The gaming site was in Paia…an artsy fun town that time forgot on Maui’s north shore. The players were local artists invited by Christine and Steve Turnbull to participate in a back room of their Paia gallery. It was a Saturday…8 pm on 15 December to be exact…that the game began. The stakes were high as it approached Sandy’s turn to play… her heart beat faster and her palms began to sweat…she was holding what she thought was a sure win. No, the game wasn’t poker…but better…it was “White Elephant”!! This was a game we had played before when we lived in Newburyport, Massachusetts…but there it was called “Yankee Swap”!!

The way the game works is this. Each participant brings a wrapped gift…something handmade…and by the name of the game (White Elephant)…something less than spectacular. Each participant draws a number at random from a bowl. Sandy drew 9. I drew lucky 13. When the game begins, the person with the lowest number goes first, selecting a gift from the White Elephant pile, unwrapping it to show all the other participants so they can “oooh and aah” (however that’s spelled). The next lowest number then goes and can either steal a previously revealed gift or can get a new one. If they choose to steal, the person stolen from can steal from someone else or get a new gift…and so it goes. Relative to stealing, two rules apply. First is that you can’t steal back from the person who just stole from you. Second is that a gift can only be stolen twice…upon the second steal, it goes out of play.

We were early in the game when things heated up. Bill Sanders, creator of beautiful vibrant oil paintings of landscapes (recently moved to Maui from Canada), was #4 and chose to pick the biggest box in the pile. When he opened it, he was clearly in shock. It was a wood sculpture by Steve Turnbull…about 18 inches tall…a small piece for Steve…but a lovely form.  (Steve does some enormous pieces…check out his work on the Turnbull website… There was much “oooing and aahing”. Sandy whispered to me that she really wanted it and was hoping to have an opportunity to steal it. The problem was that with four people before her and the “two steals max” rule, chances were slim to none. Well, it got to #7 and no one had stolen it yet from Bill. Neither did #7. Then it was #8’s turn. If 8 stole it then Sandy as #9 could swoop in for the second steal, do a jig and proclaim “It’s mine, all mine!!”

Eight did indeed make the first steal of the sculpture. Sandy’s heart rate jumped up with excitement anticipating her impending coup. But the gods were in a mischievous mood and had other plans. What those jokesters did was to place two #8’s in the bowl! What are the chances of that?? Well as you can guess, the second #8 stole the sculpture from the first #8…fete de complete…the door on the Turnbull sculpture slammed shut!!

Sandy couldn’t believe it. She was thinking of going ballistic, but maintained composure. This was worse than the Florida hanging chards of 2004 (or was it 2000). She wanted a recount…or maybe she should go for joint custody. Oh bummer…so close but so far!! The way I see it, it could have been worse…more traumatic. There could have been two #9’s instead of the two 8’s…then Sandy would have had to duke it out…and she would have.

Well, like I said, she took a deep breath and maintained decorum. She played nice and selected another wrapped gift from the White Elephant pile. As it happens, she did very nicely. She selected what turned out to be a gift basket of locally made soaps and fragrances by Denise Fleetham. Sandy loves these kinds of soaps. Denise and her husband have a farm in upcountry Maui where she produces her soaps using raw materials from their farm as well as from other sources in Hawaii. Denise sells her products in a number of stores and boutiques, as well as on line. Her website is

My number was 13. I was in a stealing mood. I thought for a second of stealing Sandy’s soaps…for fun…but quickly came to my senses. I then remembered a wooden ravioli rolling pin that someone else had gotten from the pile…so I stole that. It wasn’t particularly a prize gift, but being Italian and still thinking about wood, I went for it. No one else following me was interested in stealing it again, so I still have it…and hope to use it…someday.

The reason why Sandy and I were invited to the Turnbulls’ party is that we both have some glass pieces in their Paia gallery. There are several other glass artists there as well…Rick Strini, the Worcester’s, Steven Fellerman…all well known and respected glass artists. So, we are quite flattered to be included.

The attached photos are of a couple of pieces we have there. The first photo shows two of Sandy’s pieces…a pattern bar bowl and a bubble motif bowl that she recently developed. The pieces I have there are coral inspired glass. The second photo shows one of them. If you are in Paia, DO stop into the Turnbull Fine Art Gallery. There is much diverse high quality art to see…paintings in various media, sculptures, jewelry, as well as glass of course.