Dec 31, 2012

*High Surf Warning*

Here is this morning's surf report:

"The large Northwest swell will continue to produce elevated and dangerous surf through tonight along exposed north and west facing shores of most of the Hawaiian island chain.
High Surf Warning now in effect until 6 am HST Tuesday.  Surf: expect heights of 20 to 30 feet along north facing Shores, and 15 to 20 feet along West facing shores."

The House of Good Living faces west/northwest and the boom of big surf woke me this morning. I went straight from nightgown to swimming suit and water booties, grabbed my paddle and set out for some exercise and wave practice before the really big swells began arriving.  After misjudging a couple of sets, I managed to get out beyond the break but lost my favorite ball cap in the process.  If anyone sees a turtle sporting a white-colored Kapula LPGA tournie hat, get it back from that greedy Honu - it's mine!

Dec 29, 2012

Something wonderful

My beach sheet

Maui cousin Mino gave me a vivid green cotton beach sheet that I absolutely love.  It was designed right here  ~ thus, it's called a Maui Beach Sheet ~ by a woman named Jody Baldwin who creates gorgeous quilts and bedding with Polynesian themes.  Jody's textiles are vivid, divinely soft, and multi-purpose.  Take my beach sheet, for example:  the intended purpose is to provide a colorful, sand-free place from which to enjoy the beach but it could also be a sarong, table cloth, wall hanging, headdress.  With a good imagination, the applications are limitless.  A Maui Beach Sheet is way better than a musty old towel which can take forever to dry, plus it cleans easily and cheers me up just hanging on the bamboo drying rack.

Maui Beach Sheets by Jody Baldwin (
Here's one of the best parts about this delightfully colorful addition to the House of Good Living:  it's sold in two of the shops I love most on Maui - Hale Zen in Lahaina and Designing Wahine Emporium in Makawao.   These two shops are packed with island-themed home decor, body care, apparel and tropical fun stuff. You should come over and we'll take a couple of day to explore both places.  It would be such a great time .... come on, let's do it!

Dec 28, 2012

Pau Hana

Pau Hana at the House of Good Living, December 28, 2012
Pau Hana:  "pow HA-na"; a common Hawaiian expression translated literally as "work is done."  Frequently used to describe end of workday, Friday afternoons or any time/day of the week when surf is up and employees want to ditch their job.  You want a tile setter to finish your travertine floor installation?  Sorry, it's pau hana.  Did the landscapers cut down the rampant foliage overtaking your view?  No, brah.  Pau hana.  It's a convenient expression.  Laundry piling up but paddleboard calling my name?  It's pau hana, Greg.  Gotta go ~ you can pull the sheets out of the dryer, right?!

We just finished a good day here at the House of Good Living. Started out by taking an amble up the road to a lime tree where we filled our pockets and then relished the fresh citrus smell on our hands the whole way back. (me:  Here, smell my fingers.  him:  NO.  Smell your OWN fingers!).

Then, really exciting happenings happened:  we launched the fleet ~ yellow kayak and paddleboard ~ and took turns falling off the latter.  Greg managed the calm seas just fine but the waves did a number on his balance.  He developed a little dance during which he'd twist left and dip right before prancing right off the back of the board.  We could YouTube it and make a mint, I'm sure.

Kahekili Beach was next, courtesy of Jeff and Joan (this whole car-less thing is working out GREAT thanks to car-generous neighbors).  Some sunning, snorkeling, reading, chatting, game playing ... before we knew it, we'd spent the entire day "leisuring" ~ well, you can hardly call it "working" can you? ~ and it was Pau Hana time.  Spent almost entirely out of doors, our day was replete with the pleasurable sensations of warm waters, soft sand, fragrant foliage and fruit.  To conclude it with a good friends and a great sunset seemed almost an embarrassement of riches.
V & Joan enjoying Pau Hana game time

Whew.  What a day.   It's pau hana, baby.

Did you know ...?

Heading out on my 2nd attempt at paddleboarding
Inquiring minds may find interesting the following facts about Hawaii:
  • Hawaii is the most isolated population center on Earth.  It is 2390 miles from California, 3850 miles from Japan and 4900 miles from China
  • The Hawaiian archipelago spans the distance of 1523 miles, making Hawaii the longest island chain in the world
  • The state of Hawaii has just four counties: Honolulu (both a city and a county), Kauai, Maui and Hawaii (the "Big Island")
  • Sugar is mainly produced on Maui and Kauai, on roughly 70,000 acres with an annual production of 340,000 tons of raw sugar.  One ton of water is needed to make one pound of sugar.
  • Hawaii is the only U.S. state that grows coffee.  Coffee plantations grow 8.5 million pounds of coffee annually
  • Trying to stay alive and upright, illustrated
  • The oldest school west of the Rockies (founded in 1831!) is Lahainaluna High School located right here on Maui.
  • It's highly likely that visitors to the House of Good Living will be subjected to countless images and accounts of paddle boarding.    

