Monday, July 30, 2012

Art = Mixx Black and White Edition

Mannequins with ever changing facial expressions and features, morphing from moustaches to wide open Barbie doll eyes. A long line of black and white costumed people waiting in line for something some of them didn't know they were waiting for: the Interdimensional Room. 

Not sure if this spelling is intensional, if you know what I mean. 

Large scale photos of black and white landscapes, Occupy scenes, animals, quotes, nudes layered between leaves, reversed images, butterfly wings. 

Beautiful photoshop work. 
A printmaking area filled with do-it-yourself printed cards, and supplied with black printmaking ink, paper, and plastic printmaking squares.  

A stickered wall pasted with black cutouts, constantly being updated as women in high heels or men in black and white tshirts or sportsjackets or martial arts outfits made and tacked up new designs. 

A large door decorated with three large skeleton keys, opening to sheer emptiness. A photo corner where attendees could dress up in costumes, including oversize sunglasses, big hats, Groucho Marx moustaches, and clown noses to pose for photos that would be displayed on the screen above. 

Old fashioned cigarette girls, handing out lip shaped whistles (gotta bite and blow  hard - hmmm, weird life metaphor?) and later on, green eggs (filled with a fortune and a chocolate mint) to add color to the night. 

Undulating femmes on tall lighted platforms, like fairy tale mermaids luring sailors to the deep blue. But in this case, they were immersed in the deep black and white, which was the theme of the second Art = Mixx event on July 28th, 2012.

Wow. I was so impressed with what the organizers created for this free event held at the MACC, and a follow up to last month's excellent premier Art = Mixx event. Are these the same people who organized Source Maui? If so, a bigger wow. They concocted an interactive art-focused event that blew my experience of Source Maui out of the water and far exceeded my expectations of what an interactive art event could be on Maui. Besides, no rain or mud - a big plus!  The ambience was like trance, hipster, tech, adult Halloween, Alice in Wonderland, Portlandia with sequined shoes. 

Be-ruffled artist Stephanie Clifton caught in the act of snapping photos. 

Art = Mixx Black and White was amazing. It was interactive, art-oriented, three or even four dimensional if such a thing is possible, blending high tech lighting, music and visuals with low-tech DIY monoprinting (anyone could jump in and make a card) and make-em-yourself wall stickers. The attendees were part of the art too - body painted, bedazzled, blinged, feathered, papered, striped, high-heeled, Charlie Chaplin'd, crowned, zebra'd, ruffled. There was no shortage of head-turning things to gawk at or crane one's neck. No shortage of things to video, photograph, or otherwise record.

One particularly mysterious and possibly shocking vignette pointed out by Amanda of Gluten Free Maui involved scantily clad muscular men lifting up equally scantily clad women in bikinis, with both sexes wearing headscarves. As her partner pointed out, social commentary or political incorrectness? 

Oh, let's not forget the shoes. I rarely pay attention to shoes, but this is the
kind of event where one can wear those big platform shoes, heels,
or boots that stay in the closet most of the time on Maui. 

There was a lot I missed because there was a stream of endless costumes to gawk at, plus all the exhibits and performance art, and I was too short to see some of the spectacles above other people's heads, but I think everyone who attended had a fabulous time and had deeply individualized experiences. 

This is the kind of party that high schoolers would want to sneak in with fake ids, and then brag about to their friends the next day. Makes me glad to be over 21. 

For more photos and videos, make sure to check the Art = Mixx Facebook page. There are closeups of more art, performances, and the costume contest. 

Mahalo to everyone who organized it!

Photo of program courtesy of Bennett Yashon. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Bye Bye Studio Maui

The Studio Maui was the epicenter of yoga, 5 rhythms dancing, workshops, meditations and movement classes on the north shore and upcountry Maui. Launched in 2004, it was a yoga super facility with several rooms and specially designed wooden floors to support yoginis and dancers in graceful movements.

