Sunday, August 31, 2014

Rise and Shine! Visiting the Upcountry Farmers Market


Visiting the Upcountry Farmers Market is a way to experience the sheer joy of having a garden or farm without all the work!  It’s like drinking a jolt of green wake up juice that gives you a gentle but firm energy boost. All this green growing energy runs through your veins and arteries and you feel wonderfully alive, like a young plant shooting up to greet the morning sun.


                                      
Yup, it’s early, so if you like to sleep in late, this is probably not your farmers market. But if you can get there by 7 am, you bright-eyed, bushy-tailed early bird you, then you’re in for a treat. Warning: If you get there past 8 am, there’s the risk that some of the goodies are sold out. For the best selection, get there at 7 or even before. You can grin at all the late comers with the satisfaction that you got to see the market in its full glory. If you get there later, don’t despair. The market has become so good and popular that many booths are still open at 9 am or so.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Preparing for the Zombie Hurricane Apocalypse - Iselle and Julio

Amazingly, the sun is shining at this very moment and the rain has paused. But the last few days have been a bit crazy on Maui (and the rest of Hawaii) as local residents and visitors prepare for a double whammy hurricane. Is it the zombie hurricane apocalypse, or is it just a lot of rain coming our way? (Make sure to click on the blue rectangle "Read Next Page" at the bottom to see cartoons by parody account @tropstormiselle.)



Saturday, July 12, 2014

Crazy school bus accident, and the dangers of the road by Mama's Fish House


Maui is so relaxed and rural, it seems that nothing really bad could happen here. And while we complain regularly about traffic, it’s nothing compared to anywhere else. Excluding the Road to Hana, which has scores of one-lane bridges and more curves than the Swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated.

Photo by Corinne Bourgoin on MauiWatch.

DH and I are driving down Hana Highway towards Paia this morning, around 10:30 am, and suddenly come across a road block, just past Hookipa Beach Park. WTF??? Both lanes are closed and there’s a detour up Holomua Road, that goes into the sugar cane fields and leads to the old Maui High School.

Both lanes of Hana Highway are blocked!
This is the view coming back down Holomua Road to Hana Highway, on our way back.

Even though we have last century’s TV at home, complete w/ rabbit ears and fuzzy snow, I am armed with mobile technology. The Facebook page for MauiWatch, which gives Maui residents the latest accident and traffic news plus other breaking news, says there is a BIG accident with a school bus last night. Someone stole an Akina school bus and crashed it outside the entrance to Mama’s Fish House restaurant, walked away from the crash and tried to hitchhike! WTF?? This accident also explains why the power went out in the middle of the night.

How the heck are we going to get to Paia? It turns out, there are roads that wind through the cane fields and hit Baldwin Avenue. I am using my map app on the iphone and see a cross road called Lower Hamakuapoko Road, but there is a big yellow gate across it. We drive a little further, wondering if we have to go all the way to Makawao (7 miles out of the way) and a truck and car shoot past us. Hey, they must know where they are going! Besides, it’s an island, so how lost can we get?

OMG! Where are we?!
Somewhere in the deep boonies of the sugar cane fields above Paia.

We follow the truck and car and take the next right going towards Paia. It’s a windy road, but it’s paved, but there are sneaky vicious attack potholes (VAPs) that are ready to pounce on lazy drivers. DH manages to avoid most of the VAPs and we follow the curves, hoping not to lose sight of the car in front, then we turn right and voila! We are on Baldwin Avenue, heading down the hill to Paia. Good old Baldwin Avenue, I could kiss thee!

Down we go, and WTF!? There is a line up of cars going all the way down to Paia. We wait for 10 minutes in traffic, move about 10 feeet, and then decide that the powers that be do not want us in Paia, so we go home.  

Baldwin Avenue, past the Maui Yoga Shala (the old Paia Train Station,
about a mile up the hill from Paia town) is bumper to bumper with cars coming down through the accident bypass. We are heading back home, to Haiku.

The full story of the crazy school bus snatcher? Beats me. From what I gather on Facebook, he stole the bus last night, passed another car on a double yellow line, was being pulled over by police, and then took off again and flipped the bus over outside Mama’s. Some commenters said the driver tried to hitchhike and then ran off into the cane fields.

Here are a couple of comments from MauiWatch's Facebook page (original punctuation and spelling):

 “apparently dis bus was driving crazy passed my mom on a double and was pulled over by the cops when my mom was giving her statement and before the cop could get to the bus da driver took off and flipped the bus by mamas

 "The driver of the bus stay hitch hiking on baldwin and olomoa street. Brown shirt "hawaiis finest" on the front and black shorts."






