We’re on Maui, not in New York. Now, here’s more from the Islands.

March 30, 2014 at 6:54 am (Uncategorized)

Oops: I just hit “publish” to a draft blog post that had languished for two years. Wow, I suck at this stuff. So, you’ll see a post two days ago from Maui, a post about Manhattan and its trash (from two YEARS ago), and then this post from today (if you’re still reading, that is) again, about Maui. Apologies to my many reader_.

Dave recently wrapped up 18 holes of (according to Mr. 4 Handicap) “magnificent” golf at Kapalua’s Plantation Course.

View of Oahu (in the way background) and Molokai, from Kapalua's Plantation Golf Course at 5 p.m.

View of Oahu (in the way background) and Molokai, from Kapalua’s Plantation Golf Course at 5 p.m.

His golfing day started at 11:30 a.m. and ended at around 5 p.m. For Dave, that is endless bliss. For his girls, well, we were happy to entertain ourselves differently. Besides, what does everyone do who comes to Maui and has a few hours (and nose hairs) to spare? Why, you head to the Maui Humane Society, of course.

I felt badly when, a few days ago, I said to Dave that were Hawaii not part of the United States, these islands really would exist in Third World conditions. He chastised me for having said that, and I’ll admit I deserved the chastising. Kinda. The “Maui Humane Society” — whose street signs guiding you to this concrete-block outpost north of Kihei, where the island’s main airport is, say Animal Shelter — is a series of a few buildings that truly look right out of “Lilo & Stitch,” down to the “lobby” where Lilo requests the “dog” that’s actually an alien who eats his own ear wax with his tongue, all while at a restaurant watching a combustible hula performance.

Not only did the buildings look dilapidated on the outside, they were worse on the inside and anything but easy on the nose. I figured that Alyssa, with her very sensitive nose (and ears) would hightail it out of the “Cat Ohana” (Cat Family) building the instant after entering it. But, oooooooh noooooooo! Both Hayley and Alyssa let themselves right into the cats’ rooms (human-size cages) and quickly set to petting each and every item resembling a feline. (I know that if my dad ever reads this entry, he’ll purchase stock in Purell.) And not only lovingly petting as many cats as they could get their no-longer-clean hands on, but snuggling with them, on their no-longer-clean shirts and in their no-longer-clean hair. Toward the end of our field trip and while fanning out her newly filthy and no-longer-white T-shirt, Alyssa said: “The outdoor kitties here are really dirty.” Master of the obvious.

"Cat Family" building at Maui's Humane Society

“Cat Family” building at Maui’s Humane Society

And in the dog area, there was a multitude of pit bulls and very few other breeds. One has to wonder why. The girls spent no time in the dog area; frankly, it really was hard to observe, as the canine quarters are extremely bare bones, though the dogs for the most part looked good and clearly are well taken care of (the cats, too) by the very smiley, kind, and enthusiastic staff milling about the entire pet-friendly complex (rats, guinea pigs, a tortoise, and who-knows-how-many hens and roosters included).

Hayley and Alyssa with Hawaiian cats

Hayley and Alyssa with Hawaiian cats

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We made our $5 contribution to this Humane Society via the purchase of a very cute T-shirt for Hayley, all the while listening to Alyssa repeat: “Can we GO now?” (She’d finally had enough.) Indeed, she found the facility very wanting. And so our next stop, of course, was Lahaina to view both Hawaii’s homeless and myriad shops, each selling the same thing, but for different prices. Oh, and we found ice cream, too. Thank god. (We definitely chatted about the ramshackle Humane Society and the [very tan] homeless; the girls don’t quite know what to make of a place dotted with resort after resort, as well as with hardscrabble place after hardscrabble place…all the while having a very special and carefree vacation. They haven’t yet asked the question about how some folks can live here in such dire circumstances while others from the “Mainland” flock here to relax in luxury.)

Being here for this spring break trip is a bit of a trip for me. Dave and I have been to Hawaii together six times, once to Oahu, once to the Big Island and four times here, to Maui.

The first time Dave and I were in Hawaii together (in Honolulu) was for high school graduation (’90), and we were but two recent graduates part of a larger Sunset High School new-alum contingent. I remember very, very clearly how amazing it was to travel — with no parents — with my boyfriend and other close buddies. We were the only couple on that trip and I felt very giddy.

