Oct 16, 2016

Shiver of Sharks

I've had big finny creatures on my mind all day. This is likely in part because sharks abound in the waters around the House of Good Living and a beach in South Maui was closed two days ago because of a human vs shark encounter. I had an uncomfortable paddle with a big grey one a couple of winters ago and that event is never far from my mind when I'm near the beach where it happened. Even so, I know there's a greater chance of death by lightning strike than by shark bite and it goes without saying I try to avoid circumstances where either event may occur.

We've discussed the "sharks are scary" matter before and I only bring the issue up again because statistics reveal that October is the month when most human-shark encounters occur in the islands of Hawai'i, in part as a result of pregnant Tiger sharks visiting shoreline areas to have their babies. Unsurprisingly, hungry "pupping" momma sharks and coconut oil-frosted snorkelers don't play well together.

I'm revisiting the topic of sharks because last night's Saturday Night Live episode featured a Jaws-themed skit. This isn't a political blog so I won't opine on the threats posed to our nation's safety by either candidate. What I will do is dare you to watch the skit without laughing out loud.

The other reason I'm currently obsessing about fins in the water is because of the wonderful collective noun used to describe a group of sharks - "SHIVER". Could there be a more perfect word for a gathering of these teethy nightmares? A shiver of sharks is right up there with "crash" of rhinoceroses and "parliament" of owls and "fluthering" of jellyfish. I find these unexpectedly entertaining words so delightful I can't resist shouting them out to my increasingly annoyed husband who's trying to finish a yoga practice this morning.

Me:  A Knot of Snakes!
Him: mutters "mountain pose, mountain pose..."
Me:  A Busyness of Ferrets!
Him: Sun salutation, sun salutation ...
Me:  ~ And, because I can't resist ~ A Charm of Finches!!!
Him:  Go AWAY.

Some people, right?!

Oct 14, 2016

Morning People

Molokai waking up, Oct 14, 2016
Do you wake up easily, agreeably and eager to begin the day?
Or are you in the camp who believes that if people were meant to pop out of bed in the morning they should sleep in toasters?

Is this an "us" vs "them" issue for you? Can we still be friends if I tell you that my middle name is "Dawn?"

My first wage-paying job required that I report for work at 4:45 AM. I was 14 years old. It sucked a LOT to be the only kid in the neighborhood who needed to go to sleep before full dark and eliminated the possibility of advancing my crush on David next door beyond the wishing stage. It also effectively set in place the pattern of waking early, ready to roll with the day**.

Waking with the dawn here at the House of Good Living means I get to watch Molokai brighten with the rising sun. It's a slow, warm, green coloration change that symbolizes everything a new day is supposed to mean, IMHO.

Dawn. I guess that's me.

Jan 30, 2016


It's day 8 of my Maui circumnavigation. After tonight I'll hang up my camping headlamp and stow the
adventure gear. Hobo the Honda will be restored to his usual 'condo service vehicle' status and I'll have unlimited power outlets at my disposal. This (sometimes seemingly endless) trip will be finished.

I'll be reunited with Greg in a few days and together we'll travel the length of another coastline on the other side of this ocean. There will be time over the next couple of weeks to convert my notes from this experience into a list of recommended stops, stays, sights and selected reading for anyone interested in a similar exploration of Maui's east side.

But right now, I plan on enjoying a sunset and all that comes with it on this final night of island trekking. There's an entire symphony of sounds out here tonight:  From across the grassy tent grounds I'm being treated to the bright nimble song of a ukulele against the background of children playing hide-and-seek in the trees. I have the stereo effect of my protection pig* snorting behind my tentalow and the susurration of waves kissing beach sand out front.

This marvelous island just keeps giving me more gifts.

*my protection pig showed up yesterday, within an hour of dear friends expressing concern about my security while camping. The pig has tried to bite me, twice. I'm not sure that I feel any safer in his presence.

Jan 29, 2016

Full Circle

It's day seven of my Maui explorations. The intent upon beginning the journey was to play tourist for a week on the island that I call home for half the year, with a particular emphasis on the remote east side areas of Kaupo, Kipahulu and Hana. The trek has provided beautiful vistas, drama, comic relief and long stretches of time with no one but myself to talk with, leading to less-than-interesting conversations, let me tell you.

my tentalow against backdrop
of West Maui mountains
On this adventure I've camped, I've cottaged and last night I 'tentalowed'. This is going in the "unexpected pleasures" column for the journey, as much for the surprising level of comfort as for what this location offers in terms of paddling opportunity.

