Thursday, October 26, 2017

Hana Rhymes with Sauna

While everyone speaks english in Maui, all the streets and towns have Hawaiian names. 

The Hawaiian language was not a written language until about 200 years ago when American missionaries arrived and soon formulated a written Hawaiian language based on the sounds they heard. And based on these sounds, the Hawaiian language only uses 12 letters of the alphabet:  the 5 vowels a,e,i,o,u and 7 consonants h,k,l,m,n,p,w. 

The rules are basic and consistent in the Hawaiian language, so if you take the time to sound out and think through each name, it should be fairly easy to come up with the correct pronunciation. And names like Haleakala, Paia, Waianapanapa and Kahului should sound just like they are written. 

However, as tourists, we usually screw this up and Haleakala ends up sounding like hell e-yeah kella (emphasis on 'hell') instead of holly awe caw law (emphasis on 'awe') I must admit I knew absolutely nothing about Hawaiian language, history or pronunciations before we landed, with the exception of the word aloha and the name Kihei, where we were staying. 

We rented a Jeep because we knew we would do the infamous Road to Hana. (And incidentally it rhymes with sauna, it's not Hannah as most tourists want to say.) Kore and Brandi had already done this drive, and the 6-hour carseat adventure is not really appealing for toddlers and newborns so we knew we would not have them as tour guides along the 65 mile road with over 600 curves and 54 bridges, most of which are single lane. 

Literally minutes before we left the condo I was flipping through a tourist brochure to ensure we had a printed map in case Google failed us, and I noticed an ad for the GyPSy Guide phone app.! This was the best discovery. 

Since returning home, just about everyone who has previously been to Hawaii has asked me, "What was your favourite part?" I didn't really have answer for them because we just generally had a great relaxing, warm sunny family time with some fabulous activities thrown in now and then. The sunsets were amazing. Our condo was perfectly located. And buying wine at Costco -that was a highlight as well. 

But I think I have an answer for the best thing about our trip. And is it sad to say that we went to Maui for 12 days and my favourite thing was a phone app? But truly I think it was. And there are GyPSy Guides for lots of locations, including Vancouver, which I will be downloading next time I go. I bought the 'full Maui' version. You download the app while you are on wifi and it uses GPS (that's where the word "GyPSy" comes from) to track where you are and guide you with tips and tricks. It's like having a tour guide in the vehicle with you. AND it doesn't use data once you get it loaded. However, it does use a fair bit of phone battery life, so I suggest you have it plugged into your car charger, especially if you will be also using the same phone for taking photos and videos. 

The narrator's voice was pleasant and while he doesn't talk incessantly, he gives lots of information and history of the area as well as points of interest that we most certainly would have had no idea about without his input. He gives you plenty of warning when you are going to take exits and gives clear instruction and points out the best parking areas. As an added bonus, you get to hear the accurate pronunciation of towns and streets. Paia is Paw ee awe, not Pie aye uh. And apparently there's a fabulous ice-cream shop there. We didn't stop. 

And the app is spiced with a bit of humour. 

At the beginning of the Road to Hana, he says, "We are just passing the Zero Mile Marker. You may not see it, as it often gets stolen."  

As we approached The Garden of Eden, the app told us about it and reminded us it was a paid entry site, and while it was beautiful and worth the price of admission, there was a free Arboretum just up the road. He really recommended we stop on the way up, as it would more than likely late in the day and we'd be tired on the way back and we would find it easy to talk ourselves out of stopping. And he was right. We somehow missed the turn on the way up and said, "We'll stop on the way back." On the way back, it was late in the day. We were tired. There was no arboretum for us that day. 

Another time he said, "We are coming up to a bridge on a sharp turn. You will likely see a lot of vehicles stopped there. But honestly, there's not really much to look at. Let's just keep going." Now that's the kind of information newbies need to hear. 

On the return trip, the app doesn't just go over the same points of interest, rather he goes through a lot of history of Hawaii while pointing out sights we didn't notice while going the other way. 

I really cannot recommend the app enough. Even if you are a seasoned Maui traveller and have done the Road to Hana many times, I am certain you will be amazed by what you learn - and much of the info will affect how you view the rest of the island as well - even the areas that aren't part of the guided tours.

People recommend you have a convertible for the drive. However, stats will tell you there is a 90% chance you will encounter rain somewhere along the Road to Hana. 

Our first stop was at the painted eucalyptus trees. No, they aren't painted, they grow like that. 

Without the GyPSy Guide we never would have taken the detour to Ke'anae 

This church build with lava was only building in Ke'anae to survive the 1948 tsunami. Many lives were lost.

