Murphyola’s and Veda’s Rum Balls

This is one of several recipe cards Mom wrote up to pass along the secret of her famous Rum Balls, which she developed with her best friend, Veda West. .The story of how this recipe was created involved a big church fundraiser, endless taste-testing, taking doors off hinges, and getting plastered. Also the way I heard it, Mom and Veda had to explain to the church pastor why they were so shickered making Christmas cookies in the church kitchen.

My niece Raeanne has the Christmas card they sent back and forth multiple times in later years, with a story about a cheerful bunny making a batch of liquored-up fruit cake, with disastrous (and hilarious) results. This made them laugh like stink each year; Christmas had well and truly begun when the card had been sent back and forth.

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Recipe: Rum Balls Serves : Many
Favorite recipe of: Murphyola and Veda

Use 1/2 recipe for less than a mob!

2-1 pound box Vanilla Wafers, crushed evenly
4 cups powdered sugar
5 cups chopped pecans
3 Tablespoons cocoa
1/2 cup light Karo syrup
1 1/4 cup rum

Be sure wafers are crushed well, no lumps, and nuts are finely chopped.
Sift powdered sugar and cocoa together. Blend rum and Karo. Add sugar and cocoa to (vanilla wafer) crumbs, then add in the rum and Karo, thorough blending of all.

Can be packed into Tupperware airtight (containers) – to ‘mellow’ – til ready to make into balls 1″ (press and roll firmly). Rolls in powdered sugar – must be kept air tight or they dry out — make out only what is needed – makes a mess. Would use 1/2 recipe.

That’s pretty much the verbatim transcription. Mom seemed to use a dash or emdash for any kind of punctuation. The card is in a little plastic envelope and is a bit messy, with guck on it from being handled with gooey hands. The older versions of this recipe are with my sister Timmy – she says she has several cards, but still had to adjust the recipe a bit for a reasonably-sized batch. My niece Holly Martin, who’s one of the family foodies, commented on Facebook that this didn’t seem to have enough rum! Well, well see, but I seem to recall these things being pretty powerful, so don’t give them to anyone that should not have alcohol, as they are not cooked in any way.

I remember being delegated to crush vanilla wafers in a paper bag with a rolling pin or a meat tenderizer, as Mom never did get around to buying a full-size food processor, although she had a tiny one that was good for chopping maybe a half-cup of nuts at a time. I also remember chopping pecans and repeatedly being told “no, they’re not fine enough, keep chopping!”

David remembers helping Mom to roll out a batch on his first visit to Salt Lake to meet the family, which was in about 1996? Before we were married.

I’ll be attempting to make rum balls this year – I have a smallish food processor so I’ll be making either a quarter batch or a half batch. I bought Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa, I have Captain Morgans’s Spiced Rum, and a 12 oz. box of Vanilla wafers, so will probably add in some crushed butter cookies to make up the difference.

Will have to run out to the store for the additional cookies though, cause I ated the first box this week for teatime snacks.

Carrot Cake Recipe : Alton Brown : Srsly Good Eats

Carrot Cake : Alton Brown

So this was the recipe that I started with to take to Mitch and Gloria’s on New Year’s Day. I originally thought I’d bake it as a bundt cake, but didn’t have a pan. However, I did have a springform pan, and I jazzed it up with some chopped pecans and a little orange juice/butter/rum sauce that I reduced down by half. I didn’t really have a recipe for the sauce, just started with about half and half rum and orange juice, with a couple of tablespoons (or more) of butter, with just a little orange zest. I reduced the sauce as long as I could stand it (it tasted really, really good but I didn’t want it to go too long and get bitter).

The cake was a dream to put together, because it all got done in the big food processor. First the carrots got grated in it and set aside, then the wet and dry stuff got mixed and then combined in a big bowl. It called for a 9 inch cake pan and the springform was a little more than 10 inches across, so it was shorter in the pan when it was baked, but it came out of the pan like a dream. I loaded it up with about a quarter of the sauce and wrapped it up in plastic for transport the next day (I put it together New Year’s Eve).

It has yogurt in it instead of sour cream, so it had a nice tartness and a rich mouthfeel. I had dressed it up with the chopped pecans around the top edge and down the sides, and then when we were ready for it, served it with a dab of the sauce down the side. Mmmm, yummy.

