Archive for February, 2013

February 22, 2013

Trust me on this one, dear readers, it rains in Paradise. We’re not called the Garden Island for nothing.

I live just below the wettest spot on earth, Mount Kahili. I think I live in the wettest valley on earth. I’ve watched a big black cloud embrace the mountaintop and slink down the mountain, like a slithering slug, to come to a screeching halt directly  atop my roof and rains all over me. I’ve lived in a plantation ‘mansion’ on the Alexander Dam Road that was mostly buried in drippy fog, while at the bottom of the muddy drive Bill drove to work every morning, the sun was shining.

Well, it is the age of Aquarius, I was born to be drenched.

I hope many of you, reading this, tune in to the Garden Island news paper Forum-the most well read page in the paper-and become familiar with the voice of Kauai. Our little  struggling  newspaper  is the heart of Kauai. The Forum-our voices- are it’s soul.

I think newspapers have souls.

Anyway, it’s pouring on Kauai today. Flash floods, mud slides and collapsing old dams are the order of the day. Downpours so heavy windshield wipers can’t keep up and you can’t see through the window. Rain drops the size of raisins  are clouding our vision.

Well, there are fewer drownings, that’s a plus sign. Who goes to the beach when he/she can sit in a warm, comfy, unsmoked- filled bar, dive and restaurant complete with food and drink and gossip? Hey, on Kauai we feed on gossip. Who’s screwing who, who’s ripping who off, who’s headed for skid row? Or already there.

Otherwise it’s just a normal day in paradise. Greedy politicians are on the take. angry voices take to the airwaves, public television screens and the Forum. House bound, cabin fevered  Kauaians  vent their spleens. And, in the darker region, communists , atheist, protesters, rebels and conspirators abound.

We could be, without a doubt, the most contentious, diverse-racially, religiously, politically- island in America. In the world. Good thing Hawaii has good gun laws, otherwise we’d probably all be out there shooting at each other.

We don’t agree on anything.  No how. No way.

We need more highways. Not. We need more development. Never. We need more tourists. Yankee go home. We need more bucks. Always. We need to get the damn homeless off the beaches and out of the parks. Sooner rather than later. Wal Mart’s suffering. So many shops and stores closed down at Kukui Grove- our Ala Moana Center- you wonder how they pay their bills. J.C. Penny’s gone. Borders. What next?

We are micrcosmic America.

On the upside, there’s always an upside: we have an excellent community college.The best amateur theater. We love our artists and celebrities and they love us.

Mike Bond will visit Talk Story Book Story tomorrow night. I’m going to be there. Buy a signed book.  And I need another book like my valley needs more rain. My library needs a library.

But we have Hanapepe and Kimo’s blog and my column and Jeffrey Pears.

We are the richest island in the country.


February 15, 2013

Recently, in The Garden Island,  the headline, LUC convert one-third of  Grove Farm Lands into IAL, appeared in the business section.

LUC, the state Land Use Commission, approved the petition from Grove Farm converting a total of 11,048 acres to Important Agricultural Lands. That’s a big hunk of land, but many of us wonder what the trade-off was. More suburban sprawl? Obviously there’s a dollar factor involved here, we’re not a communist state, private ownership of land is allowed-and that’s a good thing. I own land. Lots of peasants own land, but Steve Case, who owns Grove Farm, is not a peasant. We can be sure he will be allowed to sell the other two-thirds.

Does this mean more suburban sprawl? More highways, roads, over crowding? Probably. I sincerely doubt Mr. Case plans on creating a vast estate in all the emptiness.

Mr.Case, Grove Farm executives, Kauai Planning Department, Mayor Carvalho, what if we think outside the box? What if we finally accept the fact the old ways don’t work? We need open space. We need food. We need clean air. And, because we all know Kauai is such a special place, why don’t we do something special with it? We can. It’ll be beautiful, profitable and enhance the scenic wonder of this fabulous island. Attract tourists. Praise. A win win win.

