Saturday, October 6, 2012

open air marketing

Mililani's Weekly Farmer's Market
One of the most pleasant things about living here is, unquestionably, the weather. Oahu's climate provides year-round benefits for its plantations, farms, and gardens.  It helps produce a delicious variety of fruits and vegetables, including sweet Kahuku corn, Waimanalo greens, and juicy mangoes and papayas.  There's even a pumpkin patch that opens mid-October.

Each open-air market offers something that the one visited before does not.  And, with so many around the island, not a day goes by that you cannot locate a farm-to-table opportunity.  

My favorite vendor at Mililani's Weekly POM
In 1973, the Honolulu Parks and Rec Department founded the People's Open Market (POM) system.  POMs are designed to support the islands' diverse agricultural products by providing them at low cost at statewide market sites and, at the same time, provide focal point areas for local residents to socialize.  With lower than retail prices, and many ethnic fruits and vegetables not found in the larger stores, more than one million people shop at the 25 market sites each year.  These POMs operate independently of the Farmer's Markets, and are run quite differently, too.  You may come early to browse, and even bag your selections, but no money may exchange hands until the official blows the horn, letting the shopping frenzy begin!  

One thing I know we've all heard about living in Hawaii is the high cost of living.  And, while it is not inexpensive to live here, we have found it to be in line with our cost of living in Rhode Island.  We spend far less on our weekly grocery bill, and still enjoy home cooked meals with fresh produce.  Four heads of garlic, three cucumbers, fresh bunches of herbs, cherry tomatoes ... these are just some of the examples of what your dollar, yes just a single dollar, will buy you.  

Loren, aka The Jam Guy, aka, Mr. Grey, aka YUM
As I get ready to prepare my shopping list for tomorrow's shopping experience at my local Farmer's Market, I would be remiss if I did not share with all of you Christian Grey fans Oahu's contender.  Loren, aka "The Jam Guy," is always the first stop Hannah and I make early Sunday mornings.  Can you blame us? I mean, his jam is delicious!  And his smile reminds me to slow things down and stay focused on my quest to live our island life in an 

Aloha State of Mind

Saturday, July 7, 2012

baseball makes me feel lonely ...

Located less than 18 miles outside of Honolulu, Mililani is the only town in Hawaii, to date, to have been named an All American City (1986). Once a plantation, Mililani is located in central Oahu, and is the third wealthiest area in the islands. It has an uncanny likeness to the typical American suburb, and was named by Money Magazine as a “best place” to live.  Personal land may be on the smaller size here, but the public open space is vast, and geared toward family.

Living here is a dream, of course.  Some may even say "paradise" ... and,  with bills to pay and children who bicker, it is, arguably so.  Miles of white sand beaches, turquoise waters, tree-lined parks, and near perfect weather make it hard to miss the oppressive 90 degree temperatures and, before they know it, 20's that come with the winter months, back in our corner of the mainland.  If I could just live in my little rock-in-the-middle-of-the-pacific bubble mindset, there's really not much I'd long for.  But, as we all know,  that just is not the way things work.

The kids' need for socialization forces me to be outgoing and friendly.  It makes me, well, care that I know so few here, and am quite alone.  I am never more aware of this fact then when I'm at the ball field.  Any of us who have kids who have played sports know how it goes ... teams get close, kids grow together, families begin to spend time together.  Here, on island, spending time together as families is taken to a whole other level.  A game that begins at 11:00 has a 9:45 arrival time.  Kids warm up, pop-up tents are erected, camping chairs are opened, as are coolers and snacks.  Game time is the typical two hours, ending in the kids lining up, slapping hands, and "good games" aplenty.  Then it's time for the team meal, where it's go big or go ... no, it's just go big.

After each game, team families take a turn in supplying the players, their siblings, and parents with a meal.  While, in theory, this could be hotdogs, chips, and a soda, I've yet to it see it be anything less than two tents with folding tables, coolers full of drinks, camping stoves warming everything from pasta sauce to shoyu chicken, plates, napkins, chop sticks, and food ... oh, the food!

More often than not, tables are full of homemade delicacies such as chili, stewed meats, pan sushi, barbecued chicken, salads, noodle dishes, rice, beans, cakes, brownies, cookies, jello squares ... honestly, I've never seen anything like it.  Now, I'm not complaining, mind you, and neither is my tummy, as it's all been just delicious, and the festivities often last into the early evening hours.