But I kinda have PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) around the area near Mama’s Fish House. 

THAT DANGEROUS AREA OF MAMA'S FISH HOUSE
8 years ago, I had a bad accident around that bend. I had my little rusty Maui cruiser (what we call a beat up car on Maui, a lemon that runs). After I pass Mama’s this minivan coming towards me, suddenly turns left in front of me towards Mama’s back parking lot. WTF!? I brake, but hit the van in the middle.

My airbag goes off and punches me in the chest. I am in shock that this dude out of nowhere decides to turn left in front of me. What was he thinking? Why would he think he had room to do this? Police come to the scene and say my car is totaled. My husband shows up, and jumps up and down the hood of the car because it is folded in half like an upside down V, like the crease on an origami paper bird. He manages to jump on the hood enough to make it flat, but it’s like an aluminum ball that you try to straighten out but it’s still crumpled and crappy looking. We exchange insurance cards with the other driver, who is from somewhere in Micronesia and works at Mama’s Fish House.

Later, it turns out that the other driver had a fake insurance card! Hawaii is a no-fault state for car insurance, meaning one’s insurance covers owns own personal injuries.  I didn’t seem badly injured, just sore, but we didn’t know yet. And the driver at fault is the one whose insurance pays for car damage. But this guy’s insurance was invalid. 

This is actually a pretty common in Hawaii. People get insurance, then cancel it, and keep their insurance card. Called the police officer who was on our case, and he was totally useless and said they won’t pursue it.

By the way, Maui police are a mixed bag. For accidents, they don’t seem to be very helpful at all. Another friend got into a car accident in Haiku 8 years ago and the other driver had no license, no insurance and the police did nothing. On the other hand, we have the infamous officer Taguma who loves to give tickets for speeding and we don’t have tons of cops on the road, so that can sometimes be pleasant. DH claims that Maui’s police force numbers compared to population size is about 10% of the national average. That could be changing with the supersize police station in Kihei.

Ah Maui! The Hana Highway is now open, at least as of 2 pm, and traffic is flowing slowly according to the folks at Mama’s Fish House. But it’s a dangerous section of the highway. One Facebook commenter writes, “I lived on that corner for a little over a year and saw a lot of spaghetti I hope all are well.” Us too, because it’s a lot of excitement for a little island.

For more info, visit the MauiWatch page. Kind of wish I had checked it this morning! Big shout out to MauiWatch!

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Friday, July 11, 2014

The Gorgeous Maui Water Lily Farm

Haiku is always full of surprises: hippies, secret pot farms, kombucha cafes, hidden hobbit houses. There’s a water lily farm off of Hana Highway, about 15 miles from Kahului called the Maui Water Lily Farm. While there is a noticeable sign on the highway, most people in a hurry will miss it.  And it’s worth taking some time to savor. Sometimes they are open, sometimes they are not. The sign at the driveway will let you know.



Address: 83 N. Holokai Road, Haiku, HI 96708
Phone: (808) 572-7878


Ever have someone make a fresh flower bouquet on demand? I felt like a fairy princess as Nico waded knee-deep through the water lilyponds to cut five fresh water lily blossoms. He carefully placed them into a plastic specialty bag and gently tied them. He cautioned me that they would only last for a couple of days, maybe 3 at most, and that they go to bed at night.

One of the water lily ponds at the Maui Water Lily Farm.
Buddha overlooking the water lily pond.
What’s special about water lilies?
  • They are actually fragrant, a soft and not overwhelming scent.
  • They close their petals at night and open up in the morning.
  • The flowers are phototropic: they move towards the light, bending and stretching.
  • Even when the flowers stop blooming, they close up as buds and still look beautiful.





These water lilies kept moving towards the light!



Haiku Water Lily Farm has two main ponds, filled with water lily plants. When I stopped by, in late May, there was another unexpected surprise: the water hyacinths were blooming. There were masses of these beautiful lilac blooms along the sides of the pond. Nico said they bloom for a couple of weeks every spring.

Water hyacinths in bloom.
P.S. Two events happening this weekend:

Mo'okiha O Pi'ilani Launch 2014, July 11th, today at noon, Lahaina – This Maui canoe has been restored to perfection and is being returned to Maui waters.