Recently constructed, the steel-framed, wooden platform tents at oceanfront Camp Olawalu are furnished with two twin beds, solar-powered lights and a private outdoor dressing area with sink and shower. Camp Olawalu has a decidedly sketchy past and likely deserves the rants posted on TripAdvisor for it's history of providing long-term housing for many of Maui's homeless. Current management is taking a hard line on the length of stay, pouring large sums of money into improving the beach-side cabins and adding more structures with private hygiene facilities, such as the tentalows. Large stretches of formerly thorn-strewn dust bowls are being planted with shade trees and grass. There's no escaping the fact that the camp lies between the highway and the ocean so there's always going to be noise from one direction or another. I coped by telling myself it was just the sound of waves and it was quiet by midnight.

When dawn broke this morning I off-loaded my (very securely locked) paddle board and splashed off on water so calm and clear that every fish and coral head positively shimmered. Not even a half mile offshore I heard the distinctive sound of whale exhalations and saw water ripple ahead. To the surface less than 100 feet away arose the back of a humpback mama and her calf. I sat on the board, lay the paddle across my knees and marveled at the story her scarred back and nicked fin could tell. The calf blew bubbles alongside mama, rolling over and snorting but never getting more than a fin's length away from her. In water so clear and shallow, it looked as if the mama whale was holding herself in place by floating tail down, just touching the sandy bottom. In the hour I floated and watched, the whales descended below the surface only once when a group of kayakers paddled near, re-emerging a couple hundred feet away to take up the same resting position.

Taking this as a sign, I've decided to apply the whales' model to the day ahead of me by floating, resting and calmly avoiding any disturbance or distraction. I may occasionally blow bubbles and snort if necessary. In all, I'm going to make like a whale and appreciate that this trek is bringing me full circle back to home.
you gotta love 'camping'
when it comes with hot and cold shower
post paddle and ready for an alfresco breakfast

Hawaii Five-O

On the dawn of my 6th day of an East Maui adventure I'd accepted that my beloved Bill Foote paddleboard was lost forever as the result of:
  • a greedy thief, 
  • my own stupidity for not locking it down on the roof rack for the hour I was swimming, 
  • a greedy thief
True, I'd grown complacent after having survived hippy zombies and hammocks and eerie cemeteries on my trek around the island. But it SUCKS to feel like a victim. It sucks even more when one starts to play the mind game of "I should have..., could have..., WHY DIDN'T I...?"   So, when that kind of inner dialogue starts I find it easier to just move on and accept that mean people inhabit this same stretch of earth, therefore I should do my best to cancel out that blackness with what delights and revitalizes me. Of course, that's usually a happy paddle on my (now missing) paddleboard so I was back to accepting the loss, until .....

At 8:30 AM my friend Joan informs me via Facebook: "Your board is in Paia and posted on Craigslist yesterday. What scumbags." 

Sure enough, there it was, complete with cell number naming "Dillon" as contact.  I send "Dillon" a message: "Still have SUP for sale?"

And immediately he responds:
"Yessssss!" (apparently Dillon was in Slytherin House while at Hogwarts)

Encouraged, I race to the Hana divison of Maui Police Department (MPD) to see what law enforcement recommends in situations where stolen goods are offered for sale. There I'm interviewed by a handsome (really, it bears mentioning) Hawaiian officer who offers many observations about how hard it is to recover something as easily concealed as a surf or paddle board when every other vehicle on the island has a board rack. To his credit, Officer Gorgeous gave me his cell number so that I could text photos of the board and takes his own screenshots of my Facebook posts from Nov '14 after I bought it. He advises me: 
If the seller contacts you again, try to stall him to give you time so Wailuku police* have time to set up a meeting. 

And right then, another message arrives from Dillon:
"I'm in Paia, can you meet me here?!" Officer EasyOnTheEyes gives me raised eyebrows and a shoulder shrug.

Okey dokey - I'm primed for SUP search and rescue now! I wave goodbye to Hana and its handsome peace officer, and respond to "Dillon" who I've now added to contacts as "SUP Thief":
I'm at work, on the West Side (a lie, obviouslyand can't get to Paia before noon & have to borrow a truck from a friend, could be a while." (all lies, please forgive me).

To which Sup Thief responds: 
Ok, great!" I figure I must be dealing with the happiest thief ever. He uses exclamation marks with EVERY text.

Here's where we are to date:
Board stolen from Hamoa Bay in Hana
Posted on CraigsList for sale in Paia
Hana PD recommends heading straight to Wailuku PD to set up apprehension of SUP Thief

It's now 9:30 AM and I'm on the road out of Hana to Paia. Have you ever driven this road? It's crazy curvy, right? Imagine it in a Honda minivan, with a drippy egg salad sandwich in one hand and a twitchy SUP Thief buzzing the phone with "How long before you're in Paia?! texts every time there's a stray cell signal. Oh, and you have to pee really, really badly. Got that image? That was my drive. There was a certain urgency to the experience.

