The Spirit of Hawaii

b.story 12.04.11 Hawaii Hibiscus1

For the second year in a row, we left the land of gray drizzle for one of brilliant sun.  My husband should be warned, this could become a most delightful habit!  Last year we traveled to Sayulita, Mexico this year we had the opportunity to explore Kauai, Hawaii.  We packed up the kids, brought along our parents and enjoyed six glorious days playing in the surf and sand of beautiful Hawaii.  

Labeled the ‘Garden Island,’ Kauai is a tropical paradise full of black lava, white sand, turquoise sea, towering palm trees and brilliant flowers.  It is a world of big shapes and saturated color.  The tropical jungle of the mountains collides with the arid, sandy beach.  Warm sun mixes with the moist sea air and background music is provided by the rustling palm fronds, crashing surf and all those chickens!

Our chicken experiences on the island were numerous.  Chickens were everywhere. Sometimes it seemed as though the chickens ruled the road!  We would often see a hen followed closely by her brood of chicks.  One morning a chicken took me by surprise by flying up to my balcony… for this urban girl, ‘flying’ chickens were a brand new experience.  In Portland we are very used to the sounds of urban poultry.  But here in Kauai it was the sound of the roosters that served as our daily alarm clock.  Every morning, they made their joyous pronouncement (again and again and again) that another day in paradise had begun.

My favorite moments were those spent on the beach with my children.  I am always amazed by how brave children can be.  In their everyday life they are constantly trying new things and navigating new processes.  While on vacation I watched my children approach and conquer new challenges with grace and confidence.  I remember attempting snorkeling the first time… breathing underwater that first time left me with a panicked feeling.  But my children leapt into the water, excited to explore the magical world that awaited them.  My son proclaimed the one that was bright yellow with black markings as ‘the awesomest!’. Their confidence under the water was matched only by their excitement to ride the the tops of the waves.  My children didn’t hesitate when the opportunity came to try surfing on a boogie board with only the power of the waves to push them towards shore.  My daughter mastered the boogie board riding the waves with her favorite bud only inches away and wearing a great big wide smile.

Our days were filled with a string of events, taking us away from our daily routine of schoolwork, chores and business into a world of new sights, sounds, smells and tastes.  Some of our favorite adventures included finding the islands best malasadas (the Hawaiian donut) and learning about the native birds and plantlife in order to become Junior Rangers at the Kilauea lighthouse and bird sanctuary.  We were delighted by the whoooosh and the pffffffth as a swell of water was pushed through a a narrow hole in the lava rocks in a geyser-like fashion and we were awed by the vastness of the chasm at Waimea Canyon composed of deep red etched walls.  We bravely traversed a crickety, wooden, swinging bridge where a gentle breeze took on the feel of a tropical storm. We watched a cluster of sea turtles as the waves buffeted there huge bodies around and around and around with the crashing surf.   But mostly we hung out on the lanai, three generations enjoying the slow and easy pace induced by the air of the tropics.

 And as luck would have it, we shared vacation time on this beautiful island with a couple favorite friends.  Family time and friend playdates all in the same vacation, my kids didn’t think it could get much better.  One day we were invited to visit our friends staying on the north shore.  We were invited to enjoy the beach, share a meal and play in the water.  What we got was a great big hug, an open and inviting table and a spirit that will sustain me throughout the year.  The afternoon became the highlight of the trip, not because of any big momentous occasion (although it IS where my children learned to boogie board!) but because of a cluster of shared moments, which, when strung together, create a picture of friendship and adventure, all within a wickedly beautiful setting. 

A Ray of Sunshine

b.story 12.03.12 daffodils miniature
My daughter got in the car the other day and announced, “It smells like summer.”  The day had been one of those extraordinary early spring days where everything is warm and feels of promise.  The car had that earthy warm smell that comes from sitting in the sun after transporting two active children.  Perhaps it…

My Pig

b.story 11.07.29 11.08.05 pigs
I have two children. As I have said before, my son is my little gardener. And my daughter is my little environmentalist. She has always been one who looks at the big picture. It was a result of her encouragement that you will find me riding my bicycle to accomplish my close in errands. During…

The Forests and Wetlands are Healing

b.story 11.07.17 mock orange
A couple weeks ago, I had a health scare. It is nothing that cannot be fixed. It has, however, reminded me that I am getting older and I need to take better care of myself. Too often, it is too easy to say that work needs me or kids need me or my garden needs…

Summer Vegetables

b.story 11.06.03 plant store
Are you tired of hearing me complain about the cold and the rain?  Me too!  Memorial Day weekend marks the time when Oregonians can get summer vegetable seedlings into the ground and I start dreaming about Caprese Salad, Zucchini Gratin, and Nicoise Salad.  I begin to look forward to long, leisurely suppers served outdoors, surrounded…

A Special Place

b.story 11.05.17 home maple tree
We lost a couple members of the family this week. Or what feels like a couple members. One I will be happy to see go. I will mourn the loss of the other two. Three of our six 80-year-old trees that border the sidewalk have reached the end of their lifespan and need to be…


b.story 11.04.16 Sue Momfia
The weather this week has been very conducive to wandering.  The trees are flowering and my baby seeds are sprouting (at least some of them!). I enjoy wandering around my yard in the morning, to see what might be new, what might have grown and how things are coming along. My concentration level seems to…

Spring Break where the Sun Shines

b.story 11.04.02 Sayulita beach
Last week my family spent a glorious (sunny!) vacation enjoying the little beachside town of Sayulita, Mexico.This was the first time we took our kids out of the country. And so, the typical pre-vacation crazies that go along with all those pre-vacation chores was compounded with the pre-vacation anxiety of taking my children to a…

Breathe, Play, Explore

b.story 11.03.10 play breathe explore
The to-do list can be so long.  It can be overwhelming.  Sometimes, I feel like I am just moving from one item to the next.Less concerned about what it is that I am doing, than I am about getting it done.Laundry, cleaning, accounting, planning family dinner.Family life is overlaid with work life, which has its own…

Salt and Pepper Mountain

b.story 11.02.25 Grandma and Grandpa
My grandmother used to always say that she had “salt and pepper hair.” She had the cutest smile and a wry sense of humor. She also had the biggest heart and gave out the best hugs. Oh, and she was a fabulous cook! Another of her sayings went “Your mother can sew and your other…