If you are new to living in Hawaii, you might have noticed that most every home relies in some capacity on propane for heating water or for powering gas appliances. Whether swimming pools, ponds and spa, or tiki torches, stoves, clothes dryers and hot-water heaters, there are many common household usages for propane in Hawaii.
Tens of thousands of residents in Hawaii rely on catching rainwater for their household water needs. A majority of these residents, as it turns out, live on the Big Island.
If you are unfamiliar with catchment tanks, it helps to know that there are no official government regulations that oversee the safety or operation of individual water catchment systems. It’s the responsibility of the homeowner or resident to know exactly what’s involved in maintaining a catchment tank for collecting water used for bathing, washing, flushing, laundry, irrigation, and in some cases, drinking.
In Hawaii, a galvanized roof offers the traditional surface for catching rainwater. If you live in an older home, be sure to test your home’s exterior for lead-based paint. Gutters made of PVC are typical for catchment systems. These are installed in a continuous downward slope that leads into the tank. The downspout is angles such that the water completely drains out, as opposed to other configurations that could leave standing water inside. It can’t be overemphasized enough that gutters must be clear of leaves and debris, otherwise the quality of your water will be affected, and also, mosquitoes will find the perfect breeding site.
To divert the initial flow of water away from the tank when rain starts to fall, automatic first-flush diverters are installed. This helps to flush away contaminants that may have collected on the roof.
The tank itself is more often than not made of corrugated metal. Liners for the tank must be FDA approved. Make sure your cover Ferroconcrete tanks can withstand earthquakes, as well as reduce the acidity content of acid rain. Some resourceful architects in Puna have built their home on top of the concrete tank, which provides a slab surface for the floor.
Most households on catchment use about 80 gallons a day for flushing and 65 gallons a day for bathing. Adding chlorine to your tank will kill most bacteria and fungi, but not all, like those that cause Giardia.
Keep 1 part per million dilution of chlorine in your water at all times by adding two ounces of unscented household bleach (6% strength) per 1,000 gallons of water monthly or biweekly depending on the frequency of rainfall.
County water can be kept on hand for drinking, cleaning food and brushing teeth. Some homeowners install high-tech filtration systems for drinking water.
Anyone who has spent any time on the Big Island in recent years has certainly heard the cacophonous call of the coqui frog. An invasive species from Puerto Rico, the coqui frog first became established on Hawaii Island back in the mid 1990s. The District of Puna fast became ground zero for frog proliferation, and through the years, vast colonies of coqui frogs have spread all over the island.
It’s not just the noise that makes coqui frogs a problem. A recent academic study by the world’s foremost coqui expert reveals that coqui populations adversely affect the delicate ecosystem of beneficial insects while contributing to a 19 percent increase in mosquito populations. Unfortunately and conversely, bee populations can decline by 19 percent in coqui-infested areas.
Female frogs are nomadic; male frogs are territorial and generally stay in one place. It takes 8 months for a male froglet to grow up into an adult caller. A single female frog can produce clutches of 20 to 75 eggs per clutch every two weeks, and a total of 1,500 offspring a year. In wild spaces on the Big Island, there can be 15,000 to 16,000 frogs per acre! Adult frogs can live between four to six years.
If you are selling your home and you have frogs on your property, you must disclose that fact to the potential buyer. Coqui frogs can affect the appraisal price of your property. Some resort communities in Kona have now implemented a strict no-coqui frog policy (up to $1o,000 coqui frog deposit) directed toward people who a building a new home and might be inadvertently importing potentially infested lumber and landscaping into the subdivision.
Citric acid is the only county-approved chemical that can be utilized for coqui frog control (commercially). Although not officially sanctioned, baking soda also works just as well as citric acid for killing frogs. You can use baking soda on your own property. Hydrated lime is another substance that has been used to control coqui frogs. Any of these substances require direct contact with the frog, which will usually die within a few minutes. Since citric acid is a food-grade substance, it is listed a non-restricted chemical. Although it is safe for most plants, it can burn sensitive plants like orchids and ferns. Citric acid needs to be mixed with water and sprayed onto infested areas. Thoroughly spray to cover the vegetation where frogs are perched including the undersides of leaves, and the areas of leaf litter on the ground. To salvage sensitive plants, rinse thoroughly with water approximately one hour after spraying.
