As I may have mentioned, Tom and I are on hiatus for a month in California frolicking with friends and family and meeting with orthopedic people about his bone-on-boney knees. Bad knees have become his biggest handicap during his weekly pasture golf game–besides the bulls. Please see my blog on Pasture Golf (4-14-14).

P1040625 - Version 2So midst appointments with the “knee guys,” we took time off to join Marianne and Ron and their fun family at their spectacular camp in the Sierras. It can be the highlight of our year..enjoying the out-‘o-doors to the max: picking berries, skeet-shooting, bocce-balling, riding on top of ole Smokey horse, driving golf balls, swimming in the lake, BBQ’ing on the campfire, not to mention their “Bear-verage Bar.” So after our first day there, we were totally relaxed and buzzed into a sort of a rocky mountain high..which quickly morphed into a stoney mountain low.

Our second night in our cozy, rustic cabin, Tom awakened me moaning with mortal pain. This was not his usual “stubbed-toe-on-the-bed-frame” pain, this was the “Grave Digger-monsta-truck on-his-back” kind of pain. “My back is IMPLODING!” he agonized. “I’m SICK..throwing up EVERYTHING!” In Hawaii, we refer to this de-fooding condition as “calling the whales.” In the woods, it’s “calling the bears.” much upchuck could a woodchuck upchuck when a woodchuck upchucks in the the wood?

rm2948-bear-outhouse1bSince we were in the boonies of beardom, I had to grab my flashlight, take a chance while helping Tom to the outhouse, trot over to Marianne and Ron’s cabin (which was about 350 bear tracks away) and ask where the nearest ER was. Hosts love that! They live for being awakened at 2 a.m. Then knowing that you’re going to get totally lost, insist on providing a middle-of-the-night field danger-bear-area-matchbook-personalized-sign-1trip to the nearest ER which, of course, is more than a one hour’s drive down a dark, winding road where deer leap in front of cars and all manner of road-kill happens. Nothing good ever happens after midnight. That’s when ERs are the busiest.

Marysville Rideout Hospital was no exception (no, it’s not a drive-through) and the staff is fabulous. They even worked Tom in before the shirtless/shoeless guy whose eyes were spinning and who was talking to the waiting room wall and calling her “Babe.” In the exam room, the intern took his fist and pushed it into the right side of Tom’s lower back. “Arrr-ghh-ohhhh-sh*t!” he exclaimed as he doubled up in pain. The intern asked, “Did that hurt?” Then for fun, he repeated his fist bump on the left side. Fortunately, the room was sound-proofed. The intern queried, “Have you ever had a kidney stone before?” urinary system-maleNow in total agony and with hardly an ounce of energy left, Tom mumbled, “No.” “Well you do now,” smiled the intern as if Tom should get a gold medal. After lot$ of test$, the diagnosis was confirmed, an IV was started followed by a morphine chaser. The male doctors ALL said that a kidney stone is as painful as childbirth. I don’t know how a guy can channel that pain for comparison. I think only a female mom who has also had a kidney stone would be a more reliable source–maybe like Michelle Duggar. But I don’t know if she’s had one. I know that Tom hopes this will be his only child.

A gazillion thanks to our incredible friend, St. Ron (who is now on a par with St. Christopher in our eyes), we got back to camp with enough pain meds to carry Tom through the next few days’ activities and a little sieve for him to pee through. It was important for him to catch the stone when it passed. Describing this process was a challenging one for Marianne when her cute, people-wise, 9-year-old grandson, Tyler, asked, “What happened to Tommy Tunes?” (their name for Tom). The conversation went something like this:

