Tuesday, May 30, 2006

One for the Road

Once a month I drive to the other side, the wet side of the island to tend a garden. As I near my destination, a house perched an a ridge looking over the Pacific Ocean the road gets a little narrow, a little twisting and a little scary.

The valleys carved into the north shore of the island by time, wind and rain must be crossed to reach this place.

There are days when cliffs have a certain allure.

Made it.

A view from some of the windows.

Nice and tidy. Time for a vacation.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


I scanned and copied into a Word document a story my paternal Grandmother wrote about her early life when she was in her eighties. I have wanted to edit her story for a long while to make it easier to read. Now that I have technology that makes it easier for me to do that, the process has started. My Grandmother’s story was not as poorly written as I had remembered and I intend to leave it as close to the way it was written as possible. I will remove all the obvious errors that came from an old typed document with hand written corrections from an eighty year old woman that has been run through a scanner.

I am playing with pictures again too. These digital photographs were taken by my guest of a picture on my wall. The photo on my wall is a copy of a reproduction of a very old original photograph and not from a negative. The digital photo here was taken with a high pixel count and I am learning how the processing afterwards of the digital image has to fit the format allowed on whatever computer application you intend to use it for.

Photo: T. Schilke

I am learning that I should take pictures with the best setting on my camera and that I can resize the image afterwards to suit the format of how it will be shown or sent. This will help with image quality and clarity.

Edited photo: Christopher C.

This is a photograph of my Grandmother when she was in her twenties doing something her grandson continues to do, wandering through the woods capturing shrubberies to bring home and put on display in the garden. I am guessing the time of this photo to be some where around 1915.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Rolling Down Hill

Like a great snake uncoiling to its full length, The Great Wall of Wailea is stretching out its tail end a quarter of a mile away from where the first boulder was placed. The wall’s attendants began in earnest to polish its scales and make it to shine as soon as the first coils had relaxed into their new shape.

The black dressing room curtain had become tattered by the winds and constant activity above and below. Small holes and large gaps allowed glimpses of the Great Wall as landscape pockets were stuck to the sides. Colored stains were applied to cover the white concrete that had oozed from its pores during construction and to help unify the giant boulders that had come from many distant places.

The first flowers are being planted in the concrete and boulder pockets and much to my delight it wasn’t a mass of bougainvillea to entangle the Great Wall in a thorny cocoon and shed millions of dried paper blossoms into the swimming pools below. Red Gingers and monstera seem to be the dominant plants. A wise choice I think from a maintenance standpoint, yet I still can not remove the vision from my mind of old Filipino gardens scrambling over this creation in rock climbing gear.

The Great Wall of Wailea is being strung with a colorful lei on its shiny new scales to disguise its sinister presence just steps from people’s back doors.

The colorful outfit the Great Wall will wear will not alter the imposing protection it provides for the condominiums above. Perched right up to the edge of this fourteen foot drop they loom twice as high as the Great Wall itself. They are so close to the edge that a section of black curtain had to be removed prematurely to squeeze in a palm tree in what might be considered a side yard and not hit the eaves of the first story roof. Perhaps it is these palms being lined in a mathematically spaced row that will act as the anchor pins for future rock climbing gardeners.

The fate of the homes lining the base of this wall was sealed when strong local powers bought the land just above. There is an eerie silence from the people below. There is nothing to do but hope that the new condo’s above have a fabulous view and that the Great Wall of Wailea was built with plenty of glue.

Instead they are absorbed in an expensive neighborhood drama. Lots of bad feelings built over several years of inner neighborhood remodeling have culminated in a verifiable infraction of neighborhood rules. A seven foot decorative fence is just one foot too tall. That is just half of the height of the Great Wall.

These folks are no different in having strong feelings that come out in strange ways. A generational dispute over a window in the ceiling to view the beautiful mountains and sky in a Lake Geneva House was a tale I was told that reminded me of these people’s woes.