Hot water approximately 113 degrees will kill frogs on nursery plants. Potted plants can be placed in a bathtub and showered with hot water, followed by one minute of cole water to cool off the plant. This treatment will kill any frogs or eggs in the plant. Outside in your yard, eliminated frog-friendly habitats. During the day, coqui frogs retreat under left litter of other moist shelter including piles of building material or empty pots. At night, they emerge to fee. Themeless climb and perch on vegetation to call. Dispose of green waste by treating with hot water, citric acid or hydrated lime to kill any frogs or eggs.
Owning a swimming pool in Hawaii can be an expensive endeavor. If you’re thinking about taking the plunge into pool ownership — or if you already own a pool that could be better maintained or run more cost effectively — there are many factors to consider before you dive in.
Winter, spring, summer or fall, swimming pools in Hawaii get used all year round. Monthly expenses include chemicals, pool-cleaning services, equipment and utilities. Due to the high cost of living, all of your pool expenses will be higher here than most anywhere else in the country.
One of the biggest considerations to pool ownership is heating. Even on the hottest day, most pools in Hawaii need some kind of heating system. Although expensive to install, solar heating is one of the best ways to heat a pool. Once installed, the system runs itself without incurring any energy bills. The least expensive heating option is a solar pool cover. Made of vinyl, pool cover sheets float on the surface of the water. In addition to retaining heat, a pool cover can increase water temperature by up to 11 degrees.
In Hawaii, propane is the norm for heating pools. Propane is more efficient than electricity because gas tends to heat water more quickly. The color of your pool can also make a difference in the water temperature. Black, grey and blue surfaces heat the water up an average of six degrees. Although a black pool can be aesthetically pleasing and resemble a natural pond, it’s a lot harder to clean because the debris isn’t as visible.
When designing your pool, be sure to avoid costly mistakes that you might regret later. One of the biggest mistakes is to place trees too close to your pool. The wrong kind of tree can shed debris so badly that your pool will always be messy and the chemical balance will always be affected. Palm trees near a pool can be especially problematic. The shallow roots of the palm tree will travel under the deck searching for water, which could result in a cracked deck. Homeowners should be aware that infinity-edge pools require a lot more water due to excessive evaporation. Lava-rock water features can shed bits of debris into the pool, as well as hold bacteria and promote silica buildup.
Some pool owners have discovered the benefits of salt to make chlorine. A chlorinator unit can be pricey, but once installed, it is relatively easy to maintain. The benefits include less chlorine odor and reduced stinging of the eyes. You don’t have to use chlorine tablets either.
When it comes to equipment, don’t skimp. A cheap pump, filter or motor can bring you worlds of hurt. Don’t try to save money on electricity by reducing the recommend amount of time your pump should operate each day. You might end up with a green pool, or one riddled with algae. Don’t let your dog swim in the pool, either. Dog hair reeks havoc on the filter and pump.
An automatic pool sweep is always a good investment. It can help maintain the pool on a daily basis. A pool sweep, however, is not a substitute for weekly cleaning, which can prevent problems like yellow algae. A pool-cleaning service is pretty much a must in Hawaii. Unless, of course, you know the ins and outs of how to keep your pool maintained.
Decorative concrete provides affordable options over traditional masonry. An old concrete patio, driveway, entryway or deck can be transformed from dull gray slabs into unique, stylish additions. Whether replicating the look of cobblestone, tile, granite, slate, flagstone, brick, wood or pahoehoe lava, decorative concrete treatments and processes allow you to achieve a variety of natural looks for a fraction of the cost of the real material. And you don’t even need to tear out your old concrete to do it. What’s more, new products and applications can actually be stronger than the original concrete and will hold up for years to come, even in high-traffic areas.
Three basic techniques can be involved: Stamping, staining and overlay. Stamping involves making an impression into newly poured concrete or into an overlay on top of existing concrete. Rubber mats with protruding designs are pressed onto the surface to duplicate the look and texture of the natural material in deep relief patterns. Some of the many patterns available include flagstone, brick and cobblestone. You can then stain the pattern to add contrast, color and textured looks. The rubber stamps, or mats, come in all sizes and shapes. Homeowners in Kona enjoy creating the look of pahoehoe lava into pavers or stepping stones, for example.
