Thursday, August 31, 2006

Off to the show

In past years, Labor Day weekend has meant one fun event: the Marin quilt show. This show has traditionally been put on by a quilt guild in the city of Marin, and it's been a very high-quality, juried show. After last year's show, however, the guild opted to disband (amid a flurry of rumors as to why) and everyone feared that the traditional Labor Day weekend would be barren of quilt shows.

Well, a commercial show organization stepped in, the PCM Expo folks, and are using the time slot and Marin Convention Center venue for a Sew, Quilt and Embroidery show. They run these shows all over (all over California, anyway, and maybe in other states, too...I'm not sure) but Marin is a first for them. I've been to a bunch, as my sister Laura often has a booth to sell her needlework designs there and I usually work a day of each of her shows. She called a while ago to tell me that even though this isn't a traditional "quilt show" -- more a vender show with some quilts exhibited, it looks like it'll be quite good and there are lots of fabric vendors.

I'm going down to work in her booth tomorrow, and as she's decided to get a hotel room down there (an hour away) just to make her weekend more enjoyable, I'll probably stay over with her tomorrow night so we can go out to dinner. Should be very fun!

So, if you're in the vicinity of the Marin Convention Center, stop on by! Come by and see me at Laura J. Perin Designs. I'll be sitting and stitching, or helping customers, or if it's quiet I'll be poking through the quilt books in the booth next to her. I think she's right up front, in Slot #102. (And if you're there on Saturday or Sunday, when I won't be, stop in anyway to say hi to Laura and tell her you read about the show here!)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Where's my locker?

Caroline starts school next tuesday, at a new school.

However, I am the one who is having those weird, beginning-of-the-school-year dreams. Last night I dreamed that I was supposed to teach at that school, and on the first morning, couldn't find stockings, for some reason had to take a picture of my neighbor's baby before I left, AND had to mow another neighbor's lawn so I was definitely going to be late.

Any night now I expect I'll have that dream that I always had before school started, where I'm supposed to be in class but I can't find my locker and realize I haven't been to class in weeks and don't even remember where it is.

Do you have any recurring anxiety dreams?

In reality, I'm looking forward to next week and 4 whole days per week where I have hours at home alone to get work done. (Roger is home on Fridays, so I lose a day.) And for my first week, I plan to spend the first day home alone AT MY SEWING MACHINE working on something fun. Or maybe I'll even throw caution to the wind and do a fun fusing play time. That week, I also have a wonderful quilter friend coming for lunch and show-and-tell, which I know will be fun and inspirational.

Meanwhile, we're off to visit grandparents and shop for school supplies.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Toontastic Day

A grand time was had by all. Remember, this was the event put on by Disney folks for fans of their game Toontown Online? And y'all wanted pictures? Well, here you go.

We drove onto the Walt Disney Studios lot at about 9:15. It was sunny and hot, which is as things should be in southern California. It's a rule. But I was beside myself with excitement about getting onto the Disney Studios lot, where common folk like me aren't usually allowed. And, being a lover of (most) Things Disney, I was primed for the experience.

It was rather like Disneyland, in that everywhere you looked there was a charming reminder that you were in the Land of Mickey. Look, up there in the sky!

And seeing this sign just thrilled me. (I know, I my mother would say, "Small things amuse small minds." Still...just THINK of the famous and cinematically historical people who've been directed by this sign!!! Oh, Mr. Disney, we're ready for our close-ups!

Oh, yeah. We were there for Toonfest.

I can't estimate how many people were there for the event. 500? 1000? The ticket sold out, and it wasn't a huge crowd, but certainly a good number of people. Here's what we saw approaching the main entrance to Toonfest.

Attendees were primarily families. At the hotel the night before, we'd gone to the pool and Caroline met other kid Toons and they swapped Toon names and had fun talking Toony talk. But I couldn't find another parent who would admit that they played too.

However, standing in line, it was clear that there were other adult players as involved as me and, in fact, far more obsessive. Lots of people camed dressed as Toons, or wearing shirts they'd made with their Toon names and slogans and Toony pictures. Here, Caroline is talking to two Toons whose shirts advertise their Toon characters.

