Saturday, October 06, 2007

Things I'm Still Getting Used To

Lest ye think it's all rainbows, leis and waterfalls here, I've compiled a list of things that underscore that even paradise has its quirks:

Humidity. Yes, I've admitted here before that I am a complete and total wuss when it comes to weather extremes. And my hometown certainly spoiled me in this regard -- rarely too cold, and rarely too hot. And little to no humidity.

But, oy, the humidity in Hawaii in late summer is a killer. Oh sure, it reminds me of the many wonderful memories I have of visiting my extended family on the East Coast during the summers. Of splashing in Montague, Massachusetts streams in August. Of July on the lake in Whiting, New Jersey. Of chasing after the ice cream truck in Brentwood, Long Island.

But the buzz of those sweet memories wears off quickly, especially when I crash face first into the reality that we don't have any air conditioning to escape to in our house. Yet.

The post-Costco experience. The things I love about my Costco are plentiful: the abundant Asian/Pacific Islander food staples that many of the folks who live here eat regularly; the friendly and professional pharmacy staff (truly hard to find); the amazingly fresh fish, sushi and sashimi; and the fact that it never seems to be crowded in the store or the parking lot -- even on a Saturday.

What I'm still struggling to get used to, though, is that they don't bag or box up any of your purchases for you at the check-out counter. This means that if you buy 25 different items (and that's a conservative estimate for me most visits), you leave with 25 different containers to transfer to your car and then transfer again to your kitchen. This can be tricky when there are small, slippery items and you're traveling with small, slippery children.

The price of milk. It's $5.00 a gallon here, even at Costco. It can be more at the regular grocery store, and you don't even want to know what 7-11 is charging. Liquid gold.

No curbside recycling. Despite the fact that we're living on a small island with extremely limited resources and space, Honolulu is only this month beginning to offer residents (in two test neighborhoods) a pilot curbside recycling program. What this means is that our bottles and cans and papers stack up (and the fucking sugar ants always find the pile) until one of us can make a run to the nearby recycling center and hurl the whole ant-infested mess into the bins.

Fucking sugar ants. Sure, they're about a third of the size of the standard-issue picnic ants I'm used to from the mainland. Hell, I even called them cute for the first couple weeks here. Now? Now they are no longer cute. I curse them, loudly, as I battle their persistent streams through the kitchen and bathroom daily. They dance and frolic on the totally ineffective ant bait stations I set out for them. I loathe them.

Mullets. And rat tails. On kids. 'Nough said.

Fall Break. As the kids these days always say: WTF? Yes, you've heard of Spring Break, that much-needed week off in springtime when the weather's just starting to warm up again and the kids are thrilled to have a quick week off. Here in Hawaii, though, in addition to Spring Break, Winter Break, and Summer vacation, they have what's called "Fall Break" -- a full week plus one day off from school during the first week of October.

Really, folks, we don't need this. We were just beginning to hit our stride on the whole school routine thing. And this? This is really just a bummer. Couldn't we extend summer by another week (school started on August 1st!) and just skip this strange middle part, hmmmm?

We are so many hours behind the rest of you. By the time I have a free moment to pick up the phone and make a phone call to a friend or someone in my family, it's almost always too late in the day to do so. Since Hawaii doesn't participate in daylight savings, this will get slightly better in late October, when the difference between HI and say, NJ or NC will only be five hours and the difference between HI and CA will only be two hours.

But for now I've got to force myself to get on the phone in the mornings, typically my worst time of day, to chat with friends and family. But after I do I'm glad I did, as it soon becomes a highlight of my day.


This cartoon strip, sent to me from Hotel Waikiki (thanks!), says it all.


pat said...

Love your posts, Karin. With two small children you must spend a fortune on milk. Maybe you should just go buy the cow.

Janice said...

I remember that humidity and the pesky ants. I once had guests in October when there was not a trade wind to be found and they were miserable:-)!! A good solution to the no box Costcos are those huge IKEA bags that cost 59 cents. I just keep a couple of those in the car for Costco runs. It is cold, rainy, and very gray here today. I am wearing a sweater and will gladly trade places with you..humidity and all:-) I'll even pop for the milk...HA!

Mrs. Chicken said...

That is A LOT of money for milk. Hmmm.. we don't like milk! Maybe a good reason to move to Hawaii??

RONW said...


kailani said...

My daughter is in a track school which means she's on for 2 months and off for 3 weeks for.the.entire.year.


Li'l Foot's Mommy said...

Hi, new to reading your blog (via NaBloPoMo website), but love what I have read so far. My brother and his family live in Maui and we've been to visit them numerous times.

My best advice for the cost of things out there is to use the "Kama-eina discount" to your advantage EVERYWHERE you go. You can get breaks on a ton of activities and shopping and stuff. My sister-in-law takes my niece and nephew to the Maui Ocean Center at least once a week and she gets a kama-eina discount on it.

Also Safeway supermarket has a shoppers discount card which is really handy to have.

Look forward to reading your posts.

fishgirl said...

Ahhh! Karin! Welcome to Dah Islands, sistah!! Have you met the state bird of HawaiĆ­ yet? The giant flying cockroach?! Good thing geckos abound to keep the critters at bay.
love the tigers blog. sounds a little more like kittens. and finney as the lonesome haole boy. great shots. aloha.

Shannon said...

Down with ants! Let them and the spiders fight it out.

In Texas, we had fire ants, with stings that could really pack a punch. I'm still suspicious that they killed a small lizard in our yard one day.

I seem to remember vaguely the exterminator telling me different things work for different ants. You might try a different type of bait or trap. You may already know all of this, but . . .

Some natural things that are supposed to help are chili powder (I'm pretty sure it was chili powder.) around doorways and mint plants around your home. I found the chili powder was mildly effective, but never noticed that our mint plants helped. Also keeping plants and vegetation from touching the house, so it didn't provide a convenient ant walkway, seemed helpful. Some ants like to feast on butterfly larvae, so the generally pretty plants that attract butterflies also tend to attract ants. Bummer, eh?

Ann Y said...

Hi Karen,
Your 1st cousin once removed on your Mom's side of the family. Here on the East coast of the USA Milk is 4.59 a gallon-- so not much different than you are paying. Costco is a 80 mile trip but BJ's is only 7 miles. Gas at BJ's is now only 2.68, but at the corner station it's 2.86. We loved Hawaii and we were there for a cruise in January. It's so different than here. Enjoy and say hi to your Mom and Dad.

Kathryn said...

I'm glad you and your family are enjoying Hawaii. There is a lot to enjoy here. We are only part time residents, but we have had a house here for twelve years. The other part of the time we live in Nevada with the fire ants. Believe me, I'll take the "mostly" harmless ants and bugs here to the fire ants and scorpions in Nevada. We have Terminex out every month here and that keeps most of the bugs at bay.

We couldn't live here without Costco. The one on Maui is right next to the airport and it is always our first stop. Most Costco checkstands have old boxes. We can put most of our stuff in those to keep the little stuff corraled, but at Costco there is very little "little stuff". LOL.

I'm glad you like sushi and rice. A lot of mainlanders don't "get" the food here; spicy, chewy Kalbi, katsu, teri chicken, lot of fish -- we love it all.