Overlay systems can range from a quarter of an inch thick all the way up to two inches and more. To create an overlay, the mason or contractor will lay a think layer of product made of silicon sand, concrete and latex glue. Color and texture can be added to the initial layer for different effects.
To add pizzas to a dreary driveway, carport, garage floor or patio, a simple, acid-based stain can change the color of the concrete slab while at the same time obscure oil and dirt stains, as well as add lasting protection to the surface. Antique, glazed and marble effects are among the accents that can be created for entryways, pool decks and interiors. Rustic aged-leather looks can be achieved with brown stains. Colorful hues and polished concrete can bring stylish accents into the kitchen, bathroom or entire home. Two coats of sealer will maintain the shine and protect the floor for up to 10 years.
Something relatively new in the Kona home sector, high-gloss epoxy floors can add a sheen and luster to a home’s interior. The process begins with grinding the concrete slab utilizing a diamond grinder. A vapor seal follows, then the application of a base color coat and epoxy. Combinations of colors and patterns can be swirled into the mix, creating an upscale, distinctive look for your floor.
You’ve heard the noise at night in certain areas of the Big Island. The incessant loud chirp, chirp, chirp of the invasive coqui frog. A single frog the size of a quarter emits a mating call that is 90 decibels, the intensity of a lawn mower. Multiply the sound by hundreds of frogs and you have a chorus of cacophony that can keep you awake all night. A single frog outside your window can be even more tortuous and tedious than a chorus of frogs. On the other hand, some people have grown accustomed to the sound of frogs and aren’t bothered by the din.
In the last 12 years, enormous colonies of frogs have taken over vast swaths of the Island, starting in Puna and the East side and spreading out from there. In many areas of the Big Island, residents have flown the white flag of surrender in battling the coqui frog, simply giving up on the inevitable invasion that keeps expanding and expanding into more and more neighborhoods and open spaces with no end in sight. Many residents and neighborhoods have abandoned any effort in trying to exterminate them, but that doesn’t mean you should. You can keep frogs from multiplying in your yard and neighborhood by being vigilant the minute you hear a stray frog.
In battling frogs, you should first understand their behavior, life cycle and habitat. First and foremost, it’s the male frog that does the chirping, tending to be more vocal during the rainy season or wet weather. During the dry season, you might not hear as many frogs chirping, but that doesn’t mean they are are inactive or not reproducing. In the course of a year, a single mating pair of coqui frogs can produce over 1,400 offspring. A single clutch of eggs can yield between 15 to 50 or more froglets. It takes two-and-a-half weeks for a clutch to hatch. It’s the male frog that guards the clutch. When guarding a clutch, the male frog will not be chirping. An adult coqui frog can live for four to five years.
Coqui frogs generally occupy bushes and trees, hiding out in the interior of leaves, in leaf litter or on twigs and branches. During the day, they are known to travel from their perches down to ground level, seeking protection or moisture in leaf litter, or feeding on insects (coqui frogs do not eat mosquitoes, however, according to laboratory studies). The male coqui frog is very territorial. It will return to the exact same spot for months on end, even years. Even if it hops away for some reason (such as if it is startled), it will go right back to the same exact area and continue with its chirping through the night.
How does a single frog end up in your yard? The most likely culprit is your gardener, who probably brought the hitchhiking frog with him on his truck filled with green waste from an infested property. Another possibility is that it arrived in an infested potted plant that you bought at the nursery or was given to you by a friend. A third possibility is that it hitchhiked on a friend’s or your own vehicle that had previously been parked in a coqui-infested area. A fourth possibility could be that a frog jumped into your yard from a passing car filled with green waste on its way to the transfer station. A fifth possibility is that floodwater has transported frogs and eggs from another property onto yours. Regardless of where the frog came from, it is imperative that you hunt it down and kill it ASAP.