There are many waterfalls along the way. The size of them can vary day-to-day depending on the rainfall. 

Jime took a dip at the black sand beach

These red cliffs and sea caves reminded me of St Martins in New Brunswick.

View from above the Seven Sacred Pools, which aren't really sacred at all. Get the GyPSy Guide and you can learn all about it. :) 

The blowhole at Waianapanapa Park

Friday, October 20, 2017

What the cluck?

We'd never been on a tropical vacation before. I've always secretly blamed this on my husband who has always preferred to drive wherever we go, doesn't love water and can't handle too hot of weather. But truth be told, while I knew we would enjoy such a vacation, I didn't feel like we were missing out - I also am not a water baby, and while I can't stand being cold, don't really like excessive heat neither. But I do love the ocean. I always have. And I was certainly willing to test out a tropical vacay to see what all the hype was about.

Brandi and Kore, on the other hand are travellers. They love to vacation and see the world. And three-year-old Beatrice has more stamps on her passport than I do. But with the whole zika virus issues, being pregnant kept them pretty grounded over the past year. And months before Daphne was even born, a trip to Maui evolved.

Travelling with a toddler is one thing. And travelling with a newborn is another. But travelling with one of each takes things to a whole 'nother level. I'm not really admitting anything in writing here, but there might have been a bit on conniving between my daughter and I to get a trip planned which Papa would agree to participate in, so I could "granny-nanny." And it took very little bribery to get Jim to come with - he, on the other hand, is a water baby who loves the sun.

And so it began...

As with all flights originating in Vancouver, we touched down in Kahului late in the evening and went straight to the condo in Kihei after we were greeted with a Hawaiian Lei and shuttled off to pick up our rental vehicles. Esther and Craig (fabulous PGers who are friends with B&K, and really everyone they meet) met us in our parking lot with a lovely care package to get us through to morning - wine and a charcuterie board of yumminess. So far so good. I'm loving Island life thus far.

It was late- nearly midnight our time when we arrived. Bea finally fell asleep literally as the landing gear hit the runway.  But both girls are travelling rockstars. They were certainly born into the right family. 

With the whole time zones change thing, and aided by early rising tropical birds, we were swimming in the ocean before 8am the next morning. Even Papa.  And by the time the afternoon Tradewinds picked up, B and I were headed off to Costco to stock the condo for our 12-day adventure. 

As I got out of the vehicle, a chicken hopped out of my way. Do chickens 'hop'? Or walk, or scurry, or whatever it is that chickens do, she got out of my way. What??! A chicken in the parking lot? In the middle of the city. I expressed my astonishment. Brandi's casual response was, "Yeah, there's chickens here." 

Feral chickens are a thing. I hear conflicting stories of where they originated, ranging from "they escaped during the 1985 hurricane" to "the Tahitians brought them centuries ago when they first inhabited the Islands."

I know a lot of people who go to Hawaii regularly. I have never once heard of there being "chickens there." But there are chickens there. Lots of friggin' chickens. EVERYWHERE: in parking lots, in bushes, along roadsides - even the road to Hana. And more familiar to me, they had them on a rotisserie inside Costco. We had one for dinner. 

But there are no sea gulls. None. Not a one anywhere. Odd. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Ugly Parts are Part of the Beauty

One of the seasonal options with Art Class with a Wine Glass

I love my job. I really do. I am an art facilitator. At least that is the title I have come up with for myself as the leader of watercolour wine and paint nights. Not many people can say they created their own job from their hobby, and even fewer can say they go to work, drink wine, party with 5-18 fun loving women (and men) and come home with a pocket full of cash. And all this while picking and choosing which days you do and do not work. I am blessed, this I know. And I am grateful.

Being that autumn is in full swing, this large leaf is a painting I have guided about 30 to 40 people through creating recently. And in every group there are at least one, two or more people who start to stress about the way their colours are blending. Or not blending, whatever the case.

I always start by saying, "If you are frustrated with your painting, have another glass of wine." That usually works. But there are always a few people who need a little more encouragement to let loose.

I maintain that when painting something, you need a bit of time and distance. Distance because you are not going to view your finished painting from 8 inches away, the way your are when you are working on it. And time, because what you are obsessing over in this moment, you are not even going to think about in 45 minutes when you are stressing over some other detail you are trying to work out.  And next week when your painting is sitting on your mantle you will walk by and exclaim, "Holy crap! I can't believe I painted that!"

With this particular painting, I need to remind them it is a dead and dying leaf, it's not actually a picture of perfection. I challenge them to go for a walk (not right then and there, but the next day) and really look at the fallen leaves. They really aren't beautiful symmetrical specimens without blemishes. Without fail, every fallen leaf in nature has spots of blemish and rot and areas that aren't actually all that pretty in and of themselves. But stand back and take in the whole view, and the overall beauty takes your breath away.