I arrive Wailuku Police Departement at 11:15 AM and tell the story all over again: Board stolen in Hana/on CraigsList in Paia/Contacted seller who wants to meet ... and in the middle of all this comes new text from SUP Thief:
"Can meet you at Wailuku Coffee Company!" ** 

The Wailuku officers (I'll call them A, B and C because that's what their last names started with) became quite energized by this information. They know the location because it's across the street from a municipal parking lot and they all enjoy coffee there. They develop a plan that involves me parking a block away from the coffee shop (in attempt to ensure the 4-wheeled crime scene that is Hobo isn't recognized), walking up to the SUP Thief and engaging him in conversation about the board, verifying that it's indeed mine, signalling Officer A when verification occurs and then stepping aside while the MPD confronts the dude. Great plan, right?

I text SUP Thief:
"Be there in 10. Who should I ask for?"

SUP Thief:
"I'll b out front ... standing ... black shirt jeans!...."

It's a "go". I drive, park, walk, and approach a man who fits the description, introducing myself as the CraigsList responder. There's no board in sight. I ask where it was and SUP Thief says he parked down the street, behind some buildings and I could check out the board if I walked there with him. Uhhhhh.... this wasn't covered in the ABC's plan. I tel SUP Thief that I'm uncomfortable leaving a public area to walk behind some buildings with a man I don't know. 

I'd just finished saying this when my phone rings and I see Officer A's name on caller ID. I say the first thing that came to mind:
"Hi, honey! I'm here with the man I told you about who has a board for sale but he wants me to walk with him behind some buildings to see it. What do you think I should do?"

On the other end I can hear Officer A begin to tell his Superintendent there may be a change in plans. I hold the phone away from my face and say to SUP Thief:
"I want to buy this board and I have cash on hand but I'm not going behind any buildings with you. I'll save this parking space for you (and I step into a just-vacated spot) Why don't you bring the board back here for me to check out."

Meanwhile, Officer A, still on the phone, is asking me to describe what SUP Thief looks like and I'm doing all I can to keep from shouting back: "Just step around the corner and see for yourself"! when SUP Thief begins walking away from me, down the street.

I hang up on Officer A.

SUP Thief doesn't come back with the board.

I spent the next 15 minutes doing several things while the cops are presumably doing their own pursuit, questioning, investigating. I ask the coffee shop workers if they knew who SUP Thief was - though I called him Dillon. Then, I compose a suitably PO'd text to him about how he wasted my day since I'd had to drive over from the fictitious West Side and how'd I might STILL be interested even though I wasn't happy about being dumped.

Officer A got over being hung up on and calls me back, instructing me to meet the rest of the ABCs behind the First Hawaiian Bank building across the street from the coffee shop. There I am introduced to the Superintendent and we debrief. No one but me got a good look at SUP Thief even though there were four officers within shouting distance. There was some commiseration, more shoulder shrugs, and the suggestion that I wait a day or two before having a friend contact SUP Thief, using a different number, to try for a better result.

And then, right on cue, another message from the dude:
OK...at coffee store Kehei...Azeka mauka plaza. Have board in parking lot outside next to Peggy Sues. Can you call me! ...

The ABC's inform me that's out of their jurisdiction and that I'd need to enlist the services of Kihei PD in order to set up another meet, verify and nab activity at that location. I thank them for their time, tell them I'll head to Kihei and return to my car where I ponder the psychology of a SUP Thief who uses exclamation marks in every text message. 

So I call him. And I say:
"Tell me about this board. How long have you had it. Why are you selling it." 
His responses had to have sounded lame, even to himself.

I follow up with:
"You've got to know that this board was stolen from me yesterday. There's a police report filed with photos and serial number on record. The police have your phone number, your CraigsList account info, photos of you and your truck (I made up that last part) It's only a matter of time before they find you. Why don't you just turn the board over to me and I'll call the cops off."

SUP Thief tells me he'll call me back.

I immediately send him the following text message:
Please consider what the board is worth vs a felony arrest. Why don't you take it to Maui Ocean Center and leave it on the grass parking strip at the corner closest to Carl's JR. No cops will be around, you can drop it, leave and the theft report will go away.

No response.