Two substances are used in Hawaii to kill frogs: Baking soda or citric acid. Citric acid is available at farm and garden stores. It must be mixed with water and used in conjunction with a sprayer. Baking soda in large bags is available at Costco. For hunting a single frog, the baking soda method is easiest and best. A frog coated in baking soda will not survive. Take a paper cup of baking soda with you on your hunt, along with a flashlight. For increased success, two people searching together will yield faster results. Frogs tend to throw their voices, so it can be challenging to echolocate a frog. Try to isolate the general vicinity of the sound and carefully work your way into the foliage, gently pulling back each and every leaf to inspect the interiors. Oftentimes a frog will sound like it’s overhead when it’s actually at eye level. It takes patience to locate a frog. If it stops chirping, turn off your flashlight, wait a few minutes for it to resume chirping, and then continue with your search.
The good news is that the coqui frog, when located, tends to freeze in place for a few moments. This gives you plenty of time to gently toss a coating of baking soda onto the frog. The coated frog may hop away, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t killed it. Once it comes in contact with the baking soda, it will not survive for long. Another method is to pour baking soda all around the ground and around the trunks of bushes and trees in hopes that the frog will travel across the residue during the day when it comes down from its perch. If you are adverse to the baking soda method, you can always hand capture the frog, put it in a baggie and place it in your freezer to die a less painful death. Some residents use a clear tube to capture the frog and relocate it. If you have more than one frog in your yard, it could indicate a breeding situation going on.
Vigilance is key when combating coqui frogs. It may seem frustrating or impossible at first, but with a little bit of concerted effort, you can keep your neighborhood quite and coqui free.
An ancient Chinese art, feng shui is a widely hailed practice that helps people live in harmony and balance with their personal environment. Practitioners believe good fortune comes to those who locate, orient and arrange the elements of a home in such ways as to create optimal energy flow, or “chi.” Failure to retain the chi energy within the home can create unsettling feelings for residents and visitors alike.
Here on the Big Island, several issues commonly pertain to Hawaii home, according to local Kona feng shui expert, Clear Englebert, who has authored many books about feng shui in Hawaii. In the world of feng shui, a straight path leading to the front door, for example, can be a recipe for negativity. A meandering path to the front entrance, on the other hand, allows for a slow and natural unveiling of the door, creating a sense of welcome serenity. By the same token, a straight view from the front door inside the home and out to the ocean is not as desirable as when the view unfolds in a meandering fashion. According to feng shui principles, this type of floorplan does not allow the chi to circulate through the home in an optimal way. Short of rebuilding your house or drawing a curtain across the view window, what does one do to counteract this type of dissipated energy? Feng shui experts recommend making a symbolic gesture f0r dispersing the energy. Remedies include hanging a clear, faceted crystal in line with both doors, or to place a mirror facing into the house at the back door, which symbolically pushes the energy back into the home rather than letting it “zoom” out.
Paint color is an major consideration for practitioners of feng shui. Colors that are gentle to the eye should be implemented for the interiors. Entry doors painted red promote good feng shui. When adding bold colors to exteriors, consider using such colors on a lanai, where the intensity is lessened by the immediate juxtaposition of the beautiful Hawaiian garden.
The components of the garden also play a role in balancing feng shui energy. Hawaii’s year-round idyllic climate offers plentiful opportunities for creating tranquil environments that surround the home. Moving water in ponds and fountains, for example, help promote abundance. Lava rock walls are grounding and have mana. Small wind chimes emit meditative sounds conducive to peace and wise counsel.
When it comes to interior design, the application of feng shui principles can help create a sanctuary in the home. Sharp corners on shelves and tables transmit a negative “cutting” energy in the home, as opposed to rounded corners that are much more soothing. Fresh floral arrangements and bowls of fruit help bring life to the home while complementing the decorating theme. In Hawaii, rugs make more sense than carpets, bringing warmth and coziness to room, no matter the flooring. Decorative pillow should be casually fluffed rather than sharply chopped down the middle.
Good feng shui is seamless with the practitioner’s style. Using a nicknack or charm touted for “good feng shui” amounts to superstition. Decorative items that have personal meaning are preferable to indifferent decorator items from stores. De-cluttering is the number-one way to achieve positive feng shui energy inside the home. When decorating the home, it’s important to retain your own sensibilities in keeping with your essential style. Speaking of style, because it’s Hawaiian-style to remove shoes before entering a Hawaii home, what does feng shui “say” about a pile of rubber slippers at the front door? To avoid clutter, there should be one pair of slippers per person, neatly arranged and facing the same direction. If slippers are crossing one another at the front door, it could symbolize, or set up a dynamic, that the occupant is not going very far in life. So be sure to position those slippers in the right direction and enjoy the many beneficial outcomes of the feng shui practice in Hawaii.
