maneki-neko, the good fortune cat


The Japanese Maneki-Neko is a popular cat figurine in Hawaii and Asia with many names and appearances. The Lucky, Welcoming , Money or Fortune Cat is believed to bring blessings to the owner of  a business where it is prominently  displayed.

The Lucky Cat is adorned with a variety of ornaments, similar to cats of old from wealthy families. They are often  holding a gold coin known as a koban. The coin symbolizes  good fortune and wealth. Many of these statues double as coin banks beckoning customers and money.

Maneki-Neko will have either the right or left paw raised, sometimes both. Interpretations of which paw is raised differ and has changed over time. One raised paw is said to  attract customers, while the other paw brings in wealth and good luck.

Paia Maneki-neko

Paia Maneki-neko

 I was in my Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate office today enjoying a Paia afternoon while contemplating my next blog post. A friendly tattooed young man walked in asking if he could take a Selfie with our  giant Beckoning Cat. Often the kids strolling by with their parents spot our Maneki-neko and make a bee line for a happy hug .This is the first time an adult sat on the floor and cozied up with Good Fortune Cat. James from Hula Girl Tattoo  let me in on his Selfie, and a blog post was born. I've always wanted to learn more about these harbingers of good fortune and  have seen so many versions of this lucky talisman in Hawaii.

The earliest record of the Maneki-neko is from the mid 1800's believed to have originated in Tokyo.There is much folklore surrounding the origin of the Maneki-neko.Their colors vary  attributing white to attracting happiness , red is success in all relationships and pink is a bringer of love.The most common colors are white, black and gold. I am going to look for a multi colored one with both paws raised.

Aloha and Blessings to All,







Plantation Style Homes and Real Estate


Inspiration comes from many directions. Beautiful lighting, drama, subtle images, inviting places.. An artist is always looking for a spark and insight that can lead to self expression. I've always been inspired by Architecture  with clean lines , lots of light and high ceilings . Space, inside and outside allows room for a little day dreaming.

The natural wonders of our environment in Hawaii are rich and complex with  jungles, deserts and alpine climates. One of my favorite things about being a Real Estate agent on Maui is the opportunity  to visit a wide variety of homes. A home that is in harmony with it's surroundings  always enhances it's appeal. I like  interesting proportions that are in balance.

 A common theme in home styles in Hawaii is the  "Plantation Style". "This description is often overused when loosely describing an architectural style . Wood siding with battens creates a relaxed country look; however, that does not  necessarily create a plantation style home.

 An authentic Plantation Era home was often single wall, and  built from redwood.  A corrugated tin roof  made it rather loud inside during a tropical downpour. With the single walls, the small and simple homes were not insulated. Wiring ran down the walls covered in channel moulding. Floors were usually fir, stained  brown. Houses were built in a post and pier style elevating them a few feet above the ground creating air flow and a deterrent for crawling critters. A small lanai  invited visits.

This old painting of a typical plantation home shows simplicity and function.

Some of the  modestPlantation Era  homes had Furo style bathtubs or an outside washroom in the  carport. This was my old 1939 home that had an outdoor washroom in the shed. Common sense for cleaning up after working outside in the red dirt.

 Upscale older Kama'aina homes were built more substantially and exude a grace unique to their era. My charming 1949 listing had a California Craftsman style that is unusual to the area with double walls and fireplace.

Maui has something for everybody, old plantation homes, plantation style homes, modern, or something in between.  

With Aloha,







Old painting of plantation house on Big Island

The Beauty of Volunteering


Caleb at Lelani Farms Animal Sanctuary

Caleb at Lelani Farms Animal Sanctuary

Many organizations, and preserved habitats continue today because of the volunteers who put their hearts and time into these projects.

Several years ago, I understood that giving back to my community had so many benefits for the Giver and Receiver. Helping with the preservation of our fragile eco system was appreciated and seemed like a win-win.

My website, www..volunteer-on-vacation-hawaii was born from the desire to give back. I had some great adventures exploring these varied opportunities. Clearing trails, working with animals, pulling invasive species, and planting native trees and plants were some of  works that I had the good fortune to participate in.

Some of my guests at Hale Ho'okipa Inn have taken advantage of these opportunities and were blessed to visit  places inaccessible to the public. Many have enjoyed interaction with the animal sanctuaries. I offer  guests a discount on their stay for their community contributions.

