Saturday, October 31, 2009

Wait . . . What Day Is It?

The Maui County Government shut down the public celebration of Halloween last year saying that it was "culturally inappropriate."

But I was shocked to discover how deeply the impact of the ruling has been felt. I walked through a couple of middle-class residential neighborhoods this morning and could not find a single sign that today was Halloween. I searched diligently and was unable to discover ANY Halloween decorations: no jack-o-lanterns, no window cutouts of black cats or witch's hats, not a pumpkin or squash. NOTHING.

I couldn't believe it. Up until last year Halloween was one of the biggest events of the year on Maui, drawing 30,000 people to Front Street in Lahaina. Now, it does not exist. I wonder what the Grinch, oops I mean the Mayor, will cancel next? Will we be saying goodbye to Santa Claus next year?

Regarding the photograph above: flower circles are common for weddings on the beach as a place for the bride and groom to stand while saying their vows. Brides often choose memorable days to get married in the hope that their husband might remember their anniversary (yeah right, good luck on that one). I saw lots of weddings being held this morning, but in my mind Halloween has to rank right up there with April Fools Day as somehow setting the wrong tone for the future of the marriage. By the way, I still think Shaun of the Dead was a much better movie than Zombieland.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Cleaning Crew

It is always interesting, the things I see out swimming. I have never seen a beach umbrella in a kayak before, nor have I ever seen someone paddling one facing backwards. Life is full of little surprises.

Just like the water was full of little micro-organisms. Gobble, gobble little fishies. No matter how quickly they ate, these fish couldn't keep up. Keep at it, little guys; we want clear water for our weekly swim on Sunday.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sixty Plus

Lucky me! Two different pods totaling over sixty dolphins came and joined me for my swim this morning. They kept swimming circles around me until my teeth were chattering and my fingertips became numb with cold (translation: a long time). After they saw how much fun I was having, several people swam out from shore. Click HERE for lots more photos from today.

Click HERE or below for today's video.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Nothing more than a photo which I took this morning. I'm focused on work and don't seem to have anything profound to say today.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bigger Barracuda

I don't know why Barracudas make me nervous. Maybe because they like to show their teeth. And maybe because this guy today was almost as big as I am and didn't seem to be afraid of me.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


I feel like a true old-time Southerner. Languid, yes, that's the word to describe me today.

Our air conditioning went out with the temperature at a humid ninety and still, very still. Wait! Don't panic! I quietly slipped into the role of a true Southern gentleman wearing loose cotton clothes and moving slowly. Sipping a cool beverage and savoring every little breeze which brushed by. Not bad, really. In fact it was one of the most relaxing Sundays at home that I've had in a long time.

As long as we don't make a habit of it.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Try, Try Again

I no longer compete in athletic contests. So why the heck was I entered in an Xterra Trail Run this morning?

I told myself I was only going to walk the course and it would give me a chance to explore forbidden lands. Well, as a race walker, I would have been disqualified too many times to count; and since I was so busy huffing and panting, I never even noticed the off-limits territory through which I was trotting.

Why do I hate people my age? I finished in the top third overall and in the top half among all men, which isn't a horrible showing for someone who hasn't run a step in years. But I finished last in my age group. LAST! In any other age group I would have finished ahead of someone, but not in my age group. Nooooo.

Which leads to the embarrassing truth. I want to win, but don't stand a chance against my peers, so I don't even try. And that is why I no longer compete. Well, except for today. Oh, and that other race coming up next month. Oh, and then...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Look Out Fish, Here I Come

My buddy, Janet, descended from the mountainside to swim with me this morning. She's the kind of person who would say, "Oh look, a shark. I wonder what would happen if we pulled it's tail?"

Here she is squirting out of a tight tunnel under the coral which I refused to enter. She called me a prissy sissy and, although it made me cringe, I had to admit she was right.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What Price Paradise

Most Coconut Palm trees are still trimmed by people wearing telephone pole climbing spikes on their boots. All those holes punched in their trunks leave coconut palm trees vulnerable to disease, so more and more people are opting to pay up for less destructive climbing methods.

A couple of years ago it was impossible to find anyone who did spikeless, but we managed to find a guy named Alia who lived in the jungle in Haiku. He didn't simply live in the jungle, no, he lived as one with the jungle - no house for him.

He wasn't in the tree trimming business for the money, it was the coconuts which interested him - because that was the only thing he ate. Coconut water, coconut meat and coconut milk - these, he believed, were all that were needed to sustain life. He climbed the trees without equipment, just his bare hands and feet, slowly. That was his secret he told me, to go slowly. The problem for us was, it took him months to trim all the trees because once he had enough coconuts to eat, he would disappear into the jungle until he ran out of food.

Now, of course, almost every tree trimming company offers spikeless and we can get our trees trimmed in one day. After all at $25 per coconut palm tree using telephone pole spikes or $40 per tree spikeless the profit margin is too good to pass up.

Personally I don't understand why they charge more. Spikeless climbing gives the workers a much better workout - you'd think they would be paying us for giving them incredible abs.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


After agonizing for weeks and working day and night - eating, breathing, and sleeping with only one goal in mind -- My Book is Published!!

Out of thousands of photographs, only a precious few made the cut to appear in these pages. Click on the link and check it out. You don't have to sign up or do anything - but enjoy.

Passages to the Past
By Don Bloom

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Taste For Human Flesh

Egrets love to feast on disoriented lizards and insects found in freshly mown grass. Or maybe they just like their food chopped up. They were totally oblivious to the guy on the mower, but as I approached on foot they all took off flying. I don't know whether to take it personally or not.