It's quite a metaphor for humanity, I think. Up close and on intense inspection, as individuals, we all have rotting dying spots and lines where our colours don't match up neatly and we all have a few jagged edges. But step back and view the masses together, as a community, where each individual leaf contributes an equal amount to the overall beauty.

The ugly parts aren't even seen when you take in bigger picture.

Every blemished individual leaf contributes equally to the overall beauty.  

And check out Art Class with a Wine Glass if you want to contribute equally to my financial wellbeing while simultaneously having a super fun time and amazing yourself with your artistic ability. 

All paintings are designed so that ANYONE with zero experience or confidence can successfully complete them. It doesn't matter if you "can't draw an effing stick man"  (I hear that at least once at most art parties) because I don't make you draw an effing stick man. As a matter of fact, I don't make you draw anything. But I will help you create something beautiful. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Sunday Morning Service

We live on a short, quiet street. 

I can see Costco from the end of the driveway and Superstore from the back deck. But because the street itself is only a few blocks long (except there are no cross streets to actually make 'blocks') and it doesn't lead to anywhere, traffic is light. It's a big event to see a police car, school bus or motorbike. And big trucks, like the one that dropped a roll off dumpster in our driveway 3 weeks ago, are practically unheard of. 

This is a stock photo. I didn't take photos of our actually dumpster so I don't have to admit to anything that might have  "accidentally" found its way into the bin. 

Renting a dumpster when doing a major renovation (or a major spring cleaning, for that matter) is the best idea ever. It's convenient and fairly reasonably priced. Of course you pay a 'tipping fee' dependent on the amount of waste you toss, but the bin itself was only $9.60 a day to have it sit in the driveway. Inexpensive, but 9 bucks is 9 bucks. So Saturday afternoon when it was nearly filled to the top and most of the major disposal had been accomplished, we figured we'd give the company a call and let them know we were finished with their dumpster. 

We've had a dumpster from them before, and we had this one dumped and returned after the first two days, so we know the company is prompt and efficient with their service. 

"It's getting late on a Saturday, so I will make a note, but it will be tomorrow before someone picks it up. We work seven days a week." 

Had we known that their work days starts at 7am, even on a Sunday, we would have waited until Monday to call. 

Beep. Beep. Beep. The diesel engine backs into our driveway that is literally 6 inches from our bedroom and not much further from the next door neighbour's window. How many times do you need to release a blast of air from whatever it is that blasts air sound like a rocket taking off before scraping ten tonnes of metal along a concrete driveway. 

Holy Crap! These are not familiar sounds in our neighbourhood. And certainly not at 7am on a Sunday. 

We saved $19.20 by not waiting until Monday to call for pick up. But it will likely cost 10 times that to buy a round of drinks and perhaps a plate of cookies or a loaf of fresh bread as peace offerings for all our neighbours. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

T minus 10 to Maui

Ten days. We are going to Maui in ten days. 

The condo has been booked for eight months; the flights bought for seven. I wouldn't allow myself to drag out the suitcase before the ten day mark. Although I did sneak my carry-on out of the closet last night and begin to fill it. 

I'm so excited to be vacationing with B&K and the girlies. At four months old, this will be Daphne's first flight. I believe I was also on Beatrice's first fight back in January 2015 when she was five months. (Which is kind of odd - I don't really fly that much.) Bea flew like a rock star and I anticipate Daffers will be no different - she is such a good good baby. 

Bea has flown a number of times in her young life, and she is a good traveller. Well, she is just an all-round good kid. I trust this flight will be no different. Seeing that it is a six hour flight after a six hour wait (for the Kamloops folk) in the Vancouver airport, Granny is going to be prepared to entertain the 3-year-old in the air. 

My carry-on will of course have my travel pillow and a fold up fuzzy blanket, assorted electronic cords and gum, but the rest of it will be stuffed with random small gifts for Beatrice to open as often as necessary to shock and amaze (and cause to recant the evil thoughts of) the travellers around us who are sure to think, as they buckle their seatbelts on their tropical vacation, "Oh shit. A toddler AND a newborn. This is NOT what I signed up for." We'll show 'em. Right girls? 

I sat on the floor with my pile of goodies to wrap: sticker books, Paw Patrol grab bag, a few hot wheels, three small Shimmer Shine dolls with hair to brush, a couple of mini play dough etc. Hold on! Mini play dough? "I wonder if this is a good idea?" I think to myself. "Ahh,they are only small. And I will watch her and play with it with her. We will leave no trace crumbs behind."  