Another fun opportunity is the Maui Nui Botanical Garden in Central Maui. Check them out for their "Weed and Pot" days where you can repot native species and pull invasive weeds.

Recently I was surprised by my company Better Homes and Gardens Advantage Realty Valley Isle, with an :Excellence in Community Service Award ."This award is given to the person who gets involved and contributes in their community and shows a genuine compassion towards others less fortunate or who need extra assistance. "  

Well,'s to the Spirit of continued Giving...May we all lend a hand where needed.




The Crossroads USO Makawao


It's been 75 years since the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Hawaii became a very strategic place during the war for the Service people who  had missions in the Pacific. Close to 200,000 service men and women trained and rested on Maui. Makawao School is the site of the old Army Hospital. Since so many military were in Makawao town and at near- by Camp Maui in Haiku , the need for a gathering place grew.

Ethel Baldwin rose to the occasion and opened the USO in January of 1943. She leased a vacant store front and decorated it in a ranch theme,  creating a very homey atmosphere for the lonely servicemen. They offered pool and ping pong, reading and writing stations, a cozy fireplace, books, musical instruments, conversation, refreshments and radio.

The Hostesses played an important role in the entertainment of their guests.  They ran a tight ship while providing a home away from home for those stationed on Maui. Some entertained with music, and caring conversation for those recovering from, or facing battle.

By August of 1944, 100,000 service men had visited this important establishment and enjoyed the hospitality of our Upcountry residents. Once the war ended in 1945, the USO closed after serving so many.

Our current exhibit at the Makawao History Museum displays some of the original decor of the USO, most especially featuring a very large painting of a ranch scene by Arm Sgt. Nicholas Zuraw. Darrell Orwig expertly restored the painting, we reframed it and it is the centerpiece for our current exhibit. We will have the exhibit on display until the end of the year.

A bit of important history of our wonderful Upcountry community.

Aloha, until the next time, Cherie


Komoda's , 100 years and Still Making Donuts and Selling Groceries


This November marks the 100th Year Anniversary of Makawao's beloved Komoda Store and Bakery.

Takezo and Shigeri Komoda opened the first Komoda store as a coffee saloon on Olinda Rd in 1916. They purchased land in Makawao town proper and opened the current store in 1932. Their large family worked as a team delivering groceries and serving food. During WW II business boomed with so many military in town. They continued to sell groceries and expanded to hardware and fabric as Makawao's general store. 

In 1947, Ikup , Takeo;s brother, went to baking school in Minnesota. The Komoda ohana began to focus on their bakery operation as larger supermarkets became the norm. .  Ikuo Komoda baked the stick donuts and malasadas and the iconic cream puffs which was added to the menu in the 1960's.

Komoda Exhibit Makawao History Museum     

Komoda Exhibit Makawao History Museum


In 2016, the bakery produces 30 items. People line up early in the morning to get their fresh baked goods. My neighbor island guests always buy boxes of goodies to take home which is customary. 

Darrell Orwig and I recently completed the new exhibit to honor  Komodas. We had such a blast doing this exhibit. We made donuts our of styrofoam and everyone is getting a laugh out of this. I love what we get to do, all aspects of it....and it really tickles our visitors, local and world wide.

If you are on Maui, take a drive Upcountry and stop in and say hi. We are the little museum with a big heart.




Malama Wao Akua 2016

Maui's Premier Art Exhibit


My favorite art show of the season will be coming to a close soon. The East Maui Watershed folks sponsor an educational event and exhibit every year to bring awareness to our fragile and precious watershed area. 

Opening ceremonies in one of the most beautiful settings on Earth remind us again why we live and love Maui.

hula wao akua.jpg

The subject that I chose for my print was the Pukiawe ,   a woody mountain side shrub that is adorned with beautiful white and pink berries with dusty green and silver colored leaves. I felt honored to have my piece selected as there were many entries to the show. It's a very strong exhibit with wood carvings, stunning photography, tapa cloth, ceramics and much more. The primary and high school students also participate and their work is very touching. Love that the kids are learning early about our island and all the native plants. The focus is entirely on protecting and highlighting the native species of Maui.

me wao.jpg

It's a great focus to learn more about the watershed and the protection of our precious resources.






