Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mother's Know Best

When I told mom and dad what was going on at the bakery and of my secret evil plan to get revenge, my mom adamantly told me to take the high road. Lee and Cindy said stand your ground, take the high road, it's a small island, don't ruin your reputation. So, I stuffed my anger and emailed her. I told her I quit and listed the hours I worked for her. She wrote back, all confused, asking me why. She also said she had a check waiting for me at her house. 

Later in the afternoon Dan and I took Lucy to the vet to have her teeth checked and her butt squeezed again. She has a problem expressing on a regular basis. TMI? =) I wanted Dan to come with me to the baker's house, as a witness of sorts, Cindy's suggestion of being set up was fresh in my mind. 

Baxter didn't like being left in the car, he's been here before. He voiced his outrage as we walked through the banana patch to the back of the house where she and I used to meet. A young lady was sitting on the porch listening to Hawaiian music and typing on her laptop. Startled to see me, I introduced myself and told her there was a check waiting for me. She had no idea about the check or who I was. After explaining my story she went inside and called the baker. Several minutes later she came out and handed me the phone. The baker was angry! She told me my numbers weren't matching up. I was so shocked that she was angry and again accusing me of doing something dishonest, my mind went blank and I fumbled for words to explain the money again. Handing the phone back to her assistant, I went to the car to get my cell phone, I had texted her after market with the total amount in the cash box. 

Baxter, having finally calmed down, started barking again at my approach. The baker now wants to give me $50.00 less than what she owes me, $50.00 less than what the awaiting check was supposed to be. I ask her assistant if she just can't give me the whole amount so we can be done, she says no. I take the check she has just written me as Dan writes an itemized list of the money situation; what was made, how much Val took, the amount I paid for our booth at market, my market pay, deducted the amount of the check her assistant just wrote me and left the balance due. She said she would call the baker, I asked her to mail the check as I live 30 minutes away.

Back in the comfort and safety of our home, I forward the baker's assistant an email the baker wrote me saying there'd be a check for $250.00 waiting and to take the remaining monies from the cash box. I still haven't heard anything but, at least I took the high road. And, if her check doesn't bounce (it's from a bank in Austin, TX) then I'll only be $50.00 short. Unless, of course, I get a check in the mail.

I feel really great about being done with the whole thing. Not having to work for her has infused me with energy and opened me up for other pursuits, namely writing. Writing had been put on the back burner as I scrambled every week to keep up with the baker's ever changing needs. Whew! Moving on.

Here are some pictures from Sunday's hike to Ho'opi Falls. 

On the way in

Baxter and Lucy give the hike a "2 tails waggin" rating because it has drinks!

Once again, we are astounded by the enormous beauty.

We heard the falls way before we saw them.

Ho'opi Falls, less than 5 minutes from our house.

Making our way back,

I stopped to hug a tree!

Happy Trails!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A good baker will rise to the occasion, it's the yeast she can do.

I'm really pissed (sorry dad) and have quit the bakery, only the baker doesn't know yet. I'm feeling really passive aggressive about the whole thing. 

Everything was fine until about 2 weeks ago when I asked to get paid. I have been doing the KCC Farmers Market on Saturdays and got my pay directly from the cash box at the end of the day. During the week I would write text for her website, make labels, product lists and other marketing materials. This is what I have not been paid for, she owes me $425.00 for work done over the course of 7 weeks, about 6 hours a week.

To make the long, boring, insanity breeding story short; once I invoiced her for the money she attacked me and my work ethic accusing me of doing bad work and over charging her. Before I asked her for my money she was fine with my work. I got really mad, I didn't appreciate being called a liar and a thief and told her to forget it, I didn't want to work for her anymore and she could keep the money. 