I drive to Maui Ocean Center and wait. It's 1:45 PM. I use the time to catch up on emails and Facebook. I post the board "Stolen - Reward Offered" on CraigsList, incorporating the SUP Thief's own posting with my images, showing his contact data, stating there's a police report filed with current action to apprehend. I call Greg and tell him it was a good try but the board is gone for good. After waiting an hour, I begin driving toward West Maui and the next stage of my island exploration. 

At 3:05 PM I receive the following from SUP Thief:
Board is in Kihei...at beach parking lot...it's up against a fence...on the grass...I didn't steal it!"

It takes me another 45 minutes to find the right beach park and sure enough, there against a rock wall rests my tricky, dinged-up, fantastically fun Bill Foote board. I deconstruct my carrying harness in order to have sufficient straps to secure it to the roof racks because the original straps were cut in the theft. And I drive to Safeway to buy a bottle of champagne. 

*Why Wailuku PD instead of Hana PD (where the board was stolen). Because Hana is the backside of the island (and what a beautiful backside it is). Any criminal activity that occurs outside of Hana has to be handled by other divisions because of the travel logistics.

**Wailuku Coffee Company is hands down the STUPIDEST place for criminal activity to occur as it's directly across the street from a bank and next door to a pawn shop - both with surveillance cameras in place at streetside.

Dec 1, 2015

Excellent Fruit

Is there any fruit less appealing in appearance than the pineapple? Knife-like blades on top, spine-tipped scales everywhere else - this armored football of a fruit does little to incite appetite. Until, that is, you happen upon a fully ripe pine and your senses flood with the fragrance of yellow sunshine and sweet flower. "Eat me, slice me, blend me into a rum-enhanced drink", it says. And you should.

The Tupi of South America receive first name credit, coming up with nanas "excellent fruit" and comosus "tufted" with later Europeans (circa 1664) using pineapple interchangeably between evergreen cones and these decidedly more tropical specimens. Seafaring captains would load up on the flower/fruit when returning from the tropics. Once home, the sailor would place a pineapple on the gate post, signalling his return and thus was born the pineapple as a symbol of hospitality. Or so the story goes. There are more than a few refutable myths floating around. For instance: placing a pine upside down in the 'frig before cutting will make the fruit sweeter and juicier (not a fact). Or, eating the fruit before coitus will improve certain, uhhh... oral aspects of the act (perhaps a fact - may require testing).  Or, hummingbirds are banned from Hawaii because of the pineapple-growing industry (yep, that one is true).

With it's interesting botany, unusual propagation and role in Hawaii's history, it's rather sad to consider pineapple in Hawaii today. This state used to produce one third of the world's supply. Now, with just a single grower on Maui and no canneries or production facilities, Hawaii doesn't even register on the world production list. When we first arrived at the House of Good Living eight years ago we could smell pineapple in the air on warm spring evenings as we lived just across the road from one of Maui Land & Pine's plantations. At that time, ML&P was the nation's largest producer of pineapple. But, because using land for resorts is more profitable than growing things, the fruit that used be a state symbol is no longer grown on a commercial scale. Today, with ML&P completely out of the "P", we rely on a roadside stand from a family farm to provide us our daily pine. I'm happy to support a small local endeavor.  But be aware, those "Hawaiian-style" pineapples you're picking up at the market - they're coming to you courtesy of the low land and labor costs in Costa Rica. The only truly Hawaiian pines you'll find on the mainland are labeled "Maui Gold" and are made possible by the island's one remaining small grower who's committed to saving the tradition of pine in the islands.

This holiday season I recommend you break out the biggest knife in the block, brave the fearsome exterior and imagine yourself in the islands with a slice of fresh Maui-grown pineapple. Everything will seem more golden and sweet, if you do.

Nov 28, 2015


plentiful pleasure
My plate overfloweth.

Being Thanksgiving weekend and all, perhaps the image of a full-to-the-edge, bending-in-the-middle, heaped up paper plate more likely suggests a tryptophan-induced nap than a feeling of contented satiation. Oh well, I'm going with it 'cause here at the House of Good Living, the abundance that's resulted from a decision to simplify defies the laws of physics ~ just like that turkey/spud/stuffing-laden Chinette.

my happy place
Case in point: my closet.
One week ago I had two of them. Each packed with the PNW-appropriate shades of grey fleece, down vests, woolen wear, knee boots and scarves designed to help one survive winter. Two entire closets filled with layers of head to toe gloom-wear. Today, my closet is so darned cheerful it makes me smile. Happy colors, bright batik prints ... an entire wardrobe taking up one tenth of the real estate last week's garb required. Yet, so abundantly joyful.

