Wednesday, February 15, 2012

One Door Closes

Welcome to the last post for this blog. Thank you mom and dad, and treasured friends for supporting us during this adventure. You're encouragement has made the process easier to navigate, and I appreciate all the comments and long conversations!

I'm happy to say that writing, in particular about local food, has taken off for me. Every month, I write eight articles for MidWeek Kauai; two for Jazzercise; and 12 for my new website Tasting Kauai. That's 22 articles a month! 

In between, I am writing text and editing videos for the farm bureau's Kauai Grown campaign. Their site is still under construction, but so far, we have provided 35 videos, 37 text documents, and over 200 images. And there's more to come!

You can find me over at Tasting Kauai writing about Kauai's food scene. I'm also working on a book, creating a marketing plan, and having Dan design an ad for Edible Hawaiian Islands

If you want to read about life on Kauai, Dan's blog offers funny and thoughtful commentary along with his stunning photographs.

Of course, if you like his images so much that you want one on your wall, you can go to his website. He also does private photo tours and scenic portraits, so if you are coming, or have some friends visiting and want to snap shots of the island, or capture your wedding, anniversary or vacation with Kauai's gorgeous land and seascapes in the background, be sure to give him a call!

No matter what, well be having fun surfing the waves of life!

A hui hou!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Beautiful Mornin'!

Well dad, it was another beautiful morning yesterday. Dan and I got up to catch the sunrise. He had to make up for lost time the day before! The video shows the sunrise, it gets really colorful at the end. This time we were at Kialea Beach. It's really close to the house, it's the beach with the big waves you can see from the highway coming into Kapaa. We even got to see some whales breach! I feel so lucky to be able to live here!

Watch the sunrise

Moments before the sunrise

Sunrise! You can't tell, but there are whales jumping in the distance.

So far, these are all iPhone shots.

 I left Dan to his picture taking and Lucy and I went for a walk. He got this shot of us.

That little speck on the shore is Dan, I snapped it on our way back.

A little closer up

Lucy was pau (finished) when we got home

I love you and I miss you and I hope you have a productive day! Mom says you'll be out of the rehabilitation facility in a week or two!!

P.S. Susan and Micah are coming February 20 through the 25! They have everything booked, and are staying in Kilauea. That's where the farm I used to work at is, as well as the lighthouse.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Kauai Sunrise

A video Dan took just before sunrise. 

Dan and I got to see the sunrise over the ocean this morning and I wanted to share it with you. It's kind of embarrassing, but today is the first time in two years that we've gone to the beach just to watch the sun rise.

We got up three hours before dawn, and decided to go to the 24-hour laundry mat. While the clothes dried, we munched on Burger King bacon and egg croissants. I read while Dan played chess on his iPhone, Lucy napped on my lap. The laundry was folded just as dark was giving way to light, so we decided to go to Baby Beach. 
Dan instantly regretted not bringing his camera. He’s they type of guy who likes to wake up slow and easy, so I don’t expect he’d be thinking about a chance photo session at 5 a.m. He did have his phone, so he captured these images.
The beach is a narrow strip, about 30 yards long, fronted by a two-lane road. Tucked in between two trees, an older couple slouched in camping chairs and warmed their hands with a cup of coffee. A young lady sat in the cab of her old Chevy pickup and stared at the ocean through the windshield. Across the street, sea weathered and red-dirt stained houses face the beach.  

A rooster followed by two chickens scurried across the shore, picking up inedible objects with their beaks and flinging them aside. The water was a glassy dark blue as the sun winked to life and flung orange rays across the horizon. It grew into a big, fat fiery ball that lit the tips of cresting waves. 

We were sitting at a picnic table sheltered by a large Ironwood tree. I twisted behind me to wring out my back and give my eyes a break from the dazzling light. Just then, a slender young lady in a frilly pink nightgown flounced onto her grassy front yard. Cloaked in the chilly morning air, her long blond hair curled around her shoulders as she stood barefoot to watch the sunrise.

I turned back to that brightest star and closed my eyes. The sun warmed my face and luminous spots danced on the back of my eyelids. I took a deep, full breath of the fresh salt air, and silently thanked the Universe for allowing me to witness such a glorious sight. And for being able to live in such a beautiful place. 

I hope this brightens your day.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Juice Buzz

Dan always stops here if the weather is good. It's the overlook to Hanalei Bay.

