Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day - Maui Veterans Cemetery

Last year, I took these photos shortly after Memorial Day and had wanted to do a post on them. Time, being slippery and kind of rubbery, a bit like an octopus wriggling out of water, had different ideas, and then it was too late... It was June, the beginning of summer madness. 

I was inspired by reading A Maui Blog's recent post on Memorial Day, and figured late is better than never. I was so intrigued with these pictures when I took them. The day was bright and hot. The wind was waving the flags across the field, like grass bending in the wind. And there were leis and flowers everywhere. 

Not like I think Memorial Day in a cemetery on the mainland. Not proper and regal, but more flowery and exuberant, but still honoring those who served. 

My favorite picture is the one on the bottom right, with the mango. It was so personal and poignant. Not just flowers for the fallen, but a mango too. This person who served, loved mangoes.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Fruit Tree and Orchard Care Design Workshop Saturday OR Sunday

Having a fruit tree on your property, whether you rent or own, doesn’t automatically mean you will have fruit!  I’ve seen entire yards planted with lemon and lime trees that became stunted, gangly and bore very poor fruit. I myself have some avocado trees that sometimes produce fruit and sometimes don’t. Or you may have trees that are producing tasteless fruit but you may not want to dig them all out. If you are serious about growing and harvesting your own fruit, you may want to check out this fruit tree workshop which is now being offered either Saturday, May 25th, or Saturday, June 1st. (The flyer below says May 26th, but that date has been changed now to June 1st.) It is a one day workshop, so sign up for either day. Cost is $75. 

Moreover, growing fruit on the mainland is very different from growing fruit in Hawaii, with different bugs, wind conditions and weather.  

I know both presenters and have heard them talk at the Maui Farmers Union meetings, which are held monthly and free to the public. (Next meeting is this Tuesday at the Haiku Community Center at 6 pm.)  For more information on the workshop, visit the Facebook Fruit Tree event page

Jayanti Nand is very skilled at grafting, nursery care, propagating trees, and air layering. He makes thin, surgical grafting cuts look as easy as slicing pie. Here's a link to Jayanti's talk on grafting

Evan Ryan recently presented a talk on seed collecting and seed saving. He is a dedicated organic farmer and very knowledgeable as well. You can watch his Maui Farmers Union presentation on breadfruit here

Even experienced gardeners will probably learn something useful from this class. FYI, I would love to take this class myself but time-wise, this isn’t the best time to focus on fruit trees! I have to focus on chickens right now. I am also not getting paid to advertise, but think this is well-worth your time. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Ocean Vodka - What's In a Name?

Ocean Vodka. Say the name slowly, pausing after each word. Then ask yourself, why that name in particular? Ocean – the organic farm and distillery operations are not located near the ocean, but upcountry, along the slopes of Haleakala Crater. So why ocean? The next word: vodka – that’s what they make, but this is vodka produced from an untraditional source: sugar cane, not potatoes. It is even described as delicious, unlike traditional vodka. Then go back to the first word, ocean. It makes sense once you find out that desalinated deep sea water is used in the making of this special vodka. Not just any ocean water, but the super pure, mineral rich deep sea water off the Big Island of Hawaii. Water that is so pure that Hawaii biologists use this same deep sea water to raise seahorses, which are sensitive to pollution and cannot thrive in contaminated waters.

If you’d like to read more, I invite you to read the rest of my guest post about the Grand Opening of Ocean Vodka on A Maui Blog. This is a teaser post.

In the meantime, here are some pictures to enjoy:

Friday, May 10, 2013

Swimming with Wild Dolphins

This is a follow up post from D is for Dolphins because there was more that I wanted to share about dolphins in Hawaii. 

Where do dolphins swim around Maui? Where can dolphins be seen?
These are not dumb questions, even though dolphins can swim anywhere in the waters of Hawaii. 