Shoveled and Raked and Sore and Tired, and Cooked and Ate The Whole Thing

So yes, we went back out into bright sunshine with no wind to speak of, and David removed more snow from the bottom of the drive while I messed around digging out the walk to the front door. He put the snow “rake” together and I pulled some of the snow off the porch roof, then David raked while I dug out more of the front sidewalk to the corner. And after that, David went in and I used the big light aluminum shovel to dig toward my neighbor, who was digging out the sidewalk from his side. The snow is so light and friable that this was a breeze – not without effort, but lifting it was no problem. I met up with the neighbor and we called it done, like at Promontory Point. Huzzah, etc.!

And then I went inside and collapsed with another cup of strong tea.

After that, we messed around with a new recipe that turned out really good – adapted for what we had on hand and also for non-dairy needs. And hey, Noona Toodle Casserole was created!

I started with this Dairy-Free Tuna Noodle Casserole

Ingredients

o 6 cups whole wheat pasta, cooked
o 1 (170 g) cans tuna ( flaked is easiest)
o 1 1/2 cups frozen green peas
o 2 tablespoons vegan margarine ( I recommend Earth’s Best)
o 2 tablespoons unbleached flour ( you can use white)
o 2 cups chicken bouillon
o 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

which got turned into:

  • 5 or 6 cups of whatever pasta we had on hand (in this case, penne rigate)
  • 3 flat packages of albacore tuna (it was way more than 170g, but two was about 150g
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen edamame (no way we were going out to the store)
  • 2 T butter (We’re okay with butter, no problem)
  • 2 T flour (ordinary all-purpose)
  • 2 c chicken broth or stock
  • 1/2 t fresh ground black pepper
  • about a cup of Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 5 or 6 slices of soy-based mozzarella “cheese”

The original recipe didn’t have the bread crumbs or “cheese,” and ended up with “stir it all together and enjoy.” Well, we wanted a casserole, not a giant mixing bowl of hot noona toodle.

So we went with:

Directions

  1. Set cooked noodles aside, do not rinse.
  2. Melt dairy-free margarine in pot over medium heat.
  3. Add flour to melted margarine, mix until no lumps remain.
  4. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup chicken broth and mix until well blended into flour/margarine mixture.
  5. Slowly add the remaining chicken broth, mixing well.
  6. Add flaked tuna to the pot.
  7. Bring to a boil, stirring often.
  8. Once boiling, add frozen peas.
  9. Simmer until desired thickness is achieved (it was thick-ish, but a little too soupy)
  10. Combine sauce with cooked noodles in pot you cooked the pasta in.
  11. Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs, or until excess liquid absorbed and a good consistency
  12. Place half the mixture in a large casserole
  13. Layer soy-mozzarella slices, then add the rest of the tuna-noodle mixture
  14. sprinkle reserved bread crumbs (about 1/4 cup, or enough to cover) on top
  15. Bake at 350 degrees for half an hour, or until bread crumbs on top are browned.

We used about a 2 quart casserole – the 1 1/2 quart ones didn’t look big enough. David had planned to take some to work with him, so did I.

But we ate the whoooooooooole thing, and it was really gooooooood. Mmmmm. Noona toodle.

The next time, I would totally go with edamame over peas; we might crush or crack them in half with a heavy ladle or a meat tenderizer in a deep bowl, though. They still had plenty of snap and a good mouthfeel after boiling and baking, weren’t mushy, and retained great color and flavor.

And that’s it. Long day. Very sore and tired. But we had a great meal to make up for all the energy we expended running up and down fetching and vacuuming and scooping and shoveling. And we probably won’t have water coming through the ceiling tonight.

Loose PG Tips Floats Ships

Yeah, I can be fairly serious about tea. Not cha-no-yu serious, or High Tea at the Empress serious, but serious enough to taste the difference between Twining’s Irish Breakfast (loose tea, comes in a green tin smelling gloriously smokey) and Twining’s Irish Breakfast (tea bags, tastes like it was strained through old gym socks).

Problem was, I can’t always remember where I’ve found the Twining’s in the Tin. Recently, I ran out, and had to resort to some tea bags. Something’s gone wrong with Twining’s bagged tea, as far as I’m concerned; it used to be that there was not a very big difference in flavor. But they recently changed their packaging, and it just doesn’t have the same… oomph. The tin box tea is fine: strong enough to grow hair in places where you’ll have to use a tweezer to avoid social embarassment. The bag tea is, not to put too fine a point on it, pants.

Yes, I read a few British blogs, why do you ask?

Anyway, I couldn’t find the Irish Breakfast blend in a tin box on a recent run around the nearest groceries, but I did score a big cardboard carton of PG Tips Loose Tea, which is a VERY GOOD all-around black tea. It’s got the gunpowder-fine grainy tea, it smells great, and tastes like something Arthur Dent longed for. It was in the British foods section of my local Meijer. It really floats my boat, tea-wise. Wish it didn’t come in the cardboard box, but as I use it maybe it’ll fit in my old Twining’s tin. Heh.

