Sunday, December 25, 2011

Lucy Does Maui 2011

We have made it to the end of another year dear friends and it has been an unforgettable one. We have laughed a lot, sometimes it's been hard, but most of all it has been wonderful.  Our second year on Maui started out with Rodney adding several new customers to his company so he was able to quit his part time job and I was able to leave the pumpkin patch and jump over to the strawberry fields.  Both things have increased our income so I'm thinking this year I may be able to stop envying my neighbors cabinets and appliances and have some of my own.

My wonderful Mother-In-Law was here visiting in October and helped us celebrate our one year of life on Maui.  This woman is an inspiration to us all.  She is 89 years old, still lives alone, and volunteers for the Red Cross.  In fact she just had an article written about her and her quilting ladies (The Material Girls) in her local newspaper.  She started her trip out visiting her daughter Joan's family in California and then headed over to Oahu to meet up with her daughter Jill.  Jill and her husband are missionaries for the Salvation Army in the Marshall Islands.  Two of Jill's daughters (Lisa and Sarah) were able to fly over to visit at the same time.  Rodney met up with all of them and they had a great time seeing the sites on Oahu and visiting Pearl Harbor which was a particularly moving experience for Rodney's mom. You see, Rodney's dad was there during WWII and when he came back he told her they should go back and see how beautiful Hawaii was someday. As with most people however life got in the way and they never got to come back and see it together so it was really nice that she finally got to come almost 70 years later. I know it meant a lot to Rodney and the rest of his family that she was able to come here to visit.

With starting my new job I was not able to get away for this reunion but Rodney and I will make another trip over sometime next year.  He was only two miles away from some of the best surfing sites in the world on Oahu's legendary North Shore but didn't have enough time to surf any of them with all the touristy things the family needed to do.  I'm going to take him back this winter and let him surf where the greats have gone before.  After a week on Oahu, Rodney and Mom flew back to Maui.  We had a great time showing her the sites here.  We made the trip to Hana and showed her the wonders of old Hawaii. We visited the tiny church where Lindbergh is buried and showed her many of the gorgeous waterfalls that Hana has to offer.

With my work schedule I didn't get to spend as much time as I would have liked to with her.  Rodney may not have surfed on Oahu but he did get Lucy to surf on Maui. I swear if that woman was just a couple of years younger she might have put Rodney to shame riding those waves! I don't know many 89 year old's who would hop on a surfboard but those of you that know her and her son know that the word "can't" does not exist for either one of them.

Rodney also took her around the rest of our island during the days I had to work. They went upcountry and toured the Winery and heard the tales of days gone by and got some good eats, visited the Lavender Farm where she got to sit and gaze out over both sides of the island, and stopped off for a quick visit at the Surfing Goat Dairy. They spent another day touring the West and South sides and doing a bunch of shopping and sightseeing. After a wonderful week we put her on a plane and sent her back to California where she rested up a couple of more days before she continued on to Michigan.  She made it back home safe and sound with no broken hips or arms.

November seemed to fly by and was over before we knew it.  We spent Thanksgiving morning at the beach.  I never get tired of just being able to get in the car and go to the beach.  The whales are back so I spend a lot of my time staring out at the horizon hoping to see a breach.  I cooked us up a Thanksgiving feast in the microwave and on the George Foreman grill (who needs a stove) and we watched football.  It was a wonderful day.  We have a lot to be thankful for this year.