Dec 27, 2012

14 Days

Two weeks ~ that's how long we've been back in the House of Good Living.  Settling into the rhythm of island life requires time.  About two weeks worth, in our case.  We have a system in place now; morning walk and/or paddle, afternoon shuffleboard, napping in the sun, occasional games of dice with Jeff and Joan's taken a while but I think we have the schedule perfected.   Here's what else has been going on the past several days (in no particular order of significance):
  • Christmas dinner at Shirley's with our House of Good Living ohana 
  • Many, many conference calls for Greg on mainland business (frowny face)
  • Overnight visit from cousin Cyn which brought us much happiness and laughter and entertainment during the Seahawks game and late night swimming and .... I needed a day of rest after she left.
  • Sunset cruise out of Lahaina which turned into an awesome whale-watching adventure with a nearly full moon rising from the West Maui mountains.  Thrilling and beautiful and filled with WHALES!
  • Beachy time at Kapalua Bay where Greg was finally able to take a swim in the ocean 
  • A dawning awareness that I may require therapy because I've fallen totally in love with the gravity-defying, balance-challenging activity called paddleboarding.  Love, love, love it.  Hurting a bit, too.  Is it wrong to love something that hurts like this?  
Sunset view of West Maui mountains over Lahaina 12/26/12

Dec 25, 2012

We wish you a Maui Christmas!

Mele Kalikimaka, dear readers.  I wish you an aloha-filled holiday.  May this be a time of peace and pleasant happenings for all.

It's a marvelous day here at the House of Good Living.  Surf's up and the water is clear and warm.  Greg is now unstitched but needs to keep out of the ocean a bit longer so I was going to be floating solo this morning.  Lucky for me, neighbor Jeffrey stepped up as partner for an early morning paddle down to the buoys off Honoapiilani Beach park.  We switched off between kayak and board after getting beyond the break so that Jeff could work his SUP skills.  Good times.  Wet times, too.  Definitely a great way to wake up on Christmas morning!

We've been blessed with many gifts this past year ~ adventures ashore and asea, Greg's return to good health, friendships new and old ~ our lives have been enriched beyond words by these relationships and experiences.   We gratefully accept these gifts and wish all of the same for you and yours.  Maui Christmas!

Dec 24, 2012

Ocean Report

We enjoyed big surf at the House of Good Living last weekend.  The days when board-bedecked trucks start filling our parking lot and broad-shouldered surfers line up on our seawall are fun because we know we're going to get front row seats at a surfing spectacle many visitors never get to see.  

This used to be a secret surfing spot.  Where once only Vic and Dave would be out on boards, we now count dozens when the "Coconut Wireless" gets the word out about the break at Hale Ono Loa.  That's the way it goes around here.  Local knowledge may take a while to spread but it's generally right on.

Today's Kona conditions brought a marked change to ocean activity.  Crashing waves eased to a gentle susurration over the reef and we switched from watching gorgeous surfer boys to great views of our resident sea turtles.  The calm waters brought several Honu right up to the wall where they snacked on seaweed and basked in our attention (I can only presume the latter).  Apparently the Coconut Wireless that works so well for surfers also transmits a turtle channel when the buffet line is open at the House of Good Living.  

Dec 23, 2012

What's SUP?

From Wikipedia: "Stand up paddle surfing (SUP), stand up paddle boarding, or in the Hawaiian language Hoe he'e nalu, is an emerging global sport with a Hawaiian heritage."

Here's how Time magazine described the sport way back in '09 and a more contemporary explanation of why it's a popular activity with women.

Here's what happened when I took my new SUP to Kahekili for an inaugural paddle yesterday:

Dec 22, 2012

Santa (redux)

This vintage photo gem arrived today in a holiday card from Greg's parents. It offers proof of a long-held suspicion I've had.  Despite Greg's purported "grinch-ness," he really does love Christmas.

He'll argue otherwise; pointing out his unsmiling face and slightly askew wig, he'll say this photo only illustrates the trouble boys get into when eggnog is left unattended.  Having heard some stories* about Joe and Greg, I'm sure there's truth in that.  But, I believe there's more to be told from this peek into the past.   Between Joe's smirk and Greg's resigned slump is the story of the fifty-year friendship these two have shared.  It's these gifts ~ good memories, long-lasting friendships ~ which can make the heart grow** and remind us of how blessed we are here in the House of Good Living.  And, be he Grinch or Santa, it's my husband who's the best gift of all.  Well ... for me, anyways!

