Wednesday, December 31, 2008


More gloom this morning, but I enjoyed my walk in the warm light rain. I was not alone and, as always, I saw few umbrellas or raincoats. Hawaiian rain, especially on the leeward side, can be savored. As can the changeable weather. The sun is now shining hotly in a clear blue sky with only a few fluffy white clouds wandering around. I wonder what tomorrow with bring?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Swimming in the Rain

I stood shivering on the beach while being pelted by blowing rain asking myself, "Do I swim? Or do I go home, dry off, and maybe get warm?"

I, of course, chose to swim. And, except for one moment when this boat nearly ran me over, I was really glad I did. I got to watch two Manta Rays aggressively feeding on the surface, or maybe they were enjoying a big drink of fresh rainwater.

Monday, December 29, 2008


The Maui police sealed off Makena this morning for six hours, allowing no one in or out, including pedestrians.

I took advantage of the complete absence of traffic by walking south along our only road. We live near the edge of civilization, and two miles farther along, the road becomes one lane with cars usually speeding by in both directions. Despite the beauty of our winding coastal road, I don't generally feel safe enough to follow it south on my morning walks.

I was reminded that all of those fancy mansions have only a tenuous connection to modern life. They get their water by stringing pvc pipes along the side of the road which they hook into the end of the Maui water line.

Oh, and the road closure is standard practice when there is a traffic fatality on Maui.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Return to the Water

Yes, kayaking has been tremendous fun - but - it felt sooooo good to get back into the ocean for a swim this morning. Even with the cold-water transformation to a swim, swim, swim mentality. I'm really missing the lazy, floating around days of summer. On the other hand, I loved being able to hear the whales singing every time I dove quietly underwater.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Who Knew?

Wow, kayaking is great fun! I never imagined I would like it so much. This afternoon I paddled through howling trade winds with waves breaking over me, and I loved it!

My favorite part was the return trip. After aggressively working my way into the wind for an hour, I stopped and let myself be pushed back home. Then the trades died and the sun burst through the clouds as I paddled the final few hundred yards to shore. I just hope I didn't miss anything good on TV.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Another strange sight on Maui.

The first time I drove by I thought I was seeing things. Something caught my eye along the side of the highway as I zipped past, but I wasn't sure what it was. I had forgotten about this mystery until my next trip down the Piilani Highway when an unexpected flash of color attracted my attention. But by then it was too late to see what it was.

It wasn't until my next trip that I remembered to pay attention. One out of the thousands of scrub brush Kiawe trees along the highway had been decorated with ornaments and surrounded by fancily wrapped boxes. Somebody was having my kind of fun.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Is This the Mask You Wanted?

Here I am practicing my stand-up paddling. Oh, that's not me? (you can tell it's not me because she's actually standing, if it were me you would see an empty board, my head bobbing in the ocean and the paddle floating away out of reach)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008



I swam with a couple of friends from the mainland this morning. We came to a sheltered area which had not yet been disturbed by wind or waves. Only one inch of the surface water was COLD while everything underneath that little layer was relatively warm. So my nose and chin were warm while my forehead was cold. Each stroke I took brought a handful of cold water to my tummy which was immediately replaced with warmer water. Cold, hot, cold, hot, cold, hot... Totally bizarre.

Monday, December 22, 2008

You Spoke, I Listened

One of this blog's loyal readers, Leilani, got on my case about my lack of safety measures on my solo deep water swims. And rightly so.

So, I bought a teeny tiny little kayak to drag along behind me when I swim. I haven't swum with it yet, but I'm LOVING going out paddling in it.

This evening after an all-day photo shoot, I carried it down to the beach and paddled for a half hour into the wind. Then I just stopped. I was transported to idyllic days of my youth spend at my grandparents' rustic wooden cabin on a small lake in Michigan. Sitting out on the water, feeling waves lapping against the boat, hearing faded traces of music and conversation floating out from shore. All the noise and frenetic energy of the day was gone, replaced by an evening calm.