P1040653 - Version 2Marianne: “He was in the hospital.”
Tyler: “THE HOSPITAL! Why?”
Marianne: “He has a kidney stone.”
Tyler: “Huh? What’s that?”
Marianne: “Its a stone in your kidney.”
Tyler: “Where’s your kidney?”
Marianne: “You have two of them and they’re in your lower back. They’re like little waste disposal dump trucks in your body. Helps you get rid of stuff.”
Tyler: “Well–how did the stone get there? How did that happen? Did Tommy swallow it?”
Marianne: “No, it kinda just formed in there like an ice crystal in Frozen.”
Tyler: “How big is it?” (Personally, I think Tyler might be showing some promise as a medical reporter.)
Marianne: “It’s kinda big. Over two centimeters.” Knowing that Tyler’s next question would be ‘how big is a centimeter?’ she continued, “A centimeter is about the size of a Skittle or an M&M. So Tommy’s would be the size of an M&M peanut, a Dum Dum or a quarter.” Brilliant grandmothers always explain in kid-speak.
Tyler: “Well–how does he get rid of it?”
Marianne: “Um-mmm, that’s the hard part.” Fully aware that her explanation was going to take a boy into a world even more shocking than Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, she took a deep breath and explained, “So..the stone has to travel down a tube from the kidney to your bladder. Your bladder is kinda like a bagpipe bag. It holds your pee.”
Tyler: “WHAT? So this stone has to go all the way down to Tommy’s pee bag?”
Marianne: “Yep. That would be correct”..hoping that the next question wouldn’t come, but of course it did.
Tyler: “Then what happens? Does it melt?”
Marianne: “Nope. He has to pee it out.” She braced herself.P1040658 - Version 2
Tyler: “WHAT? NO! HE HAS TO PEE IT OUT?” Unbelieving, his eyes had already been wide-open with this agonizing thought. Now his baby blues were the size of Blueberry Tootsie Pops. “ARE YOU SURE?” The awful realization had sunk in. To pee it out meant only one thing: “IT HAS TO COME OUT HIS HOO-HOO?” Tyler grabbed his crotch and bent over in pain with the thought. “OO-OOO-OOOH-HHHH! Poor Tommy Tunes! OH-HH. Not his HOO-HOO! I’m going to go give him a hug. Ohh-hh.” And off he ran, still holding his crotch.

Tom showed Tyler the sieve that he had to pee through so he could catch the stone for analysis. Tyler wanted to keep it but understood that it had to go to Tom’s doctor in Los Angeles. When the time came for the “stone passage” it turned out to be a boulder the size of Plymouth rock. It required an extra weight charge for his carry-on baggage. The expression “you can’t get blood from a stone” was proved totally false that day. th-2 - Version 2




Nothing can interrupt a writer’s thought train more than when her caboose is being blown right out of the station. A category #1 hurricane can do that. Back in the 70’s, a couple of guys: structural engineer Herb Saffir and his buddy, meteorologist, Bob Simpson (who was Director of the National Hurricane Center in Florida) came up with a scale from 1-5. The higher the number on the scale, the more neighbors’ roofs that blow off, the bigger the trees that topple onto Toyotas and the more water that pours down or surges into basement man-caves.

Now I have to admit that husband, Tom and I had just left Maui this past week to return to Los Angeles for a month, so we missed the actual events. Thank goodness that friend Sandi became weather watch commander and provided all of us “mainlanders” who have Hana homes with continual updates. So far she is still afloat and emailing from her closet. Hana has never experienced a hurricane category number..a tsunami maybe, but not a hurricane.

4406170_GSo when it was announced that hurricanes Iselle and Julio were on their way and headed toward Hawaii, the natives started paying attention. At first I thought when I heard the names that they were that dance duo on Dancing With The Stars. Where do these guys get these names? Up until 1979, all hurricanes were female. Of course, that figures. We got the blame for everything in those days. But then the first male hurricane was named and it was Hurricane Bob. Really? I betcha anything that it was named after good ‘ol Bob Simpson, Director of the NHC. And he turned out to be bad Bob..a category 3.

10407586_10152612621499063_1159952070974049975_nAnd so it is no surprise that coming up with hurricane names is as political as congress trying to pass a bill before Christmas vacation. All names must be approved by Region #4 Hurricane Committee of the World Meteorological Organzation. This group is made up of reps of all countries affected by the hurricanes in their zone or area. Why can’t they just draw names out of alphabetical and gender appropriate hats. That would be way more fun. Why take the time to vote by committee? Geez!

_DSC2758 2Friends Mike and Larry decided that they should go up to our house and move all our lanai furniture indoors. I know Allstate appreciates that. It could get expensive if our bamboo and all-weather-wicker with the Sunbrella fabric blows to Oahu. However, Mike reports that our open floor-plan is no longer open and looks more like Furniture Warehouse.

And speaking of warehouses, CostCo in Kahului has now had a serious run on toilet paper, rum, beer and Doritos..not to mention ice. This is probably because one of the favorite Hawaiian drinks is appropriately named “The Hurricane.” Just to keep you in the mood, here’s the recipe and you might want to pick up some juice while you’re at it. Then chug-a-lug and literally let the world fly by:

93744441 2Ingredients
1 light rum
1 dark rum
1 1/2 fluid ounces amaretto liqueur
6 orange juice
6 pineapple juice
1 dash grenadine syrup on top after drink is poured
Don’t forget the little paper umbrella with the cherry

Mix all ingredients well and pour over ice into a hurricane glass (hopefully unbroken).

