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Watercolor class

January 21st, 2013

Mangoes, June 2006

I’m not sure exactly what possessed me to take a watercolor class. I’m not an artist – I don’t draw – but I’d been curious about the medium and fascinated by amazing art I’d been seeing around me on Maui. In particular, the work of Connie J. Adams. How could watercolor look so detailed, controlled, and specific? At the same time, I thought maybe I could be vague and abstract enough with it that it wouldn’t matter that I couldn’t draw. I was fascinated and needed to fill some creative need in me, and when I saw that Connie was teaching a beginners class at the local college, I signed up.

There was so much to learn, and so many techniques covered in those six weeks, yet Connie was able to break down the info and present it in a way that wasn’t too overwhelming or confusing. I don’t really ‘get’ how to ‘do’ art, and I tend to need a structured assignment more than time and freedom to play, but I had fun putting color to paper and experiencing water as a variable in the whole process. Connie would show us examples from her own work, or that of other artists, to see how different techniques could be incorporated, and while it seemed a long way from my practice sheet to that masterful art, it was inspiring to see how it starts.

These are two little paintings I created in that class. I still can’t draw, and they’re not worth showing off other than to demonstrate that even for a non-artist like me, Connie could coax out something recognizable and allowed me to feel like I wasn’t a total loser. I took this class in June 2006, and was pleased in the next few years to get to know Connie even better when we served together on the Art Maui board of directors, and when she asked me to make updates to her web site.

Sadly and suddenly, we lost Connie this month. I attended a celebration of her life yesterday, whose standing room only attendance and joyful stories reminded me that I had known someone truly special. I brought home two strong thoughts about my own life – that I hope people to say nice things about me when I’m gone, and that I need live life more – see more, play more, get out and create more. I know that not everyone can be an artist and leave behind that kind of body of work, but I’d like to believe I will leave behind something worthwhile.

9 year Mauiversary

October 17th, 2012
Mai Tai 10/17/2012

Mai Tai 10/17/2012


Nine years ago today I took a one-way trip to Maui. It’s certainly been an adventure, and that day seems so long ago now. Once in a while, I will turn to my boyfriend and say, “We live on freakin’ Maui, baby!” It still seems incredible when I think about it.

Not every day includes a Mai Tai and sunset walk on the beach, but it’s always a possibility. Going to the store means a scenic drive alongside the best beaches in the world, or a view of mountains and palm trees toward more beaches on another side of the island. When it rains, it’s glorious! And when it doesn’t, it’s another fine day for a drive in the convertible.

Life moves at a different pace here, with no freeways, no sense of urgency, and an easy-going lifestyle. While I never have missed the season changes everyone on the mainland is experiencing, I’m sometimes caught by surprise to find it’s winter there, or that we’ve come upon a holiday. It’s all just summer to me – my favorite time of year, all year long.

And it’s been an amazing feeling to become part of a community. To go from knowing no one to running into people I now know whenever I’m out and about – it’s not something I ever felt on the mainland. Here it has been easy to get involved with groups and organizations that are interesting to me, to volunteer, participate, and meet fun, creative, and kind people. I feel like I belong here.

Today I celebrate making a major life change that has been everything I could have hoped it would be.

Deteriorating shoes

September 18th, 2012
Shoes in a box

Shoes in a box


Of all the challenges I expected to face, one I had not anticipated was that my shoes would fall apart by simply sitting in the closet. On no less than three occasions, I’ve gone out in public and had a sandal heel fall off, strap come unglued, and wedge heel crumble on shoes I’ve bought and hardly worn during the past five years. The first was the wedge heel, and as chunks of it fell off,  I wondered if my cats had somehow gotten to it. But when the other two pairs of shoes failed, and I started noticing the leather on the insides of my shoes flaking off and sticking to my feet, I realized that my shoes were actually deteriorating in my closet.

I had heard that people who live on the North Shore have issues with mold from the ocean spray, and that it’s not uncommon to find your shoes turn green if kept in a closed closet. In Kihei it’s dry – maybe too dry. Or perhaps a combination of the proximity to the salt water and dry desert-like air are sucking the life out of my shoes.

A friend suggested plastic shoe boxes, so I’ve just received a dozen of them from Amazon. I hope it’s not too late to save my favorites!

Where do you vacation when you live on Maui?

September 4th, 2012
Honolulu from the air

Honolulu from the air


I’ve been asked this numerous times. When I lived in Seattle, I only ever wanted to go to Maui. Well, that’s not true – I wanted to go to many places, but when it came down to it I always chose Maui. Not going there would be like going to a great restaurant that you only go to on very special occasions and not ordering your favorite dish. Once I decided to move to Maui, I told myself that finally I’d get to visit all of those other places on my list.

Ironically, now that I live here, the only place I’ve been outside of the state is back to Seattle (and one trip each to Tucson and San Francisco for conferences). The first few years after moving to Maui, I made annual visits back to Seattle to see family and friends, with a large suitcase for bringing back shopping purchases. That first trip off-island was the hardest, though. I remember having anxiety about leaving for fear I wouldn’t make it back. I’d waited so long and gone to such lengths to get here, I was afraid it would be stripped away somehow if I left. Fortunately, I always made it back, to the only place that I was ever happy to return to and call “home.”

The longer I’ve lived here, the less I’ve felt the need to make an annual trek back. I’m happy with an occasional day trip to Honolulu. It has now been three years since my last visit to the Northwest, and it’s feeling like it’s time to go again. A week always feels like it’s too long, with two cats and work waiting at home, but with a day of travel on either end, a six day trip becomes four, so I’m preparing for a quick four days. I create a daily calendar and set up time in advance with everyone I want to see, where I want to eat, and which stores and events to cover. It becomes a jam-packed, non-stop, whirlwind visit until the plane ride home. But it always feels good to catch up with friends, family, and colleagues, and to re-experience freeways, businesses that stay open late, buildings higher than 3 stories, and my old favorite restaurants.

I’ve asked around, and some people like to spend their vacations skiing on the mainland in winter; others travel the world. Many simply go back to where they moved from and where their families live. It’s so much further to Europe, but I hope to get back there again – maybe for the next vacation. In the meantime, stay-cations on Maui, day trips to Honolulu, and quick visits to Seattle have kept me content.

Autumn melancholy

August 25th, 2012

I’m starting to get those retail catalogs and emails about autumn colors and cool-weather products now available – all the deep jewel and earth tones, a sign that summer is nearly over. I got one today, and my stomach went “thump.” It’s an old pattern from living in Seattle, where summers are too short. The first brown leaf falling off a tree, the first crisp morning that comes along in September, and my brain would yell, “Noooooooooooo, not yet!” That impending sense of doom, that soon there would be no sun; the march toward those dark winter days when I’d leave for work in the dark and come home at dark, and if I didn’t get out at lunch, I’d never see daylight. Even after living on Maui for almost 9 years, I still get that feeling when I think of autumn. For a few moments this morning, I felt that sense of dread before remembering it’s not like that here.

It took living here for a good 6 months before I relaxed and realized I didn’t have to spend every possible moment outside on a clear day because the sun would actually shine again tomorrow. Here it’s ok to go to a movie when it’s sunny outside – it’s not a waste of the sun! And in Kihei, on those few days when it’s gray and rains, I run outside and dance around in the cool drops. How wonderful to feel love and not hate for the rain!

If it weren’t for those emails and retail sales, most of the time I wouldn’t know what month it was. It’s really easy to forget holidays and seasons here when the weather varies so little during the year. So I won’t turn my thoughts to winter coats and boots and earth tones. It’s always summer here!