This morning we woke before the sun came up. The sun rose at 7:18 today, so it’s really not that early. We wanted to get to Hanalei Bay so we could get one last shot for Koloa Rum, and then head over to the Hanalei farmers market. I thought about you the whole day because you would have loved it.

We never took you to the pier at Hanalei Bay, but it’s a great vantage point to see the towering mountains cradling the bay. The clouds were big, puffy white ones, and the sky was baby blue. Mist clung to the top of the bay, and sun colored the mountains a bright green. The water was warm, and Lucy ran around like a puppy.  

There was only one problem. We forgot the rum bottles! I think it’s fortuitous though, because Dan got a 36 shot panorama. I’ll post it once he’s done stitching it together and making it pretty. I think he’ll be able to sell it, and I don’t think he would have got it if he was focusing on the rum.

You can see the difference between my iPhone shots, and Dan's!

I am doing a story on Akamai Juice, and there are only two places to get it. One is the Hanalei farmers market. It’s one of the prettiest markets on the island, and today it was glorious! The sun was shining, lighting the grass field on fire. The field is surrounded in a semi circle by those giant mountains. There was music, food and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.
The juice booth was slammed and buzzing with energy. Cas, the juice maker is electric with happiness and is Kauai’s first female helicopter pilot. She’s been a photographer, producer, actress, a caterer on Hollywood films directed by Martin Scorsese, she built and managed West Virginia’s first indoor skate park, and owned a skate shop. I totally have a girl crush on her!

Cas in her juice booth, that's her husband looking back. He does concert video for the band Red Hot Chili Peppers.

We tried nine delicious fruit drinks and my favorite was the cucumber, coconut water, mint, honey and lime slushy. I talked to some farmers for future articles and we bought a ton of fresh produce because I’m cooking for Larry this week. 
We were full of juice, but a little peckish so we went to the Garden Cafe for lunch. Anne, the lady I owe my new career to, was there. She is the one who forwarded my letter of introduction to the editor of MidWeek, and he called to ask if I wanted to write the food column.
We had our lunch with Anne, and ended up talking story for three hours! Dan’s back is hurting because when he’s processing photos, he sits on the couch and leans over the Lane chest you gave us. Sometimes he does this for 10 hours a day! 
He was stretching his back out and Anne asked him what was wrong. She was so concerned over his back (she’s in her 60s) she recommended he take care of it because he’s not getting any younger. We brainstormed ideas about how we could get a desk in our tiny home. We were so inspired, we went to look at tables and chairs after we left. I think we’ll use the fold-up plastic table we have and get some nice, padded leather back dining chairs. They have a high back and will provide excellent support. It’ll be even more snug, but we need to get Dan a better working space.
We went to the grocery store to get the rest of the stuff for Larry and got home at 4:30. We are pau, which means finished. Time for a nap before I make Larry’s first meal. Sauteed local fennel with quinoa, pomegranate seeds, and a spicy lemon dressing made with Hawaiian chili peppers.
I hope you enjoy the pictures. I wish you were here!
Love you dad and mom!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hau`oli Makahiki Hou!

On the way to Ha`ena

Hola Papi y mami,
Dad, I hope you got some lessons on the tablet you got for Christmas. If so, Greg can put this app on there. Then, you can touch the big button on your screen, and it will open to the most recent post on my blog. Simple.
Today is the last day of 2011. I'm lying in bed, it’s 6:30 and still dark, and thinking about all I have to be grateful for. The first thing that comes to mind is you. When I came home from Colorado, it was with a heavy heart. I was afraid it was the last time I was going to see you. Alternatively, I wondered if the dad I grew up with was going to be replaced by an impostor, and was mom going to be OK?
I had nothing to worry about. 
You are the thing I am most grateful for this year. I am grateful to be your daughter. I am grateful to know you. I am grateful you are such a good person. I am grateful you are alive. I’m grateful that you are still you, maybe even improved. I am grateful you can see how loved you are.
I smile to myself, knowing that you are safe in the swank rehab facility you just moved into. As I pull the blanket up to my neck and tuck my arm under, I realize I’m grateful for chilly mornings and snuggly blankets. 