Insects are a fact of life in Hawaii. Vigilance and preparation are the keys to preventing bugs and unwanted critters from taking up residence in your Hawaii home.
The first line of defense is to shore up all entry points in walls, windows, baseboards, ceilings, screens, sliders and doors. For older, single-wall homes and coffee shacks, caulking works wonders in sealing up the cracks and crevices so that ants, millipedes, centipedes, scorpions, cockroaches and spiders cannot come in. If you have rips or small holes in your screens, you can find patches at the local hardware store, or better yet, replace the entire screen. You can take the screen to your local screen shop, like the Screen Shop in Kailua-Kona, or buy a do-it-yourself kit.
Cockroaches of various species are always threatening to become an uninvited guest in the Hawaii home. A failproof method for dealing with these ungodly pests is to buy a tube of cockroach “bait” gel that can be dabbed into corners under the sink, inside pantries, beneath shelves and drawers, and in other dark and hidden places where cockroaches like to breed. Another popular choice for cockroach control is boric acid, which can be sprinkled in corners and behind the refrigerator. Mix it with a little sugar to increase its attraction potential. Of course the clean up of potential cockroach breeding sites is imperative. Always remember to clean out your closets, pantries and drawers on a regular basis. Cockroaches will ruin your stationary, letters, cards, clothes, books and other valuables. The only good cockroach is a dead one.
If you have a problem with millipedes, Sevin powder sprinkled around the exterior baseboards could help, but these relentless creatures will find a way to get in regardless of what type of pesticide you use. More pronounced during the winter months, millipedes come out at night, attracted to the lights inside your house. One way to trap them before they crawl under your slider is to place a long strip of duct tape, sticky side up, in front of the slider. Although this method is not an “out of sight, out of mind” solution, it does capture the critter before it invades your home. Replace the tape as you accumulate dead carcasses.
Many residents in Hawaii are discovering the powers of citrus oil to control ants, roaches and fleas. GreenSense Citrus Oil is made of a naturally occurring ingredient derived from orange peel oil. It can be sprayed in kitchens, bathrooms, on floors and carpets, and outside. It works by clogging the insect’s breathing holes with a waxy substance, causing suffocation while burning their exoskeleton. The citrus fragrance also repels insects. Some residents use a mixture of vinegar and water on countertops and surfaces to repel ants.
Carpenter ants are often confused with termites. To differentiate a carpenter ant from a termite, look for the telltale, narrow waistline and crooked antennae of the carpenter ant. According to the entomology department at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, carpenter ants feed on small insects and on most food found in a home, including meat and grease.
Spraying the rogue carpenter ants won’t solve the problem. If you are able to trace an entry hole in the wall or door, use a can of Term-Out with the flexible hose and needle nozzle, and spray into the hole. In serious cases, rotten paneling and woodwork should be completely replaced.
Of course all the powders and sprays in the world won’t help when you leave food or garbage out. If you don’t have a garbage disposal, you might want to bag your food scraps in the freezer until garbage day or your next dump run. Be sure all surfaces are clean and no particles of food are left around. Additionally, setting up a quarterly spraying program with your local pest control company can go a long way in bug-proofing your home.
Colorful lanterns light the way as taiko drums keep a lively beat and the smoky aroma of teriyaki barbecue penetrates the humid, summer air. It’s bon dance season in Hawaii, time to dig out your hapi coat or kimono and dance the night away.
In Hawaii, bon dancing is as much a local tradition as it is a Japanese one, attracting people from all backgrounds, ages and cultures. No one is too young or too old to participate in the the popular folk festivals honoring the ancestors and taking place at Buddhist missions and other venues June through August throughout the state.
In Japan, bon dance season takes place in August. Here in Hawaii, the season starts earlier so that more of the community can partake. The dances are staggered at various locations throughout the summer, such as at Daifukuji Soto Zen Mission in Honalo, or Kona Hongwanji Buddhist Temple in Kealakekua. Some bon dances even take place in parking lots of shopping centers, like Keauhou Shopping Center in Keauhou.