Tonight we have our Christmas  tree up and we are waiting for Santa.  We don't have a lot of room so the tree of gluttony is small. We decided to do small live trees here for Christmas and then plant them somewhere on the island after the holidays so we can visit them in future years. Last year was a Phoenix Palm and this year is an Italian Stone Pine. One of my favorite things has always been sitting in the dark with the house totally quiet and watching the lights on the tree.  Every year I take the time to reflect on the past year and look to what the next year may bring.  The one thing I have learned living here:  Life is not about things, it's about moments.  I have had some wonderful moments this year.  Things I would never have had if I were still in Texas. Don't get me wrong, Texas is a great place to live it's just that for me and Rodney Maui is where we are happiest. I've learned this year that a lot of things I thought were important, are not.   I'm looking forward to 2012 and all the wonders it will bring.  I miss my family and friends but I am so glad I started on this adventure.  My New Years wish for all of you is that each day you find something to laugh about and allow yourself the time to discover something wonderful about yourself. Just take a moment each day to slow down and experience pure joy.

Mele Kalikimaka and Hau'oli Makahiki Hou

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Last day on Maui
In 2000 my son graduated High School, got in his car, and drove to San Francisco to live.  In 2001 I got on a plane with the purpose of renting a car and bringing him home.  I knew he was not living in a great place,  wasn't eating right, and certainly could not make it with out his mom.  Three days later I got back on a plane and cried from SF to Houston because my baby had made it just fine without me.  I spent the flight from Houston to DFW realizing that it was time to start a new chapter in my life being something other than Brian's mom.  After San Francisco he moved to New York, went to Hunter College where he majored in Religion with Honors, Political Science, and completed a third major through the Thomas Hunter Honors Program, not to mention a minor in Philosophy.  He graduated Magna cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa and is now working on a Masters at Harvard University with full scholarship.

They always had to be on the wrong side of the sign.
I know they can read
 In the ten years since he left I've seen him on average once a year for about a week.  In that weeks time we averaged about 5 hours of alone time since I had to share him with family and friends.  This year I got to spend 30 wonderful days with him here on Maui and I've finally gotten to know my son the man.  It was hard the first couple of days because to me he was still that 19 year old boy but he quickly let me know that he had been deciding what time to come home for 10 years without me.  It's just so hard to stop being a mom.

Brian snorkeling

The trip was wonderful and my first aid kit came in handy on many occasions.  I even had to break down and  buy band aids in bulk at the great Costco. I was so excited about this because Rodney has made fun of my first aid kits for years. I was ecstatic at the amount of wounds and blood that was generated on this trip if only to justify my kits.  We are not sure what causes it but since coming to Maui we seem to lose a lot of things, including our memory of where we are going, how to get there or even where we are at. Perhaps it's just not important here to always be in the know.  As soon as Brian arrived this affliction started to take hold almost immediately. Let's call it "Maui madness".  I somehow lost the voucher to get us out of the airport which I had in my mouth, Brian lost his house keys, Rodney thought he lost something, but then couldn't remember what it was he was looking for.  It was a month of wrong turns,  u-turns, nearly getting your head cut off by a tree branch because your hanging out a window and your mother is driving and not paying attention to what is happening in the passenger seat. I'm truly surprised we all survived the entire month.

The waves at Hana

The first week of Brian's visit we decided to take him down the infamous "Road to Hana". For those of you not familiar with this particular road it is basically a white knuckled ride of about 600 or so hairpin turns with 50 some odd one lane bridges crammed into less than 50 miles - most of which has any number of cliffs and crevasses that you can simply disappear into if you happen to take your eyes off the road.  I also discovered that if someone is sitting in the back seat Rodney takes his eyes off the road a lot. He totally turns around and actually looks at the person in the back seat!  It is also incredibly beautiful scenery and has been likened by some to what the garden of Eden surely would have looked like if it had ever existed. Besides the simple dangers of the road itself, there are also many places of adventure along the way that can be explored if you are game - of course both Rodney and Brian were. Not being the Queen of adventure I stayed by the car and read my book, with the phone charged up for emergency calls if I could get a signal and my trusty first aid kit.  What I did not realize was that I needed to add rope and flashlights to my kits.
Hana waterfall
 I was told they walked along a muddy little path to one waterfall where one wrong slip could send you plummeting hundreds of feet into a deep ravine. They also found a lava tube to explore which Rodney described as one of the creepiest and darkest places on earth.  It did open up on the other end into a green and forgotten world cloaked in banyan roots and lush vegetation which seemed to make the expedition totally worthwhile. There was also their climb to one particular set of falls which had them wading waste deep down a stream, climbing a nearly sheer wall of mud, walking a 4 inch wide balance beam/concrete support over some very fast moving water in a concrete drainage canal and then walking above the length of said canal on a flimsy foot wide metal grate all of which was a pretty good height above the main stream below which was flowing at a tremendous rate from the recent rains. Of course their muddy wet shoes added to the challenge of walking across all of this. I think it was Brian who said it was like living in an actual game of "pitfall" where each step could be your last.  I know some high fives were exchanged at least once upon conquering one of their "obstacles" - or maybe they were just happy to have lived through it.