And, our garden.
We both love to play in the dirt, wearing gloves rendered finger-less by happy sessions of digging, weeding, planting some blooming thing in every square foot outside our mainland house. So many of those plants were donations from others' already-full gardens, each with a story of who/why it came to be in our landscape. Titus's rose, Bev's iris, Aunt Jo's succulents ~ the memory of giver and gift doubled my pleasure when out of doors. Today's "garden" contains a single cucumber, strawberry, basil, rosemary, oregano and TWO tomato plants, ornamented with favorite
my other happy place
blown glass garden art. Happy abundance in simple flower pots.

Thirty years ago a wise friend was the first I heard proclaim "a man's wants are many but his needs are few." His words couldn't ring more true than they do, for me, today. The opportunity to disentangle an increasingly complicated life, to practice reducing "want" through a healthy fulfillment of "need" has resulted in such unexpected abundance. That plenitude and the gifts of Greg's improving health, beloved friends & family plus this crazy beautiful place crowd my plate to overflowing.

Grateful, sated, lavishly blessed. That's us,

Nov 24, 2015

I'm not missing you at all

One third of our family remains on the mainland. Writing that sentence hurts my heart.

The transient nature of this winter's stay at the House of Good Living creates too many complications for a comfort-craving, heat-sensitive golden retriever. Therefore, Raymond is enjoying a long stay at Camp Dassel. Great for him, good for us, a whole lot of extra hairballs for Claus and Turid. Ray loooooves to stay at Dassels. So much so that all it takes is pointing the car towards their house and he goes all bouncy and squeaky. A stay at Dassels means cuddling on the sofa, morning snuggles in bed, and long "go ahead and sniff all you want" strolls around the neighborhood.

Just a typical Tuesday morning at Camp Dassel
Despite knowing how well cared for and loved our golden boy is, there's a big dog-shaped hole in our lives.

Our best friend/crewmate is a 9 year-old orange wonder who's habits and needs have defined our days and enriched our lives ever since we adopted him as a "career change" (i.e. flunk out) from an assistance dog program. We consider that one of the luckiest events ever to occur for us. We brought Ray home on the same day Greg was discharged from a hospitalization. It didn't take long to discover that this "transitioned" service dog was alerting in each instance before Greg's health took a downturn. Raymond's been a barometer and a comfort for Greg ever since; a furry security blanket whenever he's needed.

Summer's gift of improving health for Greg has given us the opportunity to spend more time on Maui but it comes at the cost of losing our daily dose of puppy love. Were it not for the assurance that our wonder dog is receiving the ultimate in loving attention (Handmade snack, anyone? It's sofa time!) we would be back on the mainland this moment. We're pretty darned certain we're only a fond memory in Ray's furry mind given his current residency in doggie nirvana.

Thank you ~ Claus and Turid ~ for the daily photos assuring us that Raymond isn't missing us at all. Go ahead ~ let him on the sofa. He's earned it.

Nov 23, 2015

Did you hear that?

Monday morning 11/23/15
That sound. The sound of breathing.

The sound of warm ocean air inhaled and held in the lungs before being exchanged for all the pent-up anxietypanicworry that's tightly bound my chest this past month and exhaled out in a long long long letting go.

That's the sound of coming home. 

That's the sound of tuberose fragrance being enjoyed. The sound of the waves, of palm fronds in the breeze, of feet dragging through sand at water's edge. That's the sound surrounding me as I breathe in and out and give in to feeling loss and gain, the yin and yang, the dark and bright of change.

I'm breathing. Again.

Nov 30, 2014

Aloha, Olsens!

We're celebrating the arrival of special guests this afternoon who are fleeing the frigid Pacific Northwest for their first visit to Maui. That's reason to celebrate, right?!  Stay tuned for adventure stories over the coming week.

On the topic of very welcome guests: this morning brought my first sighting of Maui's much-anticipated winter visitors ~ the humpback whale.  Greg's been able to catch a half dozen breaches and tail slaps but I've missed them all until now.  Here's hoping we can combine adventures of both the whale sort and tourist sort!

Nov 28, 2014

Rainbow Friday Wrap-Up

No Black Friday for us on this day after Thanksgiving ~ there are rainbows in every direction we look this morning!
There's been some serious feasting at the House of Good Living this past week, culminating in last night's poolside Thanksgiving potluck ~ 2 turkeys, 20 lbs of mashed spuds ~ it was quite the meal!

It's always good times and good food with our Hawaiian ohana at Hale Ono Loa.
Cousin Cyn shared her lovely self with us this past week, too. And I practiced my daily meditations with some new friends in the koi pond right outside our front door.
The open air lounge alongside the pond & fountains is filled with bird song and gentle breezes in the morning.
Even our stormiest days at the House of Good Living have a bit of sun somewhere.