Now, if only I could lay my hands on some Yorkshire Gold, preferably loose, I would be really, really chuffed.

One other thing – I’m fairly old-school about teamaking. If I make a mug, with loose tea, I use a little metal tea strainer thing that gives the leaves (really, they’re more like grains) room to expand. The water has to be cold and freshly drawn, and then when it boils in the kettle I try to make sure that the mug with the strainer of tea is right by the stove so that the boiling water goes right over the leaves and into the mug.

If I decide to make a pot of tea – it has to be properly warmed, the tea goes right in the pot (1 teaspoon per cup, one for the pot) and then the boiling water gets poured over the top and stirred. Then the strainer comes into play when pouring out. I don’t usually add more hot water and tea to the pot, but know that there is an art to stretching out the tea in the pot.

Yes, it’s strong. Stronger than an arm-wrestler’s bicep. If it wasn’t a sloppy mugful of liquid it would beat you about the head and neck until you were fully conscious. I like it with a fair bit of milk, which takes the edge of and also makes clutching the mug and warming my face over it that much more soothing and part of the enjoyment of tea.

PG tips is available as loose tea, tea bags, and in vending formats. A “Special Blend” tea, which is the same as the tea blended for the brand’s 75th anniversary, is available in tea bag form only.

The tea used in PG tips is imported in bulk as single estate teas from around the world and blended in precise proportions set by the tea tasters to make blend 777, which can contain between 12 and 35 single estate teas at any one time (depending on season, etc.) at the Trafford Park factory in Manchester.

via PG Tips – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The Weekend of Awesome

Let’s see… it’s Wednesday, so I’ve finally recovered from the barrage of total neatorama that occured last weekend. My husband David’s birthday luau, and some HTML and CSS geekery, and then on Sunday evening, we actually MADE IT TO WOOTSTOCK V2.2 IN CHICAGO!!!!!!!11!! (my bangs, they go to 11).

If you’ve spent any time reading here, you know we’re really big fans of going to Hawaii, and we’ve been to a bunch of luaus and other Hawaiian-type dinner shows over the years. We’ve even gone with friends, and done goofy things with them just because we were in Hawaii.

But Friday’s dinner at a local strip-mall based eatery called the Tiki Terrace was one of the best times we’ve had in years – at least, without having to spend 6 hours stuffed into Economy Minus and suffer jet leg. While we were waiting for the dinner-and-a-show thing to start, we were discussing some of our adventures from long ago, when we totally BURIED STEVE and would have left him there if we could have.  Because we’d still be there if we had.

If Only Steve Had Stayed Buried

That’s our friend Earle on the left, and David’s best friend Steve in the middle,  who organized the evening at Tiki Terrace. Earle’s wife Sandy couldn’t be there on Friday or we almost would have had the old band together (we went with 5 friends in 2004).

Earle also enjoys Hawaiian culture and so I was pretty sure he was enjoying the ambiance at the Tiki Terrace.

Anyway, it was hella fun, because there was a special guest at the show. I started to get excited, thinking it was one of the performers we might have seen on our visits to the islands, but it turned out to be vastly better than that. After all, this is a place that features ginormous Easter Island statues and superior tiki decor, all in a long narrow dining room stuck in a suburban strip mall. My sister-in-law Gloria and I discussed the origins of Tiki culture, which we decided were probably rooted in the collective conciousness of thousands of WWII GIs coming home with island crap and deciding to start a bar, while we waited for the special guest to come out.

Aloha from Tiki Elvis

Tiki Elvis wonders if you are lonely tonight

Yes! It’s Tiki Elvis! He sings for you! Admit it, you were expecting maybe Iz? Or Don Ho?

Sure, it’s kitschy — very kitschy, but also cozy and friendly and fun. They’re open 7 days a week, but the hula show is only on Friday and Saturday nights. It’s like a one-night vacation, and we’re probably going to go back when the mood strikes us (reservations are probably essential for show nights).

Serious Hula, Bro

They also have some very good hula dancers, plus the obligatory host who sings a little, jokes a little, and dances a little — and the bartender will come out and sing something if everybody claps hard enough (he’s very good,  but any resemblance to Tiki Elvis is strictly coininkidental).