And it's gone. Closed last month. I've noticed a gradual slowing down with fewer classes and offerings. The 5 Rhythms (Sweat Your Prayers) folks have moved on to Makawao Union Church. The other yoga classes are probably at The Temple of Peace in Haiku or at Lumeria Maui. There were economic hiccups in the last few years, noticeably when the Studio Maui started to offer an Ohana Circle membership program - kind of like the Borders Reward program which promoted shopping discounts at Home Depot. It was not a good sign. Later on, there were attempts to have an art gallery as part of the yoga center. With rent being $5,000/month, or so I've heard, the Studio was not cheap to run. I was wondering how they could make any money when I was the only student in Feldenkrais class week after week. 

The space is a beautiful, graceful space, and I sincerely hope that something even better and more beautiful will emerge there... 

In the meantime, though... these silly lyrics were running in my head this week:

(Sing to the music in the chorus of "American Pie")

Bye bye Studio Maui
Took my Maui cruiser* to the kirtan**
but the chanting made me sigh.

Yoga chicks drinking kombucha***and chai
Saying this'll be the day that I cry.

*Maui cruiser - a beat up, crappy car that still runs. Looks like crap, costs about $1000. Fueled with prayer ("Please don't break down on the way!) and a lot of hope.

**kirtan - a meditative chanting gathering, often in call and response, where the performing chanters will chant a mantra or sacred words and the audience will respond with the same chant. Maui is chock full of these gatherings.

***kombucha - the sacred elixir of Maui hippies. Carefully fermented using a bacteria/yeast combination. Maui Kombucha is a local cafe which provides this hippie elixir right in Haiku. Let's hope they stay in business. 

By the way, and totally unrelated, there's an Art = Mixx event at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center. It's free, but you have to be over 21. 

Update 6/10/13: The studio has been converted into a hardware store. Ace Hardware had its soft opening a couple of weeks ago, and will have its grand opening on 6/15/13. From yoga studio to hardware store... a different kind of transformation.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Hawaiian Plant Medicine Classes

  • Honohono or Wandering Jew has properties that are good for injured eyes.

  • The youngest, inner leaf of a ti leaf plant is sterile and can be used as an emergency bandage. It looks like a stick pointing up in the center of a ti leaf plant.

  • Banana sap from a trunk or a cut leaf has antibiotic properties for cuts (but is not to be used for cuts that are older than a couple of hours because of the way in which it treats infection).

  • Even hibiscus buds have medicinal properties for first aid. The crushed bud is useful for cuts/injuries.

  • Noni leaf, when used properly, can reduce pain. I even tried a leaf on my husband's shoulder and he noticed a difference the next day. Noni looks like a misshapen bumpy fruit, nature's answer to the Hunchback of Notre Dame. But as strange as it looks, it has amazing healing properties. 

These are a few things I learned from a class last month with David Bruce Leonard  at Hale Akua Garden Farm.

By the way, this information is not meant as medical advice - but as information on Hawaiian cultural uses of medicinal plants. The Hawaiian term for medicine, including plant medicine, is  la'au lāpa'au . See a licensed health care provider for medical treatment. (Yes, this is a legal disclaimer!)

Here's a video from the first class about using turmeric for first aid. There are several more on youtube, just click here for a video list of Hawaiian Plants for First Aid

The next plant medicine class with the Earth Medicine Institute is tomorrow, Saturday, from 10 am to 5 pm. I won't be at this class, but it should be fascinating.

David is something of a plant whisperer. Most of the plant whisperers I know are associated with the community garden or Maui Farmers Union. They are green-thumbed plant whisperers who make plants happy.  David is more of a wild plant whisperer, knowing about scruffy or renegade plants that don't grow in neat rows or obey gardening rules. 

David is offering two more day long classes after tomorrow:
August 18th
September 29th

In the fall, there is an intensive certification program with the Earth Medicine Institute, taking place over four weekends in September and October. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mosaic Jack's Living Stickwork Fence and Fantastic Forest

Heart shaped anthurium flowers and spiky red bromeliads with striped leaves. 

I'm so pleased to finally share these videos and pics from last year. Throughout Maui, especially the less developed, rural areas, there are wonderful pockets of magic and creativity. There are amazing places with gardens or year round streams, bridges, sculpture - places where fairies might dance or angels might visit.  