The next time we came to Hawaii (Maui), it was for our honeymoon (’96), and we stayed at the Whaler, a resort within a 2-mile-ish jog of Honua Kai, where we’re staying this time. That was nearly 18 years ago, and I can picture myself feeling quite young and — again — giddy, then a newlywed of 24. The next time Dave and I were here (staying in Napili) was with my folks and Abby and Pat; it was pre-children, but I was newly pregnant with Alyssa and feeling so ill that I lolled around our condo quite a bit while everyone else did lots of stuff, including a boat trip to the adjacent island of Lanai which I still have yet to do. On that trip at the very end of 2000, Mom took a picture of me in a bikini I’ve finally thrown away, and you can just detect my belly starting to grow.

The fourth time we hit the island, we had in tow toddler Alyssa and my Dad (who was so excited to call himself the “Nanny”) and I was just over half-way through my pregnancy with Hayley. Upon returning to Portland after that trip, my OB put me on bedrest, so you can imagine just how active (not) I was while in Maui with Dad, an overly active Alyssa, Dave, and a bulging belly experiencing non-stop Braxton-Hicks contractions. Our next experience was with a 4-year-old Alyssa and a 2-year-old Hayley; in the beginning of ’06, we headed to the Big Island at the invitation of my in-laws.

It’s now 2014; it took us eight years to grow balls big enough to make the trip here again; the girls no longer need to be walked across the Pacific (via airplane, but walked nonetheless), and they’re very independent and down right fun travel companions and partners. And great surfers, as well. We took a family surf lesson a couple days ago, and both girls “popped up” and rode the wave on their first of seven attempts, and they even demonstrated excellent form while gliding to shore, too. (Dave and I each popped up, as well, thanks to great guidance from the Maui Surfer Girls’ instructors, but we looked less — er — cool than our daughters did. (“Flail” is a great adjective here.)

Hayley lists the surfing expedition as her number-one highlight of this trip. For Alyssa, the jury is still out, but it likely will be snorkeling north of Napili and coming across a real live Sea Turtle, the Honu of so much Hawaiian art.)

During this vacation I keep having snippets of memories from the aforementioned prior Hawaii trips. As a result, I feel old. But very, very fortunate, too.

More than I can articulate.

(Way) above Napili bay.

(Way) above Napili bay.


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“Do they have trash cans in New York?”

March 30, 2014 at 4:33 am (Uncategorized)

We’ve had two very full days. We went to Lenny’s Bagels to start the day, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, John’s Pizza in the Village (recommended by Loren Spielman), and Washington Square Park. That sounds like not much…but everything took such a long time. Not only are there eight of us, but lines are long (to board the ferry at Battery Park, ‘do’ the Statue and then Ellis Island, that is); we have four little ones with small stomachs that empty quickly; and those same four little ones have short legs that meander slowly. (Yes, ‘meander’ and ‘slowly’ are redundant, but I included the redundancy on purpose.) The Statue of Liberty is closed for upgrades and repairs until who-knows-when. Still, getting up close with Her is very exciting, and it was so sweet to see the French kids want to have their photo taken beneath the Statue’s feet with their right arm raised and left hand pretending to hold a book in its crook. It was Alyssa who commented — quite truthfully — “I’m hearing more foreign languages than English.” She nailed it, as even Dave and I were astonished at just how little English we heard. We were able to identify most of the tongues (from French to Hebrew and boldly asked about a couple of them, including Romanian and Czech). At Ellis Island, there was a children and adult’s audio tour; the kids truly followed it (w/ the French kiddos traipsing along to the sounds of their native language), except for Alyssa, who requested the adult version. She got quite a bit out of the tour, especially knowing that in 5th grade, she’ll be doing an immigration unit. Hayley was most struck by the room that was reconstructed to look like those where recently arrived immigrants got medical exams, especially of their eyes to ensure they hadn’t brought over on their boats trichomonas infections of the eye. There was an especially large photo of a doctor using a button hook otherwise used for lacing a shoe to prod a woman’s upper lid; I think that image will stay with her for year. Eeeewwww. I’d been to Ellis Island when I was around Alyssa’s age; I vaguely remembered the setting and the interior of the main building at Ellis Island but certainly not its details. Seeing as much as I could take it as an adult was a new experience; especially striking for me was the room in which hung huge nearly floor-to-ceiling black-and-white photos of recently arrived immigrants in their fascinating garb. I tried guessing at where they’d come from but didn’t guess correctly for any of them, except the aged Jewish man.