Basically, Toonfest turned out to be a carnival themed to the game in a very low-key but well-executed manner. There were games and small events, all suitable for kids from about 4 to, well, OLD. Here, Caroline is playing "Pin the Tail on the Doodle." (A doodle is a Toon's pet.)

They had all sorts of other things going on, too. In one area, a long-time Disney animator gave demonstrations on how to draw Disney characters. This artist, Stacia, was lovely and SO good with kids and talked a lot about being an artist and not being afraid to try new, different, messy things. We had a great time learning to draw Donald Duck and Caroline got to show Stacia her notebook of Toon drawings, which of course we'd had to bring along for the day.

Toons carry "gags," their weapons for fighting Cogs. Here's a Toon with one of her most powerful gags!

Uh oh, let's get out of here before it explodes!

Here I am, posing with a Cog. He's a Bossbot (the others are Cashbots, Lawbots, and Sellbots.)

We ate lunch at the Disney Studios commissary, where I was in heaven imagining that I getting my Diet Coke from the same spout as, say, Michael Eisner! Or Hayley Mills! Or Tim Allen! Caroline was unimpressed and just wanted to get to the food.

Some of the events were held in an area called Legends Plaza, right next to this building:

I've always wanted to see this in person, and was so charmed by the dwarves holding up the roof. I'd like some at our house!

Wouldn't Happy look great over the front door?

And Sleepy over the bedroom windows?

I think I'd have to put Grumpy over my office.

This lovely statute commemorates the creative contributions of Disney artists.

And look! I found one of my favorite Disney Legends!

...and another!

Later in the afternoon (when we were ready for a break from the heat), we went to this talk by Redmond, the main developer for Toontown and another member of his creative team whose name I don't recall. They gave a "Sneak Peeks" talk with information about what they're adding to the game next. They're about to start a new thing where as a Toon you can grow a garden on your "estate" and plant flowers (which grow when you plant a jelly bean -- different flowers from different colored jelly beans) and trees. All sorts of funny things result and you can gain points and various advantages from growing stuff.

I was especially impressed at how friendly these guys were with the kids, how open they were to new (and silly) suggestions, and how they repeatedly emphasized how the cooperative element of the game is a main theme that they always include.

I was fascinated by the mix of people at Toonfest. Mostly families, but really, all ages. Standing in line for something, we got talking to some older women behind us (finally! Adults who admitted playing!) and it turned out that one woman recognized Caroline's Toon name and vice versa, so they concluded that they had played together at times. Turned out the lady (Princess Panda, I think) was over 70. As Caroline and I talk about Internet safety a lot and I'm always reminding her that she has no idea who is on the internet, it was a useful illustration of how Caroline had NO IDEA she was playing with a 70 year old lady when she was running around Toontown with Princess Panda.

Oh...another interesting revelation for me. We saw quite a number of kids there with physical or developmental disabilities. And it struck me, from a parental perspective, that I'd be so happy for my disabled child to be able to run around and interact totally equally with others in this Toontown world. What a huge thing that must be for those kids, don't you think?

Oops! This gag fell on Caroline! (See her feet there, off to the left?)

Phew. She's okay. Good thing she's a strong Toon with a lot of "Laff Points" (your strength, which rises higher as you complete more tasks).

By 5pm, we were exhausted.

On the way out of the studio lot, we saw the Animation Studios building across the street.

It was a terrific (or, as they say in Toontown, "Toontastic") day.

We picked up take-out sushi on the way back to the hotel, then put it on ice while we refreshed ourselves in the pool...Then crashed for the evening with a sushi dinner and some Gameboy Pokemon game play. I wasn't kidding when I said this was a mother-daughter game weekend.

We were home by Sunday evening, in time to watch the Emmy Awards and think that we were glad we'd missed all that limousine traffic.

We're both eager to play Toontown and see if we can find any of our new friends there!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Welcome, Noobles!

Hey, everyone--take another look at the ring list. We have a whole bunch of noobles! (That's my term for New Blogs, in case you're wondering.)