Such a place is Mosaic Jack's hideaway in Haiku.  Mosaic Jack is a talented artist and landscaper who creates sacred space using his art and his plants. There are bromeliads of all types and colors, tree ferns, three-pronged composite leaf ferns, vanilla bean orchids, other orchids, anthuriums, gingers, ti leaf plants, and all manner of tropical plants that I still don't have names for.  

Magical moss spiral at Mosaic Jack's hideaway.

The moss spiral is also included towards the end of this video clip. 

Entrance to shamanic hut in a living stickwork fence.

The fence, which isn't visible, is made of sticks through which plants grow and entwine. It's like Patrick Dougherty's massive stickwork project at the Hui No'eau, but unlike that human nest-building/temple-making project, Mosaic Jack's stickwork fence doesn't need to be taken down when parts of it start rotting. Jack simply adds more sticks to the fence, lets more plants grow through the sticks, so it's very much alive, with moss and vines and entropy, living plants growing through older layers of sticks. New growth twining through old growth,  metaphorical of life and death.

The stickwork fence shows up much better on video:

Outdoor mosaic by Mosaic Jack. 

A stack of prayer stones. 

The land is very peaceful and magical. Mosaic Jack agreed to have these photographs and videos shared to inspire others to create beautiful spaces throughout Maui. Maybe I can persuade him to do a tour for one of the sustainability or garden groups. 

Bromeliads branching out...

High up in the trees, a face looking down. 

Last video of Mosaic Jack's magical forest:

I could go on and on about the beauty of this place, but I think the pictures speak for themselves. I do want to note that doing video work can be a bit challenging, especially when there are sounds in the background.  As peaceful as Mosaic's Jack's forest was, I spent a lot of time gnashing my teeth watching the videos and hearing my loud elephant footsteps disrupting the gentle hush of forest moss and bird sounds. Recently, I discovered how to convert mp4 to mp3 so that I could capture quiet bird sounds and tree rustling to snuff out the background noise of my stomping feet.  Technology is also magical, and I'm happy to share Mosaic Jack's magical garden art with the rest of the world. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A New Used Bookstore

Maui Friends of the Library (MFOL) just opened a new, used bookstore at the Queen Ka'ahumanu Shopping Center. Is it new? Yes, the store is new... but the books are mostly used, except for some of the Hawaiiana and selected topics. 

Mostly Hawaiiana at this display. 

Pull out drawers under the bookcases reveal even more books.
Last Saturday was their first day in business. MFOL also operates the original store in Pu'unene and the new (used) store in Lahaina, which opened last year. Prices are more at the Queen Ka'ahumanu store than at Pu'unene, because it's more upscale, the selection is more current, and the books aren't covered in red dust.  This is always a big plus, and it's a lot easier to find!  Click here for directions to the MFOL Pu'unene store

There are some nice big couches for couch reading. Hours are currently 9:30 am to 7 pm Monday through Saturday, 10 am -5 pm on Sunday.  The plan is to have add more hours until the store matches the mall hours. A grand opening is planned for October. The MFOL book shop is located between Sears and Ben Franklin. 

Manager Alyka demonstrates the art of couch reading. Machelle is the other manager for the store. 

Volunteers are welcome, even if it's only for a couple of hours.  There's a large area in the back of the store, filled with lots of books to organize. There's also plenty of foot traffic. There were 10 - 20 people in the store, some of whom are too young to remember a real bookstore on Maui (and don't spend time going to Barnes & Noble in Lahaina). 

To find out more about the Maui Friends of the Library Queen Ka'ahumanu location, read these great posts by my fellow Maui bloggers, Linda of Celebrate Maui and Tania of Maui Shop Girl

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Cheaper Gas, Ah Costco

On such a small island, everyone probably already knows about this. But since Maui is such a small island, it's actually newsworthy. Anywhere else, it would be no big deal, right?

It's official... maybe I'm the last to know?