Banyon Tree roots

 On the second day they hiked through some rather large bamboo forests, crossed numerous bridges and streams, and made the trek up past the normally tranquil infinity pool which like all the other falls along this trail had become a raging torrent from the rains the night before, and finally arrived at the 400ft high Waimoku falls. There were reportedly many places along this particular hike where one could have easily slipped into the swollen streams and been washed away in seconds - a fact that was relayed to me well AFTER the hike was over.  There were many things that were reported to me way after the fact, not like they would have listened to me if I had been there to tell them to be careful anyway or to just come back to the car.  Everyone made it back in one piece though and with all there body parts and Brian had fallen in love with Maui.

Coming out of the Lava tube
We spent the next three weeks showing Brian many other parts of Maui.  It was so wonderful to see the sheer joy on his face when he was body boarding.  He was hooked on surfing and yes I did stand up and clap each time he got up on a wave and snapped about 400 pictures.  Those of you that know Brian know that he is not a morning person and it is best to just not speak to him in the mornings.  He actually got up early to surf, even before Rodney,  that's when I knew he was hooked.

Surfing on Old Blue

We started Brian out body boarding in Hana where the waves were huge. That was not the plan but that's how the days off fell and those waves kicked his butt a few times. After a week in some less brutal waves  he got the hang of it and was ready to try some bigger waves.  Well, we couldn't drive back to Hana so Rodney took him down to Little Beach where they managed to get caught in a rip tide and Rodney was nearly on his way to another island.  Now you would think most normal people would just give up and go back to the smaller waves but no, it seemed to me the more danger that was involved the more the two of them had to be right in the middle of it.

Love that look of pure happiness

My Guys!
It was a wonderful thirty days where I got to know my son again.  I sent him home sunburned, bruised, battered, and a lot less stressed than when he arrived.  My goal was to give him a vacation that I never had been able to give him before and I believe we did that.  I believe he fell in love with our new home and he is counting the days until next year when he promises to return.  Rodney and Brian, the two most important people in my life, had never had a chance to really bond before.  In ten years they had never had any alone time.  The three of us have our own memories now and there was a lot of bonding going on as they had to take care of each other on their adventures - because they both knew I was going to be really pissed if one of them didn't make it back!  I would have to say without a doubt that having Brian here was one of the best months of my entire life and I'm pretty sure Brian and Rodney would say the same.
Aloha everyone until next time.....

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ten Years Ago

Rodney taking a picture of the sunrise 05/11/11

May 11th was our ten year anniversary.  We met, I took him home, and he never left.  I know when people talk about "soul mates" that most people roll their eyes.  When we met it was like we had known each other forever.  There was no getting to know each other, we did know each other.  We discovered that many times in our lives we were in the same place at the same time and simply hadn't met yet.  I wonder how many times we stood right next to each other in the same line at the store over the years.  It's funny how things work out sometimes.