So the good news is that Iselle could have been a lot worse. She got herself into a tropical mood and morphed into a “storm.” Now we just have to hope that Julio continues to hold the stage way-y-y out in the Pacific far from the islands. Otherwise, think of the great business start-up we could have..where we can share plants and lawn furniture and “recycloned” materials by air with our island neighbors at no freight charge. Then we can hold a humongous blow-out sale!
P1030961 2



Most sounds in Hawaii are melodious and soothing…the ocean waves slapping against the sandy shore, the enchanting bird songs of the thrushes and cardinals and cooing of doves, the splashing of the cascading waterfalls and/or the rhythmic surf beat of palm fronds blowing in the tropical breeze. One sound that is not soothing, however, is the shrill chirping of the house gecko. th-3 It usually happens at about 2:30 a.m. as he calls out to find a gecko gal. It can best be described as the same sound your smoke alarm makes when the batteries are going dead in the middle of the night (smoke alarm batteries never die in the daytime). It’s sound-barrier breaking. High octave. Chirp! Chirp! Chirp!

This wake-up chirp usually happens above your bed because the gecko can sprint up walls and over your head faster than Lionel Ritchie singing Dancing on the Ceiling. The startling sound is yet another reason to make you “climb the walls” and join the gecko.

P1040479Now there are many who think the house gecko is good luck–almost sacred. I’m not a gecko worshipper, but I admit that we do have a gecko etched into glass on our front door and gecko tiles on our lanai. Mainly because our grandson loves them. Since geckos eat other invasive critters like cockroaches, mosquitoes and various unsavory bugs, they are welcomed into many Maui homes. We encourage ours to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle. The main reason being that if anything free-range P1040494poops in the jungle, it’s also going to poop in your house. So cover your furniture and your Mai Tai’s. Yes indeedy, that happened one night when we were at a friend’s home for a pupu (pronounced “poopoo”–an unfortunate Hawaiian word for hors d’oeuvre) party. This friend loves cute geckos and a dropping plopped right into my drink just missing the tiny paper umbrella. I immediately switched to vodka.

There are some interesting features about geckos. They are usually nocturnal—thus the chirping at 2:30 a.m. Most lack eyelids and don’t blink—giving them excellent night vision. They might even be able to see through your pajamas. The house gecko (the fifth in the species to thrive on the islands) arrived in Hawaii sometime after World War II. P1040521One is not sure if they stowed away on something that can bob in water like a boat or suitcase or some people I know. Yet some gecko experts say that it’s possible the eggs might have landed on shore because the tiny round white-shelled balls (the size of Tic Tacs or a Lego apple) can also float in salt water.

But the most amazing thing about the gecko is its little toe pads. Some attribute its speedy climbing ability to teeny-weeny suction cups on its feet. Then others say it’s the intermolecular attraction between the ceiling that the gecko is walking on and the tiny pad hairs (said to be about one million per gecko). But hold the Shock Jock! A new study has just come out from Hadi Izadi (I love rhyming names), a researcher from Yale. th-2Hadi says that static electricity is why geckos stick to the ceiling and in his words: “By measuring the magnitude of the electric charges, together with the adhesion forces that gecko foot pads develop in contact with different materials, we have clarified for the first time that CE (i.e. contact electrification) does contribute effectively to gecko adhesion.” the way I understand this is that the gecko is in positive charge mode when electrons leave its feet and since the wall that it’s climbing is doing nothing, it’s negatively charged like a husband in a Barcalounger, but glued to the football game.

Here’s something to think about. What if we harness the hot-footin’ power of the gecko. Give them all a free-range grid where they can skitter around like crazy, thus generating electricity that their little feet give off. And if we have electric cars, I bet we could get a discount from Geico insurance if it’s “Powered by Gecko.” Then in addition to solar panels and windmills, this might just be the next best energy source for those living on the jungle isles..except for the #$%*ing chirping.




The Geico Gecko has eyelids. Some say if you click on him, he might blink.



A few things have caught my eye (of the camera) around our place (and beyond).

The first is our Tiki God who is the serious watchman at our front entry. Like others we’ve known, his diet plans aren’t working:


Next we had a few chicks running through our garden who also had a dietary question


One of my favorite pictures is of Cisco, the calf that Beth and Larry rescued. He thought he was family:

2014-06-10_17-58-54 2
And while on the subject of the smaller free range ones in the’s all about life’s lessons:

Usually hard-working boots gather no moss. It can grow under and over your feet if you’re at the beach too much. Tom calls this “Boot Hill”:

It’s summertime and a photo-op paradise around here. Be grateful that I spared you the vehicle repair shots. They’re not as pretty.