The first majestic new condo at the head of the snake has added a pair of new eyes to look over this place.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Time the Land Has Not Forgot

Splat! I always turn to see who is there when I hear that sound. It echoes like a single fat raindrop hitting the rubbery surfboard shaped leaf of a Red Ginger or Heliconia. It could be the slow start of one of our occasional 10 second afternoon mauka showers. Far more often it is the sound of a lizard landing. The lizards in my garden leap through the air. It is not a scurrying run followed by a fall. They jump with intention and focus from leaf to leaf, six feet up from the ground. The wide longboard style leaves of the Red Ginger and Heliconia seems to create some sort of three dimensional lizard lily pond in the sky. Splat!

When I spy where the lizard has landed, by following their gaze I can often determine what may have been the cause of this dramatic mode of transportation. The lizard may have captured a bug and be holding tightly to its still struggling prey or already licking the edges of its opened and gaping jaws looking for the last tidbits of a meal. Many times there is another chameleon on a nearby landing pad and the social lives of lizards unfold in front of me.

Chameleons are very territorial and the males spend much time unfolding the large red beards tucked under their lower jaw to any unwanted intruder who should venture too close. A running jump is a good way to start off the show. Courtship involves the same display but without the aggressive pushup calisthenics of standing up as tall as they can on all four legs over and over. I have watched chameleons copulate in the late afternoon. After it’s over it is time to move on. Splat!


There is a fairly recent arrival to my garden. About three years ago a beautiful new gecko, the day gecko appeared and in no time at all the entire garden was filled with vibrant lime green lizards with bold red stripes and blue and gold etchings. That splat sound could mean a gecko and chameleon have crossed paths and a similar show of strength ensues. The gecko rhythmically sways its fat tail while the chameleon puffs out its pouch and both line themselves up to look as big as they can.

Sometimes that sound is only about finding a nice spot for warming up in the sun.

My lizards live very full and busy lives.

One day a rustling in the carport caught my eye and I looked to see what it was. When the motion stopped my eyes came to rest on the source. A large green chameleon had a blue-black skink clasped in its jaws. The chameleon paused for a moment, breathing heavily. Its entire abdomen rose and fell with each breath. It then began to rapidly raise and lower its head smashing the skink’s body against the concrete floor of the garage. The skink wiggled about in the chameleon’s clasped jaws but was unable to get loose. The body slams on the concrete continued as the chameleon slowly pivoted the skink in its mouth.

I was mesmerized watching this epic battle in miniature and stood quietly and watched this drama until all that remained of the skink was half of its motionless tail protruding from the victorious chameleon’s mouth. The skink had been slowly swallowed whole possibly alive, hopefully at least, beaten unconscious.

We catch ourselves looking intently at each other quite often as we try to go about the business of our day. When our paths cross it just happens. We stop, get comfortable, and look into each others eyes. Transfixed and motionless, an exercise in mind reading begins that rarely accomplishes anything before the spell is broken and the previous activity’s momentum kicks back in and we are moving again until the next encounter.

My lizards are trying to tell me something and I want to know what it is.

When Bert and Ernie started showing up on a regular basis at the entrance of the Wailea Fairway Estates and started chatting it began to dawn on me what the lizards sitting so patiently and staring had been trying to let me know. Tall, long legged and regal with copper plumes on the top of their heads, chest and back shoulders, Bert and Ernie strutted around me hopping and dancing about, then lunging quickly for the morsels of food stirred up by the lawnmower.

Two snowy white cattle egrets had found my routine. They preferred the shadier section of lawn under the Plumeria trees and glided in for a gentle landing once I had begun to mow this particular section. I did not need to alter my pattern for them. These elegant birds moved about me with ease and a minimum of fear. I watched them use me. They watched me and managed to maintain the same amount of distance at all times as they hopped and danced and lunged. Some inner personal space gyroscope appeared to be at work.

If I stop walking to gaze at them, Bert and Ernie stop too. I look at the layout of their bodies and the long sharp pointed yellow beaks and can see where the theory that the dinosaurs still walk among us had come from. Every week now a pair of small white Tyrannosaurus rex with copper crests land by my side to hunt for fleshy prey.

The anole chameleons landing with a thud on the Red Ginger leaves and lounging on the railing of the front deck assume their rightful shape as a small crocodilian relative. They sit close and unafraid.

