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September 2011

August 2011

Even After 35 Years, I'm Still Discovering Maui

We moved to Maui when I was eight, just about to turn nine in December of 1975. My grandparents had lived in this house for only a few years before we did, then Jack moved in when he and Mom got married in 1982. I'm sure it's true of anyone that you might not know everything about the wider area where you grew up, small, old neighborhoods, former townsites, etc. But Maui is an island so it's a bit more contained.

Being home this week I have seen two neighborhoods I've never seen before. One I knew existed, but never knew anyone who lived or worked there so never had a reason to go. The other I didn't know still existed and had never been to. It sort of blows my Maui mind.

Tuesday we were doing errands in the industrial part of lower Wailuku, towards Waiehu, and we were talking about Happy Valley because a friend of Mom's brought her some food after Jack died. The food came from Takamiya Market in Happy Valley. (Here's a cool article about Takamiya on it's 60th anniversary.) I asked if we could drive through Happy Valley as I didn't think I'd ever been there. Or if I had, it was so long ago I don't remember it at all. (I love this video. I don't speak Japanese but the images show you how very local and awesome the place is. I'm now very hungry for some kalbi and, well, just about anything on those tables!)

So we did and it's a classic little place with old shop fronts and houses. I'm sorry I didn't take any photos as we were just driving through. Takamiya is the most famous thing there, go check it out next time you are on Maui.

The other spot I'd never been to was Puunene Village, or what's left of it. Yes I've driven by the Puunene Mill a million times on the way to Kihei/Makena/Wailea. I've flown over it a million times as well. When I was a student pilot, Puunene Mill was the easy landmark on your final approach to runway 2 at OGG. You needed to be at 800 feet by Puunene Mill. In fact, a few years ago we flew Mokulele Airlines from the Big Island to Maui in the small plane and as we got to Puunene Mill I looked at the altimeter and we were bang on 800 feet. It made me smile.

Where was I? Oh yeah, the village. Yesterday mom and I were doing more errands, dropping off old paint to the paint collection/recycle place as well as taking used books to the Dirty Bookstore. Okay don't get the wrong idea. There is a free used bookstore run by the Maui Friends of the Library. Both spots are in Puunene village. Mom was driving and I had no idea where we were going except that it was "near Zippy's" so I thought both spots must be in the newer industrial area of Kahului. But then we turned left at the mill and kept going past it. I was amazed to find us in the old village, smack dab next to the mill.

There aren't many buildings left, most are part of the old school, but on the way in is a church (Note the mill smoke stacks behind):


Then the main school building:


Classic building with the wooden louvers. I've never seen wooden window louvers anywhere but Hawaii. Lihikai Elementary had them too. According to wikipedia, the building is a registered historic site built in 1922 and is used as offices now.

The rear of the school building with other outbuildings:


A classroom building:

More outbuildings:


and the Bookstore, which is directly behind the main school building:


The nice thing is, the bookstore was really busy when we were there yesterday. It's really well stocked and organized. Great resource for Maui. (Oh and my mom's friend calls it the "Dirty Bookstore" only because it's RIGHT NEXT to the Mill and so everything gets extremely dusty, red-dirt dirty. If you live(d) here, you know exactly what I mean.)

There was one other building that looked like another church or maybe community hall or theater (?), now being used for Mill stuff:



There didn't seem to be any houses left but as we drove back past the Mill, there is this awesome building:

(I found this on Panoramio). "HC&SCo. Puunene Meat Market 1926" (HC&S stands for Hawaii Commercial and Sugar, fyi.)

I'm amazed at Mill Towns in general because places like the meat market and school are right next door to the mill itself. Not half a mile a way, but right there. The buildings behind the meat market above, that is the working mill. See map below: upper left is the mill with Meat Market, lower right is the school and village area.


And that sugar processing smell is quite distinct. Not bad really, (or I'm used to it from driving past Paia Mill for decades), kind of sour sweet. (I visited a friend in Northfield Minnesota and there is a Malt-O-Meal factory there and it smells like baking bread or at least a lovely cereal aroma, sometimes chocolaty.)

I'm still amazed at going to Puunene Village yesterday. I feel like it's a room in my house I never knew existed. Mom was surprised I'd never been there, but why would I have? in the 70's and 80's there was only the school, which had a very small student body by then, and any of the other buildings were probably just A&B (the company that owns the mill) company buildings. But I'm so happy to have seen it. I don't feel so funny about never spending time in Happy Valley. I grew up in Spreckelsville so our go-to place for local grinds was Paia or Makawao or Pukalani.