The hardest worker you have tending your garden is the one who starts at the crack of dawn and quits when the sun goes down, doesn’t need direction, is tireless in his pursuit of keeping your flowers blooming and your fruit fruiting, immigrates across borders and is happy to work for FREE–which rhymes with–BEE (meli in Hawaiian).

P1030077In my book, A Nobody in a Somebody World, the third chapter is titled The Savage Bees.  Husband Tom supervised production of this killer bee flick back in the 80’s when there was a wild frenzy going on about angry bees crossing our borders bringing venom and viciousness with voracity (the three bee “v’s”) as they targeted their prey.

Fortunately, we have always had contented, busy bees to keep our Maui garden to say. No worries about their having a ho’omainoino (mean) streak. That is..until the other day when the menfolk started running every which way and screaming like womenfolk. Their voices went into the high decibel frequency range..”Ee-eeee-ee!” Also rhymes with bee. There are a few things that normally happy bees don’t like. They don’t like noisy weed-eaters. They don’t like swinging machetes chopping and they definitely don’t like their hive poked with a stick.P1030067 When all three of these things happen at the same time, it’s like living in Oakland and the drones pull out the big guns and go on the attack. That’s when we realized we had a hive in the ‘hood. We didn’t know that. The Queen decided that she’d set up light housekeeping and/or beekeeping by our #4 water tank. The prime real estate she selected was the box that also houses the pump..warm and cozy with a great view.

Bees are a valuable commodity here on Maui where flower farms abound, waterlilies float leisurely in the ponds, all manner of tropical fruit is abundant and the macadamia nut trees produce like crazy.P1040202 Another great benefit of this is the Hawaiian practice of sharing and/or bartering. We just traded our limes and lemons with our neighbors (Eileen and Rene of Hana Herbs) for Rene’s fresh fish (Ahi) of the day. A win-win! So preservation of bees is first and foremost. Obviously our hive had to be moved to a more remote area so that the human menfolk could claim their space back and have fun with their tools again. It was time to call Ken.

Ken Darr loves bees! Nothing makes him happier than a healthy, thriving hive with glistening, oozing honeycombs inside. He also harvests delicious honey, which provided a sweet bee benefit for removing our swarm. He arrived in his pickup ready to collect his new group of productive little farm workers. Hundreds of ’em..all energized and pumped up at the pump box. P1030102Of course a heavy zip-up bee suit is the first requirement for retrieving bees, including long thick gloves and a sturdy mesh hood for head protection. Ken kinda looked liked a dirty astronaut. Personally, I don’t think he has ever washed his bee suit..but bees don’t care about that stuff. However, it would be the supreme test to see if Tide Ultra Stain Release really works. Now that I think about it, you wouldn’t want a super good beekeeper to arrive in a squeaky clean bee suit.

None of us realized the magnitude of Ken’s challenge. When he lifted the box lid, it was determined that the queen was really popular and her staff had created lots and lots of honeycombs–all yellow and thick. Like about 100 pound’s worth of bees, combs and goo. The easiest solution was for Ken to just take the entire box. Fortunately, he’s a strong guy–plus now he was as pumped up as the bees for finding such a liquid gold treasure trove for his honey business. He wrapped the box with a tarp to contain most of the residents and calm them down. Then he lifted the box and loaded it into the back of his pickup.P1030108 Last we saw of Ken, he was headed down the jungle road, with straggler wanna bees following close behind as they all headed off to a quieter neighborhood. I was thinking what a great thing it is to have a live bee hive in your truck. That way you don’t have to have a car alarm or a wheel lock. Or you don’t have to worry about someone parking too close to you and dinging your doors at Walmart. Or you don’t have to worry about the cops pulling you over for an expired safety sticker on your bumper. That’s a must-have here in Hawaii.

My first decision of the day is whether to have Ken’s macadamia nut wild honey or his Happy Valley honey on my toasted bagel.P1040205 Obviously “our” bees are happy and contented in their new digs and Ken’s Alii (appropriately that’s Hawaiian-speak for Queen) Beekeeping business should be a buzz of activity.