Imagine: a highrise -maybe several think  IlIkais- set at the foot of those magnificent cliffs. Designed to blend in. Small towns, under one roof. Penthouses for the rich, studios for the poor, one and two and three bedroom apartments for the middle and upper.

Theater, restaurants, bars, offices, a post office, a clinic, a school, shops, markets, stores, funeral parlors, churches- eeeek-all within walking or quietly elevatoring distance. Solar power or windmills on  the roof. Plenty water underground. Parking and garages and gas stations under ground. Surrounded by open land. One twisty/turning beautiful little two lane tree lined road winding its way through orange groves. fragrant veggie and flower stands, parks, golf courses, tennis courts, swimming pools, baseball, football, soccer fields, walk ways, bike ways, jogger ways.  Pastures. Goats, sheep cows, cattle, free roaming chicken, delightful clean smelling piggeries. Bridle paths. Horses. Dogs. A very worldly, human, planet wise habitat.

This isn’t a dream. A utopia. It’s happening elsewhere and it can certainly happen here.

We’re open to it. We deserve it.

Architects and visitors from all over the world would flock to see it. To be involved in designing it. Hey, we could give China a run for her money. Sun City, hah! How about Sun Town Kauai!!

Open your minds, guys. Use your imagination,  your bucks, you power.Sell it. Let’s see it. Have fun.  Work hard, play hard, enjoy, while making a lot of people happy . The island and the planet healthier. Build a road to profit that’s a pleasure instead of a pain.

For goodness sake Mr. Case don’t hand us another made in China ticky-tacky mess like the one you’ve planned for Koloa.

February 8, 2013

I love to laugh. I have a big laugh. It annoys some people. It is contagious to others.

I remember year ago, in a greasy spoon in Koloa, sitting with a happy group at a large table. It was a wet, happy feast. Chilled wine. Juicy hot  chicken bites to snack on. Crispy hunks of buttery french bread to crunch.

We were all laughing so hard-I’ve forgotten about what, me the loudest,-we caught the attention of a grumpy looking pair of blue-eyed pale  faces-obviously touristy types-who frowned and glared and finally called the waitress and sent her to our table complaining about the ‘racket’. Feeling in a very affluent mood, I sent a message back telling this pair I’d pay for their dinner if they’d skedaddle. They did.

When they huffed out, everyone at our table got up and applauded. We stood and laughed until the tears ran down. Everyone else in the place did, too. I left the waitress a healthy tip.

Bet they were from the south. Arkansas? Hope they left and never came back.

But I don’t want to discuss laughter in the sense of what makes us laugh. This will not be about our sense of humor, but the physical, mental, spiritual-if you like the word-benefits from the laughter process. I’ve learned that just going through the sound and body-laughter- movements causes an increase in pain resistance, a rise in endorphin levels, and, surprise surprise, also increases the power to undermine authority.

No wonder most religions frown on laughing in church.

It also seems your mind is not aware you are laughing for real or faking it. Like a physical activity-singing or dancing-good chemical changes take place in the body.

As an actress I learned to laugh with my whole body. It isn’t just a sound that comes out of your mouth, laughter is a physical activity. Your shoulders, your tummy, your head do their thing. Which means, if the damn dog has eaten your dinner while you were not looking, if you howl with laughter- and shake, shake, shake, señora, shake it all the time- you’ll feel better about it.

Beats kicking the dog and throwing a fit.  You can always fix a peanut butter sandwich and share it with the silly bulge-belly canine.

Last Monday, in our favorite Mexican dive in Lihue, my editor, Kimo, and I got in a laughing match that set the entire room off. Diners. Waiters. Cooks. Bartenders. Owner in a bright red blouse. No pale faces here. We were laughing so hard we were crying. Munching. Sipping. Drooling.  Dripping hoots of earth shaking laughter.

All because Kimo was giving me orders- the audacity- as my editor and publisher, about the length of my column that appears once a week-on Classic Wednesday in his blog

You talk about resisting authority.

Today doesn’t count.