Knowing she was leaving soon for a month, she smoothed it over by saying she didn't mean to make it sound like she was questioning my work ethic. She would pay me Tuesday. Tuesday turned into Wednesday. Wednesday turned into Thursday and Thursday turned into Saturday. In the meantime she had no problem asking me to do additional work, which I of course did not do. She agreed to put the money she owed me in the cash box Saturday morning. It wasn't there, just the normal chaotic, confusing, running late, crazed rush that had become my Saturday mornings. She left the bakery in a rush saying she would drop the money off at my house on her way to the airport and by the way please take the $50.00 bag of freshly harvested and toasted macadamia nuts to your house and I will pick that up as well. 

After market, she left a message saying take everything but $100.00 from the cash box and (if she can remember) she will leave the rest at her house (it's unlocked) in the form of a check, how much do I owe you? I call her back, she's not answering her phone, I leave a message - like I'm going to trust a check that she may or may not remember to leave at her house - I tell her the deal was cash and she can drop it off on her way to the airport. I got a call from her last night asking me if I picked up her notebook, the one she needs for her trip. I tell her no, she says she'll call me later tonight once she gets in. I didn't care at that point, I already had a plan devised with the help of my husband. Of course there was no call, but it's too late anyway.

There was $176.50 left in the cash box so it is now mine. The cash box (which was her mother's cosmetic case) and the mac nuts will be returned to her when she pays me the remaining $248.50. And, I'm not doing the market anymore, but she can find that out Saturday morning when her helper calls to say I haven't shown up and they can't get a hold of me. 

I have two questions for you. The first is: do you think I am being too harsh?

That leads to my second question. I like her, we got along great - like sisters who hadn't seen each other in a while. She is a fantastic baker creating baked goods that I have never seen before; unique, delicious and made with real food. No artificial ingredients, fillers, preservatives, no junk. It's bad food that you can feel good about eating! Bad in the sense that it's baked goods and we all know you shouldn't eat too much of those!

So, I find myself still wanting to be nice. Sometimes I want to call or email her to say I'm quitting so she can find some other sucker to do the market, so the other girls don't have to suffer from it. I want to give her the benefit of the doubt, give her another chance. Dan says it's because I'm nice. So my second question is: is that being nice or being weak?

On the fun front, Dan and I went with Jillian and her family to the Kauai Farm Bureau County Fair Thursday. They had a petting zoo for the kids, carnival rides, food and a contest for produce. She had 27 entries. We all met up and went straight for the tent to see what she had won. It was amazing to see! The tent was lined with vendors selling everything from tee-shirts and bonzais to solar systems and orchids. In the back, 4 rows of tables stretching about 40 feet were covered in fruits, vegetables and herbs that people had grown. It was exciting to see how much could be grown here. Someone is even growing apples!! Impossible here we thought; until we saw them. They are being grown on the west side, high up in the mountains of Kokee. 

From what we could ferret out, Jillian had won about 10 first and second prizes, it will be published in the Garden Island newspaper soon. We had a great time watching the kids get excited about the animals and carnival rides!

Dan gives Azure a ride into the fair.

Gary checking to see if their Noni entry won.

Okra, chili peppers and long beans.

Jillian got 1st place for her Hawaiian chili peppers

and second place for their taro used to make poi.

Jillian's friend Meako checks out the eggplant.

Giant squash


More peppers, bell peppers are really hard to grow here because of the fruit flies. As are tomatoes and zucchini.

Jackfruit in the front and red dragon fruit.

Cherry tomatoes grow well here.

Philly and his wife Tara owners of Kauai Fungi, live on the property with Gary and Jillian. They won first place and second for their oyster mushrooms

but they were the only mushroom entries =)

Jillian's Ethiopian kale




Guava, papaya and longon.


Jillian came in 4th overall.

Beautiful orchids

Dan checks out the goats

and a huge pig

while the kids run around with the animals.

In the end, I have decided. If she calls I will tell her, if she doesn't I won't! We are on our way to a waterfall 5 minutes from the house, it was dumping rain last night so it should have a lot of water!