Rumor: dolphins hang out at La Perouse Bay in the early morning, like 6 or 7 am. Ah, one of these days! They also like the waters between Lanai, a nearby island, and Maui. At a Trilogy Blue Aina reef clean up event, we saw them swimming in Honolua Bay, on the far northern section of the West Side (Lahaina, Kapalua). My friend Jennifer, jumped out immediately and swam with them around 11 am that morning. I wanted to share her video but since the privacy is limited on Facebook, and won't show to everybody,  here's another short amateur video I found.

Pod of wild spinner dolphins in Kauai. Photo by By Fairsing (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. This pod remind me of
a magic circle of dolphins that surrounded me at Makua Bay on Oahu - 
how to describe the feeling?
I was "high" for the rest of the day, and several days later.
But the experience, as fleeting and exciting as it was, was also incredibly peaceful and calming.

If you haven't done a Trilogy blue aina clean up or other snorkeling tour, it's highly recommended. (No, they are not giving me a kickback.)

On Oahu, the dolphins used to love Makua Bay on the Waianae side. They would swim back and forth across the bay a few times, like a jogger on her rounds, and then disappear. A friend who was very knowledgeable about the dolphins there, once took me out with her to experience meeting a pod of wild dolphins. They circled around me a few times and it was one of the greatest thrills of my life. 

It’s rare to see a pod of dolphins swim later in the day, unless they’re near a boat or playing with a whale, but it’s not impossible. Look for groups of curved fins in the water.

As mentioned in my A to Z post, it’s illegal to swim with wild dolphins, but if you happen to be in the water and they happen to cross your path, that’s okay. The law is designed to protect wild dolphins from human harassment, including tours “to swim with wild dolphins.”
Also to be clear, this post is not about stalking dolphins. It's about improving the chances of a positive interaction (from a distance) with dolphins in the wild. It's not about helping people harass or disturb dolphins. It's a beautiful experience to see them up close in the wild and one you will remember forever.  Also, there are places like Sea Life Park on Oahu which have guided swims with dolphins in their pools.

To increase your chances of a close encounter with wild dolphins in the water, here are a few tips that a friend gave me:

If you're not part of a snorkeling or boat trip, and are doing it on your own:

  1. Be prepared to get up early. Be in the water by 6 am.
  2. Know which beaches or areas dolphins frequently visit. Some suggestions include the locations above.
  3. Swim really fast - fins are a must.
  4. A body board is super helpful. It can be very tiring to swim that far out, that fast. The body or boogie board can support your weight if you need to take a break.
  5. A snorkeling mask is very helpful too, unless you're a free diver.
  6. Watch how the pod of dolphins is swimming. Try to see how quickly they are moving versus how quickly you can move. If you can somehow be in the middle of their path so that they are swimming towards you, you may see them up close. 
  7. Do not try to outswim dolphins. They are too fast. (Ok, other people may have different experiences, but I'm talking about the average swimmer.) If they are moving fast, you will never be able to catch up to them with fins. 
  8. Don't splash a lot - dolphins don't seem to like it.
  9. Do not try to touch them, keep some distance from them because you don't want to be cited for "harassing" dolphins. Also, it's not polite. 
  10. Don't make loud noises, like shouting. They may avoid you.
  11. Dolphins seem to like children more than adults.
  12. If you see dolphins moving towards you, stay quiet, don't move. Let them be curious and want to explore you.
If you are part of a snorkeling or boat trip, watch along the rail to see if dolphins show up while the boat is moving. You won't know if dolphins will be where you're going, but with any luck, there will be some. There will be lots of other people in the water, so watch where you're swimming. You don't want to knock out other people with your fins, and if you clump with other people, dolphins may be more interested in visiting the lone swimmer than the big herd of humans splashing in the water.