Yes, we also have the standard red variety of Ladybug, but we seem to have even more of the black ones. The only problem is, Ouch, they seem to like to bite me. Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Other Options

No Way! Has it really been five weeks since my last swim with the Maui Pink Cap swimmers?

A High Surf Advisory was in effect for my return so, of course, the water was really too murky for a safe swim. The good news is that when there is high surf, there is high surf. So, after a quick swim out to see if there was clear water anywhere (there wasn't), we played in the waves. Fun, fun, fun.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Social Hour

If the wind is howling and giant waves are crashing then you won't find this Keawakapu group out in the water socializing. But on a warm, muggy, calm morning like today the group just kept growing and growing.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Warm Chilling

Chillin' with a Hawksbill today. Luck me, first day back in the water after a nasty cold and the ocean was warm, warm, warm. Mmmmm. OK, ready for a nap...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

She Sees, He Sees

She sees an exercise device.

I'm sorry but all I can see is a big slingshot, or perhaps an human catapult. Looks like it could be fun.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Wili Nili

They're still hanging in there . . . barely.

I stopped to visit the few remaining Wiliwili trees in my neighborhood this morning. When I first moved into Makena I was surrounded by wild brushland, which has since been bulldozed for expensive homes. Numerous native Wiliwili trees were easy to find because of their orange bark and scarcity of leaves.

Now they are under double threat. Three years ago the Gall Wasp came ashore from far off lands and crippled these unusual trees. Between two trees I only found three or four viable leaves but lots of evidence of Gall Wasps. The trees are still alive, but just barely. Once the few remaining home sites are sold and developed they will undoubtedly be chopped down like all the others. After all, they hardly fit in with the theme of palm trees and lush tropical verdure.

Oops, sorry for the downer post. I'm miserable with a post-trip cold and everything is doom and gloom to me right now. Give me a couple of days and I will find the bright side again. If I survive.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Aloha Tom

A friend of mine returned to Maui this week to scatter the ashes of her recently departed husband of forty years. Forty years! I can't even begin to imagine the depth of her loss and grief.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Good Eats

Whatever it was, it must have been awfully tasty. I see at least five different kinds of fish in this morning's photo and they were all chowing down. Hmmm. I think it is time for lunch.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Just Dropped In

This hang glider suddenly appeared overhead and dropped in to land on busy Wailea beach this morning. He quickly packed his chute and departed, while I had to stay behind and listen to a Four Seasons employee whine about how "they aren't supposed to do that!" Personally, I found his arrival entertaining as did most of the beach goers.

I've watched them launch from high up on Haleakala near the redwood forest, but have never seen one land at Wailea beach before. I've never tried it because I fear that I will like it so much that I will give up everything else and do nothing but hang gliding for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Every Which Way

This ball of fish brought back to mind driving in Italy last week. Yes, there were too many vehicles in too little space, and yes, they were going in every which direction - BUT they were all incredibly courteous. No one ever honked a horn at me and I was NEVER cut off, instead others would make room for my car no matter what. I admit I was on edge while driving, because as an American I'm used to huge margins of safety. Here in the U.S. there is always enough leeway so that I can drink a beverage, talk on my cell phone, and generally not pay attention while driving. Over there I had to be on constant alert, yet somehow I felt safer. Other drivers were civil (the root of the word Civilization) and I never felt threatened. Road rage? It did not seem to exist. Hopefully I will remember the experience and bring some kindness to my driving over here...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Maui No Ka Oi

We win! I was impressed the by huge numbers of fish I saw while swimming in the Mediterranean sea a week ago, but our fewer Maui fish are much prettier. It is great to be home.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Return Engagement

Eighteen hours down, six to go - Maui here we come

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Caught In The Act

Don't let DLNR see this photo of me swimming with a dolphin!

This was a floor mosaic we saw today in Ostia Antica which was created two thousand years ago. And, yes, I am that old (older actually).

Friday, October 2, 2009

In Hot Water

I was wrong! There is more than one perfect hill town in Italy, and today's was called Calcata. Just like Civita, the cliffs are crumbling and the buildings on the town's edge are tumbling into the abyss. Also like Civita, the only access is on foot so it is blissfully free of cars and scooters.

Back in the 1930's the government ordered it evacuated for safety reasons and in the 1960's the hippies moved in and claimed the vacant structures for their own. It has a Paia kind of feeling to it and you can buy hand crafts, beads and fragrant oils. Unfortunately we had a delicious lunch there. Unfortunately, because they had a "pay what you think it is worth" policy. I hate it when people do that.

We drove through a number of beautiful (but scary to drive through) hill towns on our way back to our hotel, and made a final stop at some ruins where many cars were parked. We were delighted to find a spring of hot sulpher water bubbling from the ground and flowing through small Roman aquaducts to bathing pools. We stripped to our skivvies and soaked away the tension of the drive. It was the pefect end to a perfect day.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Scooter Accessories

Here are four random shots taken while wandering our host town of Viterbo. Unlike our hill-top town of Civitas yesterday, just as I would get ready to take a photo, a car would inevitably come zooming down these narrow streets and I would have to dive to the side. Keeps it interesting. Click on each photo to see larger versions and more interesting details.

Doug was proud of the fact that his new car has seat warmers (he uses his when picking up a pizza), but over here even scooters have them (see photo below).