Summer on Maui

Aloha from sweet summer in the islands. 

Today was the first day the air felt warm early in the morning. Shorts at 7 a.m is a great way to start a comfortable day. Not too hot, nor muggy, clear, little puffs of trade winds, summer 2016 is shaping up nicely. Our seasonal tropical storms often start out warm, and then we are cooled off by showers. Looks like we have more showers headed our way.

The July 4th Rodeo and Parade attracted a great and happy crowd.  Being an election year, there were 62 parade Entries. Politicians waved to the crowd on horseback, on tractors, hay rides, convertibles and on foot. Luckily there were way more horses than candidates. Being the hundred year anniversary for the Kaonoulu Ranch and  they were well represented with almost 30 Riders. Our lovely Makawao Museum had a float the featured local musical talent of the Haiku Hillbillies. Float decorators and parade participants gathered in near by neighbor hoods in the very early morning hours. 


northshore foam.jpg

Summer also ushers in the  the start of Obon Season.  In early July the festivities take place at the beautiful Mantokuji Mission, the Japanese Buddhist Temple on Maui's North Shore outside of Paia.  Grave sites are decorated and the Bon Odori, Group Dance , is performed to honor the spirits of the ancestors.

The ocean has been inviting and the perfect place to cool off and get some exercise..

The tradewinds are blowing today and summer is shaping up beautifully as we roll on towards kids going back to school already !

Aloha, Hope to see you soon.


Retiring on Maui


It's nice to be writing again and sharing Maui No Ka Oi,

Since I have been so very focused on Real Estate in the last few years, RE seems like a good subject to ponder and share today.

I've been working with people downsizing, investing ,buying their first home, wanting to build a home and retiring on Maui. Some of my long time friends are moving closer into town as they age, and the younger ones are moving further out into the country to build and grow their dreams. The cycle of life continues, and it's so evident to me now as my Baby Boomer friends are pondering their next move.

I came across something interesting today regarding retiring in Hawaii, and most especially on Maui. I want to share the information from the Maui Now news site.

"Six Maui Towns in State’s Top 10 for Retirement Ease"

By Maui Now

According to a recent study from SmartAsset, Kahului, Wailuku, Kīhei, Makawao, Lahaina and Kula take the top six spots in the ranking of the state’s 10 tax-friendliest places for retirees in Hawai‘i.

The study from the New York-based financial technology company ranks cities on a Retirement Tax Friendliness Index, which takes into account property, income, fuel, sales and Social Security tax data.

The following cities and town in Hawai‘i lead the state in retirement tax friendliness.


         City, Income Tax, Property Tax, Sales Tax, Fuel Tax, Social Security Taxed?

Retirement Tax Friendliness Index

1.Kahului, Maui$7,082. 2% $601 $165 No43.93

2.Wailuku, Maui$7,082. 2% $601 $186 No43.06

.3Kīhei, Maui$7,082. 2% $601 $199 No42.76

4.Makawao, Maui$7,082. 2% $601 $200 No42.70

5.Lahaina, Maui$7,082. 2% $601 $206 No42.58

6.Kula, Maui$7,082. 2% $601 $204 No42.52

7.Laie, O‘ahu$7,082. 3% $676 $95 No42.37

8.Hilo, Hawai‘i Island$7,082. 3% $601$ 181 No42.31

9.Līhuʻe, Kaua‘i$7,0820. 2% $601 $198 No42.25

10.Wai‘anae, O‘ahu$7,0820. 2% $676 $142 No41.95

Find more details on the study results and methodology, and an interactive maponline. "

Retirement is on the mind for many.. I have a few friends who have opted for the condo life for half the year and mainland touring or living for the rest of the year. Condos in Wailea seem to be the most attractive to this lifestyle with shopping, dining, beautiful weather and easy ocean access.

Transitions seems to be the order of the day.

With Aloha,








Home Searching on Maui


It's a sunny Sunday afternoon and I am greeting folks  at Open House today on my awesome listing on 620 Laie Dr, Makawao.  One of the sweetest slices of Makawao with a gracious 1949 home perched on the hill is my recent beautiful listing. This home is as close as I have ever come to considering a move from my Heritage Home to a different one. It's so well constructed with high ceilings and incredible light.

