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.