Summer Bash for Education, July 12th, Saturday, 6-8 pm, Kihei. Donate school supplies, win door prizes, watch live entertainment including the Burn n Love Elvis impersonator.

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Whatever Happened to May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii?



On a bright, startlingly cloudless day in Haiku, I watched the royal court step onto the grassy field at Haiku Elementary School. It was sunny, unlike the May Days of my childhood. I could hear the relief from the parents and spectators next to me. It wasn’t going to rain this year!

Haiku Elementary's May Day King and Queen,
with part of their royal court, 2013.

But something about a rainy May Day instantly transports me back to the past.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Puffed Sleeves, Bright Crochet, and Halo Halo – Where Am I?


Everywhere I look, puffed sleeves. Every variation of puffed sleeves imaginable: elaborate, showy puffed sleeves, simple plain clothed sleeves, embroidered puffed sleeves, lacy puffed sleeves. Snow White could happily borrow a dress from the ladies here.

Gorgeous yellow dress with princess puffed sleeves.


 
Notice the fairy tale pink dress with puffed sleeves.
Where am I? I’m on Maui, but it doesn’t feel like Hawaii. To one side of a grassy field, a

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Memorial Day - The Start of Summer? Naah...


Memorial Day. Besides being a holiday to honor veterans, In the US, it’s the “official” kick off to summer. But in Hawaii, it’s summer year-round. Ok, we kind of sort of have winter. But anyone who has experienced real winter would scoff at us: “Those silly islanders don’t know what winter is!”



Our “winter” means more rain and cooler night temperatures. Generally it still heats up during the day (temperature reaches the high 70s and low 80s in Fahrenheit), and the “winter weather” tends not to affect the dry side of the island. Dry side of the island?  What? If I’ve lost you, read more about the “wet” and the “dry” side of the Hawaiian Islands in “Rain.”

Let’s just say our winter in Hawaii is not like your winter in Oklahoma or Canada or even Chile. To the newly arrived to Hawaii, our winter looks like summer everywhere else.

So Memorial Day doesn’t have the same oomph and buzz as it does on the mainland. It’s not the beginning of the mad rush into summer, to enjoy the precious sunlight and the warmer temperatures.

When I lived in Pennsylvania, Memorial Day was a huge deal. It was like the gates opening at the Kentucky Derby.  Don’t get in the way, or you’ll be trampled by land-locked Philadelphians galloping “down the shore” to the beaches of New Jersey. Yes, New Jersey has beaches, but they're often not free!
                                                                                                                    
Hawaii gets plenty of light. We even take our sunshine for granted. So, I barely notice when Memorial Day is celebrated except...stores have sales, the kids get the day off from school,  and when I pass by the veteran’s cemetery, my heart does a little twist.

The veterans cemeteries are filled with flowers and leis. Grave sites are decorated with little American flags. Many people in Hawaii fought in World War II and Hawaii has always been a strategic place in the Pacific Ocean (think of the Korean War and Vietnam). It’s also a top choice for R & R (rest and relaxation) for soldiers between tours of duty.

Just before Memorial Day, the Kaunoa Seniors Center helps organize a “Blossoms for the Brave” lei making event, to decorate the Makawao Veterans Cemetary.  That’s why the cemetery always looks so incredible around Memorial Day.

My mother also served in the military, so my heart twists thinking of her.

Walking along the grass between the plaques, I think there are all these stories of people. People who have passed, and have once loved something. They had stories, but did they share them with their families or did they take them to their graves?

Makawao Veterans Cemetary during Memorial Day Weekend.


Uh oh.  I didn’t mean to end this post over a box of Kleenex. So, let’s change course…

Memorial Day is the beginning of summer for most Americans, even though summer scientifically starts at summer solstice, June 21st, the longest day of the year. But in Hawaii, our longest day is still only about an hour longer than our shortest day.

We’re close enough to the equator that the days and nights are similar in length. It’s not like Alaska with those super long summer days of sunshine, when it’s 1 am and the sun is shining brightly. Once I visited Germany in August and it seemed like the sun didn’t go down until 9 pm! Hawaii’s just not like that.  

So Hawaii's summer isn’t like summer in those temperate climes. We live in summer.  We drink summer. We eat summer, we breathe summer, and we can be annoyingly, yes annoyingly, smug about our weather. However, I just got sunburned this week salvaging construction debris for a roof top garden project. 

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!
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By the way, today on Maui is a great day to visit a small farm. 
P.P.S. I am running two mini-contests until the end of May. Here's how to enter