This is another short video (2 minutes) of the dolphins we saw along the boat on the way back from the Trilogy Blue 'Aina reef clean up that day. Here is more info on volunteering for a Blue 'Aina clean up

The more time you spend in the water, the more chance you have of seeing or encountering wild dolphins.  Be respectful.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Reflections and Rants about the A-Z Challenge

My A to Z challenge posts are dedicated to GM, who once upon a time asked me to write an article on Hawaiian culture. My head said yes, and my heart said no. For various reasons, I didn’t do it, and it was a big “shoulda coulda woulda” in my life.

When I first decided to participate in the A to Z challenge, I was going to write about anything connected to life on Maui, but this old ghost surfaced from the past, slithered into my writing and took possession. It’s not the right format and is many years later, but life is like that.

Some rants during the A-Z challenge:

1. My theme of Hawaiian cultural symbols, fact vs. fantasy, cliché vs. reality was a bit like a corset, squishing everything into a very tight-fitted theme. I discarded two entire posts because they didn’t fit the theme as well as other topics.

2. Comments – I had a tough time keeping up with comments and still have some comments and blog hopping to follow up on. The difficulty with comments was compounded by Disqus, a plug-in to moderate comments. Some people didn’t see Disqus on their device or computer, but saw the blogger default commenting instead. So I had several comments lurking in the blogger comments section, and discovered them days later. Also, some people had difficulties with Disqus in general. I thought about removing it, but was afraid to open up another can of worms. Ironically, I originally installed disqus because Wordpress bloggers had a difficult time commenting on the default blogger platform!

Some people never saw this Disqus comments screen.

3. Time – Keeping up with the posts played havoc with my life especially in the third week. I managed to do some posts ahead of time for the first week, was keeping pace in the second week, and getting snowballed in the third week.

@damyantig on twitter had strongly suggested to write and schedule all posts ahead of time, so that April could be only for commenting, but I couldn’t write fast enough. My husband has since requested that I talk with him first before agreeing to any major blogging endeavor.  He was very supportive though, once he knew why I was living in the computer cave and he joked about my “square eyes” from the square computer screen. His great idea was to get ahead on my bread-and-butter job, then take a day off work to write as many posts as I could. This turned out to be a lifesaver. Other parts of my life fell by the wayside – the garden… hmmm, what garden?… the moving of the chicken coop… squawk squawk… I did still manage to participate in a few local events, usually with running out of the house with my hair all mussed up. There were an insane number of good festivals on Maui duringApril.   

4. Twitter – I’m still new to twitter and wanted to keep up with my twitter feed. That turned out to be pretty time-consuming and distracting as well, but also really exciting and fun. I’m really grateful to the following tweeps who did not participate in the challenge, but were very supportive: @teraeuro, @zen4zoey, and @yojudidoll. I also had some very strange conversations on twitter towards the end. 

 While this very strange "fried shave ice" twitter stream has nothing to do with the A to Z Challenge, I doubt I would have had this conversation without having participated in the challenge, which did increase my twitter followers by about 120 tweeps. On the other hand, I am also following about 120 more tweeps too. Go figure!
Part II of my very strange fried shave ice twitter conversation.

5. Keeping it short. I am the worst offender, although not the only one! I had longer posts and accepted the trade off of longer posts and fewer comments.  On the other hand, if I had had more comments, as delightful as they were, I would have felt really bad for not being more responsive.

Some great things I learned doing this challenge:

1. Inspiration from other bloggers. From Jennifer Poppy’s use of pinterest embedded images, I was able to incorporate some photos and still give credit to the original source. I also checked in with a couple of local photographers about using their images via pinterest, and they were supportive.

2. Using Wikipedia creative commons images, flickr creative commons images, and finding other sources of creative commons images. While I do have a lot of my own photos stashed away, often I couldn’t find one that really spoke a “thousand words.” So I relied heavily on outside sources.

3. Just asking people I know for information. I prodded two people about the fiber used in “grass skirts” and plumbed @swianecki for information on the native yellow hibiscus. The internet is great, but so is asking people who might know… you never know what you’ll find out. Even roaming on Facebook turned out helpful for research.