Costco's new gas station is up and running. I don't know when it opened, but amazingly, lines were short. Monday's gas price at Costco was $3.99/gallon. Woo hoo! Since DH and I were already at Costco, like most of the island, we decided to check it out and fill 'er up. Then we stopped at Maui Oil Company, which usually has the best prices on island, and their lowest price was $4.09/gallon. A whole 10 cents a gallon. Maybe we saved enough to buy a cup of coffee!  Almost everyone who lives here has a Costco card, or has access to a friend with a Costco card. Ah, life in the big city, er... town...

A big  (ahem) deal for Maui - cheaper gas at Costco. 

Hours are better than the normal Costco hours, which usually are until 8 pm on weeknights and 6 pm on Saturday (also Sunday I think).

Gas station hours:
M-F 6am - 9:30 pm
Sat 6am - 8pm
Sun 6am - 8pm

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Pie Happiness

It was an atmosphere of indulgence and festivity. A smorgasbord of pies. Pies for every mood and whim.  A few people were restrained and only sampled a few slices. As for others, let’s just say there’s a special place for the sinners of gluttony. Good thing I’m not Catholic. But my tummy did protest vehemently later that day. The 2nd Annual Maui PieTweetUp was a success. 

Pies in a state of being de-pied. 

Pies were fantastic. Varieties included raw pies, gluten free pies, cream pies, phyllo pies, mini pies, and even a pizza pie!  Sweet pies outnumbered savory pies, by at least 4 to 1. Sweet pies included sweet potato pie, lilikoi tart, lemon pie, lime pie, mango pie, apple pie, cherry pie, berry pie, chocolate pie, pecan pie and countless others. Savory pies included sausage, cheese and apple pie, quiche, quinoa pie, pizza pie, beet and veggie pie, roasted tomato handheld pies, Thai chicken curry pie with homemade coconut cream from a freshly opened coconut, and steak and kidney pie. 

Roasted Tomato Handpie - photo courtesy of @CPstout and @mauiplantgirl.

Every pie had a story. My favorites included the roasted tomato mini pie, the lilikoi tart, and a peach (or nectarine) flat pie. There were others that I also loved, but their names are a blur now – a creamy lemon or lime pie, a pie with a hint of rosemary…

Pie smorgasbord. 

The idea was to bring a pie with as many local ingredients as possible, and I expected predominantly local produce, so that would normally rule out apples, most berries, cherries, and chocolate, but again… all these things are available locally, but are not common.  I would have liked to have included some local potatoes in my pie but it was too hard to obtain them.  I’m not sure what percent of each pie was local, but once the pies were sliced and beckoning, it didn’t matter too much.

Fruit pies

DH insisted on having a steak and kidney pie. It’s kind of a guy pie, and I didn’t expect it to be popular. Indeed, my biggest compliment was from a friend’s husband. The steak was Maui beef and the local kidneys were from DeCoite packing house. No potatoes, so I pulled up a young taro plant from the garden and used a Maui sweet onion, a local chayote squash to make up for potatoes, local burdock to make up for not having local carrots, and slices of green papaya to help soften the chuck steak.

Maui steak and kidney pie - designed to make you grow hair on your chest.
Not for the faint of heart.

Getting to the pie tweetup was a misadventure. Sort of like going over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house. I had printed out the address and directions from the tweetvite, which was Kohea Road off of Polipoli Road. We arrived at an area with several homes and farm processing equipment, but nothing that looked remotely like a pie eating event. I spotted some workers behind a house packing onions into a big machine and they said it was down the highway. Ah, so it was at the Kula Country Farm booth, which we had passed earlier, and I had simply assumed the event was at their “official address.” 

Kula Country Farms Store

As we drove down Polipoli, we saw other cars round the bend and wondered if they too were looking for the wrong address. But once we arrived, everything was just dandy.  Tables were set up under open air tents, and decorated with local strawberries.  There were plates and forks and napkins and handy wet wipes for pie smudged fingers. Special thanks to Dania Katz of Edible Hawaiian Islands Magazine and Marilyn Jansen Lopes who greeted arrivals and offered gifts, including Kula made strawberry syrup, handmade cards, and a chance to win a farm tour. Kula Country Farms was very wonderful to host the event. For more photos, visit this pie pics page
Produce at the Kula Country Farm Store, which is a great farmer's market. The strawberry syrup was given to early arrivals at the pie tweet up.  

