Thursday, April 27, 2006

Comparing Hazel to a Doorknob

Since our last encounter in the middle of the night over three weeks ago I have discovered that Hazel the Hairy Cane Spider has been living on my bathroom door. More specifically she seems to be hanging out on the Maui Marine Art Expo poster that covers the electrical fuse box, I hope, because the back of the door where I hang my towel to dry matches up perfectly with that poster.

The lady is a real poseur. I know she can see me with those eight eyes of hers that reflect the light and glow back at me. When caught she doesn't move a muscle and sits there with her eight hairy legs spread wide, daring me it seems to come closer. Not in the least bit camera shy, I took eight flash photos and she posed, a Model Spider.

I can imagine that she is competing with the geckos for the abundant food supply that exists in a house where yes, that pretty much is a barn door. I leave it open way too much. Only when my friend, the mosquito magnet visits do I think much about closing the door. I can also imagine Hazel making a meal of the tiny baby geckos when they are freshly hatched. One quick pounce and baby lizard is on the menu. Slurp.

Hazel is starting to creep me out just a bit. I can't dry off after a shower in peace and have to reach gingerly for the towel and then give it a vigorous shake just in case. It may be time for her to move on along. I'll have to find that old Big Gulp cup in the kitchen cabinet and a stiff piece of thin cardboard. Hazel has travel plans in her future.

I have a feeling she has molted and put on a new dress since are last photo shoot. Hazel is either an excellent poseur or she has grown substantially. When the Spider living in your bathroom is getting bigger it may be a sign that it is time to clean it. Before the company gets here in six days.

UPDATE: Sunday, April 30, 2006
Hazel must have sensed it was time. There has been a cleaning frenzy today with furniture moving and a kitchen and bath leaking faucet replacements. I found Hazel curled into a corner of the top of the sliding glass door frame that opens onto the front deck. She is lucky she didn't get sucked into the vacuum. I picked up the sharpened wooden stake that I keep outside by the door (similar in intent to the function of gargoyles on building facades) and she very reluctantly moved outside as I prodded her with the stake. She didn't go very far. I wonder if she has been using the cat door all along?

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Meditations On Trash

There is a stretch of highway leading into Kihei that I have helped pick up the trash on a couple of times. This work used to be done by convicts at least in American mythology and movies from earlier times. Now it is done by volunteers and sponsored by a business or civic group. We get to wear mega-bright orange T-shirts, no stripes though.

This approximately four mile stretch of road between major highway intersections seems to encapsulate a big chunk of Maui’s history and future. Kealia Pond, a National Wildlife Refuge, is the nesting and feeding grounds to several endangered Hawaiian birds. You can often see them wading in the marshy waters as you zip by at 55 mph.

Directly across the highway on the north side of the marsh is the oil burning plant for half of Maui Electric Company’s electricity generating capacity. This facility is about ten feet above sea level and three to four hundred yards from the ocean. They say it is not in a tsunami zone. Yea Right.

As you are headed north on this road there is an excellent view (sorry didn’t get a picture) of the new windmill towers being built on the top of the ridge line of the West Maui Mountains. Once online they are supposed to generate about 10% of our energy needs.

The sugarcane fields that still line a good portion of the road are beginning to give way to other farm crops. These fields are not for producing food though. These are test fields and seed fields for growing hybrid and some say GMO crops. That is a major weighty subject and I am not in the mood to look for all the facts at the moment. Suffice it to say these fields are there.

Why are these fields in Maui, because we are not in the middle of Kansas or Nebraska where millions of acres of agri-business crop’s pollen can interfere with the testing process.

There is also the unmistakable natural beauty that Mother Nature provided long before any human set foot on these shores.

Donning our ultra orange vestments and getting instructions on how to pick up trash.

Looking north at the West Maui Mountains. The new windmills are on the top left out of view because I am too close to the base of the mountain.

Looking south towards Haleakala. The electric plant smoke stacks can be seen between the first two telephone poles. Kealia Pond is the water to the left of the third smoke stack. The tall unmowed grass on the right is sugarcane. HC+S thanks you very much for your tax dollars.

One of the thousands of paper bags along the highway that are used to cover the hand pollinated seedheads of the test crops. The mowers do a good job of grinding them up and they should be biodegradable.

Looking out over the test fields.