As I continue wrapping, I get another red flag in my consciousness. Is play dough a gel? Could this be an issue at customs? I start imagining the scene that could unfold as my mini gifts are confiscated, holding up the line going through security. 

I think it best to ask Siri what I should do, "Siri, is play dough allowed in my carry-on on an international flight?" She responds with, "I found this on the web: Play dough can look like the putty in home made explosives and there is an ingredient in it that can set off an alarm in the bomb ingredient detector machine. While it is considered a legal and valid carry on item, it may cause a bit of a disruption and lead to a pat down and thorough inspection of your items. But when all is said and done, you should get through security just fine." 

Uh, yeah. Thanks Siri. I think I will just keep the play dough to hand out at halloween as originally intended. 


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Growing Pains

I've never read the book The Prayer of Jabez, which is based on 1 Chronicles 4:10.   
Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request. 
However, I have prayed the same prayer, perhaps with different motives, many times. Especially the "keep me from harm and free of pain" part. Call me wimp, but I really don't like harm and pain. 

I have also found myself this past winter praying the "enlarge my territory" part. Specifically the size of my house. For general day-to-day living Albert and I can survive quite well living the "tiny home" experience - as proved by our love of spending time in our one room cabin at the lake. 

Our real house is just over 1000 square feet. Not a tiny home, but by no means a mansion. Especially when you factor in that we have never had full use of the basement, which went from being unfinished to being 50% a suite which has been occupied for the majority of the time since being finished in 2008. 

And in the times the suite was empty, I felt like a stranger in someone else's home when I went down there, and we really never made use of the space. Mostly because I didn't want to expand into the space and then have to somehow find a new home for my crap if someone else moved in. 

I realized the time had come to expand my territory and reclaim my space this past winter when, with the suite occupied, my pregnant daughter, her over 6-foot husband, and their not-very-petite 2-year-old were crammed in a double bed in the second bedroom of our home, which also doubles as a playroom for the grandkidlets.  I knew the next time they would visit they would be a family of four and cramming wouldn't even be an option. 

The basement occupant gave notice in March, and within a week of him leaving I had someone practically beg me to let her daughter live here while she attended her final year of university this fall. There were also a couple of other inquiries from prospective tenants as well. 

As difficult as it was to kiss 750 dollars a month goodbye, I declined their requests saying I was moving in myself. And I have. Well, we have. And for the first time in twelve years of being in this house, my downstairs feels like home. Which is a good thing because the main living area upstairs is completely gutted in the midst of an extreme makeover. 

So I find myself living half upstairs and half downstairs with no actual increase in my territory. And come to think of it, neither am I free from pain, as I find myself doing about 30 flights of stairs each day. Growing pains I suppose, as God and Albert grant my requests once again. This too shall pass.  

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Paint Palette Panic!

I have made most of my major decisions concerning our current major renovations. I got my cupboards all selected, chosen the countertop, bought the flooring, got lights, ordered a new window.

I will need to get some new furniture as well but I'm not too worried about that right now. I don't want to store new furniture in my dusty renovation space, and besides, we will probably be sitting on tree stumps and using boxes for tables by the time I spend all my money travelling and getting new shoes.

But paint. I am going to need paint.

I have bits of creative thought rambling around in my brain but I know we are a ways away from painting so I haven't been feeling too stressed. I know I want to use Dulux Diamond paint. I'm not an expert by any means when it comes to painting and decorating. But I used this paint when I did the basement a few years ago - simply because I got a BOGO-free coupon in the mail. It was the best paint I have ever used, it rolled on nicely, covered amazingly and washes wonderfully. It was also $78 a gallon. Acceptable when it's buy one get one free.

I had a thought the other day that I should start periodically checking the Dulux website for sales. Which I promptly did. And low and behold if the BOGO sale didn't start that day.

What!!??! Crap.

Well, not crap that the sale is happening. But crap, it's happening now. Which means I have to make some decisions.

Bizarrely enough, this is the decision I am stressing the most about in the entire renovation. Which is so silly. It's only paint. And for $78 you can change your mind twice a year if you don't like it. The cupboards, flooring, lighting, appliances are all major purchases that I will live with for a long time - some of them probably the rest of my life.

I have quite literally lost many hours sleep this week and I completely change my palette vision every 12 hours or so. I am in a complete tizzy over somewhat temporary colour while I'm pretty chill with the things that are most permanent.

Sadly, such is life many times. We get all freaked out over little things in the here and now, and casually brush off the things that affect the more permanent big picture.

Hana Rhymes with Sauna

While everyone speaks english in Maui, all the streets and towns have Hawaiian names.  The Hawaiian language was not a written language un...