The surprising thing is that everybody in the front of house is pretty young – even the host, who sported tailbone-length hair and some serious tattoos when he came out to do a New Zealand men’s haka with the other male dancer. They were both very impressive, and actually I got a little irritated at the tableful of tween girls who were shrieking and giggling at the shirtless tattooed guys wearing nothing but muscles and tightly knotted pareus.

Guess I could hardly blame them, it was clearly their first adult-type birthday outing (they were wearing lots of that Libby Lu girly-girly makeup stuff).

The service is friendly, the crowd is clearly there to have a good time (there was one very large party celebrating a big birthday) and the menu is pretty reasonable (it’s all prix-fixe luau food, but appetizers and desserts are extra).

The only problem we had was that we finished dinner a little too close to the beginning of the show, and our dessert orders couldn’t come out until long after the show had finished, so we did wait what seemed like a really long time for our tropical desserts. Our waitress was cute and pretty attentive, but she did kind of disappear when we were wondering if she’d forgotten about the sweets.

David was adamant about not going up on stage for any hula shenanigans so we all maintained radio silence when the time came for the obligatory “let’s get all the birthday people up here and make them do the hula” portion of the evening. Honestly, the guys they DID get up there did a fine job of goofing around, and the stage was kind of small anyway.

So once it was over, we all headed for home, wearing our luau finery, and it looks like we’ll have to make a group trip of it this February for Steve’s 50th… oh, dear.

But that’s not all the awesome! There’s even moar!

Helpless Flailing Eventually Results In New Church Website Going Live

Okay, not that awesome actually, but it’s been kind of an issue for some weeks/months/years that the design we went with after the merger was not what we had discussed when I stepped back from being a webmistress and just maintained the church blog (more or less).

Actually, it got to be kind of depressing how I could not seem to get a link to the blog from the church main page, because the previous webmaster had hosted it through Yahoo and kept losing the link every time he updated some news item on the front page. I had given up asking him to put a real, premanent link on there… but he was very busy with seminary so it wasn’t a very big priority.

Anyway, he’s on track towards ordination as a deacon now and had to hand off the web duties, and there was no one else at church with ANY kind of ability to do a web page, so I was asked to take it on. I agreed, as long as we could completely re-do the site, and host it, and convert it over to a WordPress installation much as I had done with the old Holy Innocents site. For one thing, I wanted to be able to do most of the rejiggering, with David’s help, and not have to do it with Front Page, which I had not been crazy about before.

And so here it is although it’s really just a fancy mockup of what I hope to do with it – the main page will probably get a major makeover as I re-learn the stuff I want to do with images in GIMP and catch up on what CSS can do – for now it’s arranged with simple tables (please don’t view source, eek). I did at least manage to produce the background images and banner image (the photo strip isn’t my work, it’s one element I brought over from the previous layout).

There were technical problems and delays getting the domain registration transfered from the previous hosting service, and frankly it took much too long because of it being too complicated… but the middle of last week, it was finalized at last, and I had been fooling with a highly customizable blog template, creating pages to put the content in, and messing with what became the static front page.

Saturday night it was almost ready to “cut over,” and I was messing around on Facebook uploading some photos I’d found on my hard drive when I got an IM from the former webmaster, chiding me about the lateness of the hour and reminding me I had church in the morning. So that turned out to be fun and I’m glad for him that he’s finally on his way toward ordination, after kind of being stuck in the process while at St Nick’s. What with one thing and another, we didn’t actually cut everything over from old to new until last night, but it was essentially done Saturday except for minor styling changes.

So yeah, talked to people at church, got the final “Oh, Ginny, I’d like you to” aesthetic tweaks from Father Steve, and then it was time to go home and prepare for what became THE MOST AWESOME AWESOMENESS that occured on Sunday night, ever, in the history of the world.

W00tSTOCK CHICAGO V2.2

W00tstock Chicago poster

Poster by Len Peralta/@jawboneradio (CC Some Rights Reserved)

David had his iPhone and his brand new Canon EOS 7D, the one with the really good video (used in a recent commercial). I had my iPhone and an excessive amount of screaming w00tiness.

Both are in evidence in the following:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlHtIrOtYqE

I can be heard laughing in the background saying “eBay!” at one point. But mostly it’s Mr Savage’s party piece (with rather impressive hardware).

There was just SO MUCH w00ty goodness, so many funny people and cartoonists and musicians and people doing readings from books and talking about losing their Rocky Horror virginity… great overview here, in  fact, as my memory is just one happy shouty jumble.

I took a few pictures with the iPhone and tweeted a HELL of a lot:

Flickr

Sign in the parking garage we eventually found right around the back of the Park West venue. Duh. $20 well spent.