Dan getting ready 

To get this shot. It's on the North Shore, next Ke`e Beach. It's the wet cave, and the entrance to the "Blue Room", you have to swim to get there!
Tears fill my eyes and spill onto my cheeks when I think of Baxter Brown. Nothing brings tears to my eyes quicker than thinking about that dog. I miss him. I think about him everyday, especially in the morning. We used to wake up with a good snuggle. Me, on my side, he spooned in the curve of my body. He would softly nuzzle my ear, moaning in delight, as he inched to get closer. I haven’t went on a good walk since I lost him. It’s just not the same.  I’m grateful that I got to know him, that I got to love him. His kind of love was really special.
Besides being grateful for our health, Lucy Lane, the jeep that gets us around, the roof over our heads, warm clean water, a full refrigerator, money in the bank and bills paid, I’m grateful for how my husband shows up in adversity. He is a natural leader, an optimist who sees the good in people. He is my crutch when I doubt myself, my solid partner who makes me laugh. The one I hold hands with at night, the one who sits next to me when I write.

Sitting next to Dan while he works on his photographs is a dream come true. The creativity sparks between us as he asks my opinion about a shot. Do I like “A” or “B” better? “A” I say, I like how it’s composed. Words have always mattered to me, but now, even more so. As I struggle to find the perfect word to express the exact sentiment, I ask him if word “A” or “B”, has more impact. “B” he says, it has more meaning. 

Sunrise over Hanalei Pier

We spent Christmas Eve driving to the North Shore, and back to Wailua to finish getting the Jeepstyle shots. I am his assistant, and I appreciate the excuse to get out of the house. Every time I get out, I remember how lucky I am to be living in such a beautiful, inspiring place. 

We hiked over to this secluded area to get big wave shots

We stood on slippery lava rocks for about 45 minutes watching the show

Lucy was not impressed

But we sure were! Dan isn't totally happy with this shot, so we'll be going back for more. I don't mind because watching those 30 foot waves was better than any firework show!

We perch on slippery lava rocks, and waves crash and splash around us. Lucy wades in the water between them. We are getting more shots for Koloa Rum. The late afternoon sun glints off the cresting waves and pierces my heart. It’s these snapshots that I treasure. They remind me of exploring this beautiful life with my husband. Except now, we are getting paid to do it!

What I see

What Dan sees

I still pinch myself when I think about getting paid to write about food. Unbelievable. I’m glad the island has contrived ways to feed Dan and I so well. We’ve had numerous free dinners we couldn’t have afforded otherwise. When I think about how it came to me, I know the best thing to do is the best I can, and then surrender. I’ve learned to get caught up in the flow of life and let it’s current wash over me and take me where it will. Even the writing is not mine, God and my spirit dance inside me and words come out.  
I guess that’s my biggest lesson of the year. Learning to recognize that feeling. What it feels like to be plugged in and turned on. Learning to notice what I’m doing when that happens, and what I’m doing when it doesn’t. Learning how to let go of all the stuff and people that make me feel bad, and learning how to cultivate activities and friendships that make me feel good.
I have come to believe that’s our purpose in life. To live it fully so God and my spirit know what it feels like to be alive and thriving. I learned it from Baxter and Lucy and the ocean and trees and flowers and birds and plants. They thrive because they can. God and spirit want to experience the expression of joy and love through me. Knowing it affects the people I interact with, is the way I can make a difference in this world. One smile or kind word (or both!) at a time. 
In our conversations, I’ve noticed a happier man. Despite the physical challenges, you’ve come out on top. You choose to focus on what’s right in your life. Namely, your marriage, family and friends. You know that you are one loved man. That your wife is unflinchingly devoted, and stronger than you realized. That you raised your kids to be loving and kind. That you have dear friends who will do whatever your heart desires to make you comfortable. 
I wish you and mom a rich 2012, full of laughter, love and joy. 
Hau`oli Makahiki Hou! Happy New Year family and friends!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Rob’s Patty

The taro fields in Hanalei (This is a Dan shot, the rest are from my phone)

Hola papi!

I have been missing my family a lot, so I decided to make some of mom's dishes. It reminds me of her, home and my family.

Dan made alioli

and we served it with seared Kauai lamb chops. Those purple chunks at the bottom are fried taro.