4. The value of being kind on twitter. Retweeting links for other A-Z challenge participants was often reciprocated and created a general feeling of camaraderie.

5. The more links and pics you have, the longer it takes to futz around with each blog post. 

I was also awarded the Liebster Award, um, I think twice, um three times. It’s exciting to get an award from a fellow blogger, and I will write a follow up post or posts sometime, but am wondering if that means I get to give the Liebster Award to 33 other bloggers? Mahalo to Ruby Wilbur, Rinelle Grey and Vicki Paulus for the nominations. 

It takes a global village to make the A-Z challenge happen.
I’d like to thank the following bloggers who were very supportive and left lots of comments or retweeted often:

Also, Arlee Bird was thoughtful to include me in the Quick Let's Do Something Now! A-Z post, which really did increase my Google Friend Connections. I’d been wondering about whether to remove GFC completely. @AprilA2Z was also very kind on twitter.

Honestly, I'm still catching up on comments and blog hopping, but my life is winding back down to normal.

As an aside, when my husband and I had the first real chat about this crazy blogging thing I was doing in April, he shook his head at my theme. I was explaining that I wanted to pick stereotypical Hawaiian images, and talk about what people associate with them.

“Like what?” he asked.

“Grass skirts, or hula or…”

“Sex.” he said.


“Sex. Grass skirts. They’re seductive. People think about sex.”

“Well, what about surfing?”



“Yeah, surfer boys are sex symbols.”

“Ok, what if I had written about taxes?”

“Yeah, sex.” He nods firmly.

“What?” I ask again. I’m stuck on this one syllable word.

“Sex. See, taxes are about paying money on earnings, getting money is about being able to take care of one’s needs and have status, to be more sexually desirable.”

“Ok… great, so you’re saying my entire Hawaiian theme was about sex.”


“Thanks honey.”

“No problem. Glad I cleared that up for you.”

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May 2013 - Event Listings - Happy May Day!

After April, I feel like May will be a month of recovery from the A to Z Challenge. Just kidding! It was a great experience, and maybe my life will get back to normal. 

We've had a lot of voggy days recently plus Kona weather which brings in wind from the South, the direction of Kona on the Big Island. For some people, this means more headaches and sluggishness. Today, there's a great breeze and it's May Day (or Lei Day) in Hawaii. This list will be updated as I have time and inclination!

Hula dancer with maile lei. 
Original art by Suzy Papanikolas, at Viewpoints Maui.

Now through 5/12 - Art of Trash exhibit at the Maui Mall. Annual art show of trash. Great fun. I'm totally biased because I usually enter and volunteered yesterday. Here are a few posts from last year: Is this really trash?, art of trash overview, and art of trash Buddha

Also ending 5/12 - the Art Maui annual exhibit. This is often considered the most prestigious art show on Maui other than the Schaeffer portrait exhibit which only occurs every four years. Here's a post from last year about the opening reception

5/1 - May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii. Often more celebrated at public schools where the children dance hula and give other performances. The Fairmount Kea Lani Resort is offering a public May Day event with hula lessons and lei making. 

5/2 - Grand opening of the Community Garden at the University of Hawaii Maui Campus
4-6 pm. Tours of the garden, refreshments available, and they are using "earth bags" to create raised beds.

5/3 - 5/5 - St. Joseph's Feast in Makawao. An upcountry local event supporting St. Joseph's Church with bouncy castles, lots of malasadas (Portuguese sugary doughnut-like sweets), games, entertainment. This event, one of the oldest on Maui, started in  the 19th century. 

5/3 - First Friday Town Party in Wailuku.

5/4 - 24th Annual Maui Onion Festival at Whaler's Village. Food event with recipe contests, chef demos, special dinner in celebration of the sweet Maui onion. 

5/4 - Paddle Imua benefit race to help children with special needs. 