Flickr

Paul and Storm singing “We’re the Opening Band.”

Flickr

Ceiling Cat was the default desktop on the media screens when they weren’t playing cartoons, Moments with Wil, or showing pictures of destitute Stormtroopers panhandling. Some of the comedy came from minor glitches with volume or opening the wrong file. Everything got a big laugh, because everything was funny. It was the kind of instant geek nationhood that springs up at a good convention.

Wootstock Tweets

mai tweets, let me show you them

Here’s a great picture of Peter Sagal that David took – in character as a henchman who dreams of being the hero for once.

WWDTM's Peter Sagal, as The Henchman

Thanks to @jernst, there’s audio, and it’s all shareable and whatnot.  You must listen! It’s too big to upload here.

There’s all kinds of photos on Flickr and Twitter, and there’s stuff from Minneapolis, the next night in the tour, all over everywhere.

Monday at work was…. painful as we didn’t get home until about 130am. The show is billed as “3 Hours of Geeks and Music” but actually it’s closer to 4 or 5 (depending on how much digressing is going on, and how long it takes to get through the last song).

Give you an idea; during the show, a recurring them was “but I digress.” So David registered a domain, www.butidigress.net. Don’t know what he’ll do with it – maybe collect lists of cover bands and tribute bands (hard to explain why that would be funny, watch some of the videos).

Yeah. I can’t wait until the next version comes out.

In A Cooking Mood

David and I are getting in a mood to cook something a little different – in addition to David’s homemade chicken soup, we’re going to try kreplach (filled dumplings), which are tasty little packets of savory goodness when added to soups.

About.com: http://www.astray.com/recipes/?show=Easy%20kreplach

Source: Good Yom Tov – Helen Stern Saute onion in smaltz. Place chicken in food processor. Add onions, schmaltz and grivens to chicken. Add salt & pepper to taste. Chop well. Place 1 teaspoon of meat filling in center of each won ton skin and fold into triangles. Pinch sides together. It helps to moisten the edges so they will form a better seal. Let stand on floured surface for 15 minutes to prevent sticking or opening during cooking. Drop into boiling salted water or soup. Cook about 15 minutes. Also good deep-fried. Posted to JEWISH-FOOD digest by Sheryl Donner on Nov 05, 1998, converted by MM_Buster v2.0l.

Good Things Come At Threes

New restaurant in Kihei, open only three weeks, with three young owners. Great food, great prices, nice ambiance makes a change from all the slightly funky places in the same block. Wheelchair access ramp, indoor seating with air-conditioning, outdoor deck under a shady tree doubles the seating area. No liquor yet, but planning to open a new club/lounge section by April. WIN!

Three’s Bar & Grill, a new Hawaiian Fusion restaurant, occupies the space of the former Bada Bing restaurant in Kihei’s Kalama Village. They serve up a fusion of Hawaiian, Southern, and Eastern cuisine with steak and seafood specialities.

We set out yesterday with a vague plan, as we so often have, to mooch around looking for something interesting to do and then find some lunch. We succeeded greatly, as we went to a couple of shopping places – the funky dirt-parking lot hippie market and then the slightly more upscale funky paved-parking lot collection of shacks and stalls called the Kalama Village. Knowing that there were some restaurants there right off the small lot on the main drag of South Kihei Road, we pulled in to a shady spot and walked into Threes, a new restaurant to us. We’d eaten at the previous eatery at that location, Bada Bing, which was not that memorable a place, frankly. I think we’d had a fish sandwich or a burger served in a basket on their large outdoor deck some years ago (I think on our epic “Mothership” trip when we stayed in the Pau Hana Penthouse with several friends).

So our expectations were not that high, because we’d had mediocre, overpriced food there before – we just wanted some lunch before checking out the shopping opportunities next door.

However, what a pleasant surprise – Threes sports a nicely updated, simple Southwestern decor that still works with the photos and paintings by local artists that decorate the walls. It’s run by three young guys who also have a catering business; we saw at least two of them while ordering our meal, and overheard several conversations from patrons booking catered events, or from people who sounded like advertising reps for local food publications. Good signs for a new restaurant – the catering business now has a “face time” place, and the restaurant business has the catering line as a backup for slower times. They’ve only been open as a restaurant for 3 weeks, and don’t yet have a liquor license, although bringing your own is actively encouraged until they do. The waitstaff seemed smoothly trained and at the right “hover” level for a nicer restaurant (the other restaurants along that block tend toward the “funky beach shack” level of service). There was a slight tendency on the part of some of the staff (one of the co-owners?) to be a bit over-eager, but the vibe was very welcoming, if a bit “OMG, people are here!”