Thursday, August 26, 2010


photograph by Sam Mitzel

It occurred to me that you may want to read about something other than me adjusting to my new life on the most remote island in the world! Maybe you want to know about the people and places that make the island so beautiful and rewarding to live on. I am an employed writer for a Hawaii travel blog and thought I'd share some of my previous posts with you. Come for a  virtual visit to Kauai every Thursday and you will find information on where to go and what to do in this tropical paradise. If there is a specific place or event that you'd like to know about, email me and I'll write a post about it. Otherwise, every Sunday I will write about the progress and adventures Dan, Baxter, Lucy and I are making adapting to island life. 

Tucked away behind the Waipouli Resort in Kapa’a is Oasis on the beach. Walking through the elaborate hotel, a koi pond embellishes the entrance to the courtyard. Your senses come alive as you follow along a winding path lined with hibiscus and indigenous vegetation toward the ocean. Sounds of birds chirping and ocean waves mix with the melody of children laughing and playing in the pool, a serpentine like river switchbacking throughout the courtyard. Adults relax with a book and order snack foods from the pool side cafe. 
Walking into Oasis is like walking into an idyllic beachfront bar with a touch of sophistication. Inside, the floor to ceiling windows are wide open inviting the ocean breeze to sweep through and cool you off. A solid wood, hand-carved Outrigger canoe serves as the bar and seating spills outside onto the lanai.
Oasis proudly serves locally sourced specialties with appetizers, lunch, dinner and tropical drinks, including the house made Mai Tai. Appetizers such as Kauai Shrimp Cakes with a Chili and Black Bean Glaze and entrees like Rosemary Crusted Pork Chop and Pan Seared “Catch of the Minute” are featured on the small, well thought out menu. Working closely with Kauai’s farmers, ranchers and fishermen, ninety percent of their food is local.
On a typical evening, Hawaiian music serenades you into a tropical stupor but occasionally, bands with a youth driven edge play. This past Saturday my husband and I went to see The Throwdowns, a ska band, playing to benefit Surfrider Kauai. Whenever you come, you’re sure to enjoy the local music commingling in a seductive dance with the sounds of the ocean. 
This is where I go to have a drink and relax, celebrate a special occasion or bring friends and family visiting from the mainland. With it’s beautiful ocean view, tasteful tropical decor and fresh local food, Oasis is pure and elegant Kauai. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Kauai's beauty greets me warmly again and I feel good because it's harvest day. As I drive to the north shore, stealing glances at the early morning sunlight playing off the ocean, I reflect on how well things are going. Money is coming in pretty good, Dan spoils me with his thoughtful love, my writing seems to be moving forward. I think maybe the personal chef thing isn't going to go anywhere after all. I'm ok with that. I have no attachments with how my work takes shape as long as I enjoy what I am doing and get paid well for it.

I'm a good 2 hours into harvest and I'm hot, dirty and sweaty. I love it; it's like orchestrating a live show; there are things you know for sure and things that you don't. I know we will harvest an average of 200 pounds of produce. I don't know exactly what that produce will be. This week we had 20 pounds of meyer lemons and 12 pounds of green beans that weren't planned for. The CSA boxes were loaded and our wholesale outlets had already placed their orders. So in between the activity I made a call to Dan to see if he wants some lemons or beans.

There is a message from Simone, our neighbor, and am immediately concerned. I listen to her excited voice tell me that she has a job lead for me. Phillip's sister Deborah works at a pretty fancy restaurant and some of her patrons were asking about a personal chef. Simone says Deborah came over this morning and tacked a note on my door with the information. At our house she reads me the note and lets the dogs out. We decide that although I don't need to call them right now I should sometime today.

I am relaxed for todays harvest because I am no longer making the deliveries. It was always the most stressful part of the day. Trying to get everything into the jeep, invoices printed out and on the way to Kapa'a by 1:30 for the 2 o'clock delivery. Jillian is a little stressed out so I offer to take her to lunch.

As we sit in the open air dining room of the Lighthouse Bistro, waiting for our shared order of a bacon cheeseburger and fries, we toast to another successful harvest. We immediately fall into an animated conversation about where we want the farm to go. How big? Do we only want to sell to restaurants and grocery stores? How can we get folks to understand what a CSA is? The summer season is almost over what can we do to generate new members? A doctor in town wants to prescribe our CSA to his clients with obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. This, I think we should focus on. Next week I will make flyers to put in his office. We fall into a well established natural rhythm of dreaming, planning and stretching ourselves.