Within 20 minutes, the pies were actively coming in, and also disappearing quickly. Most pies arrived within the first half hour but later pies kept showing up. Most people were there specifically for the pie event, but a few others just happened to stop by the farm booth and got invited in, since there was so much pie to share. I had fears that one pie wasn’t enough and had made a second back up pie, a gluten free mango lilikoi pie that ended up staying home, and will have to be divvied up among friends. As the pie tweetup can attest, pie is best eaten shared. 

Creamy chocolate fruity pie. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Monkeypod Trees

Wispy Wailea trees - possibly monkeypod trees, with a pinkish tinge to the flowers (although hard to see in this photo). 

Wailea has these delicate, airy trees along Makena Road, fronting the hotels and condos and golf courses. I had always wondered what these slender trees were along the manicured resort road. They seemed so dainty, like they might faint under a strong wind. They just started blooming and have pink feathery flowers, and my first thought was they were Albizia trees, which are kind of fast growing and invasive.  But further research suggests they are monkeypod trees, which are normally rather large and umbrella shaped, but in Wailea, they have been clipped and manicured just like pedigreed French poodles. They're pretty but tougher than they look. In A Pocket Guide to Hawaii's Trees and Shrubs, the author says that most people mistake monkeypod and albizia trees, but monkeypod flowers are pink and albizia flowers are white. 

Monkeypod flowers close up. This tree is in Makena.

Cardinal in a monkeypod tree in Makena. 

I've also been trying to identify the trees that grow along Hana Highway, and along the sugar cane back roads. I think some of them are monkeypod trees, because there is the barest hint of pink on the upper branches, especially some of the trees by Kaunoa Senior Center. But other trees, gnarled and bent by decades of ferocious Maui winds, may actually be Elephant's Earpod used as a windbreak I suppose. I've never looked at them close up, just in passing, a blur on the highway.  They make me think of African savannas and Meryl Streep in a Hollywood kind of way.  

Elephant's Earpod Trees? Growing along the Hana Highway, en route from Kahului to Paia, along the sugar cane side roads. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Baby Steps for Newbie Gardeners

It’s easy to be seduced by the thought of juicy tomatoes and watermelon growing from one’s own patch of soil. Watermelon, yes. Tomatoes, yum. Green beans, yay. Gardening is often about the delirium of what we fantasize, dictated by our stomachs. We can see it growing in our plot, and want to dive right in, make it happen, and eat it. But sometimes, jumping in too fast is really counterproductive.

Having been at the Hali'imaile Community Garden for five years now, the pattern I’ve seen for new gardeners is they go gung ho into the garden, and do an insane amount of work, get discouraged by this problem or that – weeds, irrigation problems or not enough water, bugs, seeds that won’t sprout or get eaten – and then abruptly give up.  Maybe they even get one fantastic harvest in the beginning, but then subsequent attempts don’t work so well, and they then still give up.  It’s so easy to overdo the garden, get super exhausted and see the garden as a chore.

The ultimate way to fail at gardening is to have the garden become a chore. The best way to succeed at gardening is to keep it fun, to be prepared for gardening, and to take baby steps.  Yes, this post is inspired by and was written originally for the community garden site, but became too long. 

Keep it fun
If you go to the garden in the middle of the day, when the sun is super hot and bright, then you’ll probably get tired and thirsty and associate gardening with pain and discomfort. If you spend four hours tilling or pulling out weeds and then your back hurts the next day, you’ve made your gardening experience negative. Make sure you get some enjoyment while you’re at the garden. If it’s just work, it’s not fun.

It’s easier to go to the garden earlier in the day before 11 am or to go later in the afternoon, when it’s cooler. It’s more pleasant to go when it’s slightly overcast, since it’s cooler.

Take plenty of breaks, and get into the shade. You don’t want to have a sunburn later. A severe sunburn will make you less likely to come back to the garden.