We ordered the “ocean” salads, as we’ve gotten Caesar at nearly every other restaurant (including a delicious tableside production at the Waterfront). There was no seafood on it, only a bit of seaweed garnish; we wouldn’t have expected it to have goat cheese on it, however, so David had to send his back to be de-dairified. However, the dressings were good (either liliuokoi or mango vinaigrette) and the greens tender and yummy, as Maui greens tend to be.

I ordered a “build your own” burger with Cheddar cheese, “Coconut Porter BBQ” sauce, and avocado; other choices included mango chutney and Swiss. It was supposed to be medium rare but arrived a bit more rare-ish than that, but not so much that I needed to send it back. It had great flavor (meat is from Maui Cattle Company) but at 8 ounces, it was quite a big, thick patty which tended to slide out of the bun a bit. Messy, but good fun. I remarked to the waiter that it was probably a “two napkin” burger; he laughed and said he was going to start bringing two with it in the future. David had an ahi fish sandwich that he also enjoyed. I’d almost gone for that, but I’d had that ginormous one at Tommy Bahamas the day before, which was so long that I ate for 5 minutes before reaching the bun. So I was happy with my messy burger, and also happy that I hadn’t also had to cook it like they do at certain “build your own burger” beach shacks at Waikiki Beach.

The prices for lunch, by the way, were very reasonable. So reasonable that I don’t know how long they’ll continue to offer them before being forced to raise them up to more typical Maui prices. We paid about twice as much in Wailea the day before for similar fare. The rest of the menu looked pretty appetizing, too – and like other restaurants, they’re going the “fusion” route in order to offer something a little different from the “ono Island Style” choices that so many other restaurants have on Maui.

I asked our waiter whether they’d been busy on Whale Day, as Kalama Park is just across the street and probably a thousand people were over there enjoying the parade and music that day. He said they’d been slammed, and that he was lucky to not be scheduled to work that day. I can see a good future for this restaurant if they continue to offer great food at great prices, and also they offer a nice upscale place to hang out as an alternative to the “funky shack” spots out on the street along South Kihei Road.

Three thumbs up for Threes! Even more if you have more than 2 people at your table!

So Far on Maui

Once again, I’ve let nearly the whole vacation slip by without keeping up with blogging about it – but this time, it’s now much easier to get photos uploaded to Flickr, which act as an informal timeline of our activities.

Dinner at Five Palms was very, very nice – this time we sat outside. Missed the sunset, but enjoyed the ambiance anyway. Then on Saturday, we went to the Whale Day parade and took some photos, then met up with some Twitter acquaintances (although we got a late start and missed the beginning of the parade). It was pleasant to hang out with friendly folks (both local and vacationing) and trade tips about favorite activities and restaurants. We went through the crafts area without buying anything, then came back to the condo for more relaxing. Boring? No, we’re on vacation, dammit.

We were at Ahihi Bay to snorkel in the middle of the week, a place that we’ve had mixed results with in the past. This time, no problems getting in or out over the old boat ramp, and it was pretty clear if a little bumpy. Plenty to see, and we spent about half an hour in the water or more before deciding we could go back in and find some lunch.

Whalewatch on Sunday was fun, but still kind of frustrating – I had a bad moment at the beginning when I realized I had booked our “free” whalewatch for one, not realizing that I hadn’t made sure to book the second person (which wasn’t free, alas). Fortunately, the lady at Pacific Whale Foundation overbooked us by one so we were both able to go, whew. It was a pretty full boat, naturally, and we did see a lot of whales right out of the harbor, but not much activity.

The One That Got Away

And the one shot I had at an amazing, close-up fluke was ruined by my use of the autofocus feature on my camera; there was much swearing (under my breath, but probably perfectly audible to parents standing next to me). I did get a couple of good shots, but once again it seemed we weren’t in the right spot at the right time for breaches or tail-slapping, just lots of mother-calf pairs sloping around near the surface.

And… a few tail shots, but not the ones I really wanted with the underside of the flukes for ID purposes. Still, they’re very nice.