Nov 20, 2014

Passionate Fruits

Lilikoi Lani's front lanai overlooking tropical gardens
Earlier this week we were introduced to one of the most beautiful upcountry homes you'll find in the islands: Lilikoi Lani Maui. Located on a verdant two acres, this boutique vacation rental is just a couple minutes from historic, hip, Makawao. The handsomely appointed home and cottages were inspired by Maui's plantation era and balance the charm of yesteryear with the luxuries sophisticated travelers dreams of. I'd happily spend days rocking on the front lanai!

Our hostess was the home's lovely owner ~ Colleen. She graciously shared tropical treasures from the trees which surround the home and give the property it's name ~ the Lilikoi. You may know this delicacy by another name: Passionfruit. Rich in fiber, vitamin A and iron, the lilikoi or passionfruit is full of health benefits and antioxidants.

lilikoi martini
This exotic fruit is quintessentially Hawaiian: tangy, sweet, abundantly found on vines threading their way through guava or lime trees, and used in a variety of delicious ways including baked goods, fruit butter, syrup, ice cream and marinade for meats. And ~ last but not least ~ our current favorite application: refreshing adult beverages.

We'd hardly walked through the door at the House of Good Living before Greg was going all ninja on three beautiful yellow lilikoi (lilikoius?). It was easy to determine which fruit were ripest; all it took was a shake to tell if the flesh was at it's juiciest, jiggliest stage and then off went its head. Greg stirred up the contents (a blend of citrus-flavored flesh and floral-scented juice with digestible seeds) before adding a shot of martini-quality gin to one, margarita-making tequila to another and rum to the last. Each drowned fruit then went into the freezer for an hour before re-emerging as single-serving lilikoi shots, organic style. The result: fresh squeezed deliciousness in nature's own packaging.
3 drunken fruits
Had it not been for the generosity Colleen shared with us, we would have missed out on experiencing a beautiful place and the tropical tastes that will now always bring Lilikoi Lani Maui to mind.  Please, check out this vacation rental on Facebook or VRBO if you're considering a family or group holiday on Maui.

Nov 19, 2014

Moving On

My man and his German love machine

Our relationship with cars at the House of Good Living is, in Facebook vernacular "complicated." We've flirted with, dated, committed to and experienced heartbreaking separation from quite a few vehicles over the past eight years.

For a time, a rugged Ford 150 made endless trips to the landfill with our construction debris and I confess to having a bit of a crush on that bad boy. But, as often happens, the tough attitude signaled a rough ride down the road so he rumbled back Upcountry without us.

We filled the gap with an SUV shipped from the mainland and that rig took to Hawaii in nothing flat. Quickly bedecked with turtle stickers and rainbow plates, the Exploder was the stereotypical beach buggy, right down to the miasma created by wet dive gear anytime the windows were closed for more than an hour.

I lost a little bit of my heart when that relationship ended and, as can too often happen, filled the gap with an unsuitable infatuation - a Mazda Miata. Maybe it could have worked. We might have had something that wasn't completely wrong IF the trunk wasn't already filled with a gigantic amp and IF the ragtop hadn't been permanently vented by holes. As it was, that darling little car couldn't be held by the bounds of earth and flew off the road to Hana, captured again, temporarily, by a tree. Fly, white dove. Fly.

Car du jour is in our life because Greg man-crushed on it from his very first sighting. He managed to structure a condo purchase to include the beauty and (just speculating here) was more excited to have the car keys handed over than the title to the condo. Can't fault the man for his taste ~ it's a gorgeous European and super fun to drive. However, like many beautiful objects of affection, it's high maintenance and tends to withhold if left too long without attention. At first it was just a little pout and sulk. But as time (without daily petting) went on, the bitch began throwing major tantrums. We began talking about a car divorce after a paroxysm of spite left me covered in hydraulic fluid. The surreptitious search for a suitable replacement felt a bit like illicit love.

After so many attempts at a healthy relationship, it feels like we've finally landed on the right partner; strong and reliable, not so handsome as to attract punitive envy, capacious enough to camp in ... this one feels exactly right. We brought it home a couple of days ago and it already feels like we've slipped into our own skin. Even better, it's ability to twist time/space creates a black hole into which I'm able to dump endless quantities of Costco-sized paper goods. Maybe this is indeed "The One" for us.
Count 'em: 8 crates of tissue and towels just behind the back seat!