Bring a cooler with food to eat and lots of water. If you don’t have cool water to quench your thirst, then it’s going to be unpleasant. Even better, bring a smoothie or two or coconut water or iced tea. You need to replenish yourself and get electrolytes. Bring good snacks to eat, or be willing to leave the garden and get food and come back if you need to. Don’t keep slogging away and making yourself tired and hungry to boot.

Plant easy crops at the beginning – radishes, beans, things that will grow quickly and produce quickly so you can get some quick gratification for your efforts. If you pick the most difficult plants to grow at first, then you’re increasing the amount of work and effort (and also may have less fun).

Sometimes you should just enjoy the garden without doing anything major. Walk around the garden and look at plants, admire butterflies, show off your plot to a friend. Maybe just pick herbs and go home. Maybe just go there for a picnic. If you are constantly doing “work” at the garden and not having fun, then the garden becomes another “to do.”  Instead of adding to your life, it gives you stress and guilt.

If you plant a few flowers (which are usually easier to grow than veggies), at the borders of your garden, you’ll always have something nice to look at. No matter how awful or weedy your plot can get, if you have a few flowers in your garden, you’ll enjoy it more. Also, the flowers will attract butterflies and bees.

Butterfly on Mexican sunflower.
Overgrown lettuce in the background, but who cares?
Keep it fun by harvesting as you go. Instead of doing a lot of work, and then harvesting at the end when you’re really tired and can’t think straight, take little breaks and harvest some things. Otherwise, by the time you’re ready to go, you may be too tired or it may be too dark to harvest anything, and then you’re not balancing your work with pleasure. Keep a cooler handy for putting veggies inside.  If your plot doesn’t have anything to harvest, go to the herb garden and take some clippings or walk to the orchard and see if any of the fruit trees are producing. If you bring something home to eat each time, you’ll associate your trips to the garden with bringing food home.

Also, take breaks and talk with people who are there. Get to know other people. It’s more fun if you socialize. Even though it may take time from the “all important” work you are doing, it’ll make your time more enjoyable to talk with people. Also, they may have good tips or ideas for dealing with certain plants or bugs or just making your plot more productive.

Share your harvest. If your garden is producing a lot, then share it with people at the garden or neighbors. It’ll come back in some way or another.

Do not give into guilt. There will always be people who have better carrots, squash, tomatoes, lettuce (fill in the blank) than you. There will always be plots that look neater and are more productive than yours. If you compare yourself to other plots or gardeners, then you will feel guilty and embarrassed and then not want to come back. Do not compare your plot to others. Accept your plot with all its faults and imperfections and root for every seed that’s sprouting (unless it’s a weed). 

A weedy garden.
A neat garden. 

Keep your expectations balanced. If you’re new at gardening, there can be a lot of learning in the beginning. You may get lucky, but then again, you may have a lot of difficulties.  Or you may have one bumper crop at the very beginning followed by several “failures” aka “learning experiences.” If you have unrealistic expectations about how much food you can produce given the amount of time you’ve put in, you may be in for a shock. It ALWAYS takes more time at the beginning. Then double that. So, if you are putting in a lot of time, and things don’t go the way you’ve wanted them to, then you can get easily discouraged.  If you treat the garden as a process not as an end result, you’ll have more success.  The bottom line is that you’re gardening to produce your own food. But, it can take a while to get there. In the meantime, make sure you are getting some benefit out of going to the garden. The benefits include: getting fresh air, exercise, enjoyment of nature and beauty, aromatherapy from the herb garden. If you are too results-focused and then don’t get those results, you will give up too soon. Usually just before your plants would have produced a ton of food. 

I take pictures frequently and that helps me to keep track of what I’ve done. Sometimes there is something wonderful like a butterfly on a flower, or some weird weed that is worth investigating. Taking pictures is a way to keep it fun.  Even if all I’m growing are weeds at the time.

I also am a very lazy gardener. SO if there’s a big section of cane grass (a major weed), I’ll try to suffocate it first before pulling it out. I’ll try to minimize my efforts in certain areas so that I don’t overtire myself each time I go.