PĀKĒ, SĀKĒ, MĀKĒ (Pah-keh, Sah-keh, Mah-keh)

PĀKĒ, SĀKĒ, MĀKĒ (Pah-keh, Sah-keh, Mah-keh)

If you are dreaming of paradise..I bet “no traffic” might be in that dream. No freeways, no congestion, no wasting valuable hours of life on asphalt.
P1030849Hana is that paradise place. We have always been free to come and go until the stop lights! But they are temporary. The definition of temporary in Hawaii is “not permanent; established with the idea of being changed soon.” The definition of soon in Hana can be “the short span of time existing somewhere between two hours, two days, two months or two years.” The slow pace of paradise applies to “any kine (i.e. kind) project–small kine, big kine.”

And most projects involve backstories. Such is the case for the cause of the stoplights. In the late 1800’s, Hana used to be a thriving hub of the sugar cane industry. A train ran between our verdant hills and pasturesugar-3 lands delivering sugar cane to the mill on the “other side” of the island near Kahului (Ka-hoo-loo-ee). The Chinese provided a substantial portion of the work force. Consequently, the cane-train engineer was “pākē” (Hawaiian for Chinese). And legend has it that sākē (Japanese rice wine) kept him hydrated on his return trip to Hana after his long clickety-clack train track trip through the jungle. Getting closer to home, he rounded a 90-degree bend (probably going a wee bit wikiwiki (weekee-weekee as in fast) due to DUSI (driving under sākē impairment). As with most “Dead Man Curves,” the name lives in perpetuity and does not die as is usually the case with the driver–now deceased. So for over 150 years years, this Hana bridge has been called “Mākē Man Bridge.” In Hawaiian, “Mākē” means dead.

Back in the “old days,” our highways used to feature Burma Shave sequential signs. Burma Shave was one of the first brushless shaving creams and the company came up with a fun advertising gimmick. BurmaShaveSign 2There’d be about five to six smallish wooden signs pounded into the ground or hammered onto poles or posts along the side of the highway. Mākē Man Bridge would have been a perfect place for such signs. With slight improvisations, the ditties could have gone something like this: “Train in ditch, Engineer in tree. Moon was full, And so was he. Burma Shave.”  or..”The train is in pieces, Get the shovel and rake. He grabbed for the Sākē, Instead of the brake. Burma Shave.”

Through the years, there have been a few more “incidents” on Mākē Man Bridge including tumbling boulders in water rapids flowing underneathP1040129. Some of these banged into the support pilings holding up this span over the curve and it was determined that its strength was structurally  weakened–as in–it could fall down with the next cement truck and/or fully loaded tour bus crossing over it. So what to do..

The bridge repairs needed to start–but first it needed to be torn down, meaning cutting off that portion of the Hana Highway. The county determined that they could create a detour down the quaint scenic road that meanders by beautiful Koki (Ko-key) Beach, magnificent Alau (allow) Island and Hamoa Beach which is #5 on Dr. Beach’s Top-10 Best Beach List for 2014 ( Trouble is this charming road is essentially a single lane in most parts, but it’s never been a problem for any of us. We just pull to the side being careful not to leave a fender in a lava rock wall when opposing traffic comes our way. And we just back up for school buses and monsta trucks.

The county determined that with the increased traffic caused by the highway closure, that this little road needed traffic signals (!) to prevent congestion and protect our safety in paradise. So about a half-mile stretch of asphalt is controlled by “never-before-in-Hana” traffic lights. P1030835My own independent survey has determined that one never reaches the signals when they are green–meaning that you sit for seven minutes as you wait for opposing vehicles or vehicle to come through. This effort requires your inner Zen. Breathe in. Breathe out. Sit. Bring your ukulele. Strum and hum. The man in the beat-up pick-up in front of me with the bumper sticker that said, “Patience–Jesus is coming back”–well, he must have borrowed that truck from the pastor because he sat for maybe 30 seconds and then ran the red. The “Barney Fife” cop was waiting just up the road behind the hibiscus and nabbed him. $97 fine. The other benefit of waiting is the scenery surrounding you that provides pure enjoyment. Most don’t realize what’s on the other side of those Kamani trees that you are stopped under. Look a little to the left and behind you and you can watch the ocean waves touch the shore as they splash in from Alau Island. Roll down your windows. Breathe the salt air and fragrance of the plumeria blossoms. Now that’s paradise.


Saving good news for last: the mayor is coming to Hana on June 17th to officially open Mākē Man Bridge. Thanks to the great county road crew they redefined temporary into soonest. And the red-light district will soon be just a glowing memory.P1040138 2