The team parents are quite nice, hovering on the border of friendly, even offering up their coolers full of beer.  However, it's painfully (for me) obvious that we are on the outside in more ways than just our haole skin color.  And it makes me miss belonging.  I know it takes time.  I know most transplants are here temporarily, either with the military, or because they just can't swing it, for what ever reason, and so I understand the hesitation I sense to really take the time to get to know us.  I also know that we are here for the long run.  This island is our home until it isn't.  Our life is here.  And, next weekend, it's my turn to cook for the team.  Perhaps, through their bellies, I can help them to share in our vision to live in an 

Aloha State of Mind

Sunday, May 6, 2012

I don't think we're in New England anymore ...

Do not park!  Falling coconuts :)
I was informed last week that it takes a good eight months to really settle in here on Hawaii, and accept the differences and lifestyle here vs. the mainland.  There are certainly some experiences we've had here on island that have made me thankful that I have this excuse, and gift of time, to rely on.  However, there are signs, some as literal as the one to the left, and some figurative, that are here to remind me each and every moment of each and every day that we are so fortunate to be living in our own Aloha State of Mind.

Coming from the East Coast, and Rhode Island specifically, we have not been as "sticker shocked" as my neighbors, who also chose to move here, but from Texas.  Apparently, everything really is bigger in Texas, except the grocery bills.  I emphasize the choice to move here as "are you military?" is the first question asked, always.  If it is not asked, it is assumed ... until you try to get on base or shop in the commissary, I'm sure.  Yes, that really does say $10.99 for a block of Velveeta cheese ... good thing I'm watching my caloric intake these days!

Just another rainbow
en route to Walmart
One thing I've yet to tire of seeing are rainbows. Their brilliant splashes of color across the clear blue sky, puffy white clouds, the Waianae Mountains, or even on a drive to Walmart, has me pulling out my camera to snap a picture.  The rainbows here are frequent and impressive.  The full range of colors, some stretching miles, some vertical, some wide, some narrow, double rainbows, and those that last just a split second, making you question if you really even saw one at all. Each one pulls me back into the moment, as if to say "don't sweat the small stuff, you live in paradise!"

The H3 through the Ko'olau mountain range

Living on Hawaii provides us with a never-ending supply of take-your-breath-away views. Our challenge?  To remember to take in these breathes of natural beauty, and remember why, through some of the challenges we've faced, that we did indeed make the choice to travel over 5,000 miles from our home state to this little volcanic island in the middle of the Pacific. And, although our children still argue, bills still need to be paid, and the house still needs to be cleaned, we did it all on a quest to live a simpler life, and an

Aloha State of Mind

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

In the Air

On the ground ... 
(April 11, 2012) It’s 12:04 am Wednesday morning, according to my internal clock, and the clock on my lap top.  Vegas time?  9:04 pm Tuesday.  And in Hawaii?  6:04 pm, sun yet to set.   

From up here, 30,000 feet above the earth, with my two youngest dozing in the seats next to me, all time seems to serve is to remind me of the void and disconnect there is between what I’ve left behind on the ground below, and what awaits me when I land.

My beautiful preteen daughter on my left, and my sweet and kind little guy on my right, who still feels left behind as ‘one of the boys’, yet with the girls. I look at them, their lives so little yet lived, and so much yet to experience, and I ask myself, am I doing the right thing?

Looking back, this decision to move from coast to coast, and then another six hours by flight in to the middle of the pacific, came together remarkably fast.  A job offer in November, another in December, and yet another in March ... and here we are, less than 12 hours away from our new lives in Hawaii.  Life has been so busy, the decision still seems so surreal.  I mean, who moves to Hawaii anyhow?!

Leaving this morning, with all of my furniture sold, 25 totes packed and shipped, and 10 bags in tow, we cried tears of extreme sadness in leaving the life, and people, we know behind.  Now, a four hour car ride, 6 hour plane ride, and a 2 hour layover,  here I am, on our final jet plane.  Except I don't need to know when I'll be back again.  All I need to know is that my family of five will, once again, be together, connected, and in the same time zone.  

That's all for now, my blog ohana.  And mahalo for sharing this journey with me as we strive to live in an
Aloha State of Mind

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Last Tuesday

Columnist Dave Barry once wrote about a child's sense of how time works, citing that his 2-year-old believed that everything that has ever happened occurred "yesterday". Capitalizing on this phenomenon, rather than arguing that it was too cold to go swimming in January, tell them they can do it on "Tuesday", Barry suggests.  They'll be satisfied, he says, because they have a definite answer, even though it actually has no meaning.  Ironically, airport information monitors are based on the same principle, lucky me.

My two youngest are old enough to understand the passing of time and, while we do leave in fact on a Tuesday, at 12 and eight-years-old, we decided on the countdown method to mark our remaining days here in Rhode Island. There it is, as plain as the piece of paper hanging on my refrigerator, our last Tuesday has been crossed out.

