What follows here are just my thoughts and words. No fact checking, no spell checking, no promises of great insight or good grammar. Just me dumping the words in my head to words on the screen. Bear with me... sometimes it's a bumpy ride.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Much Ado about.... Not Much Ado

There we were, having a nice relaxing dinner at a friends house.  Dessert anyone?  Then all of a sudden, the emergency sirens go off.  And not just for a second or two... I think they blasted for a full minute or more.  We all looked at each other, a little frozen for a moment.  What the hell?

We are used to hearing the sirens at 11:45 am on the first weekday of each month when they do the test run of the system.  It's kind of reassuring then - in the bright light of day when you know its just for practice.

But to hear them at night, in the dark (it was about 8 PM or so).  It took a few seconds to register, but then someone (I think it was me) said:  Tsunami?

We turn on the news and learn of the 7.7 earthquake 15 miles down just off the Canadian coast near British Columbia.  They are not sure what to expect.  There are a bunch of buoys between here & Japan, because that's the direction from which we usually have tsunami activity.  But only  one or two buoys to our north and east.  They can't as accurately predict timing, speed, surge, height etc.  But we learn it's not likely to "hit" until 10 PM, and the main risk is to North shores, not so much the Southern coastline (which is where we live).

So we decide - ah, we're fine.  Let's have a little ice cream, then Michael & I will go home to our dogs.

Minutes later, the police come - door to door in this neighborhood, which is just under a mile from the beach, and up hill, and an elevated 2 story house.  (Joking around just minutes before, we say that if a tsunami were to reach their house, it would be armageddon.)   We are told of the imminent danger, being advised to get to higher ground.  We ask the officer specifically about where our house is (something like 200 yards from the beach).  Go get your dogs & get out, he says.  And soon, he says, roads are already clogging up.

I no longer want ice cream.  I want to get our dogs & get up to our friend's house, which is maybe just over a mile from the beach but up up up hill.

We thank our hosts and apologize for our "dine & dash".  We go home, pack up a few irreplaceable things, close all the windows & blinds & lock up the house.  Then into some surprising traffic to head up to safe ground.  We see cars parked along the higher roads, people standing around, a few tents set up in grassy areas.  We understand from local radio that there are lines at gas stations, runs at stores on water, batteries, toilet paper.  We see a school that's clearly been opened as a safe place and cars are lining up to park.  Stuff we are all used to hearing on the news in some Mississippi town when a disaster is imminent. Well guess what?  It really is what people do!

We get to our own personal red cross evacuation center - where there is scotch and a comfortable couch.  We watch the news with our friend, and wait.

We watch film of other islands, of traffic cams re-oriented to show shorelines and watch the surf calmly roll in and out, of traffic and evacuations - cars carrying families to safety, and boats leaving marina's, heading out to sea where they are much safer.  We see the experts show a theoretical graphic of the energy of the tsunami, the brunt of which is headed primarily to Maui (Kahului Harbor) and the big island (Hilo side).  They talk about the wrap-around effect, where the surging waters encircle the island, and they show projected "inundation areas".   We learn the difference between a surfing wave (like a 2 minute duration) and a tsunami wave (20 minute duration).  The velocity - 500 miles per hour.   The anticipated surge - 5-6 feet in our harbor.  We are minutes away from landfall.

Then.... well.... nothing.  You know the news, they try to make something out of nothing.  But, there was nothing really to report.  We did hear accounts from Hilo that the water receded so that boats were simply sitting on the sandy bottom of the shallow harbor.  But apparently the "re-fill" was not dangerous or remarkable, as we heard nothing further.  Finally, about an hour after the first wave "hit" (snuck in might be a more apt description), we learned that Kahului saw a 1.5' surge.  Far short of the projected, havoc-wreaking waves.

Relieved, and tired (it's now nearly midnight) we decide to head home.  They've not announced the all-clear, but we feel sure the danger has been avoided.  And I really want to be in my own bed.

But noooooo.  The evacuation area (which is where we happen to live) is still sealed off by police.  We try a couple of different routes, but it becomes clear to us that we cannot get down to our house.  The news continues to report wave heights (more like wave lows) and the islands are still under a Tsunami Warning (the highest alert level).  Until the powers that be call an "all clear," we will not be going home.  We pull into a church parking lot, leave the radio on and doze in and out.  Only slightly more comfortable than trying to sleep on a plane.

An hour of this is all Michael can stand.  He pulls out, determined to find a route down, around, through.... but alas, we are law abiding and therefore thwarted in our efforts.  After 20 minutes of fruitless driving around, we realize the Governor (on the radio) is saying thank you to all the emergency preparedness folks and talking about going home himself.  We turn a corner and - are those angels singing? - lo and behold the police lights go off, the car has pulled out of the road and is leaving.  We can go home!!!  It's 1:30 in the morning.

Perhaps needless to say, this was big, big BIG news here.  We heard it made CNN.  We wanted to be sure that friends and family on the mainland wouldn't wake up to the news and worry, so we sent out a couple of reassuring emails.  Turns out... no one bloody knew there was any danger here to be averted!  Oh well.

Now we're waiting to see what Hurricane Sandy will bring to our kids... Tim in New York and Alicia in Baltimore.  Hope they too will find it was much ado about nothing.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Come Up With Your Own 1,000 Words....

I've got nothing to add.... except maybe - just to clarify - those are OUR pillows on OUR bed.....

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Orchid Schmorchid.....

I dragged Michael fairly kicking and screaming to the far end of the auditorium where the orchids were on display at the fair.  "I don't really get orchids" he said.  "They just don't do anything for me."  I sort of agreed, but hey, we were in the hall, let's mosey on down and take a gander just the same.

Then we rounded a corner and came upon these...

They're called Vandas.

We were smitten at first sight.  (Well, sure, who doesn't love a prize winning, spectacularly beautious, stunning orchid?)

And we thought "Ho!  We should grow some of these!"

Then we found out that they take upwards of 20-30 years to look like this.

Ha!  I can barely stand to wait for the coffee maker to finish brewing coffee in the morning.  

Clearly, Vandas will not be featured on our lana'i anytime soon.  Nor 20 years down the line.

Is It a Bird? Is it a Dog?

Hold on to your eggs, Petaluma.  This is a 100% certified, bonafide, spectacular and - need I even say it - uproariously hysterical - FANCY CHICKEN from the Maui County Fair.  That's his technical name, seriously.  I would have expected something more regal and erudite... like Afghanus Cluckus, or Aussieodipus Poultraneous.   Or at least a nickname, like Rod Stewster.

Being from Petaluma, I naturally thought I knew from chickens.  But noooooo!  You have not really seen a chicken until you've seen this preening, self-fluffing little beauty  Oh yes, he does his own coiffure.  Believe it or not, there was not a hairdryer in sight.  And I watched him shiver and flap and run his beak hither and yon  until he was, well,...  presentable just so.

This and a little food coloring, and I think I now know where Peeps come from.