The Erythrina Gall Wasp arrived about six months ago and is our plague du jour. It has turned the leaves of the Wili Wili into curled warty knots. I wonder what may arrive on the next plane or boat.

All Done. It feels really good to go pick up trash on the side of the road. Try it some time. I promise you won't look like a criminal.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Immaculate Housewives

When her body was found it was pretty obvious that this had been a suicide. Except for a slight flattening to the front of her hair, her hairdo and makeup were flawless. She looked like she had just come from the salon. The Chanel suit she wore was her favorite dark aqua marine with the very subtle sparkling silver threads woven into the fabric. The oven door was open with a small pillow inside. She was sprawled on the kitchen floor in a some what awkward position, face down with her limbs in disarray, which seemed to indicate there may have been some last minute thrashing about before the gas did its job. The house was closed tight, cleaned to perfection and nothing was out of place but Joan, a beautiful heap on the shining kitchen floor.

The cause of death was apparent but the police were still required to investigate unattended deaths. It took several days for them to piece together the forces that had pushed Joan into the oven.

Her elegant corpse had been discovered by Maid when she arrived for her regular weekly visit first thing Tuesday morning. Husband had been away on one of his frequent diving trips with Son and they hadn’t been able to get back to the house until late that afternoon. Joan had long since been removed from this domestic tableau. There wasn’t much of a scene to process or clean.

Husband descended into a state of deep shock on seeing his perfectly coiffed wife laid out in the county morgue. He seemed unable to manage more than the vaguest perfunctory responses to the police for several days and didn’t notice the slight alterations in his immaculately staged home. Every thing seemed the way it always did, just perfect.

The investigation encompassed Joan’s large circle of friends, mostly ladies from her cooking club. They gathered every week at a different member’s house to share their recipes and serve up a scrumptious luncheon. The police hoped that they may get some clues to Joan’s unfortunate end from the ladies group while they waited for Husband to stabilize. He appeared completely baffled, bewildered and lost, searching in his own way as to what may have gone so terribly wrong with Joan.

None of the women had much to say that seemed out of the ordinary, just the usual aches and pains of a certain age category, the regular gripes of a solid fifty year marriage to Husband and the kids of course. One of the detectives found it odd however that all the ladies seemed very eager to say that all was well, almost like they needed to prove it.

Gardener arrived the next day at his regular time and the detectives spoke with him as well. He too said there wasn’t anything unusual that he had seen or heard and just talked about the last conversation he had with Mrs. Tucker the previous week. They had their semi-annual fussing about the house plants conversation. There was always something wrong with the house plants it seemed, too wet or too dry, too tall or too small or another one about to die of neglect. This time it was the bugs again. Now she had ants in her plants.

This circular conversation which never had a satisfactory solution for Mrs. Tucker ended as it always did with a strong suggestion for fake house plants that didn’t need the care and attention she was unable to provide a living plant in an open construction house in a tropical bug filled environment.

Gardener and Husband had been through this for years and each knew his place in the dance. Husband silently moved the plants in and out as requested for water baths or sun or treatments for bugs. A plant cemetery of the half living was located on one side of the house. Gardener replaced the dead and dying when their time was up and a new victim was needed for a spot in the house.

The detective had heard this same story from Maid. Joan had complained to her too about the ants in her plants.

Joan’s Battle with The Bugs had been a source of tension for years. Like many housewives from the mainland who landed here, they held on to the notion that any bug was a bad bug and that they all must die. In the tropics this was a futile battle, but old ideas and old ways of doing things can be hard to change despite a new reality.

Gardener kept pointing out that she spent hundreds of dollars a year on regular pest control service with poor to no results and that it was insane to continue. He tried to explain that the regular non-discriminate preventative application of pesticides actually made her problem worse by throwing the natural system out of balance. In the absence of their predators the sucking bugs like scale, aphids, whitefly, and mealy bug multiplied astronomically. It didn’t take much for one of them to find its way inside to one of Joan’s house plants where they could multiply some more under a similar care regimen as the pictures on the wall.

Joan was not to be deterred and stuck to her have someone else kill them all philosophy. Husband and Gardener grumbled and complied.

Several days had passed since Joan’s gassing and Husband made his way to her desk for the address book and phone numbers to begin planning a service. To his astonishment he found she had written her own obituary and it was placed neatly inside her formal journal sized address book along with instructions he was to follow for her memorial. In bold capital letters one of his wife’s achievements in life was listed as President Emeritus Immaculate Housewives. The instructions made clear that no matter what anyone may say this title must stay in her obituary for the newspapers.