I should add that those wacky gals Nexium and Celebrex keep applying to the ring, but they don't seem to get much quilting done. Perhaps they have a drug problem?

I thought Christina Aguilera was getting on the art quilt bandwagon, but no, she is just advertising her ringtones to us. Honey, we make our OWN music here.

If you want to check out the noobles, click on "previous" from the ring box on my page (yep, right over there ----->) . Those get you to the newest on the list and keep hitting "previous" from there.

(Now, I have to go rest. Toonfest was FUNFUNFUN and yesterday was a very long day. Stay tuned for Toony pictures.)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Toddlin' off to Toontown

A little over a year ago, Caroline persuaded me to try a Disney online computer game she'd seen advertised on the Disney Channel, called Toontown Online. It's one of those "massively multiplayer roleplaying games" for kids...and grownups, too. We gave it a try, and both she and I have been addicted ever since.

It's a little like going to Disneyland. Everything is happy and bright and fun there. And the graphics are amazing. Complex and beautiful with charming and funny theme decorations.

So, here's the idea...You are a "toon," an animal-ish cartoon character whose species, color, clothes, and name you choose. Me, I'm a periwinkle rabbit named Clover Crinklejinks. Caroline is a pink cat named Ladybug Sparklezilla.

You are helping keep Toontown safe from Cogs, these sort of robotic dullards (with names like Bossbots and Sellbots and Lawbots and such) and you fight them off by using jokey "gags" against throwing cream pies and squirting them with selzer water and making them slip on banana peels. You get increasingly complex tasks and run around Toontown, playing games and getting rid of cogs and earning rewards. And especially wonderful aspect of the game is that fairly early on, even as a new Toon, you can only complete your tasks by cooperating with other Toons. So you have to help each other and you can only succeed through cooperation and good teamwork.

It's extremely safe for kids, which is what sold me on it to begin with. You can only talk to other toons using a "speedchat" menu of designated phrases. The worst thing you can say is "You stink!" There is no way to share personal information (ie, real name, phone number, or any other info) with someone you don't already know outside of the game. It's won all sorts of kid game awards, too.

So, we've been playing on and off over the past year and having a grand time. We tried to enlist Roger, but he's not a game-playing sort. We did get my sister ("Dapne Featherzilla") to join up, and so sometimes we all run around together. I tell you, it's hysterical.

Then, the Toontown folks announced that they were having a one-day activity/celebration for Toontown fans, known as Toonfest. I started looking into it, thinking that these days of Caroline being thrilled to play with mommy are probably limited, and it'd be a fun way to put an exclamation point on the end of summer vacation. So, I signed us up and off we go.

And it's here! Toonfest is this Saturday, and Caroline and I are both thrilled. We leave tomorrow...

...not on the Toontown trolley, I'm afraid. We opted for Southwest Airlines, instead.

We'll stay Friday and Saturday night at a hotel.

And as for Toonfest itself? We don't really know what to expect. It's at Disney Studios (which are not generally open to the public, I understand, so that ought to be interesting) and it is reported that Big! Famous! Disney! Stars! will be on hand, like Raven and (dare we hope?) Hilary Duff.

We'll probably meet other Toons...

And play some games...

...Probably swim in the hotel pool...

And go out for dinner, or maybe have room service. Nope, we won't catch our own dinner.

It ought to be a magical, imaginative time and a fun girls' weekend together.

Oh, and if you're curious about Toontown? You can investigate here and do a free 3-day trial and play a bit. It's really worth checking out, if nothing else for the wonder of seeing the stunning graphics and marveling over how complex the programming must be to have everything work so flawlessly with all sorts of real-time people playing together. I guarantee, it's a delightful escape and it will make you smile.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Life is just so...DAILY.

I saw a wristwatch recently, where the face of the watch said "Life is just so...Daily." And that is how I am feeling right now. I am swimming in a sea of daily business of family and household and getting-ready-for-back-to-school and catching up on all the stuff that got deferred for vacation. And I keep feeling that I am barely treading water.