I hear what they are telling me now. We may be small now and you may be big, but that isn’t the way it used to be. We were very big once and we can be big again once you are gone.

Tiny coils of DNA expressed as leaping lizards in my garden remember how it was 85 million years ago. This infinite memory stretches eons further back than mine and they wait patiently on the land my garden occupies.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Feed Me

Photo: T. Schilke

"Can't you see that I am feeling weak and I need to be fed NOW!", says Greyman the cat manipulating his servant.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Summer is Here

I heard the sirens. Nothing unusual about that. I heard more sirens. Still nothing unusual. The sirens kept coming. My that is a lot of sirens. What are those tourists up to now?

I heard the helicopter. Nothing unusual about that. I kept hearing the helicopter. That is annoying so I tuned it out. Not unusual though.

I got thirsty and went to get a drink of water. I saw smoke close to the near horizon as I turned toward the house. Now I heard two helicopters and I could not tune them out anymore. Sound off sound on. Amazing, my powers of ignoring things.

As I walked onto my deck I saw a lot of smoke just below the tree line of my neighborhood. My that is close and it sure is windy. Hmmm.

Is this a grass and brush fire or is someone's house on fire? Now I hear sirens, helicopters and the wind. That is somewhat annoying but under the circumstances, nah sound off. The smoke is white which tells me it is most likely a brush fire. I have lived through the elections of several Popes. I know what the color of smoke means.

I run the houses below me through my head to determine whose yard or neglected and unmowed lot may be on fire and the path it could take along densely planted property lines or abandoned sections of large lots. The helicopters whiz by with dangling buckets dripping water.

That helicopter sure got back for a second drop awful quick. The ocean is not that close. Now the other helicopter is back. I can see two helicopters at the same time. The ocean is not that close. Where are the helicopters filling their dangling buckets of water?

I move to the other side of the deck and peer over the Confederate Jasmine vine that grows on the railing and always threatens to engulf the house.

The helicopters are dipping their dripping buckets into the rich neighborhood across the highway were all the power lines are buried below ground.

Someone's swimming pool is being drained one giant dangling bucket at a time. Hmmm. I take care of two houses with pools right where those dripping buckets are being dipped. How tall are their palms and how long is that line holding this big bucket? I wonder what the wind speed generated by helicopters is hovering over a landscaped garden and swimming pool. I sure hope it wasn't one of the houses I take care of whose pool was emptied with a giant swaying dangling bucket dripping from a helicopter.

The fire department here does excellent work putting out the numerous brush fires that start in our dry savannah introduced native landscape. I guess the grass is dry enough to burn now.

I have noticed that there often seems to be a fire on a parcel of land that is about to be developed. There is a lot of development going on and our natural introduced dry savannah landscape on wild lands does catch fire so much easier than irrigated tropical landscapes. Coincidence I suppose.

Lucky for us that our new firehouse is located right across the street from the new development going in. The large building in the center behind the burnt bush is the new Wailea Fire Station.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Iao Ho'ihi or Kapu

Respect or Keep Out?

Iao Valley and Iao aquifer are one of the main sources of the bulk of Maui's water supply. Iao Valley is also a state park and place of cultural significance.

The valley walls on one side as you enter.

This small round stone is wrapped in a Ti leaf and placed on a pile of stacked rocks at the base of a large boulder. Is this an offering to the spirit guardians of the valley or perhaps a warning to those who stray off the trail and enter deeper into the valley? Either way, to those observant enough to see this offering, you are put on notice that something is going on here in this jungle valley.

The Forest untended.

Stone and rock become sponge and slowly release the life giving waters of Maui.

A precious commodity and valuable resource that the County of Maui and Wailuku Agribusiness, recently renamed Wailuku Water Company, have begun to negotiate over. Wailuku Water Company wants money for the water that falls from the sky and runs across their land.

The Forest closes in and guards the secrets it keeps.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Ulupalakua Day Tripping

Follow the Lily Lined Road.

Purple Haze.

Getting Spiky.

Hunting and gathering Hunnemannia fumariaefolia, Mexican Tulip Poppy seeds out in the Wild Lands.

Respect the Aina.

I mean it.
Respect the Aina.

Sunset from the Porch Back Home