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

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.

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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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.

Kalikimaka in Kula

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.

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A beautiful setting for a delightful party

A beautiful setting for a delightful party

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A composite of some of the yummies

A composite of some of the yummies

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Yum-yum

Yum-yum

The Maui Airport Shuttle crew

The Maui Airport Shuttle crew

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.

Kihei and Wailea—how different can we be?

I go to a sweet Hawaiian church in Kihei on the South Coast of Maui. And, since it was my day off I decided after the service to drive through Kihei to the next district of Wailea. Oh my, what a distance a few miles make in both scenery and vibe.
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The town of Kihei is very family oriented and has a distinctive local vibe. There is an abundance of parks, beaches, little shops with quaint names like Snorkel Bob’s and Boss Frogg. They rent anything a beach goer might need from snorkel equipment to sand chairs; paddle boards to surfboards. There are a lot of little restaurants for pizza, tacos, shave ice or the standard local fare…the plate lunch. Cars park everywhere and bicycles are definitely the secondary mode of transportation.WP_20140831_001

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However, Kihei gets very little rain so is often very hot and dry. It’s the perfect place for beach activities but the heat gets to me in a very short time.

Kiawe and palm trees thrive, but little else

Kiawe and palm trees thrive, but little else


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So onward into Wailea. The feeling immediately changes from local style to tourist elite. Here is the home of the four star hotels…The Andaz, The Grand Wailea, The Four Seasons and the Marriott Wailea Beach. The streets are manicured, the trees are trimmed, flowers are planted everywhere. The temperature drops about 20 degrees! It’s beautiful but feels like a fine sculpture behind velvet ropes. Only a few get to touch and the others can only dream.
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The Grand Wailea Hotel...the grounds are just spectacular

The Grand Wailea Hotel…the grounds are just spectacular

I decided to go to the Shops of Wailea–oh my..way out of my league, but fun to visit.
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Even the parking area was nice and cool. My little car fit right in!

My car sat in the shade while I walked through Gucci, LV, Tiffany's, and upscale art galleries. The second floor is a little more "local" with a surf shop, ABC store and an ice cream shop.

My car sat in the shade while I walked through Gucci, LV, Tiffany’s, and upscale art galleries. The second floor is a little more “local” with a surf shop, ABC store and an ice cream shop.

All in all my day was a good one. Today, I went to another amazing Botanical Garden…soon!

The Kula Botanical Gardens

I have lived in Kula for almost a year and have never taken the time to go to the Kula Botanical Gardens which is only a few miles from my home. But, last Sunday I remedied that particular remiss and decided to drive up. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect–slightly cool, sunny skies with a light tropical breeze–like I said…perfect.

I entered through the gift store where I paid an entrance fee. The cashier Harlan was a delightfully chatty fellow and I received some history, heard some lively stories and was given a great map of the grounds. Right out the back of the store is a path leading directly to a cage with two Jackson Chameleons which look like miniature dinosaurs. For our entertainment, Harlan came out to feed them a couple of mealy worms. The male was particularly interested and from a great distance flung out the longest tongue I’ve ever seen. It curled around the worm and recoiled in a flash. My photos, unfortunately, I took through the screen of the cage and were not in focus so you will have to imagine this scene.

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The garden path winds down to a Koi pond filled with colorful fish. They didn’t appear afraid of strangers and lazily swam past me several times, probably looking for a handout.

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In this same area was a little waterfall which added to the serenity of the ponds.

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Following the path, I discovered a small bird sanctuary with the Hawaiian Native Goose…the Nene. He looked quite complacent and completely ignored my presence, content to enjoy the sun on his back. He was too far away for a good photo but the foliage in the area was spectacular…Image

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Most of the plants were marked with signage though I was more interested in the colors than the names. In my walkabout I came across a large bird-cage with cockateels and love birds. Unfortunately, again, the cage wire…Image

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So many plants–flowers, ferns, trees, bushes. There were covered bridges and seating areas, sun-rooms for plants requiring more humidity.

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More photos of “local flowers”–anthurium-like flowers, bird of paradise, ‘uki’uki grass, protea (for which Maui is renown) and an array of colorful plants introduced to Hawai’i…

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About this time I ran out of memory in my camera and had to switch to my cell which was low on battery, so I hurriedly took the last remaining photos…especially of my beloved Jacaranda tree on which was the last group of blossoms clinging to Spring.

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And, standing guard over all this beauty are the carved ki’i of Ku, Lono and Kanaloa.

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Traversing the Head of Maui

The island of Maui has two distinct land masses…the main body and the head”. Over this past year of living on this beautiful island people told me not to try driving around the head of the island as the roads are narrow, rough and dangerous. However recently friends have assured me that the roads had been worked on and though still narrow are no longer the danger they once were. So, I decided on a Sunday road trip.

It is probably about 40 miles from Kahului to Lahaina but for me road trips are not necessarily about staying on the road, so it took me about five hours. My Hawaiian name, Ki’iheleonamokuhonua, means traveler of the island world but doesn’t say I have to stay on a chosen path and I seldom do. Just past Waiehu, the scenery immediately starts to change from industrial to bucolic, businesses give way to homes tucked away in valleys or perched high on the hillsides…a pastoral life, indeed.
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There is a crossover where one still sees the vestiges of city life. And, along the way businesses flourish…fruit stands, little country cottages selling local crafts, sculpture gardens and stands selling delicious banana bread. This adventure was like a mini-Hana trip.
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Farther up the road, which by this time has narrowed considerably, I had to pull over many times to let oncoming traffic go by. When they graded and paved the road they carved out frequent places where a car can pull off to the side. This makes the traverse so much easier than before. The vegetation becomes more lush and an occasional waterfall can be seen.
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About half way around is the community of Kahakuloa which captures the spirit of ancient Hawai’i. There are taro patches and small farms, houses dotting the valley floor. Since this is Sunday there are groups of children playing. It seems a long distance from either Kahului on the east and Kapalua on the west so I wonder if the community has a school of its own or whether the children have a long bus ride each day.
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Several miles past Kahakuloa there were about 20 cars parked on the side of the road and though there were no signs I surmised this was the “trail” to the blow-hole. I use the term trail loosely as there was no trail. The somewhat steep side of the mountain down to the sea cliff was a series of large rocks, boulders and smaller stones that I picked my way through. Going down was a lot easier than going up as you could see where to go. The hike up was more or less blind. Many times I chose a path that ended and had to go back down and around another way. I was thankful when I saw a couple ahead of me and I could follow their lead.
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Unfortunately, the waters were calm so the blow-hole wasn’t blowing, however, the trip down was worth every minute when I came across a rock formation that nature saved as a reward for the tired travelers.
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To give some dimension, here I am next to this amazing look at the ocean.
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Around the top of the head, the scenery changes once again to a slightly drier west side of the island. Someone, I guess, decided there was a need for decoration and this greenery added to the view.
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Driving toward Kapalua where the Ritz-Carlton built its sumptuous hotel there are bays which offer a shelter for low-drafted boats and for snorkelers. Next time I will be sure and bring snorkel equipment as the bays were calm, shallow, with an abundant of reefs.
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Back to civilization. Due to the wonderfully warm weather on the west side of the island the chosen landscape is that of large, luxurious hotels. I continued my journey with only one stop to the Cannery Mall to see the mid afternoon hula show. Then, home again, home again, jiggity-jog.