Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Living with lizards in the rainforest

We've lived with lizards before.
Years ago when we were staying in the houses once occupied by the workers in Chichen Itza in the Yucatan, we expected lizards on the walls and ceilings during meals – even at the fancy places.
We didn't freak when they turned up in the shower.
Basically it was a waste of time to fret about them.
So when we moved into the Bamboo Valley Inn in Haiku for a week in Maui, we weren't overly concerned or surprised to find the slightly creepy creatures running about on the patio and climbing through the dense plants just outside the door.
(We did check the insides of our shoes in the morning after they'd been outside all night. No shoes inside the Inn, y'know.)
We figured it came with living in the middle of a rain forest as did the warmth, the breezes, the gentle misty rains and the lush, green foliage inches from our door.
I only screamed a little when I discovered an inky black baby lizard on the wall above the bathroom mirror.
I told Marc to get him out of there. I didn't want him dropping on me while I was brushing my teeth.
He tried but the tiny guy leaped and disappeared into the air.
I figured he was somewhere preparing to crawl across my toes.
But again, what is there to do?
I checked all around, under mats and inside the trash can and then tried to mentally blot him out.
When we went to bed, I changed the sheets and made sure no Thing was in there.

I was mostly OK until the last night when we were on the couch watching the news.
On the fireplace below the screen, up popped a pretty good-sized grey lizard looking right at us.
Neither of us moved and the lizard proceeded to walk across the wall and drop back behind it.
Now I knew they could be everywhere, in tiny and in bigger spaces.
I realized the doors and windows were mere inconveniences in these little creatures' way.
I had to acknowledge we were co-existing with nature.
But, hey, when you can't do anything about it and they were here first, you just go with it, huh?

Friday, June 15, 2018

Give a turtle his space...

Getting the gang together again
When we were in Maui, Marc and I heard about some turtles hanging out on the beaches.
I absolutely wanted to see them, thinking they would be a herd of average-size turtles who were congregated on rocks in the sun.
We found some at the Ho-Okipa beach on the north side of Paia.
Turns out they ARE the rocks in the sun.
They're huge and they just come laboriously nudging out of the ocean onto the sand whenever, using their flippers to propel their bulk.
Then they sleep in a pile until they decide to lumber back out into the water.
I found them fascinating.
We stood and watched them for about an hour.
These guys are one of the seven kinds of turtles who home in Hawaii. They are green sea turtles or Honu and only live on the beaches and reefs in Australia, the Galapagos and Hawaii.
They can live up to 80 years and reach a speed of 20 miles an hour coming at you if you get in the way of them and their air!
They generally weigh between 500-700 lbs. and have shells up to five feet long.
They like it quiet so if you go to where they are and see them napping in the tropical sun, hush! We watched the clueless people, adults and their kids, ignore the signs that asked that the turtles be given their space.
A minimum of 15 feet from a turtle is advised and no touching, petting or riding allowed.
(I hear they can snap your hand off if you get too close. I didn't test that theory.)
Mostly we in the crowd were minding the rules, staying fairly quiet, taking pictures with our phones without flash and standing on the proper side of the line.
And when a particular bunch of rowdy folks crossed the line, heading in to see the turtles up close, brave people spoke up.
"Hey, can't you guys read?" asked one guy. "Geez. What are you thinking!"
I'm not sure they were.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The road to Haiku...

Because we had been well warned, we didn't have very much trouble with the legendary Road to Hana on Maui when we were there last week.
We planned ahead. We bought cold drinks with bubbles. We ate a good, light breakfast. We started off early so as to avoid the crowds who would be coming with us on the narrow, winding road purported to have over 600 twists and turns, narrow bridges and endless scenic delights.
Our intrepid rental car was full of gas if not gusto so off we went.
We stopped for this and that, trying to head off any carsickness, stepped right into a dreadful mud puddle that sucked our shoes in and tossed Marc into a violent bush.
We visited the Garden of Eden with strolling peacocks, checked out off the colorful flowers and ancient trees.
Eventually we arrived at the Hana Coi Maui where we were staying the night.
The next morning, we headed back, visiting caves and beaches and lava tubes that amaze.
It was great and we only had to stop once: at the way stop for feral cats. (Apparently there are between 11,000 and 20,000 charming feral cats living in the rest stop park. The cats aren't friendly or pretty. They're skinny, hostile and everywhere!)
The real test for us everyday in regular Maui was the road to Haiku to the Bamboo Valley Inn where we were lodged for most of the trip.
It was dark when we arrived and we had this little list of instructions. "Head north to W. Kaulia road, go until you see the flag pole and mailboxes. Turn right! Follow the road to the inn. Aloha!"
We drove along. There were numerous chickens scuttling out of our way. Then suddenly, a flag pole appeared and mailboxes.
Marc turned into a road that was a little more than a dirt trail. It was bumpy and full of holes, dirt-packed with jungle on both sides.
There were junked, decaying cars all along the way until the end where there's a sign explaining that the neighbors were going through an "unfortunate" time and with some help would be cleaning things up.
At the bottom, after the car had groaned and complained most of the way down, there was the Inn, simple and sweet.
Marc went around the side to park under the carport.
That's when I heard this horrendous smashing, grinding sound as he hit the side mirror into a concrete pole.
(It looked like metal mayhem with wiring hanging out and missing portions. The car was disabled. It wouldn't go, shift into another gear or turn off.)
Long story short. The damage was really only minor. Once we called a tow truck and suffered for a while, trying to guess what this would cost, Marc went back to the scene and found the back side of the mirror. He popped it back on and "Voila!" the car came on and we were good.
(At the rental return, when the check-in girl asked if there was any damage. We were able to say, "uh, no...just a little problem with the light.)
We consider ourselves lucky and now that we're home, we can truthfully say, "We survived the Road to Haiku!"