Ah, well. The shore is in sight. Roger resumed classes yesterday and Caroline returns to school on September 6, and then I will have hours every day of peace and solitude to actually get things done.

Meanwhile. I did indulge myself with the Rebecca Rorhkaste workshop last friday, and I was SO glad I did. I find that when I am feeling sort of out-of-sorts, there is nothing like a day to just play with fabric to calm me down.

Having signed up for Friday's workshop on Thursday afternoon, I didn't have much time to think about what I wanted to do. Here is the assortment of fabric I took with me:

The workshop involved taking stacks of 5 or 6 inch blocks, free-cutting arcs (crazy drunkards path block things) and then swapping the pieces to make an assortment of building blocks. Rebecca's examples were, of course, breathtakingly stunning.

While we cut and sewed and cut and sewed, Rebecca talked about approaches to color. It reminded me that the "rules" about color -- or rather, the information to keep in mind -- don't change and aren't anything you haven't heard before. It's just the work with color and lots of practice and trying different combinations to achieve the look you want that makes a difference, I think. Rebecca talked about how she tends to work from a "subtractive" method, starting out with way more blocks and colors and pulling out the ones that don't work until she's pleased with the result.

By the end of the day, here's where I was, roughly:

I actually made more blocks than these, but pulled out the ones where the shade of pink was actually too pale. I added in brown at the workshop, not having brought any (thanks to Carolyn Wolf who let me take a hunk from her stash) and like the richness it adds to this combination.

But I don't know where this will go. Maybe I'll take out much of the orange so it only shows up a bit. Who knows...I don't have time right now to mess with this. But it did cause me to pull out this book to consider the color choices in a more thoughtful way.

Have you seen this book? I love how it gives examples of different color palettes, then shows examples of how they look with changes in value, hue, and proportion. So I think I want to use these ideas and change the proportions of the colors above....but how, I'm not sure yet.

Meanwhile, I am researching 4th Amendment search and seizure issues related to the police's taking of blood alcohol tests. Left brain, right brain.

No wonder I'm still longing for sand between my toes and a frosty Blue Hawaii in hand.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Colorist

This gorgeous quilt is "Full Circle" by Rebecca Rohrkaste.

Rebecca was the speaker at my quilt guild meeting today. I was SO glad I managed to make it to the meeting. I'd not been in months, due to work and other obligations, so it was especially nice to return and see friends AND be inspired by the quilts of this amazing quilter.

Rebecca is from Berkeley, and I know her quilts as ones that inevitably draw my excited gasps at area quilt shows. Recently, a local paper did an article about her, which you can read here.

She calls herself a "colorist," and looking at her quilts shows why. She really excels at taking the simplest geometric shapes and using her amazing color and pattern choices to create exciting results. I wish I could show you more of her quilts, but she doesn't have a website. You can scroll down on this blog to see one of her pieces in progress.

She's doing a workshop for the guild tomorrow, in free-cut circles a la Keiko Goke. I'm throwing my work aside for the day (which means that's what I'm doing tonight) to take it. Should be fun, and maybe I'll absorb some of her wonderful color sense.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Everything You Always Wanted to Know...

Here it is. THE book. Note the author's name.

This is the Human Sexuality textbook that Roger has been writing for ... well, years. And now it's here, in actual hard-cover form, all ready for college professors to adopt for their classes and college students to buy. It's an actual REAL book now, finally. I think he signed the contract back when we were in the process of adopting Caroline, so that's about 10 years ago. And it has moved forward in fits and starts, due mainly to the appearance and disappearance of several co-authors along the way. So, in one way or another, it has consumed Roger's life -- and conseqently, mine -- for all of this time.

Roger's a psychology professor at Mendocino College here in Northern California. Ths isn't his first text book, actually. He wrote one just before we met, Forty Studies that Changed Psychology, which explains how 40 different ground-breaking research projects influenced what we know about psychology. (It actually made me understand in a much better way a lot of what I'd learned only briefly in my Intro Psych college course, and of course, what's what it's used for in college courses.) It's been a very steady seller and is in its 5th edition! He and a colleague also co-wrote a trade paperback called "It's My Life Now: Starting Over After an Abusive Relationship or Domestic Violence" which is also a well-respected book for survivors of domestic violence.