Just in case you're considering a car on Maui:
If you're planning a long trip, Maui's version of rent-a-wreck has decent deals for long stays. It has provided our main method of transportation for quite a few visits. We have managed a two month stay by using bicycles, the bus and carjacked friends but recommend renting a car unless you're willing to give up control of your schedule.

Nov 15, 2014


my reading room
Foiled. Forestalled. Derailed.

Shingles and sharky waters have interfered with my plan to swim every day so I use up ocean time with a thesaurus. That's not a complaint, by the way. Words and their meanings fascinate me. People who can string words into stories are my idols.

I enjoy reading. Anything. If presented with a cereal box, an encyclopedia, a dictionary, I'd read it as a kid. Today I remain infatuated with books and the stories they tell. My wallet has more library cards than credit cards and there's generally a book (or three) at my elbow or in my bag.

With the water off limits and time on my hands I've taken to reading stories relevant to my current place in the universe.  One of the more enthralling stories I've come across is a historical drama, filled with intrigue, powerful characters and a redemptive conclusion (as most of my favorites tend to be ~ I like happy endings). In short: it's the story of Maui. And it's a very different tale than many beach-going, mai tai-sipping visitors think they know about the island.

Here it goes: 
Legends say the demigod Maui hauled up the Hawaiian Islands from the sea with his mighty, magical fish hook and snared the sun atop Haleakala in order to slow the day so that his mother's bark cloth could dry. The island of Maui and the constellation "Maui's Fishhook" (aka Scorpius) is named after this mythological figure. There are a number of other Oceanic legends about Maui and his feats but I'll leave those for you to read later.

Oral history tells a different story: 
Until the 15th century, Maui was comprised of several chiefdoms. These were united by King Pi'ilani who merged the factions into a single royal family or ali'i. The island prospered peacefully under this rule for more than two centuries and today we can still see remnants of the King's Highway that circled the island along its coast. The last king of Maui - Kahekili - was defeated in 1790 by King Kamehameha the 1st in an epic battle. Kamehameha took control of Maui and made Lahaina the new capital of the unified Hawaiian kingdom. 

Here's where it starts to develop into a truly interesting story: we throw in Spanish castaways and the always devilish Captain Cook shows up. Next, American fur traders and whalers of all nationalities make their debauched entry into the scene. Toss in a bunch of missionaries and a Hawaiian Queen with power issues and we have combustion equal to that volcano which decides to erupt at about the same time. Kaboom. And all that's BEFORE the plantation era and the US government's scheme to overthrow the monarchy which add contemporary literary tension to the tale. Oh yeah, and a war. How's that for a dynamic plot?

See why I can't tear myself away from this narrative? Wouldn't you want to keep reading?

Nov 13, 2014

Fins to the left. Fins to the right!

Well, it happened again. Sharks and swimmers don't play well together and this afternoon's event vividly illustrates why.

What makes this shark encounter personal is that it happened at "our" beach. No, not the beach right out front of the House of Good Living (which was the site of a fatal shark attack a decade ago and more recently this attack). Rather, it occurred directly offshore our favorite spot to gather with friends and watch "Beach TV"~ the always entertaining spectacle featuring visitors and locals alike.

Today's water conditions were suspiciously "sharky" from the beginning; big surf churned up the bottom and light rain diminished visibility further. When the water's like this, we opt to stay out of the waves. Most of the surfers out front made the same decision and the break was empty by noon. The reason: the lower the visibility, the more likely some big creature will bump into you by mistake. And then, in trying to figure out what it's just bumped into, will take a nibble to see if it tastes good. We try to avoid getting bumped into.

I'm certain the man who was bitten today would argue the point BUT there's very little reason to fear a shark attack on Maui. In fact, it's not believed that the creatures actively seek out swimmers. Turtles, yes. And people sitting on surfboards with feet dangling, maybe. However, you're more likely to be killed by a coconut or lightening strike or volcanic eruption than by a shark when on vacation in Hawaii. That last sentence doesn't make for great tourism campaign language, does it? But I hope it can provide a measure of reassurance for our guests. Let's try again: "Stay out of murky water and watch out for volcanoes." Is that better?

Nov 12, 2014

Wedding Crashers

We broke a bunch of etiquette rules yesterday and showed up, uninvited, at someone's beach wedding. Terribly rude, right?

Getting "Maui'd" is a popular method of sealing the deal between two lovebirds and the wedding industry is big business here in the islands. Search Pinterest or Google for "Maui Beach Wedding" and you'll find a panoply of lovely, surf and sunset filled images of gorgeous people tying the knot. Glowing brides, swaying palms, fragrant flower leis ~ all the images seem to suggest that every day will be a holiday once married. As it should be.