My attempt at mom's mac and cheese turned out pretty good.
Even though the skies are full of grey clouds, we are heading up to the North Shore to get some shots for Jeepstyle, and the Koloa Rum Company. It’s a horrible time of year to shoot beautiful pictures, but these clients want their shots by mid-January. 
Sign outside The Feral Pig
We went to a restaurant called The Feral Pig the day before, so I spent the morning writing the article for MidWeek Kauai. Dan culled though those shots, and made them pretty. My other column, Farmers Markets, is featuring romaine lettuce, so Dan processed those as well. 
By the time we were ready to head up north, it was one o’clock, and we were starving. We had done a profile on a restaurant up there, and the chef gave us coupons for two free meals. We figured we’d cash those in before they expired. 

Cloudy skies at Hanalei Bay

The restaurant has outside dining, and it’s situated right next to the garden that supplies the kitchen. When you’re done eating, or while you’re waiting for your food, you can take a little stroll around. The gardens are in a circular pattern, with papaya, palm and banana trees lining the permitter. Chickens roost and provide eggs, and lambs graze in the field.

We didn’t take you there because, when you were here, the chef was horrible and a jerk as well. Chef Rodman is the new chef. He came from Oahu where he was the chef de cuisine at the Palm Terrace in Turtle Bay Resort. It was fancy-smancy, but he moved his family here for a more relaxed lifestyle.

Dan ordered the hamburger made with Kauai beef, and I ordered the Asian beef tacos also made with Kauai beef. Dad, those tacos were so good! Tender ropes of beef, slow-cooked in a rich tomato sauce. It was served on two corn tortillas and topped with kale, because Rodman says, “It’s way healthier.” A spicy yogurt sauce was drizzled over the kale, and came with a side of black beans, quinoa, and fresh salsa.

We’ve become friends with Rodman, and while we were waiting for our food, he set a plate of poke in front of us. “Here, while you’re waiting try this and let me know what you think. I’m trying it out, see how people like it. I’ve only sold six today.”

A lady saw Dan taking pictures, and asked if he could fix her camera

I know you don’t like raw fish, but it was delicious. The ahi tuna was tender, and really fresh. It melted in out mouths. There was a spicy sauce made with sriracha, a Thai hot sauce, and slivers of raw onion. 
Since the light wasn't that great, he put it on his tripod to check it out. She appreciated it, and said she wants to hire him to take family portraits while they are here.

While we ate, Dan laughed and said, “Next time, we should just come in and sit down. We don’t even need to order.” I laughed too because it’s true. Last time we came, he had us try three other things on the menu, as well as two new fruit drinks.

Sometimes, like today, he sits with us and fills us in on what’s cookin’. “Oh Marta! You gotta try this lamb we just got in!” he tells me, his eyes gleaming with excitement. “They’re from our fields, we hung them to dry for 14 days.”
Rodman is a gregarious local boy, around 35-years old, with dark hair and eyes, and golden skin. His lanky frame leans against the chair-back, one leg crossed over his knee, and his white T-shirt is damp with sweat.
“We took those bad boys to Medeiros this morning and they had both of them cut, ground and packaged in 25 minutes!” He smacks the back of his hand into the palm of the other to emphasize the butcher’s speed. 
I ask him how the lamb is going to show up on the menu. “After Christmas, I’m going to make rack of lamb, I’m going to roast it with cinnamon and some other spices. You gotta try some of it! I’ll be right back.” He disappears into the kitchen, the screen door closing behind him with a whack!
Several months ago, the restaurant had bought some of Dan’s photos for their website, but Dan wasn’t happy with the burger shot. So he snapped about 40 shots of it while I tucked into my tacos. I learned not to wait for him, because my food gets cold. 
Everyone sits on these long, wood communal tables with tops that are about three inches thick. There are eight chairs to a table. We had one to ourselves, and it was situated right in front of the kitchen door. Lucy napped under the table. 
Rodman, with plated lamb patty in hand, opens the screen door with a flourish just as the actor Rob Lowe rounds the corner. They almost collide. Rob stops, looks down, and says, “What’s that?” 
“A lamb patty.”
“Can I have one?”
Rodman sets the lamb patty, crisscrossed with a garlicky yogurt sauce, down in front of us. “Tell me what you think,” he says, and heads off into the kitchen to make Rob’s patty. 
We are full, but we devour it anyway. Rob and his family settle into the next table over. A few minutes later, Rodman slides into the chair across from me, and asks, “What do you think?” “It’s wonderful,” I say. “It tastes so clean, and it’s very juicy.”
“OK. You gotta try this cookie we made with fresh peppermint leaves.” 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sweet As Honey