By the time I get home I am buzzing with joy. I feel so good about harvest, not doing deliveries and my lunch with Jillian that I bombard Dan with the latest update. Jillian wants me to do more work for the farm, Gary (her husband) wants me to do work for his business creating a marketing campaign. He wants Dan to do the website and think about heading up a new division of his business. My excitement is contagious and by the end of our conversation he is excited about all the possibilities too.

I get out of the shower still humming and I sit on the side of my bed. I am about to call the folks who want a personal chef. I close my eyes and feel what is going on inside, it feels electric. I ask my spirit if this job will happen and I get a happy, easy yes. I let go of expectations and say ok, lets see how this unfolds. My needs are taken care of, I am busy, may as well throw it all out there. I'll ask for my full rate. It feels freeing to surrender to what life has in store for me. No expectations, no control, just ride the wave. It's fun too, it puts me right in the moment, the outcome a mystery.

Scott's ebullient voice soars across the air waves. He and his wife Julie are having a dinner party for 8. Can I do it tomorrow night? What do I specialize in? What do I charge? I immediately like him and Julie as they pass the phone between themselves to ask me questions, ecstatic because they are on vacation in Hawaii! I tell them I will send them an email for meal options and ask them to reply by 8am tomorrow morning.

I'll let the pictures tell the story of the evening. It went fantastically well. Yes, there is room for improvement. Despite the few bumpy spots they really enjoyed the evening as did Dan and I. I like this new way of living my life. Trying all kinds of things that I enjoy for work. The farm, the bakery, making flyers, writing and personal cheffing. I am following momentum in whatever area that occurs in. Happy to let other areas that are not working drop off. I work hard at each job because that is who I am. People recognize that and appreciate it. I am happy because I am getting paid to be me, time flies, at the end of the day I feel tired in a good way. I feel satisfied in surrendering.

The entrance to Scott and Julie's vacation rental.

A view of Nawiliwili Bay from their deck

The beach in front of the Kauai Marriott Resort.

The neighbors.

They all enjoyed appetizers on the deck while we prepared the next course.

Scott at the head of the table and his wife Julie in the white dress start dinner with a "Hawaiian prayer" preceding a real prayer.

Scott loves him some dance music, loud! He cranked the tunes, they all drank wine (except the kids) and we danced, cooked and washed dishes. At this point they were enjoying a desert of grilled fresh pineapple and vanilla ice cream drizzled with a carmel rum sauce and chocolate sauce on the side when he cranked Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody and broke out his video camera. Everyone sang, even the kids and us! After dinner everyone danced and Scott pulled me out for a couple of spins and photo ops.

Since we have downsized in all things including income we shave the dogs instead of taking them to the groomer. My role is to provide a safe place for the dogs to be still, their head resting on my lap as Dan shaves them.
It took us a total of 4 hours and 2 days but we did it, I think they look pretty good for first timers. We did have help from our old groomer in Colorado. She told us what type of sheers and blades to get and how to do it.
I had a meeting at Shelsea's on the way to the farm so she made me this fantastic lunch. Scrambled eggs with leftover fried rice, cheddar cheese, fresh garlic and greens.
A beautiful lettuce mix from harvest this week.

It has been raining all week but I decided to take the dogs out anyway. It was dumping as we made our way down the rutted, muddy dirt road. I thought about going home but remembered I had a rain coat in the car. As soon as I parked the jeep, the rain let up and the sun came out.

Baxter was not intimidated by the 3 foot shore breaks.

He just launched over the waves to get his toy.


Meanwhile, Lucy plays with these black nuts that wash up on shore. You can kinda see it there at the tip of her nose.

She digs like crazy just in front of the nut and it slowly goes further into the ever increasing hole. She loves it, spending the entire time consumed in this little game! 

Right as I got in the jeep it started to rain again!