When we heard that a distant cousin was getting married just down the beach from the House of Good Living it seemed like a good idea to crash the party. Gathering up two leis (orchid for the groom and tuberose for the bride), we tried to arrive as inconspicuously as possible, using palm trees as cover until popping out onto the grass at the beach park. Our timing was a little off and our unexpected presence elicited considerable surprise from the bride when we arrived mid-ceremony. Awkward.

To be clear, we weren't the only uninvited guest; cousin Cyn had also dropped in. But I think she received a quasi-invite via Facebook so perhaps she was expected. We definitely weren't included in the plans and have to give big kudos to the celebrants for their warm welcome and graciousness. The bride was beautiful, the groom most handsome and their family absolutely delightful. We wish them a happy Hawaiian honeymoon and joy-filled life together. And may they be saved the surprise of uninvited second cousins from all future events.
Maui'd cousins

Nov 11, 2014

Big Surf Forecast

watching the surf at S-turns
A major NW swell is due to arrive today and it's being called the biggest surf of the season. That means we have perfect seats here at the House of Good Living for watching paddlers and surfers on the local-knowledge spots located right out front of us.

"Mushrooms" is a short ride that shallows quickly and gets a lot of beginners on SUPS which makes it something of a demolition derby at times. "S-Turns" is just a few hundred yards south and notable for it's own dangers; urchins, rocks and a fatal shark attack 10 years ago.

Today both spots are teeming with adventure seekers taking advantage of the big conditions. Being SUP-less this season (and banned from ocean activities until post-Shingles) I watch with gritted teeth as it seems everyone else is enjoying what I'd love to be doing. But then I consider how lucky I am to be here, watching the big beautiful waves roll in, and it (almost) makes it all better!

Fish Tales

Greg's bigeye tuna
Sashimi. Sushi. Poke.
These words thrill me because each can feature the ruby-colored flesh of my favorite fish ~ Ahi (aka Yellowfin or Bigeye tuna). Firm and mild flavored, Ahi has a silky texture and is an excellent source of healthy, extra-lean protein. Even better, it's sustainably fished here in Hawaii.

We went fishing* a few days ago and came home with a beautiful 12 pounder.  Greg worked magic with his fillet knife, converting the fish into steaks, poke and ready-to-eat sashimi. He went traditional with the poke; a little soy sauce, onion, sesame oil and avocado to garnish ...voila! Taste sensation. Next up was our sashimi. A little less traditional this time, he prepared the ahi steak by rolling it in lightly crushed black pepper and garlic. A hot pan with olive oil was at the ready but the fish just got a kiss on all sides before transferring to a cutting board for thin slicing.  Served with lime-dressed avocado, sticky rice and wasabi, the ahi was indescribably delicious. If I'd not known what it started life as, I'd have guessed it was grilled portabella mushroom or filet mignon.

fishing*: our preferred method is to visit Lahaina harbor and use a $20 bill as bait

Nov 8, 2014

Moon(ing) over Maui

Moon-set between Molokoai & Lanai
I've shared before how much we enjoy the technicolor sunsets our West Maui vantage point provides during winter months. The accompanying day's end ritual contribute to the sense that each approaching twilight is an event to be honored. There's a quiet gratification in setting aside time to say "mahalo" to the day and "aloha" to the night. Spending time in a place where that happens at each day's end helps me honor and mark the gifts of the past 24 hours.

This past week's waxing moon and very early morning moon-sets deserved the same celebration. Thanks to an early morning telephone call (folks: 7 am in Washington State is 5 am in Hawaii), I was able to enjoy the occasion. Mahina was at her most serene in that last hour before she dipped into the sea. The sky over the mountains was brightening with a new day even as the moon hung in the clouds at ocean's edge. A single bird song proclaimed night was done and the moon's job completed.

Nov 5, 2014

eat. beach. sleep. repeat.

There's a comfortable rhythm to most days at the House of Good Living. Yesterday was one of the more satisfying examples of just how soothing that tempo can be. The sun dawned, the waves rolled in and we wandered down to a favorite sandy spot for an afternoon of visiting and floating with friends.

The 5:30 AM telephone call this morning should have alerted us that today was going to have a decidedly different pattern.  Lost car parts, broken dishwashers, a missing microwave turntable (puhleeze, tell me how does a housekeeper misplace part of the microwave?) are all conspiring to keep me from the beach today. Our yin-yang of life here ~ with bright days and dark days ~ could use some improving upon. So, I'm going to take up the mantra: eat. beach. sleep. repeat .... eat. beach. sleep. repeat.