Be prepared for gardening
Going to the garden is like going on a hike or a major outing. The weather conditions can change, and you need fuel for your journey. You need to be prepared for all sorts of situations.  If you forget something, then it makes your experience unpleasant instead of fun.

My preparation for the garden also includes -
Getting the car ready with my gardening supplies, and putting an old towel or rug on the seat or in the trunk where I’m going to be putting gardening supplies. This helps to keep the car cleaner afterwards.  Some people leave their tools in the car at all times. But I need to empty the car after each gardening trip.

Garden supplies in the car. 

My garden packing list:
  • A small cooler with food and cold water, smoothies, food, utensils, napkins
  • Small plastic bags, reusable bags, or paper bags to bring back veggies and herbs
  • A big cooler with ice packs for the veggies and herbs, to keep them in good condition until I get home
  • A good hat with a brim – the sun is very strong here
  • Sunscreen or lip balm
  • Lotion or salve for my fingers and hands
  • Gardening gloves
  • Mosquito repellant
  • A gardening outfit – for me, oversize pants that fit over shorts, a long sleeve shirt, socks and sneakers or gardening boots
  • A cutting knife
  • A bucket or two, very helpful and useful
  • Extra batteries in case the timer dies
  • Instructions for my timer in case I have to reprogram it
  • Codes for the gate and tool shed – I keep them as a note in my cell phone, but you could also make an entry for the garden in your contacts – add the phone # of one of the committee members and add the codes below. It sucks going to the garden and then not being able to enter the gate or open the tool shed.
  • A list of things I want to accomplish – just to keep me on target (try to not overdo this)
  • My cell phone
  • A camera
  • Hand tools – for me, a small spade, a weeding tool, and a Japanese hand saw/scythe
  • A bag with assorted garden items: a bottle of fertilizer, Teflon tape for dealing with irrigation, maybe extra irrigation parts, scissors, string.
  • Seeds, compost, seedlings, fertilizer – If I’m planting that day
  • Rain jacket – if it looks overcast
I know it sounds like a lot, but it’s painful to trek all the way to the garden to forget something that you needed or would have made your time more enjoyable.

Inevitably, I’ll arrive to the garden and get distracted by something there, or will be in the sun too long and get spacey. So having all these things make it more fun and keeps my mind operating better so I can be there.

After I get back from gardening, I try not to do anything too strenuous the rest of the day. Lately, I’ve been keeping an extra cooler outside, filled with ice to put the gardening harvest in so that it doesn’t take over the fridge until I can deal with it. It can be really tiring to come back from gardening, and then try to wash and prep all the veggies from one’s trip or stuff them in the fridge so that opening the fridge can be a stressful experience. So the cooler gives me the option of dealing with veggies the next day or the day after. Also, sometimes I overharvest things - and bring more plants home for whatever reason than I can reasonably eat or deal with in a given time, so the cooler gives me more time.

Taking baby steps
Go to the garden in small segments in the beginning, maybe only an hour or two to start with. Now, some people are super energetic, A type achievers and so they may want to spend 8 hours a day at the garden for the first week or two to get their plot cleared, tilled and planted. But if you know you’re not that kind of person, don’t knock yourself out. Be lazy. Maybe clear only half your plot and cover the other half with weedmat. Maybe only commit to weeding one square foot and then leave for the day. If you are going to set up an irrigation system, don’t try to do that and also weed your entire plot and also plant your entire plot. Pick one task, and allow it to take as long as it needs.  Don’t make a huge to do list of everything you want to do in your garden and expect to do it all in one day or even in one week. It’s a process.

If you get to the garden and don’t know where to start, just do one small thing. Maybe the one small thing is just to sift some compost and add it to one section of your plot. You don’t have to sift all the compost and put it all in your plot all at once. Or trim along the edges of your plot – even though it’s not a lot of work, it will make it look neater and give you instant results.

If you take too many major steps at once and then get wiped out and tired, you’ll come back less and less. You’ll rationalize this by saying that you put in more effort and time than what you got out of it.  If the only goal is to produce a certain amount of food in a certain amount of time, the odds are against you in the short run. The longer you spend gardening over time, and enjoy it, the more productive it will be in the long run and the bigger harvests you’ll get.

