean”. Some come in, open their phones, sit down on a luggage cart and don’t get up until it’s time to clock out. It’s amazing that this goes on every day without any consequences.

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I’ao Valley is beautiful as is the summit of Haleakala. I’m not at all fond of Kihei nor Lahaina as they have been taken over by tourists. Both areas are hot and dry, but both have great beaches. During the summer months I occasional drive to Kihei to sink my toes in the sand and cool off in the waters.

So different from Mauna Kea...a smooth crater

So different from Mauna Kea…a smooth crater

Well, I think I have covers most of my thoughts on Maui. Though it’s been a veeeeery long three years, it has had some good points, some good people, some good times

I'ao Needle. The Valley is lush and green and oh so pretty

I’ao Needle. The Valley is lush and green and oh so pretty

Haleakala–House of the Sun

I have lived on Maui for three years. I had gone up to Haleakala once in 1971 when I lived on Maui for four years. But, I have not taken the time to drive up there this time around. So, when I was off from work on Monday I decided to take a day off from sewing as well and drove up the mountain. I was glad to have a warm parka as it gets rather chilly at 10,000 ft. in winter. The drive up was beautiful…forests of eucalyptus, vast acres of pasture land, country farm stands. The road winds up the mountain with a number of hairpin turns. It’s a slow winding traverse with lots of scenic view points. I took advantage of these to take some photos. It was amazing to be about 8000 ft. up and still able to see all the way down the mountain to the sea. I could understand why so many tourists make this trip at sunrise. I work for a shuttle/tour company and they drive huge full buses up Haleakala almost every day of the week, picking up from hotels at about 2:30am! I don’t think I would want to drive up or down in the dark for either sunrise or sunset. I was perfectly happy to see it in the brightness of a sunny day.

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Adult Silversword...the only place in the world it grows.

Adult Silversword…the only place in the world it grows.

A "teenage" Silversword

A “teenage” Silversword

A keiki Silversword growing in a very rocky terrain

A keiki Silversword growing in a very rocky terrain

unknown plant, but I loved the leaves

unknown plant, but I loved the leaves

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So different from Mauna Kea...a smooth crater

So different from Mauna Kea…a smooth crater


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Driving back down the mountain

Driving back down the mountain

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Beautiful rainbow Eucalyptus trees

Beautiful rainbow Eucalyptus trees

Musings for the Day

The vagaries of time play with my thoughts reminding me to take things a little less seriously and look for the whimsical in daily life. As of late, the mundane has taken hold and each day has become a replica of the one before. I think I’m shutting myself down on Maui eagerly awaiting my return to my home on Moku O Hawai’i, The Big Island. Throughout the day I do ask time to slow a bit so as to savor the sunsets, rainbows, mountainous streams of icy water, fields of cane. There are other moments when I ask time to accelerate so there are fewer days between living and leaving.

Some choices I’ve made come back to haunt me…life changes. But, living in the past has never been my style. So, I will pick up where I left off–better prepared, more discerning and perhaps wiser. I will enjoy the company of old friends, dance with abandonment, sing with a joyful noise and leave my heart open for new friendships and love.

Winter Golf in Kapalua, Maui, Hawai’i

I am not a great golfer, not even a good golfer, but I have played a few times and enjoyed it. I occasionally watch a major tournament on TV and am familiar with all the top names. When I found out that I would be off on the first day of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions with a line up that included Patrick Reed (last years winner), Jordan Spieth (who won five tournaments last year), Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Zach Johnson and the “old man” David Love III, there was no way I was going to miss this opportunity.

I arrived in the morning to the parking lot and was transported by Roberts Hawaii (the company I work for) on a huge motor coach with individual lights, air and TV. It was like being on an airplane. We arrived at the Kapalua Plantation Course about 20 minutes before the first tee off. I found a bleacher seat on the first hole and watched while one after the other hit the ball looking like it would finally land on the island of Moloka’i! Phew, but they hit those balls hard!
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It was a perfect Hawaiian summer day in winter. There was a very light breeze, 83 degrees, the fairways were soft due to a rain the night before, but the greens were extremely fast. I watched all the teams tee off before going on to the course to walk a bit. Because the course was built on the side of a mountain it is way too high up for a trek in sandals, so while the groups were going from hole to hole about a 1000 ft. up I was enjoying lunch at the clubhouse.

Plantation Clubhouse

Plantation Clubhouse

One fun thing I was able to do was to have a mini-lesson with a PGA pro. I watched him correcting previous golfers and golfers-to be. When I stepped up he asked if I had played before and I told him a few times. He just said let me see your swing and he placed a ball on a pad at my feet. I did remember much of what my ex-boyfriend had taught me so I placed my feet and swung. It felt perfect. He looked at me and said, “you should be playing golf”. He asked me to take a few more swings and each ball just sailed into the backdrop just where it was suppose to. Finally, he just said, “you should just play!”. I felt really good. I think I will get out my clubs and go to Pukalani a little way down the mountain to take a little practice swing or two.