Honestly, though, while the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island made impressive impressions,

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March 26, 2014 at 7:43 am (Uncategorized)

What’s black and white and red all over? Actually, what’s just red all over? If you answered “Jenn,” you’d be right. Well, not all over: Just over a good percentage of the body parts I allow sun exposure.

It’s spring break and we’ll never, ever complain again when Dave goes on an international business trip.

Professional traveler

Professional traveler

His jaunts abroad (largely to Japan and Israel, but also to Jakarta and the American South [another country, for sure]) allowed us to put his racked-up miles to excellent use: We are on Mau’i, just north of Ka’anapali (which Dave hilariously and quite seriously pronounces with the apostrophe), staying in a very lovely condominium that Dave found via VRBO. We arrived on Monday afternoon, thanks to the fact we’re three hours behind the west coast; the time change allowed us a full day of travel, nearly a full day of playing in the pool and the warm part of the Pacific Ocean and two very, very sleep-deprived children by the time evening fell on Hawai’i (apostrophe again pronounced. Mahalo).

Overlooking West Maui mountains

Overlooking West Maui mountains

Struck in August with thyroiditis and then in December with a virus of some sort — and my usual ability to “ignore” symptoms until I’m really miserable — I finally c ouple weeks ago went to the doctor and she rather rapidly put me on both a thyroid medication to attempt to regulate that large gland located south of the adam’s apple, as well as an antibiotic to kill whatever respiratory-sinus-overall-malaise condition my compromised immune system had allowed into my lungs, nasal passages and sinus cavities. It’s amazing what drugs will do; within two doses (no joking) of both drugs, I felt the cloud of illness lift, and I began to feel closer to myself again. It was a relief to feel “normal” for the first time in seven months. I’ve gotten very good at ignoring certain things (like children whining, dust bunnies in corners and under beds, and cat vomit [until Dave gets home and suddenly it’s an issue that he needs to clean up right away!]) but ignoring symptoms of sickness perhaps isn’t the best medicine.

Things like antibiotics, however, can be among the best medicine (right after palliative red wine), especially when taken correctly. Or, rather, when warnings about their possible side effects are taken correctly. It’s not that I ignored — in my inimitable fashion — the side effect of doxycycline that states the skin becomes increasingly sensitive to the sun with prolonged use. It’s just that I really, really hoped that that wouldn’t apply to me. I am nearly done with my two-week prescription of the magic antibiotic; will my sensitivity to the sun decrease after I’ve terminated the drug’s use? Heeding the drug’s aviso, I slathered myself with 70SPF the two times since arriving I was to be in the (glorious!) sun for a spate of time. And I’d thought I’d done so quite thoroughly, avoiding missing spots that later would look like the borders of former Soviet republics. In other words, I didn’t want there to be nicely tanned skin surrounded by splotches resembling the outline of Estonia or Kasakhstan.

Communist right knee

Communist right knee


Tonight I took off my bathing suit (I’m wearing a bikini! The girls even are shocked I’ve been brave enough to don a two-piece, since I prefer wearing shorts and a T-shirt in public places with pools and beaches) to reveal — well — the map of Russia and its erstwhile satellite nations on my body. Today’s Russia is my torso, and its former republics are my knees, belly, left wrist and right foot. Hawai’i’s a pretty liberal place, though; it’s probably OK to be a communist here.

Rainbow over Maui This is the view of the hills from our 10th-floor room after a brief “Pineapple Express” resulted in this gorgeous rainbow.

Tomorrow, we’re taking a family surfing lesson; the literature says the company guarantees each student gets on the board at least once. I’m not sure it stipulated if that board must be in the water, catching a wave, or if it means while parked on the shore. If I live to tell about this Knudsen family adventure, I might blog about it…after slathering myself with as much Vaseline as I have on right now. Indeed, I’m greased up enough I could be mistaken for the luau pig. But the relief is worth it.


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