Dec 3, 2008

Overheard on the beach today ...

"There's sand in the poop deck!"

This statement was loudly made by a boy as he launched his inflatable water toy. He later identified himself as "Sir Cheeky Head Pirate, in search of treasure."

Da vog

As Kilauea continues to vent over on the big island of Hawaii and West Maui's trade breezes die away to puffs we get steamy afternoons and remarkable pastel sunsets.

The daytime sky takes on the appearance of a mid-winter day in the Pacific Northwest when the vog (volcanic smog) settles in. If it weren't for the palms and 80 degree ocean water, you might think you're on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

To consider that this atmosphere is created by an active volcano on an island just over there can give one pause. So I don't think about it. I just take pictures when the sunset is particuarily lovely and turn the ceiling fan to "high".

Dec 2, 2008

Meet my friend the mo'o

The house geckos who live here at the House of Good Living have become especially rambunctious of late.

Commonly known in Hawaii as mo'o (pronounced mow-o), these little bug-zapping machines make their homes behind mirrors and pictures and in the lanai closet. They dart about quickly and gobble up unsuspecting gnats, punctuating their meals with chirps of delight (or terror, I suppose, if pursued by larger and hungrier members of their own species).

Our usual trade breezes disappeared this afternoon and Big Island vog is rolling in, bringing the moist, warm pineapple-scented air that sends bugs swirling. The mo'o party line is probably buzzing excitedly at the prospect of their big buffet tonight.

Nov 25, 2008

And he thought fish were his friends

The men of the House of Good Living took to the deep again today. Their destination: the Five Graves dive spot near Makena in south Maui. Maybe it was the name or perhaps it was just his time. Whatever the reason, it wasn't long after entering the water that An Adventure Ensued.

This is what I've learned from eyewitness accounts:

The dive was proceeding as planned when suddenly, out of the deep, the Butterfly fish swarmed (schooled?) around Greg. Overwhelmed with fluttery, finny yellowness, his eyes grew big and his hair stood on end. A photo was taken and then another as Greg disappeared within their midst.

The man who chases sharks, the man who wakes up turtles, my fearless shell warrior (sigh) was nearly obliterated by pretty aquarium fish.

Not to worry, he's okay now. No damage was done and the buddies are already planning their next underwater excursion.


Once again, most grateful mahalos to Jeff for the photographic record of the adventure

Finding the happy

Playing in the dirt makes me feel good. I'm pleased when what I put in the dirt actually grows. You can imagine my delight when growth becomes blossom.

As a participant in a "living small" exercise, I've had to scale down my garden accordingly. The sprawling mainland garden with fire pit has been replaced by two pots of mystery plants and yet another "treasure" Greg discovered in the dumpster downstairs.

My capacity for enjoying life has been challenged of late by anxiety our nation's climate of crisis has generated. The House of Good Living can create it's own bad juju, too. Combine worry with resentment, add tweaky hormones and this Taurus needs dirt to dig in.

So, I fuss with my plants. I admire a new bloom and dribble a little water around the roots. Then, at dusk we light the pint-sized chiminea and, looking for Jupiter before it drops behind Lanai, I count my blessings.

Nov 21, 2008

It's looking like one of those days


Have you had a perilous day recently?
What measures do you take to cope with the sharks in your life?
Does it seem like you're swimming with them daily? Do you ever feel like just hiding under your beach towel, mumbling "make them go away"?

Cousin Teri introduced me to this nifty social networking site which provides me with so many lovely little colorful fish to play with, I manage to ignore the big fins in the distance.
What do you use to distract yourself when the water gets scary?

(mahalo to Jeff & Joan for this photo taken earlier in the week a few short miles south of the House of Good Living)

Nov 18, 2008

When it rains ...

Aloha, faithful visitor. It's nice of you to stop by the House of Good Living.

Your timing couldn't be better; the rain appears to be over and the leak in the ceiling has slowed to just a few drips a minute. Now we can catch up without the wind blowing the door open and gusting the pillows off the furniture.

These storms sure do make life interesting. And damp. And maybe, just maybe, they bring on a touch of cabin fever. 568 square feet goes from cozy to cell-like when occupied by two frustrated (don't forget damp) leaky ceiling-obsessed people.

But the sun finally showed up. You stopped by, too. And together we can enjoy the return of calm and the hibiscus blossoms I rescued from the rain. When you drop by next we may even have time to get around to discussing Greg's shrimpish news.

Nov 17, 2008

Stay tuned for breaking news



A select few have already heard the latest about my own personal pirate (every girl should have one). Don't worry - you won't have to read about shipwrecks, plague or scurvy. This will be interesting news.

You see, Greg has a new role and you'll get all the details in the next day or two. There'll be some photos, too. However, those might just make women weep and men run in terror.