These Mill towns were really thriving places on Maui, way back when. Paia used to be jumping with many theaters and stores and shops and schools and banks. Even Spreckelsville was big at one time. Not as big as Paia or Puunene, but still a busy village. When I was in elementary school, there were still buildings along Spreckelsville road (this road becomes Stable road when you cross Hana Highway), a church and a couple houses and maybe a store or post office building. We even picked up a couple of students from there on the school bus one year. But now there is nothing but a few cement foundations.

I love that there is still so much to learn and see in my hometown.





Death and Life

On Sunday, August 21, my stepdad of almost 30 years, died. Jack was 87. His health had been getting worse and worse over the last few years and especially in the last six months. His wish was to be at home at the end with no extraordinary measures to prolong life and that's how it happened. He died peacefully with my Mom at his side.


Jack was a very practical and low key kind of guy so he didn't want a funeral or a service.

I'm glad I was able to be here in June to visit and to come again this week to help my mom. Yesterday was especially touching as we went to the mortuary for one last visit and saw him before he was cremated. He looked just like Jack, though with a few bruises from a recent fall. Mom tucked a small package in with him that included his winter fuzzy house slippers, some cat nip and a cat toy from Belle (their cat), some notes and photos and of course, a few Red Hot candies. If you knew Jack, you knew about his love for Red Hots. Mom said her last good-byes and I said a quick one - It's always hard to say good-bye. Then we watched as they placed him in the crematorium and closed the doors and started it up.I am so grateful to have been there to witness it.

So long Jack. Everyone will miss you. Spreckelsville and Baby Beach will not be the same without you.

Old Old Hawaii Memories

A friend of a friend is going to Honolulu and asked for some advice on where to go and what to do with her elderly and not very mobile mother. I suggested some classics like having Mai Tais at the Royal Hawaiian or going to The House WIthout A Key at the Halekulani (I've never been but hear amazing things). I also suggested the Arizona memorial (assuming they could get a wheelchair if necessary) and 'Iolani Palace. And lastly, a drive around the island with lunch on the North Shore.

I started thinking about Oahu from "small kid time" as we say in Hawaii. We moved to Maui just before I turned nine so Oahu holds some deep memories for me that are more like dreams sometimes. One North Shore destination I mentioned was Matsumomoto Shave Ice. I don't think I've ever been there myself, but have heard of it and seen it on various "what to do when in Hawaii" shows. The reason I mention it now is because when I found their website, the first image on the front page took my breath away:


That white bridge is a tiny kernel of a memory from weekends of camping when my parents were still married. I say "weekends" but we may have only gone once to Mokuleia with the giant green and yellow canvas tent and the camping bunk beds. Mokuleia was just past Haleiwa and we drove over that bridge. It seemed to take ALL DAY to get there in my three or four year old mind. Kurt and my mom and I drove around the island a few years ago and it seemed to hardly take any time at all. But that bridge sticks with me, reminds me of strange adventures at the beach -- fishermen catching a sea turtle and all of us rushing to see, polo ponies in corrals near the beach, dad firing up the campstove to make breakfast. The tent being wet in the rain. That bridge led to a far away place and to salty sweet hazy memories.

Another location nearer to where we lived when the parents were married was Hanauma Bay. It was right up/over the hill from our house on Kalalau Ave. We went there all the time and it is so beautiful that if I lived on Oahu, I would hope I would still go there often. I was the youngest of the siblings and neighborhood friends, so I don't know who took us there or dropped us off or came with us. All I remember is that we would walk the long (to a little kid) road down to the beach from the parking area and plant ourselves in front of the keyhole. See that round open spot in the coral in the middle of the picture? That's the "keyhole".


Here's a better shot of the Keyhole at what looks like very low tide:


When you were a bit older, you know, like seven or eight, you would walk around the left side of the bay to the Toilet Bowl.


There was a hole in the rocks and waves would come in from beneath, with action like a flushing toilet. The "bowl" was not deep. Check out this video:

There are disclaimers aplenty on this video, but basically the kids look like how we looked (though without parents around), enjoying jumping in and out, riding up and down with the flushing action. Those were the awesome carefree Free Range days!

I love going back to Oahu to see these places and stir up memories from deep storage in my memory banks. I look forward to taking Sweet Potato there and giving her some memories of her own.



Books - What I've Been Reading

In May I posted about the most current bookstack. Four of those five books have been read.