Ten years ago we made a promise to one another - when it stopped being fun we were out of here.  In the past ten years I've had an incredible amount of fun.  Oh, believe me we have our moments and there are days I would like to slap him into next week like when he is out looking for sharks, or when he has to do something just because I ask him not to, or when our livelihood depends on him being able to work and he has to do just "one more" judo tournament.  I can't really complain about it though since I knew when I first met him that he was stubborn, borderline crazy, and would find a way to win no matter what.  The bottom line is he makes me laugh.  It's like living with Peter Pan and I for one hope he never "grows up".

Dragon's Teeth
In previous months the blog has been about how wonderful life is here and how I'm adjusting to the changes.  If you are a realist as I am you're probably thinking it can't always be great and there have to be some negatives.  You're right, there are.  Gas is $5 a gallon, rent for 500 square feet will run you a grand, and you can add about a dollar to every grocery item you put in your cart.  If you can't find it on the island then you head to the internet only to find out after you have spent an hour filling your shopping cart and entering all your information that the company does not ship to Hawaii or if they do the shipping is more than the product you ordered.  I have since learned to check the shipping info first before wasting my time.

I love these trees
There are very few full time jobs.  There are hundreds of part time jobs.  The part time jobs pay well but you never know when they are going to end.  As I've mentioned in several other blogs, there's the chance of an earthquake, a tsunami, a lack of shopping and almost all of our favorite restaurants have yet to make it to the island.  There's the "not being a local" factor and the fact that most people you meet are just visiting so right about the time you get to know them they are heading back to the mainland.

I've never been much of a shopper and as far as price goes, you have to pay extra to live on an island - it's just a fact that it costs more to bring items in.  As far as meeting people goes, it seems my whole life I have been the person that total strangers will tell their life stories to.  I have no idea why this is so.  I have never been someone that had a lot of friends, but I have always been someone that knew way more than I wanted to know about a lot of people.  So it works for me here.

When we first arrived and I started talking to people at work I was really worried because everyone had two or three jobs.  I now realize they have two or three jobs that total 40 hours.  At first I thought how horrible this was but now I'm beginning to wonder about it.  I have never had a job that I eventually did not become bored with.  you know the story (same thing different day syndrome) but with two or three different jobs perhaps one would be less apt to get bored - time will tell.

So, is this move worth it?  After weighing all of the above I have to say yes, it most certainly is.  You do however have to be the kind of person who can look at the situation and see the positives.  If your glass is "half empty" all the time you may not adapt too well.  I suppose that is true of other places as well but a good attitude is especially helpful way out here in the middle of the Pacific.  We are quite isolated out here from the sort of life we had become accustomed to over the years.  Would we move here again given a second chance?  The answer to that question is also yes.  This continues to be a grand adventure and I for one would be worse off for having missed out on it.  It will take decades just to see most of the wonders of this island and we are surrounded by a cluster of other islands just as spectacular and unique in their own right.

I have always been a safe person who never went too far past my comfort zone.  I also was brought up with the attitude that if you don't try then you can't fail.  The last 10 years with Rodney have changed me for the better and it has been a wonderful ride.  I think the last 7 months on Maui may have changed me even more.  From the moment we met I have taken chances the old me would never have done.  Rodney understands my personality but unlike him I can't just jump and wonder later if there is a net, I need to know the net is there.  Luckily for me he gives me the time to adjust to the unknown, which allows me to conquer things I never thought possible in the past.  He shows me a patience that others never see from him and in that, I'm lucky.  Rodney has helped turn me from someone who was coasting through life into someone who actually LIVES life.  His sense of adventure and courage are what got us here.  His sense of humor is what keeps me sane on the days I feel the net might be slipping away.  Anyone who knows Rodney knows that he can never do anything half way.  He always has to be "World Champion" of this or "National Champion" of that and he refuses to be defeated in anything he attempts.  The word "can't" does not exist for him.  I always ask why and his answer is always why not?  I have always known that Rodney would go to his grave by sliding in sideways with his hair on fire screaming "what a ride"!!! and that I would show up early and patiently wait while reading my book.  In the past few months however, I've started to think we might actually slide in together with our hair ablaze while smiling at one another.  I imagine the sun slowly setting as someone chisels these simple words into our tombstone: "They Lived"

Tonight we sat by the ocean, drank our Coronas, watched the sunset, and remade the promise we made to one another those ten years ago.

