Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas from Kaua'i

Originally uploaded by bonbayel.
The rooster is the harbinger of the sun, but here on Kaua'i they are reporting the sun rising back in California. They start crowing at about 3 am. This isn't a farming community we're in
(although right here was an attempt by a hapless German a century ago, who dreamed of making it rich in the copra industry. He just forgot to plan in the time it takes for the trees to grow big enough to produce coconuts!) but there are chickens all over the place. Evidently they were set loose by the mighty 'Iniki hurricane in 1992, and now wander freely all over the island - and certainly more than one rooster in the barnyard!. 'Iniki caused a lot of damage as well. There's a lot of literature about it, and I expect there are people who date things as before and after 'Iniki.

My daughter doesn't believe you can celebrate Christmas anywhere but in the North (Denmark or Maine.) She just moved back to Denmark after about 9 months in Brazil, and was amazed at the snow- and Santa decorations all over the place. We've seen a lot of beautiful floral decorations with poinsettias, lots of Santa hats, but little "snow." Christmas trees and beautiful wreathes are all over, although I expect they are the "permanent" variety. Otherwise there is a fantastic tree here on Kaua'i called "Cook's Pine" that would make a beautiful Christmas tree, although I haven't seen them decorated as such.

We had a Hawaiian flavored traditional Christmas dinner at Gaylord's - at the home of an old Sugar Grower - I started with an "Elvis Blue Hawaii" Mai Tai. The stuffing included mangos, which was very good! And the desert was evidently a Hawaiian tradition - a very custardy bread pudding with "English" (custard) sauce.

But we spent Christmas Day very actively. We went swimming at Lydgate State Park, where there is an area protected by a massive breakwater, since the surf is quite active and there are signs all over of the dangers of riptides, etc.
And after lunch we drove up the "King's Highway" from Wailu'a as far as we could go, and then hiked for about 1 1/2 hours on the red-muddy path on the Kuilau Ridge. (You should see our shoes!)

As for that sun (la in Hawai'ian) - it alternates between a nice warm sun and various forms of showers and storms, none of which last very long. We've been lucky that almost all rain has fallen while we were driving or back at the hotel at night. (We think this area is the source of the line in the Camelot song that it only rains at night!) But at sealevel the temperatures are from about 75 - 85. We got temperatures down to about 60 driving up the Waimea road to the top - where what rain we felt was actually being in a cloud!

If you click the rooster, you can go to my Flickr site to see what else we've seen this week, including a lot more birds. In case you're thinking of going to Kauai, you may enjoy the guidebook my cousin recommended: The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook: Kauai Revealed

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Snow in Maine

Hanne and Lu
Originally uploaded by bonbayel.
I've been in Maine again this past week, helping Mom after Dad died, and celebrating his life with many family members, including my daughter and sister, who lead me on a long walk in the snow today.

The snow kept us from going to Denmark, ME for a memorial service, but we had such great conversations about memories with those of us who were in Falmouth, and the ones who actually made it to Denmark - and one family that had to turn back because of the snow, and we're planning to remember Dad again this summer at a family reunion.

Dad loved the outdooors, the snow, sailing on Moose Pond in Denmark, ME, hiking and everything else outdoors and about Maine. Now he is free to enjoy all of it, and we remembered Dad on our walk in the snow!

A poem from Henry Van Dyke

Dad met Henry Van Dyke as a teenager hitchhiking to school, and has been very touched by his works. We sang Van Dyke's translation of Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee at his memorial service, and he asked me to read his The Other Wise Man to him just weeks before he died. I found this little poem as a Sierra Club Daily Ray of Hope.
Time is too slow for those who wait,
too swift for those who fear,
too long for those who grieve,
too short for those who rejoice,
but for those who love, time is eternity.
-- Henry Van Dyke

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Living with a HOA

Our patio from the gate
Originally uploaded by bonbayel.
We got a letter from our Home Owner's Association - or rather from Euclid Management, saying that if we didn't remove "debris" from our patio we would be fined because it lowered home values.

We went out and looked for debris, which according to the dictionary is broken construction waste, or other unusable waste lying around. We found a few leaves that had fallen since the last time I'd swept, which are very useful! Also a few empty flower pots in full view, broom and rake standing against the wall, and other similar items.

So today (the day the "debris lady" had announced her visit) I swept the leaves into the beds or placed them in the planters, moved the empty flower pots to further back, laid the broom and rake down behind a bush and trimmed a couple of bushes. I even swept the steps and bit of sidewalk outside our gate, so the gardeners wouldn't blow it back in!

But as we were enjoying our coffee in some December sun (waiting for the debris lady) the gardeners came by anyway - and swept the clean steps back into the courtyard - which made me furious after all my hard work. I went to talk with him and almost got asphyxiated from the fumes from the blower. What do we have to do to get them forbidden? Actually I had suggested that to the HOA, but they said it would be too expensive to have them rake and sweep. What really gets me is that they blow the leaves out from the beds where the bushes are, leaving the soil open to evaporation - here in our very dry climate. Then they come around with chemicals to fertilize the plants that would have done beautifully with the mulch they blow away! And of course they have to water more, because there is absolutely no humous in the soil or protective mulch cover!

BTW, the debris lady came by and said it looked good, so we're OK for a while longer. We've been so furious with this place - using chemicals and too much water and leaf blowers, etc. for our HOA fees - that I started looking for a green condo in our area. The closest I found is in Orange,, which looks promising - the company's first LEEDS building project. But when I asked whether we'd be allowed to dry our clothes on a line on the 3rd floor deck, I was told that was expressly forbidden by the HOA rules, and that would be impossible to change! I read somewhere that the reason people don't like clotheslines is that it makes it look like the people who live there can't afford a dryer, so that would lower property values! In my opinion, one of the things I've loved most about some of the places I've lived was the great clotheslines! (These were in Denmark, of course!) Clothes smell so fresh when they've been dried outside in the sun, and if the wind is blowing they almost iron themselves! A clothesline is a priviledge!