The leaderboard changed throughout the day. But some the of top players started slowly climbing up the board.

Kapalua, Maui

Kapalua, Maui

When the top pairings started coming down from the 15th or 16th hole, I took a seat in the grandstands at the 18th hole. There were five players tied for first. Each of he first three pairs made par. The last pair was Spieth and Reed. Spieth was in first, Reed tied for second. Reed hit an amazing shot and so did Spieth. But, the second shot by Reed took him to just a couple of feet from the hole. He finished with an eagle and Spieth birdied the hole. So, Spieth is now alone in first and Reed alone in second with ties all the way down the board. Needless to say it was a grand ending to a fabulous day and I was so thankful to be attending this prestigious tournament.

My souvenirs from the Tournament of Champions...my ticket, program, tee times and visor.

My souvenirs from the Tournament of Champions…my ticket, program, tee times and visor.

Christmas at the Maui Airport

This year I am off on Christmas Eve so am able to go to my church’s candlelight service and help in the afternoon with the preparations. But, I do work on Christmas Day (evening shift). Because a lot of people don’t travel as much during the Christmas holidays the evenings at the Airport Shuttle have been somewhat slow. We’ve had some time on our hands. So to help pass the time we have been doing a little bit of decorating. We have been coloring (I still remember how to stay within the lines) and making cut-paper snowflakes. We hung a wreath, some garland, some candy canes. The airport is getting rather festive. We have our weekend musicians back playing Hawaiian music and throwing in some Christmas carols. The hula dancers are wearing their red and white holiday colors. Starbucks is offering all kinds of holiday flavors like gingerbread, peppermint and caramel. This coming week I will be showing up in my Santa hat. This is my third year celebrating Christmas at the airport. So here are a few pictures of our doings during the slow periods:

The State's Christmas tree

The State’s Christmas tree


The first year they've done this. I like it!

The first year they’ve done this. I like it!


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The first year they've done this. I like it!

The first year they’ve done this. I like it!

Our wreath

Our wreath

A colorful addition to the rather bland setting

A colorful addition to the rather bland setting

The many colors of Christmas

The many colors of Christmas

Our kind of snowflakes!

Our kind of snowflakes!

Let's see how long the candy canes last.

Let’s see how long the candy canes last.

A golden wreath

A golden wreath

A Tribute to Cecil the Lion

About eight or nine months ago, while driving up and down the foothills of Haleakala, I would slow down on Kula Hwy. and watch a young man meticulously draw out several species of dogs on a long mural-like fence. As the days went on he started applying colors and backgrounds and the fence took on a life of its own. This was not graffiti. This young man was a true artist and the dogs began to look real enough to touch. He had the aggressive looking pit-bulls and Dobermans but also included the family dogs–cocker spaniels, Irish setters and Chihuahuas. It was such fun watching this mural come to life. Then one day all of the dogs were missing with just newly applied gray pain in their stead. I was so disappointed that someone would ruin such a wonderful representation of Maui dogs. We don’t have a lot of vandalism up in Kula and being right on the highway, I was surprised at the chutzpa of the criminal and disappointed in myself for not taking photos as I cruised by so many times, each time saying, “I need to take pictures of this”.

The fence stood for a couple of months looking sad and unfinished. Then one day the artist was back. In each of the spaces where the dogs had been new forms began to take shape. It was then I realized the artist had been the “vandal”, simply making room for a new mural. When the mural was again finished I stopped and this time, with a tear in my eye, took pictures of Cecil the Lion and his extended family. The artist had left something that is dear to my heart…a tribute to the magnificence of nature.

A memorial to Cecil

A memorial to Cecil

Cecil's family

Cecil’s family

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I feel very strongly about trophy hunting so this is my tribute to all those species that are hunted for their heads, their tusks, their fur, etc. And, I petition any airlines who allow the transportation of such to stop.

Take marvelous photos and mount those on the wall about the mantel.

Musical surprises

On Friday while working at the airport I was surprised to see Kuana Torres-Kahele at a baggage claim carousel. I hadn’t heard anything about a pending concert. So, not being shy, I walked over and asked him if he were here just for a visit from the Big Island or did he have something coming up on Maui. Well, yes indeed, he was having a CD release party that night at the Bailey House Museum. Tickets would be selling at the door at 4:30pm. I was scheduled to get off work at 3:00pm. Perfect timing. So, I decided to stay in town and not make the long trip back up to my home in Kula. However, I was clad in my airport uniform–a bright yellow blouse and black pants. I decided the pants could stay, but the blouse would have to go. Off I go to Ross for an inexpensive top. I found a cute black and white striped shirt with a sparkly graphic print and a bonus little short sleeve “jacket” attached. Perfect. I was wearing my utilitarian shoes, had only rubber slippers in the car, so since the pants covers all but the toes, they remained. I was good to go. One stop at the ATM and off I went.