Gifts

Yesterday someone left three papaya at my doorstep. No note of explanation - just three lovely, ripe papaya. Mahalo, mysterious giver of fruit.

Today's present was the opportunity to choose between a long, shade-dappled walk at Kapalua with pals or a shorter, steep hike up to the airport with another friend who leaves the island tomorrow. I'm grateful for choices like this.

As concrete saws scream and hammers pound 30 feet down the walkway from where I type this, I'm getting ready to claim the gift of wax earplugs. I'd much rather have fruit.

Nov 16, 2008

Swimming with sharks

The men of the House of Good Living went diving yesterday. Deftly led by master (oops, almost typed "mustard") diver Jeff, they went adventuring in search of the white tip sharks which rest and feed (eek!) among the pilings of Mala Wharf.

They warmed up with a visit to the turtle nursery where Greg posed with a couple of honu including a napping youngster. Aren't they cute?! Most grateful mahalos to Jeff for the photos.

It apparently didn't take long to roust out one the multi-toothed staples of ocean-based horror movies. And, then the guys pursued the beast. Sheeezz... why not just poke it with a stick while you're at it?


My idea of risky beach behavior is opting for spf 15 instead of 30 while my husband and friend decide to amuse themselves by annoying Jaws. Even though Greg assured me that they were perfectly safe he described the shark as being roughly the size of our kitchen counter. After which he proceeded to run with scissors.

Nov 13, 2008

Yakking

Calm water and good visibility? check
Paddles and swimsuit? check, check
Kayak drain holes plugged? Uhhh...oops.
A dash up to the kitchen where a wine bottle sacrifices its cork for the cause of flotation and then we're off for our paddle.

My yakking partner is Lisa-of-the-seas. She has an impressive ability to spot swimming honu and spinning dolphins AND matched sets of cowrie shells. Gifted at all things water, golf, and nursing-related, it doesn't seem fair that she gets to add talented shell collector to her resume.


Atop borrowed kayaks (mahalo, Dave & Derek) we spend a leisurely hour yakking along the shore until, tempted by a perfect crescent of sand, we abandon ship and float sans-watercraft in the waves.


Sometimes it's not the direction of my journey but the drifting along the way that feels right.




Nov 11, 2008

Come mister tally man, tally me banana


This morning's forecast for Hale Ono Loa called for moderate trades, south swells and sunshine with occasional windward showers. This was also yesterday's forecast, the day's before and tomorrow's as well. "Booooorriinngg," you say? Well, I suppose it could be if one doesn't enjoy watching things grow - really, really fast.

Food crops in the tropics can mature at such a phenomenal rate of speed that plants like the papaya can be a seedling one November and bear fruit by the following Thanksgiving (true story as the photo here illustrates - mahalo to the ladies in condo 117 who tend this amazingly prolific papaya.

Then there's the staple of ice cream splits & Elvis's sandwiches. The banana plant (our next-to-the-swimming pool specimen with baby bunch pictured above) grows leaves up to 2 feet across and 9 feet long in the time it takes you and me to compile a Christmas shopping list. Once "it"* decides it's time to bear fruit, you better be prepared to start baking as you could end up with 80 ripe bananas at one time. You can't possibly drink that many smoothies, pina coladas or milkshakes.

Here at the House of Good Living we're also proud of the lime tree which looks like a ficus gone mad and has the biggest, most fragrant limes your diet Coke has ever seen. Throw in the couple dozen coconut trees and we have the makings of something tasty for pau hana** tonight.

*Bananas have female flowers while the last part of the very bottom of the stalk are tiny, truly tiny, little male fingers. Which dry up. And then drop off.
**literally "work done" in Hawaiian

Nov 10, 2008

"Mahalo for removing you slippahs ...

... but no take mo bettah when you leave."
So reads one of the placards alongside a door here at the House of Good Living.

It was "Sunday Dinner at Shirley's" last evening and I noticed that no one needed to be reminded of appropriate guest etiquette. It could be that we've all had a proper upbringing. But, most likely it's because Shirley has the sort of carpet you just want to dig your bare toes into.

Imagine the setting: we're* dining alfresco on Shirley's lanai perched just feet from the ocean with a setting sun all aglow and waves breaking against the reef.

Now, the meal: Shirley's homemade meatballs with pasta, a herb-adorned salad, SueAnn's awesome antipasti platter, garlicky bread, Peg's positively decadent chocolate cake - the most comforting of comfort food.

Who wouldn't want to get barefoot for all that?

*We're 10 neighbors here at Hale Ono Loa who are a mix of full-time, half-time or quarter-time residents

Nov 8, 2008

Thar She Blows!

My friend Joan is amazing*. She's the tidiest person I've ever met (sorry, mom**), arriving at Hale Ono Loa after a 5 1/2 hour flight and a trek through Costco still looking as fresh and ironed as when she left Kenmore at o'dark-thirty.