Everyone who stops in really loves the house and  the grounds. The perfect match is coming soon. Several families , and multi generational families are really smitten with all the space inside. There's room for everyone  to spread out,  and enjoy the big yard as well.

The newly revised website for my RE business is also available to visit. Check out www.homesalesmaui. It's updated and features really wonderful photography from a few friends, with most of the gorgeous photos taken by my Daughter, Phaedra Kammerer.

 Phae is an amazing photography with a sensitive eye and a deep love for Hawaii. Most of her photos make me catch my breath as I can feel her alignment with her subject as she captures the perfect light. Photography that evokes emotional responses is a true art. 

It's nice to write again, it's been awhile...

Aloha and a hui hou to All,


Majestic Norfolk Pine

Aloha ,

It's been a little while since I've posted and now that my updated web site is settled in, it's time to sharpen my pencil again.

Theancient Norfolk Pine in my yard recently had some big work done. I was nervous for some crazy reason as my crew was very professional , careful  and safety conscious.

We had some 'round tree discussions as to height, girth , size of the giant. There are three very large Norfolk Pines in Hawaii.  One is on the Parker Ranch in Waimea, one is on Lanai, and the third is in my yard. The crew seemed to think my tree and the Lanai tree are both serious contenders for the Biggest in Hawaii.

I am never able to say "my tree" ...if anything I am the tree's human in charge of care taking.  I had a beautiful start way up high many years ago, but, after seeing the large tree in Makawao town get hit by lightening because of the start, I am very happy it is metal free.

The tree is 162' ft high and 19' feet around. The branches that were taken down were about 2 feet across. I am hoping a friend who turns bowls will be able to create some beautiful and functional art.

Come Hug a Tree, actually, a huge, majestic, full of Mana, noteworthy Norfolk Pine Tree.


With Aloha,




Quality Budget Travel Haleakala Maui

            The majestic Mt. Haleakala beckons travelers worldwide.

I look to the mountain several times a day knowing how fortunate I am to live  close to a place of such astounding natural beauty. People come from far and wide to visit, photograph, contemplate and hike in this spectacular national park.

While many dream about taking a break from our routines, making dreams come true takes a little ingenuity, effort and patience. 

Most travelers do their own research and no longer use agents to design their trips.  We now have travel information coming from several sources  with advice on where to stay and what to do. Quality budget travel in Hawaii is certainly possible. 

I love to travel, but have not gone far from home in awhile. Being self employed with two businesses does not afford me much time off.  However, living in one of the most beautiful places in the world makes it just fine to stay home.

The way I see it, travel writers  have a wonderful job. I always thought that would be a fun job, travelling with a purpose, intending to entertain others with your adventures and advice.

Maui Visitors Bureau sent me many media writers throughout the years. Most of those writers were fully scheduled during their time on Maui. I was not convinced  they were relaxed enough to enjoy their visits, running from one event to another.

Hosting these writers and hearing their stories of the world travel makes for a lively breakfast while  also igniting my personal travel bug. Darley Newman of  Equitrekking was one of the travel writers I hosted. She recently aired her Adventures in Haleakala National Park for a segment on Budget Travel. 

Darely's Horseback Riding experience into Haleakala crater covered the unique geology and flora of the mountain moonscape. 

Trails winding through the pastureland on the flanks of Mt. Haleakala also gave Darley a taste of the lush land with breath taking bi-coastal views far below.

She managed to highlight her affordable stay at the Hale Ho'okipa Inn and I appreciated her  coverage of my quaint bed and breakfast. Nice to see photos of my little establishment on national TV!

Many Mahalos to Darley!

If a great vacation is just what you need, consider Upcountry Maui, one of the most beautiful places on Planet Earth.


Historic Restoration and Preservation Makawao


Historic Preservation is not for the faint of heart, or the light of pocketbook. If you are handy, or want to become handy then by all means, tempt fate and buy a 1924 house.  If you have gumption   and a soft spot for the old and forgotten, then roll the dice and look for a heritage home...or let one find you.

I wasn't looking when my house found me.

What originally tugged at my heart was the sadness I felt. It was an overwhelming emptiness, "where was the family, why let the ball drop on this beauty?"