Husband had never heard a word of this group from Joan in all their years of marriage and was puzzled as to what this meant. In a private note to him she explained that she loved him and thanked him for the wonderful life they shared. The Immaculate Housewives had voted to rescind her President Emeritus status despite her near perfect scores and years of service because of repeated violations over the years for the bugs in her house plants. The ants in her plants were the final violation that had tied the group’s hands. She could not bear to live the rest of her life with this disgrace and shame to her reputation and would die before they had a chance to remove her title. Husband called the police. While he waited for their arrival in the living room he noticed for the first time that all the house plants had been replaced with lush artificial replicas.

The cooking club it turns out was a cover for the weekly rotating inspections of the member’s homes to see if they were up to the high cleaning standards of the Immaculate Housewives. When confronted the ladies admitted that Joan was about to be demoted for the infestation of ants that was found in one of her palm tree plants.

Joan was dead and her battle with a tropical climate filled with an endless supply of bugs had been her undoing.

The chastened and saddened ladies attended Joan’s memorial and though frightened by guilt they could not help but compliment Husband for how splendid she looked. The simple tiara he made for her with the strands of a diamond necklace and her favorite broach that went so well with the Chanel suit she had chosen was just stunning.

The broach was a large four inch long jewel encrusted dragonfly with gossamer wings fully open for flight. The wings rested on Joan’s forehead and the tail pointed skyward. Husband didn’t want to explain that the dragonfly had been found stuck into her forehead when she was unfolded from her awkward pose on the kitchen floor. It must have come loose from her suit jacket in the tumble from the oven and when her face hit the floor the sturdy pin of the broach pierced right through her skull.

When she had bought the broach and shown it to him he was a bit surprised. He told her that it was an insect and didn’t understand why she of all people would wear such a thing. Joan informed him that this was no insect. It was much like the Griffin, a mythological creature and her broach was a bird from ancient times. So be it. From then on Joan’s dragonfly broach was a mythological bird.

Husband however knew what it was and enjoyed the symbolism of his bug killing wife wearing one of the finest insect predators around. He had decided to leave the broach just where it was found. It was only appropriate he felt to send her off into the next world crowned Queen of the Bug Killers for her years of dedication to the war on bugs.

She always had such High Hopes for finally winning. She had high apple pie, no bugs in the sky, Hope.

Photo © Copyright 1999 Troy Bartlett.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Putting Things in Perspective

I have received some pictures from other cameras in our group from the hike into Haleakala Crater. This shot was taken looking across the valley between two of the many cinder cones in the floor of the crater. It says a lot to me about how tiny we human beings really are in the scheme of things.

I am the blue and white dot on the left.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Dames At Sea

As part of my living in a rut removal system when a friend said he was looking for help with his production of Dames At Sea I said I was interested in helping even if it meant I would be the Water Boy since being backstage would be a whole new experience for me.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I also gained a whole new respect for the craft of acting watching the actors memorize lines, dance steps, songs and the basic stage choreography or movement for each scene. I have been a bit jaded towards actors because of my distain for the Hollywood Fame Machine and my perception of its effect on the dumbing down of Americans. That is a topic unto itself.

Dames At Sea is doing a short 3 day run at the Kealani Resort Hotel in Wailea for Easter weekend. Rehearsals begin today. I will again be backstage, this time as stage manager (the prop guy). Wailea is known to attract some of the Hollywood crowd. The room rates are high enough to eliminate most of the riff raff. Who knows who we may see at the show for this run.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Building a Web Site

The infamous Carlyle Group bought our phone company and now we are HawaiianTel. After nearly a year they are setting up their own independent server. In this process I lost the Verizon hosted web site for my Tropical Landscape Plant Nursery.

HawaiianTel's new Blog/Web service is much less dummy user friendly. I am in the process of re-creating the web site for Kihei Plant Productions. The site is live and is changing by the hour. Stop in for a peek if you like by clicking on the underlined name of my nursery.

Monday, April 03, 2006

While I'm Sleeping

Once the lights go out, it is time for some members of my household to come out to work or play.

Hazel, The Hairy Cane Spider, can tell this dirty gardener could use a bit of help keeping things clean. Click on the image and you can see the red eye caused by the camera flash. I decided not to wash my hands and just went back to bed.