The wind blew me most of the way back home where I took a short refreshing swim as the sun was setting behind the island of Kahoolawe. How could life possibly be any better?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Serious Business

The water was cold and the current was ripping. We flew through the water and arrived at the turn around point almost before we started. We knew it would be a challenge to get back to where we started, so we wasted no time playing or having fun. After all, it was the shortest day of the year and every moment of daylight was precious. We could always have fun next Sunday when there would be sunlight to burn.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Brain Dead

My buddy, Scott, set a new personal best yesterday by holding his breath for a full four minutes. It wasn't many years ago that someone would be considered dead if they hadn't breathed for three minutes, now divers do it for ten minutes and more. My personal best? About fifteen seconds!

A group of about sixteen spinner dolphins warily swam under us today. The water was so cloudy that I was only able to see shapes but no details. Scott showed off his bubble ring blowing skills. He fired off four consecutive rings, three of which held together all the way to the surface. In this photo Alex is about to swim through the final of the four rings.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Temporary Insanity

Hoo boy, the insanity has begun.

When I got to the beach this morning I saw a cluster of boats and kayaks. Among the boats from time to time was a whale spout or a whale back. "They really aren't all that far out there," I told myself as I waded into the ocean. So out I swam. And swam. And swam.

The kayakers told me, when I finally arrived, that whales were in the immediate vicinity. I waited and did see a blow about fifty yards away. Then nothing. Of course. The boats were gone by the time I got there and the kayakers soon grew bored and took off. So I waited.

A current must have grabbed me because I noticed the swells were getting bigger, much bigger, and land was getting farther and farther away. I heard another whale blow, and looked up to see a humpback whale riding down the wave above me heading in my direction. My reaction? I grabbed my camera and looked underwater.

Whales are amazingly well camouflaged and completely disappear in murky water, and I saw nothing underwater. I waited, bobbing on the surface, for another sign. Suddenly a whale breached clear of the water less than twenty yards away. WOW! WOW! I grabbed my camera but all I got was the side of a big wave.

"Enough," I told myself. "How could it get any better than this?" So I began the long, long swim back to shore. One of the whales did the courtesy of escorting me back in. Each time I would stop to rest, a whale would surface behind me less than fifty yards away. How thoughtful.

There were a couple of moments when I wasn't sure I would be able to make it, when the current seemed to be pulling me away too fast. But I kept going. What other choice did I have? And so the insanity begins...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Make Me Sweat

Hoo boy! Lilikoi is so sour that simply cutting these fruit open just now made me break into a sweat. I have friends who eat it directly from the fruit, but for me, it has to be mixed with lots and lots of sugar. Lemonade is usually made from: one cup of juice, one cup of sugar and eight cups of water. For me, a cup of lilikoi juice needs to be mixed with four cups of sugar. The lilikoi in our yard are all coming ripe now, so I better go out and buy a Costco bag of sugar.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Spinning Around

Yipeeee! Lots of very playful spinner dolphins swam with me this morning for over an hour. The water was relatively clear and I think I got some great photos, not to mention some OK video. Click HERE or below to see the Video. Enjoy!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Too Much

"Get off! You're hurting me!" is what my bathroom scale has screamed at me the past few mornings.

I purchased my first-ever scale a year ago and finally came face to face with the brutal truth. No longer could I blame buttons flying off my pants on weak thread and inferior workmanship. My watch band springing from my wrist because of a bad clasp. No, I had to admit it: I was fat!

I came up with three rules which helped me lose enough to be comfortable in my own clothes once again. But I became complacent. And in the past few weeks the jiggling has returned. So, as of today the rules are in effect:
1) Moderation in Everything
2) Absolutely NO food or beverage (except water) in the final two hours before going to bed
3) No sugar or starch after 2 p.m.

Hopefully my scale and I will once again be friends. I only hope that the whales don't reject me out of jealousy of my returning thinness.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dartmouth College All Wet

It was cloudy and rainy again this morning and the Maui Pink Cap Swimmers were reluctant to go for our usual Sunday ocean swim. Unfortunately (or actually, fortunately) we felt pressured to brave the waves by the presence of Swimmers and Divers from Dartmouth College who had driven down in six vans to join us.