Homicidebook I became a huge fan of The Wire last summer when I finally watched all five seasons on DVD. I got Kurt hooked too and we couldn't get enough. "The Farmer In The Dell" will never be the same. (And I don't think we'll be able to sing it to Sweet Potato without someone saying "Omar comin'!!" at some point.) (Just watch the show if you have no idea what I'm talking about.) I was going to rent "Homicide" as well, but decided to go to the source and read David Simon's book from which both shows were inspired.

Reading about one group of homicide detectives in Baltimore in the late 80's is incredibly fascinating thanks to Simon's writing style. You become so invested in every interview, every crime scene visit, every phone call. There are cases that take days to solve and cases that take months and some that never will be solved. The access and detail that Mr. Simon was privy to is amazing and I couldn't recommend a book more highly. And just go watch The Wire.

ICE-T Ice T spent plenty of time on the streets in LA before his rap career really took off. I knew he was one of the original big time rappers but only really knew him through his work on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. (I never listened to rap, but loved me some hip-hop with Run-DMC.) I was curious and I was not disappointed.

You probably have a lot of assumptions about an Original Gangsta like Ice, but you'll be wrong. He was not an innocent but did you know he spent four years in the army? That he never drank or did drugs? He worked his ass off to create a name for himself in the rap world and was the first west coast rapper to really make it on the east coast. That is a big deal.

Ice will surprise and entertain you and might just open your eyes a bit.


TheLonelyPolygamistCover - Amazon The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall is a quirky novel about a man with four wives and something like 28 (can't recall exactly) children. It's odd and sweet and sad and wild. It took me a while to get rolling with it, but once I did, I enjoyed it.

The funny thing is that it is a period piece, taking place in the 70's in Nevada with flashes back to the atomic testing period of the late 50's and 60's. Little did I realize I would be diving right into that with my next book.






I saw Annie Jacobson on The Daily Show talking about her new book of non-fiction, Area 51. Being a fan of pop-culture and someone who "wants to believe" I thought I would check it out. I just finished it last night and was amazed at her final reveal about the Roswell Incident. No spoilers here, but if you are at all curious about that kind of thing, this is a fascinating read. It might get your conspiracy juices flowing because man, the secrets this country keeps!

The book focuses mainly on nuclear testing (mind blowing stories and information about the size of the bombs tested and how close people were to observe, some flying right through the mushroom clouds as part of the testing!) and spy planes.

Area 51 was the place were the development and testing of the U-2 and the A-12 Oxcart (sister aircraft to the SR-71 Blackbird) were handled. And later it was used to test drones and to study MiG fighters that had been captured.

So much about the place is still classified but through interviews and recently declassified documents, Ms. Jacobson tells an amazing story about a place in the Nevada desert that still doesn't officially exist.


Reading is fundemental!


Pregnancy: Exploding Bras

The unexpected adventures of pregnancy.

So yeah, as previously mentioned, one's boobs get larger when you are pregnant. This does not include how much bigger they might get after baby is born and the milk arrives. (Oy I'm going to be huge. I've had a big rack since I was about 12 so this is not as much fun as it might be for some friends who were not so well endowed and enjoyed the temporary curvaceousness.)

Sorry, where was I? Right...

Larger boobs = need new bras.

I had been hanging in with two bras that still fit okay. They were getting a bit snug, but I was hoping they would hang on until about October when I would start looking at nursing bras and nursing tank tops. Good bras of my size are not cheap and to buy bras for only a few months could get costly. But no such luck on waiting.

I was getting dressed the other day and hitching on the bra when I heard a loud and robust SNAP!. Couldn't figure out where it came from so took the bra off and discovered that I had not snapped a strap or elastic or something, but THE UNDERWIRE HAD BROKEN! Criminy.

I mail ordered some bras that same day and await their arrival, hoping against hope that my current bra stays strong at least for a few more weeks.

In other baby news, Sweet Potato has become a gymnast and rolls and tumbles around like a trooper!

Vintage 80's!

I was cleaning out drawers recently and found a bag of old pins. In high school, I used to wear them on a "previously owned" men's suit coat over jeans and a polo shirt. Good times! (I wouldn't wear them all at once, mind you, just whatever I felt that day.)

My sentimental favorite is the "fuck art, let's dance" pin because I believe I got it from my friend Jai. She was the coolest, most out there chick I ever met. I adored her. She introduced me to tons of music including Adam Ant. She had crazy music I never heard of including a neon pink record by a band called The Fabulous Poodles. The song of theirs that sticks out in my mind was "Tit Photographers Blues." You can listen to a sample here. (Caution, it starts playing automatically.)

I loved Jai.*


*Jai very tragically died in a house fire about eight years ago. I miss her very much.