The Lost and Found of Pleasantries

Because I spend a lot of time sewing, I’m in the fabric stores a lot. I’ve noticed a distinct difference between two of them. This morning, for example, (and this is not the first time), when I walked through the door, both employees were sitting at a table chatting and didn’t even bother to acknowledge my entrance let alone ask me if could use any help. So, I scout out the store looking for a particular fabric that I need to complete an order that has a time deadline. Deadlines are particularly onerous as I live on an island and I always have to tack on a couple of extra days for a package to arrive in the mid-west or eastern part of the US and one extra day to California or the west coast. However, buyers seldom think about that and will purchase a hula skirt and then ask to have it arrive in three days to Kansas. So, though not in a bad mood (it takes much more than that), I felt slighted by the staff and therefore a little miffed. I just happen to think that if you are in the business of selling anything, your first concern is the customer. It wasn’t like the place was busy. When in the store I’m usually the only one there. I think I can hazard a guess as to why. When I found the fabric I was looking for, I took it to the table to be cut. Again, I wasn’t greeted or even offered a smile. My fabric was cut and I was sent to the register where I had to wait several minutes for the sales clerk to figure out how to work the new digital cash register. I’ve been coming in a few times a week for a month and at my first visit she was learning the ins and outs of her new machine. However, a month later, she still is unable to use it without asking for help. And, the help was chatting on her phone about personal things while I waited for her to finally help the hapless cashier. I’ve decided that as of today unless I have a 25% discount off of a fabric that I can’t live without, I will not be frequenting their store again.

Then, still feeling a little put out, I had to drive over the other fabric store for a certain fabric that I knew they had. I was greeted when I walk in, “aloha, how are you today?”. Smiles all around. “How can we help you?” The store had several customers. The staff was attentive without hovering. They cut my fabric, asked if I needed a bag, folded the cloth neatly for my bag. They commented on how nice it was to see me so often, thanked me for my patronage. I like this store and I will be coming back again and again.

Courtesy, good manners and pleasant conversation are not completely lost in this day of cell phones, iPads, texting and social media where a face to face conversation with eye contact is an oddity. My own business is an on-line shop so I seldom see what people look like other than their logo. But, I treat my customers with the utmost courtesy. I still believe that there is nothing better than good customer service. I establish a good working relationship with my buyers as I do a lot of custom work. We enjoy each others “company”. I guess the aloha spirit hasn’t quite made its mark on some, while others embrace it.

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Finally something for my Etsy shop…

Because I do so much custom work, I’ve not had a lot of extra time to work on things for the shop and my inventory is dismally low. So, this past couple of days I’ve been working on remedying that. I spent one whole day just cutting, folding, measuring and pinning so when I was ready, everything else would be ready. That really helped as the next day I discovered I had finished a couple of projects earlier than anticipated. So, I threaded my sewing machine and went to work. I am happy with the colorful results.   I love

A pa'u for an older girl...a bolder print in a vibrant royal purple

A pa’u for an older girl…a bolder print in a vibrant royal purple

sewing hula pa’u for keiki (children). Next I would like to make some aloha shirts for boys or men. And, maybe some more adult pa’u. Are we having fun yet? Yes, we are!

This skirt is meant for a 'tween or teen. I love the retro-looking print.

This skirt is meant for a ‘tween or teen. I love the retro-looking print.

This bright little pa'u is perfect for a new dancer. She certainly won't get lost in the crowd!

This bright little pa’u is perfect for a new dancer. She certainly won’t get lost in the crowd!

This little pa'u is the color of Ho'okipa Beach.

This little pa’u is the color of Ho’okipa Beach.

Upcountry Maui

“We must be willing to give up the life we planned, so as to have the life waiting for us.”–Joseph Campbell. This has always been one of my favorite quotes, but I never thought I would actually have to put it to the test. I was happy in my little cottage in Kea’au on the Island of Hawai’i. I lived on the island for more than 38 years and thought this would be the last home I would have. I spent time working on the yard planting trees, flowers, vegetables. I decorated. I was happy.

I then met Keith and became happier. He lived on Maui but was willing to give up the life he planned so as to be with me. He came to live on the Big Island and left his beloved Maui behind without complaint. We worked hard. He built a lanai to supplement the 400 sq.ft. cottage, he added a carport. I opened up an online store and moved all my sewing things into a storage shed. We cleared land, planted more trees and flowers. It was perfect for us. We lived in bliss for three years. Another “then” changed my life. Keith got a job offer on Maui that was just too good to pass up. It was in his field, was on his island, paid well and it was my turn to give up the life I planned. But, the life waiting for me has been an adventure.

I rented out the cottage, said goodbye to hula sisters and brothers, church members, wonderful supportive friends, packed up our belongings and flew to Maui. Keith had rented a three bedroom house in upcountry Makawao which is cowboy country. The island is different. It’s an older island so has dirt…real dirt. The Big Island has the most active volcano in the world and is still expanding. We have lava rock! No dirt!

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I’m amazed at the wondrous plant life of Maui…trees that go up a hundred feet, flowers blooming in such an array of color, it’s almost like a vibrant painting. The ocean is a beautiful light aqua, the sand is white and there are beaches, miles of beaches. There is a constantly blowing wind which is at times irritating as it messes up a hairdo in an instant, but the wind-surfers and kite-surfers love it.DSCN0501

My neighbors are different here. There is a sheep in the back yard, goats across the street, a horse and Angus bull up the street. Sometimes a deer comes to visit and the chickens seems to love the oranges that fall from the tree.

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I’m having a fun time decorating. It was relatively easy making curtains, etc. for a one room studio, but making curtains for a living room, dining room, kitchen and three bedrooms is a lot more challenging.  We finally found a nice carpet for the living room so it doesn’t echo as much. Keith put together an entertainment center so the TV, DVD player, CD’s, etc. now have a permanent home.  There will always be things I will miss about the Big Island–the warm soft rains, the brand new beaches with the crunchy sand of a lava explosion, the fact that I can walk to where I can stand within feet of a lava flow. But, there are things about Maui that I love–the so very starry nights, the soft sand, the profusion of Jacaranda trees with such deep purple flowers, and learning what it’s like to have a large family. Keith’s family lives  in what I call a compound. There are five or so houses clustered together with daughters, sons, Grandma, Papa, nieces, nephews, grandchildren. At any give time there may be 14 or 15 people for dinner. They share. If one goes fishing, everyone gets a fish. If one cuts down a large stock of bananas, everyone gets a hand. Papa spends each weekday shuttling kids to and from various schools, wrestling, paddling, soccer, baseball. Moms make 300 lollipops for their daughters “economic fair” are school.

There are things I will have to get use to–the constant wind, the bad roads, the pitiful recycling centers. But, I’m willing to find out what life is waiting for me. So far, so good. I’m happy.

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