Maui Whale Tails
Maui Whale Tails
Maui Whale Tails
Maui Whale Tails

After the cruise was over, we went for breakfast to Beach Bums, which had a great location in the Maala’ea Harbor Shops building as we trudged back up from the boat toward the car. Too bad they were so bad at service; we waited a long time for coffee after the waitress dumped a single serving at our table and walked away for more than 15 minutes. They served in Venti-sized cups, either doubled or with a heat liner, but only filled a little past the halfway mark. So for the longest time we looked questioningly at our double-cupped, half-full single portion and wondered if we were expected to share, and tried unsuccessfully to catch the eye of a server or the owner-manager. While waiting, I saw one plate of eggs-and-something sent back, as the eggs were “a little too easy for over easy.” Not a good sign, and then we heard one waitress holler “the kitchen isn’t getting the order tickets.” Another not-good sign, but eventually we got both a second cup of coffee (after finally flagging down our waitress) and our breakfast orders, which were both cooked to the right degree.

After that, we had the snorkel gear in the car, so we went to Olowalu, an unimproved stretch of beach that is still very popular with snorkelers. We’ve been there before where David and Steve didn’t have a good time at all, due to the lack of clearance on some of the shallower reef, and although I like it, David prefers deeper waters. I stuck to the main channel, which is usually marked with a diver flag so you can see where to line up for your return trip, and didn’t bother to put on my wet suit or take my camera. I figured that since David wan’t snorkeling, I wanted a kind of self-limiting factor that kept me from dawdling too long, and it worked out fine. There were plenty of fish to see, although there was a lot of unhealthy looking coral close in. Didn’t see any turtles, octopi, or eels this time (David got a nice shot of a zebra moray when we were at Ahihi Bay). We stopped at the cliff overlook for quite a long time, watching for whales, too.

Maui Flowers and Bamboo

After that, I took a few photos of plumeria blooms around the condo – note to Second Life developers, this is what the ubiquitous landscaping plant is suppsed to look like…

Maui 2010

Yesterday, Monday, we loaded the hiking gear up and headed to Pa’ia, Hana, and Kipahulu/Haleakala National Park. Earlier in the trip, we’d driven over to Pa’ia and Ho’okipa for lunch – about the only photo I took then was of surf hitting the lava promontory off the Ho’okipa lookout. Back in Pa’ia on that day it took forever to find a parking spot for our lunch at Milagros (which was delish, as always), but yesterday on the way to Hana, it wasn’t so much of a problem.

Kimmidolls

We picked up picnic lunches from Anthony’s, a coffee place that seems to have added a lot of attractive merch since our last visit. I thought these Japanese-style dolls were cute, and they’re in the same style as a wooden one that I own. Apparently each one is unique and is supposed to exemplify some trait, like “joy” or “harmony.” Might end up adapting the idea for my Second Life shop.

After that, we enjoyed the drive along the Hana Highway.

Maui Flowers and Bamboo

We brake for waterfalls!

We imagined ourselves as competitors in the Olympic 2-person car luge, given the curvy road and numerous one-car bridges and places where cars must Yield to Oncoming Traffic. We wondered if the Hana Highway has the highest average number of warning and informational signs per mile of any in the US – sometimes there’s a Road Narrows, Yield Ahead, and Yield sign in a set within a few short yards.

Also – to the young woman in the white Suzuki who was in such a lather, life is too short to be you, apparently. You’re obviously Not From Around Here if you’re going to holler obscenities on the road to Hana, because everybody knows it’s not a road to be traveled at high speed – even the locals. They might zip around as fast as they can, but they also respect the yield signs and actually wave or honk “thank you” when you pull over to let them pass. Which we did, many times, and we did pull over for Miss Honking, Screaming, Frothing-at-the-Mouth Bitch once we figured out she was yelling at us. I hollered in kind and waved the hand gesture that was not the friendly, hang-loose “shaka” that you see in the islands – it was the “Hawaiian good luck” gesture as demonstrated by those nice Navy men that were captured by the North Koreans all those years ago.

It was not pleasant to hear her hollering “I’m not going to sit here and follow you all the way, you prick!” and “Fuck you, get out of the way” so of course we let her past, so she could go bother the guy in front of us, who was ALSO not going too slowly for conditions. It was quite amusing to watch how suddenly she went from screaming and honking to silent and slow as she met an oncoming car at one of those places where both vehicles have to creep past each other with inches to spare. She wouldn’t have had to do that if she’d actually… respected the yield signs, but they don’t apply to loud, rude persons such as herself.

After she sped off in a cloud of exhaust and vitriol, things were much more enjoyable. We got to Kipahulu (the section of Haleakala National Park that extends down to an ancient village site along the course of a stream) and set off on one of our favorite hikes, the one up to Waimoku Falls. My workouts the last five or six months have really paid off – although I do get pretty puffy on steeper uphill sections (especially if it’s warm) I eventually got my “second wind” after the steepest section (the part up until there’s a gated fence). We’ve been on that trail 3 or 4 times now, and every time is a little different.