Can you tell that I'm very proud of my husband, the author?

That fact that it is finished is a huge accomplishment and an enormous relief. Actually, I don't know how Roger was able to keep plugging away on this thing. Me, I get paid by the hour, so I know that as I work I can tally up my time, send off an invoice, and get paid. It's pretty fast gratification for work completed. But for a textbook author (or any author, I guess), you don't know what you'll earn, if anything. You keep working and working with the hope that somewhere down the line (years away, possibly), you'll earn royalties. So the discipline required to keep going is mind-boggling to me. I really admire Roger for his persistence with this huge, seemingly never-ending project.

When we got the book in hard form, Roger said, "Wow, it's a big fat book full of stuff I know!"

Should you need a reference guide on this topic (!), it's available here.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Holiday hangover

No,it's not THAT kind of hangover. We're all suffering from that post-vacation lazy feeling, where we feel stuck on Hawaii time (and thus unable to get up at our normal morning time) and we feel like we'd really rather be sitting around drinking tropical drinks and gazing at the ocean. But real life requires other activities, I'm afraid.

While on Maui, I was able to find a shop in Lahaina that featured needlework and quilting supplies. It wasn't a fabulous shop, geared perhaps to the casual stitcher on holiday who might want to learn basic Hawaiian quilting... but it was fun to browse around and look at the hawaiian style quilting supplies.

I did come away with this book:

It had a range of beautiful quilt in it, as well as interviews with current Hawaiian quilters. AQ blogger Dianna Grundhauser is featured in this book--a lovely surprise! (Do check out Dianna's blog and her link to her website, which features some beautiful quilts.)

I did pick up a few batik fat quarters...

And I couldn't resist some fat quarters of souvenir-ish novelty prints, too.

(Note the pretty blue drink!!)

No quilting action going on yet...I'm still doing laundry and putting away stuff and getting ready for a big work week while Caroline goes to the county animal shelter's "Animal Care" day camp.
Um, and maybe I'll get a nap today, too.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The thirsty traveler

We are back. Phew.

First, a quick note to Debra and DebR and a few others who emailed me to tell me to NOT PACK LIQUIDS and gave other good and useful airport advice.

Unfortunately, I didn't read my email after wednesday afternoon and didn't see them. And, as Roger and I were in true vacation mode, we had not been watching the news or reading the papers and didn't know anything at all about the latest airline threat. Which was probably a good thing, actually, as we'd have both worried ourselves sick the night before.

When we were packing up to go, we found that we had an abundance of beverages in our condo fridge, apparently having over-estimated our likely thirst while on vacation. We'd also anticipated eating more dinners in than we actually did, so we had Perrier, beer, a full bottle of red wine, and various sodas and juices left. I wandered around outside for a bit and met incoming folks to whom we passed off our left-over drinks. They were especially thrilled with the beer! And, lo and behold, it turned out that the woman went to my high school and knew my brother!

Still, we held onto an unopened bottle of wine, two bottles of water, and two juice boxes to take in our carry-on bags.

So, imagine our surprise when we arrived at Maui airport, checked our luggage with the curbside porter, and were told we couldn't bring beverages in. We figured he MUST have been wrong about the unopened drinks (and we had no idea why this rule was announced, so we figured it was some odd quirk of Maui's airport security) and we proceeded. I took Caroline to finish checking in the luggage while Roger left to return the rental car.

Inside, we were met with a very long security line which was focused solely on liquids. They were asking people to dispose of all liquids or other lotion-like items, including eyedrops, sunscreen, perfumes, etc. And it was apparent that most of the people in line -like us -- had been in oblivious vacation mode and had no idea why. The security folks seemed tense and cranky, and of course, we realized why later.

As Roger was carrying the wine and coming behind us, I knew he'd be unhappy to leave that behind--but he was able to give it to a helpful baggage guy. He was most unhappy that they took his little travel-size bottle of Purell hand sanitizer which he keeps in his backpack. At the gate, where Caroline and I checked in and relaxed to wait for Roger, I got a bit more information, enough to understand that there'd been some strange issue with liquids somewhere.