* many of which involve Annie Green Springs and wrecked cars

**the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day. And then - the true meaning of Christmas came through, and the Grinch found the strength of *ten* Grinches, plus two!     How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Dec 21, 2012


I'm too excited for words.

Our "End of the World"

double rainbows over reef
from House of Good Living's front door 12/20/12
It seems the Mayan calendar doesn't apply to islands in the Pacific because there's a marked absence of doom around the House of Good Living today.  Whew ... apocalypse averted.

We talk about the weather here, a lot.  Not as complaints ~ that would be insensitive ~ rather, as amazed observations in a place where a language comprised of just 12 letters can still come up with 139 ways to describe rain.   Pu'u Kukui (the mountain behind us) received over 6 inches of rainfall yesterday.  Yet just down the road in Lahaina the sprinkle was so light it barely brightened the dusty palms.  There's an explanation for this weather phenomenon having to do with windward and leeward geography; you can read about it here.

When one understands why weather is so changeable on Maui, it becomes easier to find the conditions one prefers.  Want to feel refreshed?  Head north for cooling trade breezes.  Seeking blazing hot sun?  Check out Kihei or Ma'alea beaches.  Missing the drippy Pacific Northwest?  Haiku may be the place for you!  You got choices, darling.  Exercise them.

Me?  I'm happy hanging here.  No disasters today.

Dec 20, 2012

Malihini or Kama'aina?

Malihini (mah-ly-hee-nee) recent arrival/newcomer to Hawaii. 
Kama'aina (kah-mah-EYE-nah) local resident of Hawaii

It’s not difficult to spot the Malihinis at the House of Good Living.  Most commonly distinguished by bright, clean shoes (purchased without knowing that the longest lasting souvenir of Maui is red dirt), their ghostly pallor is another indication of newcomer-ness .  Conversely, so is the fiery hue of limbs left too long in the sun on the first day at the beach.   Judging by the number of high SPF lotions left in the linen closet here, most visitors are trying to avoid the vacation-souring sunburns which used to characterize holidays in Hawaii.  That’s a good thing.

We're trying to practice safe sun exposure, too.  Greg’s history with radiation and lifetime pursuit of an allover glow means he’s currently sporting enough stitches to keep him off the beach and out of the water for a few more days.  Our current rainy conditions and the Derma Doc's bathing ban has resulted in Greg putting lots of time into Shelter Bay business (note spreadsheets and calculator).  That’s good (I guess) but kinda boring for a wahine who’s lost her beach partner.

view of pool from Greg's "office"

I’ve placed an order for something that will provide quality solo water time and help me acquire Kama'aina status:  my very own stand-up paddle board!  Amazon Santa assured me of a Christmas Eve arrival.  Very, very excited here.

Lest you become worried that Greg's life is all work and no joy, here's what he gets to look at while recuperating:

Dec 18, 2012

Introducing a few of our neighbors ...

This morning's perfect ocean conditions ~ no wind, clear sun-lit water ~ compelled me to abandon all plans for a day of holiday tasks.  I shoved the Christmas cards back in the drawer, rushed through chores and hurriedly tossed off a "See you later, I'm going snorkeling!" to Greg before setting out to reacquaint myself with our aquatic neighborhood.  Poor Greg ... his water activity ban remains in effect until stitches come out.  More about that soon.

Despite not having a beach entry to the ocean, the House of Good Living  offers access to our three reefs via a set of (often slippery) stairs.  Best mode of entry is to sit down at the bottom of the steps, slip on aqua slippers or fins, position snorkel firmly on face and then just float away.  And that's what I did this morning, literally and figuratively.

Right away there were all sorts of finny creatures busily getting on with whatever it takes to be a happy Hawaiian reef fish. All the regulars were darting about: Humu humu, Moorish Idols, goat fish ... each doing a good job of ignoring me while I made like a benevolent voyeur overhead.  After taking in the sights along both sides of the reef closest to shore, I floated out to the middle reef and immediately came upon the crankiest resident.  Imagine an underwater Clint Eastwood who's incessantly yelling the eel-ish version of "Get off my lawn!" to all passers-by.  Got that image in your mind?  Does it look anything like this?:
Our local reef eel Echidna nebulosa or "Puhi kapa" in Hawaiian has significant antisocial tendencies; it's the kind of creature that makes havoc among all kind of fish and thus lives alone in his solitary set of coral.  King Kamehameha was sometimes called Puhi kapa because he was "victorious over all" according to our old copy of "Shore Fishes of Hawaii."