Aloha my friends, may you all truly "Live".

Monday, April 11, 2011

How Long Does It Take?

This month was rather normal.  Well if you can call whales breaching as you drive back and forth to work each day or an octopus crawling up your shorts or tsunamis "normal".  We are settling in and a routine is starting.  In one way I'm happy about it as I am a creature of habit and like having a routine.  In another way I'm sad about it.  There is something to be said for not knowing whats going to happen next.  The new only lasts a little while no matter what you do in life so now it's what we make of this adventure.

When we first arrived here I wondered how long it would take before I felt at home.  How long would it be before it stopped feeling like a visit and I had that feeling of belonging?  The answer I believe is about six months.  When I first arrived it was so strange to never see anyone I knew.  I kept waiting for someone to walk around the corner that I would know.  Now I do know them.

We have made it to our six month mark.  Our next big milestone is one year.  Most people who make this move go back within the first year.  I can partially understand why because if you do not love the beach and most things water related then there is not a vast number of things here for you.  There is no shopping to speak of albeit that may be changing in the near future. You don't suddenly wake up and decide your going to make a day of shopping.  You basically know what you want,  know the three stores that might have it on the island, and go to the one that is closest to you.  It's not going to be cheaper some where else and there are not going to be any great sales.

The tsunami was anti-climatic, especially after seeing what Japan went through. I'm not complaining mind you but it did make me realize another difference between here and the mainland.  We have no sensationalism.  There was no all night build up on the TV going back and forth talking about what the worst possible thing would be. There was no reporter standing at the edge of the water talking about what might happen if the water ripped through the whole island. There was no talk of massive devastation or what the casualties would be if the water got to a certain height.  The reporting was very matter of fact. "The water will surge and will come up on the land, it will be around 4am".  "The people in low lying areas know where they need to go and you should go if you live in one of these areas".  Once the tsunami did hit it was still totally dark here and yet there were no crazy reporters running around with camera crews screeching about the horrors of what was happening.  When the sun came up the Mayor got in a helicopter and went around the island to see what had happened and the work crews started cleaning up. It was just another day in paradise.

Rodney is getting better each week at surfing. He still has more days off than I do so he gets in some extra practice.  The man who lives above us photographs wildlife and told Rodney where he could find some sharks and how to get an octopus out of its hole - you know, the important stuff you need to know when looking for sea creatures.  And you all know Rodney, within the week he was making it happen.  I've informed the neighbor upstairs that he is banned from ever speaking to Rodney again if his topic is going to be what cave you can find the best shark in!  He now knows not to mess with Mama Bear. If only I could strike fear into Rodney so easily..... oh, who am I kidding, he wouldn't be Rodney if I could.

Our first six months here have been wonderful, I've done so many things that I never thought I would.  I have so many more things on my Maui bucket list to do as well.  If you had asked me a couple of years ago if I could I live in a small 1 bedroom, share a washer and dryer with  4 other people, cook my food on a hot plate, give up my amazon kindle account, and watch TV in real time,  I would surely have asked you just what the hell you'd been smokin?  Now I can only wonder, who wouldn't?
Aloha and Mahalo everyone...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Dancing in the Rain

I am a little late with this months blog.  I have been a tad lazy this month.  We have had LOTS of rain, well, for Maui it's lots of rain.  I've also had the crud.  I'm sure there is some medical term for it, but I feel like something the cat pooped out and the dog ate or as my esteemed and subtle father is fond of saying : "I feel like a hammered cat turd".  The place where I work should be quarantined - everyone is ill and passing it around like a Christmas ham. We no longer have sympathy for one another, we are merely trying to remember who got it first so that we can torture said person once we have the energy again.