The lower sections of trail are being worked on, and we passed several husky young men breaking up blue-colored stone to be used as stairsteps on the steeper parts. Otherwise, the lower third of the trail is very “rooty” and eroded (it’s VERY popular). Once past the fence and beyond the one banyan tree whose branch crosses the trail supported by thick aerial roots, you continue upwards until you start to hear water more and more loudly on the right hand. There wasn’t very much water coming down this year, by the way: we’ve been there when there were absolute torrents of the stuff coming down, with warning signs up everywhere. This time, just the normal “DEATH will result” signs on the cliff edges were there, happy happy joy joy.

Maui Flowers and Bamboo

Impatiens grows wild in this part of Maui, where there are cool damp hillsides and even cliffs.

Maui Flowers and Bamboo

Anyway, we made it to our favorite part, the mysterious deep green bamboo forest.

Maui Flowers and Bamboo

I’ve taken this shot before, but it never fails to fascinate, even though I know where it leads:

Maui Flowers and Bamboo

It just looks so mysterious, that stairway.

Maui Flowers and Bamboo

And this strange thing – looks like a fig or other fruit tree, being strangled out by the bamboo, but still it has some heart, no?

Once we got to Waimoku, where we’d heard from other hikers that some large rocks had fallen from far above, guess where David needed to go to get his shot?

Maui Flowers and Bamboo

Yes, that’s right. Beyond the DANGER! DANGER! sign.

Maui Flowers and Bamboo

But of course it was worth the effort.

After that, we made it back down, glad we’d worn heavy hiking boots rather than the flip flops and Tevas we saw other hikers wearing… ??? Yeah, it’s a very rooty-tooty rocky-rolly trail, so I don’t know if they all made it beyond, say, the easily negotiated recycled plastic walkways in the bamboo forest. On the way down, however, I was beaten, badly, in the trail luge by a couple of German women in, yes, flip-flops. Oh, the agony of de feet! As by the time I got to the parking lot, mine were in agony. It was kind of hot, I guess, for the socks I’d packed, but I’m still glad I had the extra protection.

We drove back via Makawao – more or less, as we missed some turns and had to use the map feature of my iPhone to get to Casanova’s for a nice Italian dinner. And we went to bed pretty early again, although the aches I felt on awakening this morning pretty much put a stop to our “early morning snorkel” plans. We did snorkel in the late morning, right in front of the condo, before running an errand to Long’s Drug to get smelly stuff for my hair, and then a quick trip to see what the reportedly big surf was doing at Ho’okipa. It was too surgy and choppy by the time we got there, though it was pretty to watch.

And now we’re getting ready to go to the Waterfront for dinner. Tomorrow: more snorkeling in the AM, and we’ve got dinner plans at Fish and Poi in Napili followed by a nice concert with the Slack Key Masters program.

UPDATE: And of course dinner at the Waterfront was wonderful; I spent a lot of time remembering the first time I ate there, on my sister Timmy’s fabulous “Hawaii 5-0” with my mom and “Aunt Veda” and other family members. We’ve lost Mom and Veda since then, but will never forget the notorious plastic ants that my sister Tudy pulled out of her purse to play with on the deck; they’re excellent prank props for frozen Daiquiris, for one thing. Also, I recall an epic game of SPOON. There are pictures somewhere at home, which I need to scan and upload for a planned project anyway.

Nothing like that would ever happen at the Waterfront now, of course, it has a reputation for relaxed elegance to maintain. But back then when it was a brand new place, with only a sandwich board out on Hauoli Road to indicate that a restaurant was tucked around to the makai side of the Milowai condo property. We had a lot of fun on that deck then, but David and I had decorous good fun last night, too.

Today has been overcast so we’ve mostly been indoors, although during a sun break we went out and played in the ocean a little. David got cold and went up to the condo, but I stayed out a little longer bouncing around on the silky sand on my toes in about chest-depth water. The temp was a little cool on entry, but comfortable enough for a while once in… but it felt REALLY good to get in the pool after, which is slightly heated. Got back in the ocean after I sighted a whale breach, so I could say I “swam with the whales” later. Uh huh.

After more R&R we’re now deciding the next big thing: Where To Have Lunch. Later on, we’ll drive up toward Napili for tonight’s Slack Key Masters concert. And we’ve already decided that our next trip to Maui will probably be in a couple of years, and we may go for a stay in the Napili area again.