The swimmers took off like a swarm of locusts. I could always easily locate them by the sound of a hundred splashing arms. Bringing up the rear by a safe margin were members of the diving team: fearless souls whose specialty is getting into and out of the water. Staying in the water was another matter altogether. Four of them (see photo on left) finally caught up to us near the turn around point, and wanted to know where to get out to join the rest of the team. They were shocked and dismayed to discover they had to swim back the entire distance they had just covered. It didn't seem to occur to them that when you are bobbing around in the middle of the ocean, there isn't any way to get out.

On our return the wind subsided, the waves flattened out and the sun shone to warm us up. A perfect day for an ocean swim.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Come Swim With Me

Blue skies returned (of course) after a solid day of gloom, and various creatures joined me for an ocean swim this morning.

Ok too much play, time to get back to work.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Winter Weather

This isn't the mainland U.S., but it sure felt like it today. South Maui seldom gets rain, but today the skies were overcast and rain fell from morning till night.

It was GREAT! I even spent time standing on the rocks overlooking the ocean with an upturned face - really feeling the weather (easy to do when it's seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit).

Last night I dreamed of snow. Just now I checked a web cam for the Big Island of Hawaii fifty miles to the south. Lo and behold, lots of fresh snow on Mauna Loa. Maybe we'll be lucky and get some here on Maui tonight.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

No Rules

Until recently personal thrillcraft were banned from Maui waters during whale season. After all if a charter boat were to hit a whale there would be witnesses and the captain would be at risk of losing his license and his way to make a living. If a jetski or ski boat hits and injures a whale, who would know and what real risk is there to the driver?

Even though it makes no sense (this is Maui after all) the ban was lifted and we now see boats speeding back and forth, over and through the whales. Ah, Paradise.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

If Wishing Made It So

Now that whale season is here, I will be swimming in deeper water; which means there won't be much for me to photograph. All the cool stuff hangs out near the reef, the bigger guys hang out in the depths, but they aren't seen often.

With luck, Santa will take pity on me this year and get me a kayak. This silverback (our name for scuba divers) was hauling a kayak behind him this morning. Now that I'm way out there, a kayak would be a great safety measure.

By the way, I could hear lots of whale singing this morning and some of them sounded close. Keep your fingers crossed that I have some interesting underwater encounters soon.

Monday, December 8, 2008

My Kind of Fun

I spent much of today photographing another special residence. And the remainder of the day in front of the computer making sure the images convey what my eyes saw. Work, work, work, work, work. But I'm enjoying myself and that's what really counts.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Rude Behavior

Say it isn't so! The teasing has already begun.

The Maui Pink Cap Swimmers dove into wonderfully clear, calm waters this morning for our weekly ocean swim. Yes, it was definitely chilly and the main group swam down and back without much hesitation. Because the Humpback Whales are known to have returned to Maui, us slower swimmers kept to deeper water in hopes of an encounter.

We were vigilant but didn't see anything but turtles and fish. Not a glimpse of anything bigger. Upon return to shore the faster swimmers told us that they watched a group of whales swim right past us.

I swear that several times last year I was approached and followed by whales, and they intentionally kept just out of my sight. I don't know how many times I was told from people on shore that I had been surrounded by whales which I never saw. And now, the whales are only recently returned, and they are already teasing me. I may develop a complex.

Friday, December 5, 2008


This is my favorite time of year on Maui. Not just because the Humpback Whales have returned. But because I can put my thumbs in my ears and wiggle my fingers, stick my tongue out, and say "Nyaaa-nyaaa" to my family back in the Midwest where it isn't supposed to get above freezing for the next few days (at least - if not forever).

No, that is not me surfing; just someone I saw during my morning walk taking advantage of the medium south swell.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


My friends, the sea turtles, tell me that if you have an itch which needs scratching, nothing beats a nice rough mooring line. Mmmmmm.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Maui Fun

Why would anybody want to live anywhere else?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Upside Down Land

There was no one on the beach this morning. Understandable since the wind was howling, whipping the ocean into cascading walls of froth. But I had come to swim, so into the water I went.

I hate getting in on rainy days like today, and the swim was a struggle as I swallowed lots of salt water and kept getting pushed off course. But it was worth it. I emerged invigorated and ready to take on the day.