Rodney's been working a lot this month - even with the rain.  Did I say working? I mean surfing.  He is getting quite good at it.  He is usually one of about 50 people out in the water waiting for a wave.  While he surfs I lay on the beach, listen to some tunes, work on my tan, and watch him either have a wonderful ride or fall on his ass.  What I recently discovered is that while sitting there all alone with the ipod stuck in my ears I tend to tune the rest of the world out.  I suddenly realized last week that while I'm sitting there  (apparently not paying any attention to anyone) and  he catches a good wave, I clap for him.  I'm wondering now how many people around me are feeling sorry for the poor, sad woman sitting all alone on the beach occasionally just clapping excitedly for no reason.  They probably walk away wondering just how many cats that crazy old broad actually has.

Brian is coming to visit in June.  I'm so excited!!!  His tickets are purchased and now it's just a matter of waiting.  It's sad to say that I never gave the boy a really great vacation as a child. We all know the story : there was never the money or the time wasn't right or I thought my job was too important to be gone that long, blah, blah, blah... Then one day he was grown and gone and I thought I had surely lost my moment - the song "Cat's in the cradle" comes to mind.  It's taken 29 years but he finally gets an entire month in Maui and hopefully, it will be a vacation that great memories are made of.

The back view from where Rodney works.
I have truly enjoyed this month.  The whales are extremely active.  While Rodney was driving home from work he got to witness a spectacular double breach and barely managed to stay on the road.  Two giant whales only a few feet apart burst out of the water at the same time and then spiraled away from each other in mid air is what one could only assume was some sort of well-rehearsed, synchronized ballet of aquatic majesty.  All of this happening right off the side of the road nearly caused several cars to drive into the ocean.  I so envy him and his drive to and from work.  He drives around the coast, I drive between the mountains.

The front view from where Rodney works.
This has been yet another good month. Today makes it 5 months to the day since we arrived on Maui. There was a good bit of rain this month but unlike Texas, it was just rain.  You can actually walk in this rain.  You don't have to worry about a giant hail ball, or a tornado, or being struck by killer lightning.  We can sit on the lanai and listen to the rain hitting the leaves of the palm trees, watch the white caps on the ocean, drink a beer and yes, when the mood strikes us, even dance a little Texas 2 step in the warm Maui rain. See y'all next month...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Wine and Whales

My sister's mantra

This has been a very exciting month.  It has also been a very sad month because I lost my house husband.  No more coming home to a clean house with the laundry done and dinner simmering on the hot plate.  I was excited that he got a job and now we have more money coming in but, I was really enjoying the benefits of him being home.  This also means his tan lines will start to return, I think he's much more upset about that than giving up the housework.  

I have discovered a wonderful place.  Maui Friends of the Library, is this small little house down in the middle of the cane fields where you can buy books for 10 cents.  Yes, you read it right - 10 cents a book and anything on the front porch is free.  After you read them you bring them back and they sell them to someone else for a dime.  I can spend hours there just digging through the piles of books.  They're a little dusty and a few have been well read, but for a dime you can't complain.

 My sister emailed us about the Maui winery so we drove upcountry to see what was there.  Now I'm not into wine the way she is but I thought "what the hell" and as it turns out, I had a wonderful time.  The tasting room dates to 1874 and was a home built for one of Hawaii's visiting monarchs.  The centerpiece of the tasting room is an 18 foot bar cut from the trunk of a single mango tree.  The grounds are shaded by trees that are several hundred years old and brought in from all over the world.  The day we were there they were making pineapple wine.  It was very interesting, they squeeze all the juice from the pineapple and then throw anything that is left on a big truck and feed it to the cattle.  Nothing is waisted.  I wasn't so sure about pineapple wine but we went to the wine tasting where I tried three different kinds and  really enjoyed it.