Participants come to dance, while other come to simply watch and enjoy the festivities. Everyone is welcome to dance, regardless of skill. Each church or mission hosts dance practices weeks prior to their event. The celebration is about unity and community bonding, so the more the merrier. There is no admission fee. Children have fun, too.
Towels and fans are often utilized in the dance. Some dances include taiko drumming, flute playing and singing. Pre-recorded music is also played. Also called “o-bon,” the Japanese bon dance tradition originated during the Muromachi Period from 1400 to 1430, beginning as a simple style of dance known as “Nembutsu Hayashi Mono.” Bon dance provided the community an outlet from the daily hard work of agricultural life. Today, bon dance is a time to replenish spiritual values, family life and harmony.
2016 Big Island Bon Dance Schedule:
July 16 (Sat.): Honokaa Hongwanji, 7 p.m., following 5:30 p.m. bon service; 3:30 p.m. graveside service at Kukuihaele Cemetery; 4 p.m. graveside service at Honokaa Cemetery (45-516 Lehua St., 775-7232)
July 16 (Sat.): Keei Buddhist Church (Kona Hongwanji), 7 p.m., following 6 p.m. service; cemetery service at 5 p.m. (83-5569 Middle Keei Rd., 323-2993)
July 23 (Sat.): Hilo Hooganji Mission, 7:30 p.m., following 6 p.m. service Obon service on Sunday, July 24, at 9:30 a.m.; Toro Nagashi at Wailoa Harbor on Sunday, July 24, at 7 p.m. (457 Manono St., 935-8331)
July 23 (Sat.): Kona
Hongwanji, 7 p.m., following lantern parade at 6:30 p.m.; Hatsubon service on Sunday, July 24, at 9 a.m. (81-6630 Mämalahoa Hwy., 323-2993)
July 23 (Sat.): Papaaloa Hongwanji, 6 p.m., following 5 p.m. service (35-2026 Old Mämalahoa Hwy., 962-6340)
July 30 (Sat.): Hilo Taishoji Soto Mission, 7-10 p.m.; Taishoji Taiko will perform; Hatsubon service on Sunday, July 31, at 9 a.m.; Toro Nagashi on Sunday, July 31, at 5 p.m. at the Wailoa River. (275 Kino‘ole St., 935-8407)
Aug. 6 (Sat.): Hawi Jodo Mission, 6 p.m., following 5:30 p.m. service; Obon service on Sunday, Aug. 7, at 10 a.m. (55-1104 Akoni Pule Hwy., 775-0965)
Aug. 6 (Sat.): Kurtistown Jodo Mission, 8 p.m., following Hatsubon and Obon service at 7 p.m. (17-4025 Kuaina Rd., 935-6996)
Aug. 12 (Fri.): Life Care Center of Hilo (Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin), 6 p.m., refreshments available (944 W. Kawailani St., 959-9151)
Aug. 13 (Sat.): Hamakua Jodo Mission, 7 p.m., following 6 p.m. service (44-2947 Kalöpä Rd., 775-0965)
Aug. 13 (Sat.): Kona Koyasan Daishiji Mission, 7 p.m., service at 5 p.m. (Hölualoa, 324-1741)
Aug. 20 (Sat.): Kamuela Hongwanji, 7 p.m., following 6 p.m. service; 4:30 p.m. graveside service at Kamuela Japanese Cemetery (65-1110 Mämalahoa Hwy., 885-4481)
Aug. 20 (Sat.): Hakalau Jodo Mission, 7 p.m., following Hatsubon and Obon service at 6 p.m. (29-2271 Old Mämalahoa Hwy., 935-6996)
Aug. 21 (Sun.): Pahala Hongwanji Mission, 5-9 p.m.; Obon service at 4 p.m. (96-1123 Pä‘au‘au Pl., 928-8254)
Aug. 27 (Sat.): Honohina Hongwanji, 7 p.m., following 6 p.m. service (32-896 Mämalahoa Hwy., 963-6032)
You’ve been saving money all your life to be able to make this bold move and now you are about to turn your biggest dream into reality. At this point, your instinct tells you that you are only a few months away from redecorating your own Hawaiian residence. Read More