Friday, June 1, 2018

Jumping the line...

The kids about to graduate from Lehi High School were firmly told: if they weren't in line and in place by 9:30 a.m., they wouldn't be allowed to walk.
Samantha and her parent and sisters were sitting in traffic at 9:20.
And the cars weren't moving.
She could see the event center but she couldn't get there.
"Hurry," said her mother. "Get out of the car and run!"
They did, Samantha in her cap and gown and heels with her mom alongside her.
They made it to the fence which is about six feet high.
"Hurry," her mom instructed. "We're going to have to climb it."
So, standing on her mother's shoulders, Samantha went over the fence, ripping the sleeve of her robe as she went.
"It's OK," yelled her mother. "I'll fix it when I catch up with you!"
And she did. With her handy, dandy sewing kit from her purse. Lauree mended the tear.
The adventure had a happy ending.
Samantha got into line and marched with her class, graduating in style with the class of 2018.
She looked beautiful and relaxed and you couldn't even tell it had been a stressful home stretch there.
Here's to making memories!
(I'm so glad I only had to hear about it after it turned out OK!)

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Catching a flight...

I decided I wanted to go on a pricey helicopter ride over Maui.
We're going to be on the island for a second time when we go to attend Marc's son Seth's wedding and we've done the snorkeling thing, the biking thing and the luau thing. I wanted something new and exciting.
The helicopter flight seemed just the ticket.
You get to see the waterfalls and the beaches from way up in the sky.
It appealed to Marc too so I booked us two seats.
Then the crewmaster called us to make sure we understood what was involved.
First of all, there's a weight limit so the helicopter stays balanced and in the air.
Combined we could not be over a specific number of pounds. If we were over that, we would have to buy a third seat which is another $250 or not go at all.
Marc's weight put us over.
I turned to tell him the bad news.
He looked alarmed and a little angry.
"I'll just lose 20 pounds!" he said. "I can do it."
That was three weeks ago and as of today, he's lost 25 lbs. by taking sweets off his list of edible foods and curbing his portions. (We leave in three days.)
He counts every calorie he consumes and leans heavily (no pun intended) toward fruits and vegetables.
It's been impressive.
His chin re-emerged. A spring returned to his step. His clothes fit better. He can move around and tie his shoes without huffing and puffing.
He's hungry but he's happy with himself. He's almost as surprised as I am.
And now, he can officially fly over Maui with me.

Friday, May 25, 2018

These nice people...

My six-year-old granddaughter thinks the world is full of fine people.
She doesn't worry about anyone having a nefarious plan for her.
She's blissfully confident that when she is in need, somebody nice will step up and help her.
And while that's good. (I want her to feel safe in her world.) It's a little worrisome.
I was talking to her the other day about what her options could be if I forget to pick her up from gymnastics class or am delayed enough that she thinks I'm not coming for her.
"Now, I will always do by best to get here before you have to worry," I told her. "But you've seen the traffic and it might be that one day I'll be late. You need to have a plan."
This beautiful little blond-haired, blue-eyed child thought it over.
"I could walk home!" she suddenly declared. "I know which way to go!"
She pointed out the window to the road. "I go on that road and then go that way!"
"It's kind of a long walk," I told her. (She lives in upper Lehi near the Bull River Road and gymnastics class is in south Lehi.)
"I could do it," she insisted. "I'm strong."
I told her it was farther than she thinks because the distance is shorter in a car than when a kid is walking.
I also pointed out that she would have to go on the freeway where there are a lot of fast cars which make it very dangerous for a kid to walk there.
Again, she thought it over.
"I know!" she suddenly blurted out. "I could ask somebody nice to give me a ride!"
I looked at her, this precious small person who had no idea what kind of chance she would be taking.
I told her mother about Mia's plan.
She gulped.
"Guess it's time to have the stranger-danger talk, huh!" she said.
And that's too bad.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Tell me a secret, I'll only tell a few folks...

My husband will tell you, I'm no good at keeping a secret.
I always give gifts the moment I buy them because I can't wait. Usually I manage to wrap a present but inevitably there's comes along a good reason to give it to the lucky person now!
I usually give away the punchline to any joke I'm trying to tell.
I can't handle the suspense.
Couple that with Marc's tendency to be very snoopy and keeping something hush-hush is nigh on to impossible.
I've never been able to surprise Marc with anything.
Some Christmas mornings, I end up throwing him his presents because he's already figured out what he's getting.
Even now, I'm writing this as I prepare to pick him up for a surprise party his co-workers at Xactware are throwing him for his retirement.
I figure by the time I get him there and return, I can hit send and there'll be no harm.
I've known now for a couple of weeks and it's been tough for me.
I had to remember to delete emails he might see and text messages.
I couldn't share with him random thoughts I was having about the day and time.
I had to invent a little story about my grandson's preschool graduation so I would be able to persuade Marc to be at the right place at the right time and day. I felt bad about fibbing to him.
(Any of you who know Marc understand how hard it is to get him to be anywhere on time and especially if he doesn't understand the reason.)
I think this one might surprise him.
The people putting it together have been stellar.
He told me yesterday nobody at work had mentioned a good-bye lunch or anything.
I just sat there not saying anything.
It will all be over in a couple of hours and then I can relax.
Life can go back to normal with one alteration.
I'm not agreeing to keep any more secrets, ever.