The upcountry is beautiful.  There is a redwood forest and lots of cattle ranches and farms.  We did not go to see the redwoods on this trip because it had been raining and you have to walk in a good bit to get there.  We will be going back though.  There is even a small herd of elk wandering around the high country. It was purely wonderful driving up the mountain and looking down on the ocean with lots of really old trees shading the road.  This is where the Paniolos or Hawaiian Cowboys started.  In fact, the Paniolos were riding the range 50 years before the start of western cowboy culture.

The most exciting thing we did this month was go on a whale watch.  Thirty years ago there were only about 1000 whales that came to Hawaii each year to give birth and mate.  They used to take people out in rubber rafts and if you happened to see a whale in the distance it was considered a huge success.  Now, thanks to places like the Pacific Whale Foundation, there are around 5,000 whales that migrate to Maui each year and 12,000 that come to all of Hawaii. We had the opportunity to see a whale breach about 15 feet from our boat - it was gigantic.  It was incredible to see this huge whale come totally up out of the water right beside us and then come crashing down with a massive force which only happens when 80,000 pounds hits the water. We were told it was the only time this season that a whale had breached that close to a boat. It seemed as if that particular whale had saved it up all season and then breached just for our viewing pleasure. The whole morning was simply awesome. We were able to see a baby whale breaching four or five times and just enjoying playing in the water.  We also saw a male whale in the distance who was showing off by breaching no less than 15 times in a row.  It was a sight to behold.

Two whales playing beside our boat

All and all January was a good month.  We are getting more settled in and it's beginning to feel more like home.  The company phone is ringing more, and Rodney's  "he-hooters" are receding once again into hard pectorals as he hangs up his apron and moves back out into to the world - much the way a mole would emerge from his tunnel.  Life is good and it should prove to be an interesting year for us as we continue to explore our new home. Much Aloha my friends.....

Sunday, January 9, 2011

90 Days on Maui

We ended the year with our first reported shark bite since arriving here. A 15 year old boy was attacked by what appeared to be a Tiger Shark based on the bite marks.  For a couple of days after that I can tell you that I was certainly looking over my shoulder each time we were in the water.  You know they're out there, you just don't really think about it until something happens.  I've been told that anytime you are in the water there is a shark somewhere close by and that your job is to just try not to look like dinner.  The problem is no one seems to know what a shark dinner looks like - except  the sharks of course who can be rather random in what they decide to chomp on from time to time. They say that the chances of actually being bitten by a shark are relatively slim but that doesn't make it any less unnerving when something happens in waters where you swim on a daily basis. In clear and calm waters sharks will generally try to avoid humans. That being said, you can still go out of your way to up your chances if you so desire - which is what this particular young man did. There had been several days in a row of rain right before this incident which had caused quite a bit of run off into the ocean making the waters in certain areas quite murky. Poor judgement # 1 : if a shark can't see you then its other senses may tell it that you are lunch! Maui is also relatively young geologically which means that it still has very steep mountains. This fact combined with a heavy rain means that any dead animals that are in the forests tend to get easily washed into the ocean which will really ring the dinner bell for any passing sharks. Poor judgement # 2 : never swim in a chum line! In addition to all of this, the local news had been warning everyone to stay out of the water in some places because of the previously mentioned issues which would make it much less safe to be thrashing around in the water like a tasty crouton - a warning this boy also ignored - Strike 3!  Luckily, our young thrillseeker was wearing fins to help him catch a bigger wave on his bodyboard so the shark ended up taking a fin and not a foot. He was bitten again in the leg on a second pass but some surfers nearby managed to get him to shore quickly and used a board leash to make a tourniquet until help arrived. I guess the moral of the story is that even though you are more likely to die from being struck by a coconut than being eaten by a shark, you should never go out of your way to stack the odds in favor of the shark. A little common sense can help keep all your limbs attached.