At that point, people were re-stocking their beverage supplies. All of the airport concession stands were selling bottled beverages as usual, of course...and I think a lot of people figured that since they'd gotten through the airport beverage-screening process and abandoned everything, they could buy stuff inside the security zone.

Not so. Before they began to board the airplane, the gate clerk announced that no beverages at all would be allowed on board, even if they'd been purchased in the airport. I saw quite a few people looking really annoyed at having to either gulp down or abandon the drinks they'd JUST BOUGHT. There was a lot of annoyed eye-rolling and grumbling. But people complied.

Oh, and lining up to get on the airplane? They had way more security people watching people get on, and they had us line up BY GENDER. Males over there, females over here. Hmmmm. I couldn't figure that one. Because terrorists are probably male? In case they had to do a quick strip search?

Once on the flight, all was fine. The attendants came around often to offer water, so it was clear that they understood how people have come to depend on carrying water with them. We had several crying babies on the flight (oh, how I remember those flying-with-a-baby days and oh, how I appreciate NOT doing that this trip) and I wondered whether the moms had to abandon the baby bottles loaded with formula. My mom told me later that she'd seen on the news that at SF airport, security was letting baby bottles go through IF the person carrying them would drink some of the contents in front of the security people to prove it was milk or formula.

At any rate, despite that confusion, we had a very pleasant flight. Caroline played happily with her Pokemon game and drew pictures. Roger slepted and listened to his ipod. I listened to the newest Tim Gunn podcast on the latest Project Runway episode (if you're a PR fan, go listen to Tim's podcasts! They're great behind-the-scenes info!) and I FINALLY finished Michener's Hawaii. It wasn't until we arrived at SF (at 8:30 pm California time) that we learned the specifics of the airline threat and understood what the whole liquids thing was all about.

It felt great to get into our very own car and head toward home. We stopped for a very quick dinner on the way home (Hello, In-and-Out Burger!!) -- no Blue Hawaii for me-- and were feeling pleased with our progress until we ran into inexplicably stopped traffic on the freeway north of SF (in Petaluma, of all places) and inched forward FOR TWO HOURS to go about 15 miles. We figured it was some really bad accident, but no, it was CAltrans doing road work and funneling everything down to one lane. Once we got through that nasty snarl, we spent the rest of the drive home discussing 1) whether one could sue Caltrans for the delay (with me, the litigator, saying NO), 2) how Caltrans could have managed that more effectively, and 3) which Pokemon characters evolve and what their best attacks are.

We got home at 1:15 am. A long travel day, to be sure, but we're home.

Thanks again for all the nice travel thoughts. I can see that it won't be long before they're banning electronic devices, too. I mean, really, if you were a terrorist, wouldn't you try to rig something that looks like a cell phone?

Anyway. Caroline and I fly again in a few weeks, just an hour's flight to Southern California for two days, and I'll be sure to check the restrictions up to the last minute. But I'm gonna beg to get that Gameboy on, I can tell you.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Another day, another beach...

We are so relaxed that we are bordering on catatonic. I think this is the perfect vacation.

Yesterday was Roger's and my 13th wedding anniversary, so we celebrated with a day Ka'anapali Beach. The other day when we were there, we had the presence of mind to reserve a beach cabana on the beach at Black Rock. That meant that we spent the day on comfy, cushioned lounge chairs, protected by a movable canopy. It was lovely.

You can actually watch the Ka'anapali beach from the Sheraton at this live webcam! Here's the view we saw when we looked south from where we were sitting:

It was especially nice to be able to walk into the water and find good snorkeling right there. We were also glad we'd gone to the Maui Ocean Center early in the week, as it made us especially excited to see fish that we'd seen at the aquarium, but in their natural habitat. Plus, we were able to identify some, so that was fun as well. Caroline was especially good at spotting eels hiding among the rocks.