  Reality has a different look now. Top to bottom restoration of a 5 bedroom home covered in vines on the island of Maui for a single mom on a paper thin budget would give me great pause at this point.

When "Under a Tuscan Sun" hit the big screen, I watched with tears rolling and laughing until my face hurt. The scene with the hot water steaming out of the toilet left me gasping for air. I knew that plumbing dilemma only too well as one of the ancient bathroom on the North side of the house was a plumber's mystery challenge. The hot water found a way into places it was not supposed to.  People appreciated that perk on cold mornings, but that is taking luxury  bit too far.

Twenty years later, I  have a pretty good  understanding of what is involved in buying and restoring these forgotten gracious beauties. 

Finding anything older than 1940 in Hawaii is very rare,  especially a home in it's original condition still standing. Termites are healthy here.

The last home I restored was a cute and airy 1939 Plantation home in Makawao.  My son and I worked on it together, sanding ,scraping ,painting and landscaping. We laughed, struggled and sweated, and it was a bonding experience that I will always cherish.

I have always been big on reuse, re-purpose and recycle before it became  popular. Saving antique bed rails to make picture frames ,and rescuing vintage stain glass windows is second nature to me.

The Cypress trees I had to remove  became flooring and trim for my home. Those wooden floors shine with a golden glow, offering a special softness under foot.

One of the most fulfilling experiences of this 20 year odyssey was the return of the original family for their family reunion. I had worked  hard in preparation for the event. Glimpsing  their experiences together, I could see the weekend was filled with love and excitement catching up and sharing memories in the old family home. 

My lofty goals have shifted and changed throughout the years. It started with saving the house from  demolition, then I thought it was about  honoring the history of the original family, then I hung on to building something lasting for my own family. As I sit in the Kona Wing this afternoon experiencing my own staycation in a quiet house,  I see that I have come to a place of simple observation and appreciation. 

With all it's quirks, flaws and unfinished restoration, the artist in me admires the elegant  lines, offset by formidable crown molding,  and plate rails. The 11 foot ceilings give me room to breathe and my dreams space to float. The irregular antique wavey glass windows make beautiful patterns on the walls as the afternoon sun shines. 

My senses are deeply satisfied as I contemplate true craftsmanship.

A 90 year old house is not too pushy in it's demands for preservation and restoration. It's patient  knowing that I do what I can. 

This summer I plan to take on the job of painting the outside of the house again. The shingles look thirsty and dry, it's one story,  so, I think," I can do this"... maybe I will see who wants to join in a painting party.

Any takers?

Aloha for now,


Hale Ho'okipa Inn Makawao

Orchids of Maui


Spring is in the air and this is the time of year  the

Maui Orchid Society

displays their award winning blooming plants for all to enjoy as part of the holiday weekend celebrations.

The members of the Maui Orchid Society are passionate about their plants. Their goal is to further  education, preservation and cultivation of orchids.

Whenever I visit one of their shows, I am impressed by the beauty of the blooms. Honestly however, the care, feeding and re-potting of  my orchids has not really every made it to my to-do list.

Although I  always enjoy orchids in my home,  I only know the names and types of a few of the more common varieties.  I've learned that orchids are much happier out in the yard  in the natural light and Hawaiian rain. Those living in the orchid 

house were feeling a bit neglected . 

Victoria, who has helped me here at Hale Ho'okipa for many years, is  knowledgeable about orchids and a member of the  Maui Orchid Society. 

Recently Victoria decided to give my orchids more of a chance to show off what they can do. She has scattered them around the yard, and they are obviously so much happier now. The plants that were moved to the front door of

Hale Ho'okipa Inn

have continued to bloom, welcoming arriving guests.

I noticed at the show today that several plants were not growing in soil, instead were suspended in open baskets hanging from lattice and screens. The nice grower I was chatting with, mentioned that this method of growing  is becoming more popular with great results. People will tuck them into the bark of large ferns or attach them to branches of tree trunks like air plants. 

They thrive in this manner as well. I just am not sure how to feed them if there is no soil. I'll have to ask Victoria how to feed these orchids with bare roots.

I am very happy that my orchids are blooming now with my appreciation and admiration, 

but not alot of needed attention.

May your spring be filled with fragrant and colorful blooms of all kinds.