5/4 - Haiku Ho'olaulea Star Light Star Bright Soiree, benefit to kick off the Haiku Elementary School Foundation. 

5/5 - Cinco de Mayo Fundraiser for Lahainaluna High School. This fundraiser by Cilantro Grill will support their school garden. 

5/10 - Maui Matsuri Festival begins - a popular festival on Maui highlighting Japanese culture (My mistake, had it listed originally for 5/3 - although there was a kick-off event 5/3 at the Queen Ka'ahumanu Shopping Center.) Some films aired on Friday, 5/10. Saturday 5/11 features live entertainment, bon dancing, food booths, judo and aikido demonstrations and costume contest. 

5/10 - Second Friday Town Party in Lahaina.

5/11 - 40th Annual Seabury Hall Craft Fair. The most prestigious private school on Maui hosts its hugely popular annual craft fair, which is always the Saturday before Mother's Day. Often considered to be the best craft fair on the island. 

5/11 - Hana Spring Harvest Dinner at Travaasa Hana to benefit the Hana Youth Center. The twitter hashtag is #hanaharvest

5/14 - Maui's First DishCrawl Event, in Lahaina. A foodie adventure to visit four restaurants, while exploring Lahaina. It's also a guessing game, since three restaurants are being kept secret until the event starts.

5/17 - Third Friday Town Party in Makawao.

5/18 - Maui Brewer's Festival. This is a more recent event on Maui, perhaps only in its 3rd or 4th year, but popular. Featuring craft beers made in Hawaii and beyond. Along with beer, there are appetizers from 20+ restaurants and popular food trucks. 

5/22 - Upcountry Food and Farm Night - Kula Community Association. Potluck, food samples and host of agricultural presenters on farming land trusts, soil fertility, water issues. Free, open to the public. 

5/24 - 5/25 44th Annual Barrio Fiesta at the War Memorial Stadium. This popular Filipino cultural festival starts Friday at 5 pm with a coronation for Miss Barrio Fiesta and continues from 10 am to 10 pm on Saturday.

5/24 - Maui Solar Summit at the Sustainable Living Institute of Maui (SLIM) in Kahului. 11:30 am to 1 pm. Local experts will discuss solar issues on Maui. 

5/24 - Labyrinth Walk at the Sacred Garden of Maliko. Owner Eve Hogan does a short talk followed by a meditative walk under a full moon.

5/24 - Fourth Friday Town Party in Kihei.

5/24 - Institute for Astronomy on Maui: Presentation on Hawaiians and Astronomy at 6:30 pm. The event will also be streamed live

5/25 - Fruit Tree Orchard Design and Care. Two very experienced farmers are running this all-day workshop in Haiku. They are both good speakers and know their stuff. If you have fruit trees and  want to have more and better fruit, this is your workshop. 

5/25 - March Against Monsanto Maui. Part of an international rally protesting Monsanto, the Maui group will march at 11 am from the War Memorial Stadium in Wailuku.

5/25 - Buddha's Birthday Celebration and Offering of 108 Lotus Lights. Free event at the Maui Dharma Center in Paia. 

5/27 - Eat Play Work! Day - A community building event on Maui hosted by the Association of Maui Intentional Communities. To be held in Makawao on Memorial Day. There is no information  about the event on the website, so click on the "contact us" button on the AMIC site to email Paul. 

5/28 - Maui Farmers Union Meeting and Potluck. Open to the potluck. Free. Speakers include chef's demo by Makena Resort's Chef, info on pests, and a popular astronomy and cycles of light presentation. 

5/28 - The Digital Media Revolution talk hosted by Maui Business Brainstormers, featuring Mark Glaser. 4-6:30 pm. Wailea. 

5/29 - Maui SMUG (Social Media Users Group) in Kihei, 4-6pm or so, with a meetup afterwards at Three's Grill. 

For more event listings, check out Calendar Maui, Flyers Up or Maui Time's event listing