For our anniversary, Roger gave me this beautiful necklace. Isn't it pretty? I don't know what the stones are, but I love the colors. The pendant part is about an inch and a half long.

After we cleaned all that sand and salt off, we went to the Seahouse Restaurant right here in Napili for dinner. It sits right on the beach so we had a wonderful view throughout dinner. We ate outside on the deck (see those umbrellas to the left there?). I deviated from my ongoing taste test of Blue Hawaii's to have a Napili punch cocktail with Roger... they were orange and passionfruit juices with dark rum added. Yum. And, you know-- passion fruit? A good anniversary choice, don't you think?

Dinner was delicious. I went for a very Hawaiian option and had macadamia nut-encrusted mahi mahi with a pineapple salsa, which was heavenly. Roger had sauteed sea scallops over linguine, and Caroline had her favorite pasta with butter and cheese. We were all contented.

Speaking of delicious dinners, the night before we explored Whaler's Village (an upscale outdoor mall in Kaanapali) and ate at the Hula Grill. For those of you who have been to Art Quilt Tahoe and dined at the Sunnyside Restaurant on Lake Tahoe, Hula Grill is owned by the same folks and has similarly delicious food. And yes, it's right on the water...we ate under those grass umbrellas, to the right.

We were quite happy sitting and watching the beach and listening to great live music. So far, they had the best Blue Hawaii, in case you're wondering.

Today we were in vacation-wind-down mode. Roger took Caroline for a horseback ride through pineapple fields while I stayed to do laundry and get a start on packing. We leave bright and early tomorrow morning in order to get our snorkel gear and rental car returned before we fly home.

It's still sunny and bright and breezy here, in case you were wondering.

Tonight, we'll head to Lahaina for a bit of wandering and for the requisite visit to Hilo Hattie's (just BECAUSE). We'll go to Kobe Steak and Sushi for dinner, one of those Benihana-style places where they cook right in front of you. We figured Caroline would like that.

So, tomorrow will be a travel day. I'll be working to finish my novel, Roger will undoubtedly doze, and Caroline will be engrossed in her Gameboy Pokemon game. (Thank goodness for Gameboy on airline flights, I say.)


Monday, August 07, 2006

Land ahoy!

WOW! We're having a great time!

We had a lovely time on Kaanapali beach, which is about a 10 minute drive away from our condo. This beach is billed as the #1 beach in the US, and we can see why. The view is gorgeous, the winds gentle, and the slope of the sand is wide and even. The whole area is bordered by luxury hotels (Sheraton, Marriott, etc) and (for a fee, of course) handsome men will obligingly set you up with umbrellas and lounge chairs.

Being the inexperienced first-time Kaanapali visitors that we were, it took us a while to catch on to the protocol. They pile all the umbrellas and lounge chairs next to a big sign that says "Public Beach" so we thought, "How nice! They provide these for free!" We started to carry off an umbrella and were waylaid by a polite hunky Sheraton employee who explained the rules -- and fees. We rummaged through our beach bag and came up with enough cash for the umbrella, and THEN had a lovely time enjoying the shade.

You can see part of the Sheraton hotel there on the right, with some surely expensive lodgings on the cliff above.

Caroline got more instruction on the finer points of body surfing (ie, how NOT to get half of the beach's sand in your bathing suit).

Here's a typical shot of Caroline, representative of what she has been doing all week. (Usually I'm right in there with them, but it's hard to take pictures while rolling in the surf.)

On Saturday night, we cleaned the sand out of our hair and nether parts to go to the Old Lahaina Luau, which everyone assured us was a not-to-be-missed event. Caroline cleaned up rather nicely, I thought.

These shots show the setting of the luau, on the shore in Lahaina. It was lovely, warm and gently breezy.


We got to watch as they took the roast pig out from it's dirt oven... Caroline says she'll remember this for the rest of her life.