Dear Dad,
It’s been raining a lot lately. Big, gushing storms with thunder cracks that vibrate the house, and lightning flashes at once through the east and west windows. This morning we woke to a steady rainfall, and a monster muddy puddle in the middle of the driveway.
Dan and I are sleepy-eyed and crunchy because we’ve got a handful of clients who want stuff now. Yesterday, Dan spent his time on the couch hunched over the cedar chest you and mom gave us, processing photos for the Farm Bureau. I wrote two Jazzercise articles, and did some price negotiating on Dan’s behalf.  
We are up early because we have to drive through the tree tunnel and into Koloa town, just before Poipu, to shoot a video and some photographs of a beekeeper. Dan was a little cranky by the time we got in the car. Turning the ignition, the voice of Chris Cornell filled the jeep, singing, “To be yourself is all that you can be.” 
The rain had stopped as we headed out, and the sun was starting to break through the silver clouds, the ocean winked in the distance. Warm tropical air tousled our hair, and Lucy’s ears flapped in the wind. She likes to stand on me, her paws hanging over the lip of the jeep’s window, and surf the scents floating on the air. As we splashed down the wet roads, the island started working it’s magic on us, and soon, Dan was singing along. 
By the time we got to Koloa town, the rain was back and I was wishing for my hoodie. I didn’t need to worry though because Chris, the bee whisperer, has us get into zippered bee suits complete with veils. We had one pair of gloves, and since Dan is allergic to bees, I gave them to him.

A wide swatch of loam, it’s topsoil loose and scattered with leaves, stretched out before us. Twenty stacks of bee hives lined the perimeter. We stood under the canopy of trees, and pointed our cameras to Chris. Dappled sunlight danced across his forehead as he talked about bees.
I have no idea what type of flower this was, but it looks cool!

Chris has five bee yards; one in Wiamea, one in Kalaheo, and three in the Koloa/Poipu area. In one hive, there is a queen, and about 15,000 bees. He hasn’t noticed a decline is his bee population, which he has been maintaining for 10 years, and he thinks it’s because he doesn’t use docile bees.

Bees are bred to be less aggressive, so they can’t protect their hives. Chris’ bees are the way nature made them, full of aggression and power. These bees have the strength to fight off pests that try to invade their home. His bees stand guard at the entrance to the hive, and send the varroa mites, ants and mice to suckle something else.

Dan and I nervously watched as Chris took the top off a hive. I imagined 15,000 bees flying out in an angry swarm. Dan imagined getting stung, and going into anaphylactic shock. 
As Chris smoked the bees, he said it calms them down. The bees think there is a fire, and begin to suck up honey before taking flight. If you want to see a bee tongue, check out the picture Dan posted on his blog today. It’s the bee on the far right, if you enlarge the picture (by clicking on it) you can see his little tongue. 

The bees happily slurped up their sweet nectar and paid us no mind. Dan and I had our camera lenses in there, and got some great video and photos. Chris is a pretty funny guy, and he was not taking this “Kauai Grown” thing seriously. I’ll post the video once I finish it which should be this Thursday.

So proud of Dan for overcoming his fears!

I moved around front so Dan could get some shots, and a bee slammed into the knuckle on my left index finger. “Don’t freak out!” I said loudly, more for myself that anyone else. “I just got stung!” I watched the bee bear down, inject his venom, and fly off, leaving his stinger in my finger. It hurt.
Chris calmly asked me to walk away from the hives and towards our cars. They react to aggression, and when they smell the sting, they’ll sting again. They are the ultimate protector, since the bee will die once it stings you.

At this point, my index finger was swollen and red from my fingernail to my knuckle.

Using a blunt tool to scrape the stinger out, Chris said it was important not to pull it out. There is a sack of venom at the end of the stinger, and if you pull it out, more venom will get in.
It’s been just over six hours, and my finger is swollen, as well as my middle finger and thumb. It has also spread to my bottom knuckles and I can barely flex my hand. It still hurts. Dan keeps telling me to take Benadryl, I keep forgetting. 

No longer red, but swollen and painful.

I don’t know how I managed to get stung for the first time at age 45, but I know I don’t want it to happen again!
Love to you and mom, I miss you guys!
A little honey love.