The Bailey House is a lovely little museum just past Wailuku town on the way to Iao Valley. Though somewhat small by museum standards it houses a wonderful array of ancient artifacts–carved fishing hooks, lovely feather lei made from now extinct birds, fighting implements, a wonderful replica of the sailing canoe “The Hokule’a”, huge swaths of tapa. There were little gift shops, upstairs rooms, nooks and crannies of displays, artwork painted by the once owner Mr. Bailey. So many things to see and do. I made a note to myself to visit again when I had more time and a camera.

The concert was to be held on the grassy grounds of the museum. It’s an intimate setting seating maybe 100-150 people. White tents had been erected to cover the musicians as well as the audience in case of rain. However, the night was clear, starry and, wondrous to me, balmy.

The price of the ticket was $35 which I later discovered included Kuana’s latest CD–Pi’ilani Maui. I would’ve paid the $35 just for a chance to see Kauana again and was pleasantly surprised to received the signed CD as a bonus. The island of Maui is the featured island on his “island CD set”. CDs with original songs of Hawai’i Island and Ni’ihau have already been released and Maui was the third in a set of 10. There will be a CD for each of the five remaining islands as well as a CD of original oli (chants). The 10th CD? I have no clue.

The audience was decidedly “local”… colorful aloha shirts, lauhala hats with flower lei or feather bands, glittering Hawaiian bracelets, flowers tucked behind ears. Since there was a booth selling beer, wines, soda, etc. This was a 21 and over crowd. One could buy a dinner from a booth selling a selection of food not normally found at a concert. There was pulled BBQ pork bao which is a soft sweet manapua dough folded over delicious pork. There was poke nachos (a preparation of raw fish, seaweed and spices served over chips), dried saimin, brisket and ceviche. Wow! I had the bao which was absolutely mouthwatering and a beer.

The warm up band, Komakakino is made up of a group of young men from Hilo with whom I am quite familiar. The father of one of the band members, Paul Neves, is a talented well known kumu hula from Hilo. He added to the entertainment by dancing to several of the songs. Though the band members are young and a relatively new group, they are quite professional in their musical talents as well as their look–nice matching aloha shirts and shorts.

Komakakino

Komakakino

Kuana came on after most everyone was done with dinner and feeling cheery from the beer and wine. He was in rare form and was hilariously entertaining, joking with the audience. It was a family lu’au atmosphere…a backyard kanakapila! People from the audience got up and danced. Local Maui singers were called up on stage to thunderous applause. Kuana sang a variety of songs from his Maui album as well as songs from previous albums. He told stories about the backgrounds for some of his songs. He also did melodies from the past adding his own style. The crowed sang along to old classics. I nearly cried at his version Pua Carnation…a beautiful rendition of an old standard.

Kuana Torres-Kahele

Kuana Torres-Kahele

I’m so glad I worked on that Friday or I would have missed out on a perfect evening of song and dance.

Summer Treats

I did some sewing this morning and then found that I had caught up on most of my projects so I decided to do some cooking. I had just purchase fresh fruit, kale, cremini mushrooms (which had little in common) but I also had Arborio rice, some old fashioned oats. I decided to make a summer fruit crumble/crisp and a mushroom and kale risotto. They both turned out to be unexpectedly delicious. For the risotto I sliced the mushrooms into rather generous slices as I didn’t want them to just disappear. I cut the Kale into about one to two inch pieces. I did leave the ribs on as I like a little crunch in my risotto, but if I were serving it to company I would probably cut the ribs off. I know that you can put the entire amount of rice and chicken or veggie stock in at once and put the entire mixture in the oven in a cast iron pan, but I, for one, like to hand stir the entire time. I think it might be a little like kneading dough instead of using a mixer or a bread machine. It’s a feeling of a bit of accomplishment. When the risotto was absorbing the last cup of stock, I added the mushroom and kale. Wow! So bright and colorful. I added a bit of smoked paprika for just a little surprise. It was absolutely delicious! So, on to the fruit crisp. I had nectarines at their peak of ripeness, a few plums and a container of fresh blueberries. Perfect combination. All I had to add was some sugar, cornstarch, fresh orange juice. Pour into a baking dish and top with the “crisp”. I made this from flour, oats, butter, the orange zest and chopped walnuts. When it came out of the oven it was bubbly, crisp, colorful, fresh and smelled like ripe summer fruit…so yummy.
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I love it when I have the time to make something special even if it is just for myself. Wait, I shared the crisp with my neighbor just across from me.

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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