It was really scrumptious. There was a free, open bar for the entire evening. I enjoyed my hawaiian vacation drink of choice, the Blue Hawaiian (which mainly amuses me because it is such a bright color of blue and usually comes with lavish decoration of pineapple slice, cherry, umbrella, etc.) while Roger enjoyed Mai Tais. The food was yummy...pork, pineapple glazed chicken, a stunning deep purple sort of sweet potato, various salads, and of course Poi, which we all ate in small amounts. (Caroline announced that it was like a very plain babyfood pear-sauce.) Since then, when hungry, she announces, "I'm so hungry I could even eat Poi!"

Anyway. After dinner, we gathered more drinks and the show started. I discovered that it is impossible (with my camera, anyway) to get a clear shot of hula dancers DURING the hula.

So, here's a still shot. You can get the hula effect if you picture 10 of these women, wiggling their hips very fast. (Or go back to that link and watch the video on the website).

It was definitely a fun evening.

Yesterday morning, we rose at 5am and headed out for a morning snorkeling cruise to Molokini on a large catamaran called the Four Winds II. We booked the trip despite the advice of our travel agent Leslie that, in her view, we'd get better snorkeling in Napili bay and right off of Kaanapali. Still, we thought the boat ride would be fun, and it'd be nice to see Molokini, and I remembered a really fun snorkeling cruise when I was here before.

The good news? The boat was comfortable, and it was pleasant chatting with other passengers. The views of Molokini and Molokai were pretty, and we saw sea turtles bobbing around the boat. Barbecue lunch was served on the boat, too.

The bad news? It was SO windy that the trip was really, really ROUGH. Despite having been dosed with dramamine beforehand, Caroline was miserable for the hour-long boat ride and we spent the time hovering at the back so if she lost her breakfast she'd do so into the water. That chatting with the other passengers? It was all about how queasy everyone was feeling. Caroline adds that, for her, the highlight of the excursion was when, just when the boat docked within the cove at Molokini, she threw up into the water...and about 30 fish appeared instantly and the evidence of her sickness totally disappeared. Gross, but interesting. This brought other passengers to the side to watch all the fish, unaware that the fish were excitedly swarming because they were being "fed" by Caroline.

We plunged into the rough water for 90 minutes of snorkeling. From a mom perspective, it was scary-- that water was ROUGH. Caroline is an excellent swimmer, thank goodness, and she wore a flotation device as well, but she and I snorkeled holding hands the whole time because I was freaked at how strong and rough the water was and I kept imagining her being washed away from me. Roger swam nearby, playing with the cheap underwater camera we'd bought at the drug store. And truthfully, in snorkeling position with head in the water, the water didn't feel TOO bad, although large waves would swamp the snorkel from time to time so you'd get salt water in your breathing apparatus.

Caroline felt much better in the water, so she really started having fun, then. Roger, who'd also taken dramamine, did okay, but that rough water was tiring. Me? I've never gotten motion-sick before and usually really like the feel of riding in a boat over active water. Still, after 90 minutes of being bobbed wildly about in the ocean, I was feeling queasy myself. We hauled ourselves up to the boat, where the crew remembered how ill Caroline had been and stationed us at what they claimed was the least rocking part of the boat. She slept all the way back, while Roger and I just sat and, along with everyone else, clung to parts of the boat to keep from being thrown about. It felt like a VERY long ride back, and by the time we docked I think half of the people were kissing the ground and thanking the heavens to be off of the danged boat.

Ah, well. One of those memorable vacation experiences. We will now faithfully believe whatever Leslie the travel agent tells us, because she was right. We were glad that we'd introduced Caroline to snorkeling first in the bay near us, where it was much calmer and more fun. That trip would have been a miserable introduction to snorkeling.

We are told that cruises in the summer are often rougher because of the constant trade winds. Maybe it was the fact that I last came here in early October that explains why that Maui snorkeling cruise was so much more pleasant.

Anyway, we are recovering today with a day on land. I am off to explore a fabric store in Lahaina. Dianna, our AQ blog member here in Maui, recommended a shop in Kihei but I don't think I want to drive that far today. Roger and Caroline will play on the nearest beach, and tonight we are planning to explore Whaler's Village, a nice looking mall at Kaanapali, and then we'll have dinner overlooking the water.

No more boats for us, today. (Is this keyboard rocking, or is it just me?)