Life on Oahu has been a bit of a paradise for Nick and Jake.  Living like bachelors in an Aloha State of Mind, they've enjoyed exploring the city night life, play tennis just about every day, and have experienced new foods such as poke, and these little dried fish and crabs that are, apparently, eaten like candy.

Life here in Rhode Island has been a bit less paradise-like.  With the burst of beautiful weather, my mother-in-law and I did more yard work in two days then I did all last summer.  Every day is another day to pack a tote, lug it to the post office, listen to the workers complain about how heavy/many/long it will take to ship.  Then there's all the stuff.  With a four-bedroom, 2,200 square foot home with a basement, we have a lot of stuff.  Our days have been spent lugging "body bags" of donations to the drop off center, and dozens of bags of trash to the curb, feeling single-handedly responsible for the overfilling of our landfills.

No matter how much we do, there always seems to be more.  It does make planning our days easier.  As we wait to cross out our last Wednesday here in RI, you'll find me home, packing suitcases, emptying cupboards, and cleaning out closets.  There's an open invitation to any one of you to join us ...

we still have the liquor cabinet that needs to be cleaned out ...

Friday, March 23, 2012

5 - 2 = sad

So, this little pensive face is Andrew's, my youngest. However, it is his older brother I miss each morning as the bus stops at our house to bring him to school. Apparently, no one has notified the school bus company that he is no longer in RI.  

Being the ones "left behind" is not easy, not that I expected it would be. While Nick and Jake certainly have their responsibilities in Hawaii, they have begun to enjoy "our" new life, minus three.  Our new town and home are all we google-map hoped it would be, and more.  Lush, vibrant, local, and with perfect weather.  While our HI living space is half the size of our RI living space, it is clean, bright, new and modern.  

There have been some hiccups along the way.  Our car arrived safely in California, however the boat refused to take it over without payment (we were told payment would be made once on Oahu).  And, it's estimated arrival is over a week later than what was quoted.  Jake's medical records were not recorded correctly in RI and, therefore, made it a bit stressful to get him registered at his new school in HI.  And, Nick watched first-hand as the baggage handlers in LAX threw his bags full of our iMac and electronics over two feet onto the conveyer belt ... that's what $110 of luggage fees buys you, apparently.  

Now to get over the hiccups here in Rhode Island that are keeping our equation of sadness in check.  Our house is still on the market, with a price drop of almost thirty-thousand dollars.  We planned to rent it for April 1, but an early April Fool's joke as our tenants backed out at the last minute.  Like the cat who came back, Gizmo, our Chihuahua, got an extended stay at chateau Dazzeo - which worked out well as his new placement is perfect. 

As of now, we have no date set to zero out the balance, instead we continue to live vicariously, and with a bit of envy, through the boys as they experience their 
Aloha State of Mind

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Happy Tails, Until We Meet Again

One of the most difficult decisions we've made to date is re-housing our four-legged family members.  Gizmo, our Chihuahua, was the first to find his new home.  While I loved the little pooper, I know how happy he is to be the only dog, with no kids, and completely spoiled!  Scampers, our daughter's Guinea Pig (probably the cutest 'pig' ever) is going to a fantastic new home with a best friend.  Mya, hands down the best cat ever, is vacationing in Florida with the kid's grandmother until they fly out together later this year.  Henry, the Leopard Gecko, is still looking for a home.  His only request?  Crickets, please!

And then there is Max, our almost 10-year-old Golden Retriever.  There was no shortage of interested adopting families.  In the end, we decided to place him with a high school friend in Maine, with two children of her own, and a little pug named Ruby, who needed a little guidance from an older man, such as Max is. That's the motley crew pictured above, Max somehow letting our littlest know that everything would be okay.  

There's no doubt that we miss him. And, even more than missing him because he's our dog and we love him, I really find that I miss his actual presence.  I still expect him to come to the door with a toy in his mouth to greet me.  I wonder if we've left him outside when he doesn't bark at a knock at the door ... or a person walking by, or a car in the driveway, or when the kids close their bedroom doors a bit too hard.  I've asked more than once if he's been fed, and called for him to come clean up any food that has fallen to the floor. Just the other day, after writing the blog post about shipping our car, I stepped down off the breakfast bar stool, and stepped over the dog, who is now no longer there.

It has been, no question, the saddest part about leaving the mainland.  If I thought for a second the pets would be happy about being drugged out and under the plane as cargo for a 16-hour trip, and risk a three-month quarantine once on the island, I would spend the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of dollars to get them there for their own Aloha State of Mind. However, as that is not in the plans ... anyone want a snake?