Victorious or not, no one loves a bully so I didn't linger long with old grumpy fins.  A cheery convention of box fish were congregating nearby and I wanted to see what they were up to.  Tossed to and fro by the soft swells, these spotted little guys look about as navigable as VW beetles.  Sure, they may float well but how on earth do they manage to steer that shoebox-shaped body with those fins?
I was floating through schools of sand-snorting goat fish, thinking it was time to head home, when the big Kahuna himself slowly rose from the reef where he'd been catching a nap.  Aloha, Honu!  Our resident green sea turtles can be seen snacking on limu most mornings. Seeing them daily might make such sightings feel commonplace for some folk. Even so,  up close and personal encounters underwater still thrills me. These guys' languid movements and long stares transmit some seriously inherent coolness.
Don't you know it...
here at the House of Good Living
The Dude abides.

Dec 17, 2012

Winter Storm Warning

There's a turtle swimming in the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  Really.
There's small craft advisory in addition to power outages and heavy rains happening today on BOTH of the islands we like to call home.  Yep, it's winter weather time; both the House of Good Living and our mainland 'hood on Fidalgo Island are getting slammed by storms today.  Of course, it's easy to guess which of the two winter weather systems is more enjoyable ... any weather bringing rainbows by way of apology for the inconvenience is going to get our vote.

Winter weather back in Shelter Bay keeps us buttoned up, indoors and cranky.  We might still get cranky out here in the middle of the Pacific, but it's not going to be about the weather, winter storm or not!

Dec 16, 2012

United Colors of Maui

Our arrival on Maui was late at night which meant we missed seeing the island's rainbow palette from the sky.    If you've visited Maui, you know what I'm talking about, right?  From overhead, the bright blue of the ocean gives way to brilliant greens of cane fields and tropical forest, broken by golden sand strung with roads painted red by Haleakala herself.  The spectrum of light can be a shock for eyes accustomed to wintertime Puget Sound's monochromatic landscape.

Waking to the hoarse crowing of a lone rooster at cousin Cyn's Kula retreat, we watched the sun's rays stretch across central Maui until they tangled with the clouds cloaking Iao Valley.  From our 1500' vantage point, the island colors softened to a warm glow under the avocado trees spread out on the horizon.

Cyn treated us to a vist to an upcountry produce stand where we picked up island-grown greens, onions, peppers, pineapples, citrus and this large Protea bouquet which now graces our dining table.

After loading Cyn's truck with all the Costco supplies that would fit, we sped our way around the Pali to the House of Good Living.  Toasting our arrival with fresh citrus-infused drinkies, we then sat back and marveled at this view and our good fortune.  What a wonderful, colorful adventure this visit will be.
Sunset from our lanai at the House of Good Living

Dec 15, 2012

Oh, the weather outside is frightful

A and A in Kotzebue, Alaska 12/14/12
Please, bear with me a moment while I move my notebook out of the sun and into the shade cast by a palm tree.  Riiiight there .... Perfect.  Now, what was it that was I going to tell you?  Oh yeah, guess who's happy to be back in the House of Good Living?!  As much as I love our terrific and neighborly mainland community, I gotta say, trading dreary skies for azure seas makes for some serious reflection on life's blessings.

Alaskan pals (who'll be joining us in a few weeks if they haven't frozen solid by then) sent a photo yesterday which  illustrates why I'm delighted to be luxuriating in balmy 80 sun-drenched degrees on the lanai.  Hmmmm... tundra or tropical beach?
Greg in Honokowai, Hawaii 12/14/12

Jan 9, 2012

Watch for us on the TeeVee today!

We're heading out to watch the final round of the PGA nament taking place just up the road. Thanks for the tickets, Thomas!

The Golf Channel live coverage has been spectacular the past three days. See if you can spot us! I'll be the one wearing the SBYC hat and rooting for Webb Simpson.

Jan 1, 2012

Hau'oli Makahiki Hou!

I've just had the BEST day of the year. Sure, it's also the first, but -really, truly - this whole day has been spectacular.

After breakfasting on papaya with lime (from the House of Good Living's own trees) we set to the sea in two borrowed kayaks. The water was that kind of perfectly clear teal that can't possibly be real when you see it in photographs. But it was real, and warm, and swarming (schooling?) with sea turtles. The swells picked up a bit in the two hours we were paddling. Greg surfed a couple of sets in his kayak while I did my best to hang on and stay upright in mine. Good, thrilling times.

In late afternoon we put the top down on the car and headed north to check out the surf along the untamed shoreline between Kapalua and Punalau. The coast's vividly red-rocked cliffs were at their technicolor best with the help of the setting sun while spouting whales punctuated the foreground. At the pull-out above Honolua Bay we watched surfers and Greg snapped this picture of the sun just kissing the top of Lanai.

I'm thinking this introduction to 2012 bodes well for the days to come.