But right now my top-of-list "why Joan is amazing" entry is: She saw the House of Good Living's first humpback whale of the season this afternoon (well, she saw the spout but we know they're out there now). You rock, Joan!

*Ms. Amazing, while often cool-blooded, doesn't generally don a hoody on Maui. This photo was taken during a chilly 4th of July cruise in the San Juans this past summer. That she tolerated the weather, the less-than-tidy boat, and our company only illustrates why I respect her so much!

**My mother is also VERY tidy.

Nov 6, 2008

Going to the Far Side

There are obvious contrasts between our life on the mainland and life on Maui: Here we have sun, shorts and sandals while our pals back in Shelter Bay are splashing about in soggy fleece (oh yeah, I wasn't going to rub that in ... oops). And, since shipping it over, our island Exploder stays parked more days than not as we try to use the bikes (mahalo, Cruiser Phil & cuz'n Cyn) and walk more than we drive.

A big day here on the island is a trip to the "Far Side". That's what Greg calls the general area in central Maui where Shopping World (substitute the Big Box stores of your choice) takes up space. It's not a long drive by Puget Sound standards, maybe 60 miles roundtrip if we have to drive around a few lots looking for parking. But the exercise in consumption can take an entire day and may leave us not feeling much aloha for each other.

The outcome of a Far Side excursion is significantly distinct from a mainland trip's results. Our Maui bounty (if we visit Mino & Jeremy on our drive) includes island-grown papaya, starfruit, avocado, and grapefruit. Greg's favorite post-trip pupu is freshly prepared tako poke limu (raw octopus with seaweed - tasty if you enjoy tentacles & brine) While our evening meals are likely seasoned with Huli-Huli sauce accompanied by two scoops of rice.

Reading today's report of record rainfall for Seattle, I'm gratefully celebrating the delicious differences between my two worlds.

when it's NOT a beautiful day in the neighborhood

I need to be reminded of the 5 steps to happiness ...
  • free the heart of hatred
  • free the head of worry
  • live simply
  • give more
  • expect less

.... and remember to breathe.

Nov 4, 2008

"Our stories are singular but our destinies are shared"

... out of many, we are one"
president elect, Barack Obama. November 4, 2008 7:11 pm HST

Octopus, eel and golf ball, oh my!

I'm probably not the only resident at Hale Ono Loa who sometimes feels as if our piece of paradise bears a eerie similarity to Oz, that place "somewhere over the rainbow" where one can't be certain what's real and what's a dream. We'll leave for another post the exploration of characters and their Maui counterparts (can I be Glinda - please, please, please?), and ignore completely those freaky flying monkeys ....

Just a couple of hours ago I skipped down our yellow brick road (brown concrete steps, actually) and slid (it's okay, I meant to do that) submerging myself in our front yard - the Pacific Ocean. I was wearing my lucky mask and snorkel which never leak and always provide me with interesting underwater discoveries. Today was no exception - within a kick or two I was happily floating over a fishy melodrama complete with malevolent eel and youthfully energetic octopus. Suddenly my eye was caught by the unexpected - a sea cucumber nestled alongside a golf ball next to a purple coral.
What a wonderful world, Mr. Wizard.

Honu confessions

I've become addicted to a morning activity here on Maui. Before turning on the news or reading the paper I feel compelled to watch the turtles surf the reef outside. Coffee cup in hand, I check on water clarity from the lanai before walking 25 steps to a better vantage point at the end of the building. From there I look straight down onto the reef and some days (like today) can count 8 - 10 of my friends enjoying their breakfast.

The Green Sea Turtle (aka "Honu" in Hawaiian) isn't particuarily interesting when seen from above as my photo from this morning illustrates all too well. But take a look at one from the perspective of a fish and you may understand why watching these silent graceful creatures helps offset the cacophony of the morning's news.

Nov 3, 2008

Hanging around, bamboo-style

What I love about living in a small space on a tropical island ...

  • housekeeping chores take just minutes to complete (sweep up the sand, throw away the papaya skins, mist the orchid - okay, all done)
  • anything which gets misplaced is quickly found because it's either hanging on the lanai or on the entry table
  • there's a view of the ocean from any chair I choose to sit in

What I don't love about living in a small space ...

  • it only takes one wet towel slung on the lanai to create disorder

Thus, Greg went on a bamboo hunt and returned (from the dumpster downstairs) with 3 long pieces of bamboo. My chore was to cut one of the pieces into 2 foot long "rungs" and then use hemp to tie all the pieces together into a drying rack/bamboo ladder. It now rests in a corner of the lanai next to Greg's other dumpster treasure the horrible "Dead Palm Tree" floor lamp which he loves like no other.

We should be in good shape if we ever get stranded and need to build a raft to escape. But the floor lamp stays on the island.