The thing that really tricks new gardeners is the lure of instant gratification. Plants take time. And gardening takes stamina. It’s not about running a sprint. It’s about running a marathon (even if you run really slow and it takes you years), and enjoying the sights along the way. Just like anything else, the more time you spend over the long haul, the more successful you’ll be.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Election Signs and Parade

Election Season is underway... there are election signs plastered everywhere - along highway fences in Kihei and around yards in Kahului. It's that time of year. I think some people collect signs just to decorate their fence line. I don't recall seeing any election signs during a recent mainland trip, so it seems to be a "local thing."  Hawaii bans billboards, but small signs are ok. 

Election sign madness.
P.S. These pics do not constitute endorsement of all these candidates, but I do like Elle Cochran, who pushed for the GMO labeling bill and opposed use of polluted well water

More Maui election signs in Kihei.

Anyone who is going to the Fourth of July parade in Makawao can also expect to see a lot of candidates walking in the parade and handing out candy or flags, or other giveaways. The parade is actually tomorrow, Saturday, 7/7, and was not on the 4th of July.  During the last election year, the parade was dominated by campaigners and politicians. It seemed that half the "floats" were political in nature. 

A collection of election signs along Dairy Road.
I've heard good things about Gil Keith-Agaran and will be doing more research on him and other contenders. 

My favorite moments watching the 2010 parade during election season were when local resident Auntie Mona walked up to candidates, and either hugged them, and shouted, "Great job. Mahalo for all your work!" or sashayed right up to them, accosting, "Hey, take care of our roads upcountry. We pay taxes too!"  Auntie Mona was the highlight of my parade experience. She grabbed candy from bags and threw them to the kids. She pointed out where the horses were pooping and made sweeping motions to parade marchers, while yelling, "Stay wide! Stay wide! Watch where you step!"   The 2011 parade was less political, and I didn't see Auntie Mona there, but maybe she'll be there tomorrow. If you see a very excited local Auntie jumping up and down and assisting with the parade, that's her. She's fun to watch.  

I wish I had a pic or video of Auntie Mona, but don't... Shoots!  But, here's a clip of the 2011 parade. Happy 4th of July - tomorrow, on the 7th of July!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Jamaican and Regular Liliko'i

The showy lilikoi or passion flower, the common variety. 

Jamaican liliko'i (passionfruit) are considered sweeter and more perfume-y. They have a distinct smell, that seems stronger than regular lilikoi. It's almost like one tastes the smell of the Jamaican liliko'i before eating it. Regular liliko'i tend to be more tart, but in a refreshing way. 

Jamaican liliko'i flower.
Even though the flower is purple, it's not considered a "purple liliko'i."

The skin of the Jamaican liliko'i is much softer, almost fuzzy, unlike the hard glossy shell of the regular liliko'i. It's much easier to bite into a Jamaican liliko'i than a regular lilikoi. 

Jamaican liliko'i at the Maui Fair agricultural booth.
There are also purple liliko'i, which have a reddish fruit, that otherwise tastes the same as a regular yellow liliko'i. 

Jamaican liliko'i is also popular with rats. 

Both seem to be vigorous growers and grow in the wild. Both seem to be resistant to fruit flies. Both make beautiful, showy flowers that look like clematis. 

Path through a vigorous (non Jamaican) liliko'i hedge.

Why are they named passionfruit? The story I've heard is that they looked like the crown of thorns that Christ wore, during his tribulations - the passion of Christ. Other people like DH suggest that passionfruit is an aphrodisiac. It's easy to convince tourists to try liliko'i after they hear that. 

The liliko'i flower is like a crown. 

By the way, vines do wither and die. So if you're making a privacy screen or training them on a trellis, they will eventually lose their leaves and look ugly until they start a new season of growth. I'm not sure how often they fruit - maybe twice a year. I'll try to pay attention this year. Right now, is the first time this year my vines have produced any fruit. I'm starting to see liliko'i fruit around the island - a good place to get some is at the farmer's market. Often Mana Foods has liliko'i, but the standard supermarkets don't carry this fruit at all.