Use your imagination
I started the New Year off with a trip to Little Beach which is Maui's main clothing optional beach. Now, I have been known to dance around a witches fire, sky clad in the middle of a very dark night with people I have known for a very long time.  This however, was in the bright and clear blazing sun and with total strangers.  I can honestly say that I had a little bit of a puritan attitude going into this.  Rodney of course has no tan lines nor a shy bone in his body so he was quite at home.  There was a group of about 20 older men and women who trickled in and bunched together as the day went on. They sat up their chairs, umbrellas, and coolers, peeled off there clothes and began to chat, play cards, or make jewelry.  Then there were the families - mom, dad, and the kids who ranged in age from babies to teenagers. Then of course you had the tourists who simply wanted to see the show and finally, there were the ones who really wanted to be seen.  They paraded up and down the beach standing on point and making sure you didn't miss any of their attributes.  There was also one incredibly limber man who was doing back flips and cartwheels along the edge of the surf making himself rather hard to ignore. You know, the thing was, after a little while you didn't notice that most everyone was sans bathing attire and it ceased to be an issue.  I had always wondered what it would feel like to swim in the ocean  in just my birthday suit, so I did.  One more thing marked off my bucket list and I have to say, there is something to be said for no tan lines.

When we arrived
I have never been a religious person, but I am a spiritual person.  There are moments  here where you can feel the power of something so much greater than you are.  This week Rodney and I went  to snorkel at a beach we had been to once before. It was a partly cloudy morning with little to no breeze.  It was a strange morning  with no movement. The ocean was still and things were almost too quiet with a very slight breeze from the east.  It was simply eerie.  We sat and watched for a while commenting on the strangeness of the morning and how the ocean was like a solid sheet of glass with not a wave in sight.  We were waiting for the clouds above us to break up before we went in as it appeared that the sun was coming out and the clouds were moving away from us. At the same time for some reason it just seemed wrong to go in, so we waited.  Now those of you that know Rodney know that he can't sit still for 10 minutes so he decided to walk up to the restroom.  I was sitting their watching the ocean and hoping to see a whale when suddenly, from out of no where, a gust of wind from the northwest  almost knocked me out of my chair. I righted myself, pulled the hair out of my eyes, and thought I was in another dimension.  It was instantly about 20 degrees cooler, there were huge white caps rolling in and the birds were going crazy. The wind had completely changed direction in a few seconds and begun to blow with a fury and a purpose. Rodney emerged from the bathroom after about 2 minutes and thought he had somehow stepped through a portal into another place in time. This was not the beach he was at 2 minutes earlier! At this point we decided to go have breakfast and let the massive storm roll in. We drove back to town and ate a nice meal as it rained a little but the huge storm that was about to hit seemed to just fizzle out. It seemed to us both that for some reason we had both been warned not to go out into the ocean that day. I don't know why but let's just say - message received!

About a half hour later
This week  has been rather memorable for me. While out watching the sunset I had a perfect moment in time.  Rodney and I were sitting on this little point watching the sun set and listening to the waves crash below us.  There were a few clouds in the sky and the horizon was turning pink, when all of the sudden a whale breached right up into the sunset, completely out of the water.  It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.  For a  moment I almost couldn't breathe.

It's easy to let myself get caught up in the day to day and forget why I came to Maui.  There are actually people who live here that never go to the beach or watch the sunset.  I don't want to become one of those people.  Every day off that I have I spend the morning at the beach and on the days I get off early enough to see a sunset, I watch it.  If I can't be in the water I sit at the beach and watch for whale spouts or turtle heads.  I no longer need TV as it's hard for me to stay focused on some show when there is a new language to learn, new birds to watch, new roads to explore, and a whole ocean to play in. To sit at home and watch TV and miss something truly majestic seems like such a waste of time to me now. My goal from now on is to not get so caught up in life that I forget to live. In truth I wish that for everyone. Aloha.....