Now, several hours later, the sky is hazy clear and the water is flat and calm. The exact opposite of a normal South Maui day. I haven't seen any whales the past couple of days, but I hear reports of increased sightings every day. Maybe tomorrow...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Pool Kicks

My favorite swimming pool on Maui is at the Grand Wailea Resort. It is 2000 feet long and curves back and forth from a highest point - 40 feet up - down to sea level. Thanks to their water elevator, it is possible to keep on swimming non-stop.

Today was the first time I've ever seen it empty. This photo shows an interesting section where the sandy bottom meets the rest of the pool. They use a special sand which doesn't move around much, so it doesn't get into the pool filters and pumps.

The swimmers also love this pool and have been kicked out of it many times.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ray Day

My friends the Maui Pink Cap Swimmers gathered for our weekly ocean swim this morning. The water was clear, but cool, and the swimmers took off with no looking back. I, as usual, brought up the rear and got to swim with a Spotted Eagle Ray and a Manta Ray along with a few of the more playful swimmers. There is a definite benefit to being slow since I often see things nobody else notices.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Remember This Date

Wow, just like clockwork! I've swum here on Maui with spinner dolphins on November 29th in 2006, 2007 and 2008. I've marked my calendar for next year. Click HERE (or Below) for today's Video.

Friday, November 28, 2008

They're Back

We saw several humpback whales this morning out in the deep water. We didn't get close enough to get any decent photos, but we saw backs, tails and blows. I've been hearing reports of whale activity all week, and could hear them singing underwater a couple of days ago, but this was the first time I've seen them for myself.

All this thanks to Doug who decided he wanted to kayak to Molokini. This was the first time I've been in a kayak since spring and Molokini was definitely an island too far. It was a fun ride out, but the return trip was pure agony. Oh, my aching back.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Joelle and Kevin, thank you so much for opening your home to us for Thanksgiving dinner. We had a great time. Joelle (pictured here), you always bring a wonderful element of class to any situation. We are proud to be counted among your friends.


The weirdest thing. While swimming recently in Makena I noticed a strong sulphur smell in a certain area. Today in that same area I noticed this place on the ocean floor where the sand had obviously been bubbling up from below. Has the Haleakala volcano become active once again?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Out of the Closet

No time for play today. I was photographing a seven bedroom oceanfront home with a master walk-in closet half the size of my house. Yes, this closet could easily contain my bedroom and living room.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Look Out Bruce!

Despite chilly air and chilly water I went for an ocean swim this morning. Bruce was out and about, but so were spear fishers looking for both food and sport. Fortunately they decided that Bruce was too big to handle.

A Lapse In Time

Last week I watched a stunningly beautiful movie on Blu-Ray called Baraka which had many time-lapse scenes. I've never attempted time-lapse photography, so yesterday I decided to try it out. So here's yesterday's sunset in Makena (click HERE or below for the Video).

Monday, November 24, 2008

It Can't Be

How could this have happened? It is 85 degrees Fahrenheit, the sun is shining, the ocean water is warm and clear - today is the perfect summer day! So why are Christmas decorations up at the local shopping center?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Band of Fools

Another gray day greeted a small, but determined, band of Maui Pink Cap Swimmers this morning. The light sprinkling of rain somehow made the ocean seem colder and getting in wasn't easy. One of our new swimmers ran into a coral head while swimming through the Arch. We could all hear the collision (click HERE or below for the Video) and were glad that she only scraped her back and didn't crack her head. Then another first-timer ran into a jellyfish and everyone scrambled for the shore. Well, not the idiots, of course. I kept on swimming. As did Lynne, David, Jonathan and Cheryl.

No other major incidents were reported and the sun actually broke through the clouds on our return. Blue skies are back!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Inspiring Towels

Neighboring islands and the horizon disappeared this morning. Smoke from the burning of sugar cane fields and volcanic haze from the Big Island were to blame. Man and nature working in harmony to make it difficult to breathe.

So I couldn't understand why this pleine air painter was on the beach with no view to work from. It turns out she was doing some very abstract work. Perhaps she was finding inspiration from some colorful beach towels.