Here’s to Merry Olde England

We just returned from almost a month in England and Scotland, so there has been no blog since mid June.

We left Kauai on June 25 and flew to San Francisco and from there directly to London, a really long flight, but better since we upgraded to seats that had a little extra leg room.  We arrived in London at 7 am, and since we wouldn’t be able to get into a room until 3 or so, we took the bus from the airport directly to Bristol in the west of England  Bristol is a few hours west of London our friends, Bruce and Andrea had recommended it because their son teaches at the university there.  It was a good move, Bristol is a nice city and close to such tourist destinations as Bath and Wales.

We stayed in a nice hotel in an eclectic part of Bristol, with lots of activity in the surrounding blocks.   Mostly young people, students and vendors.  The day after arriving, we took a bus trip to Bath, well renowned for the Roman baths located there.  The bus trip was fairly quick and the bus station was central and within an easy walk to the baths.  After taking the official tour of the baths with an audio description by Bill Bryson (well known Iowan and now Brit), met outside to join an absolutely fascinating and free tour put on by volunteers.  Most of the places we visited had free guided tours recommended by our Rick Steves guidebook.DSCF1806

The baths were beautifully restored, though the water doesn’t look all that inviting.

We returned to Bristol by train to visit the Bristol museum as well as some street scenes and a few pubs  We discovered that the two characters featured below, Grommet and Wallace, were created in Bristol.  If you’re not familiar with Grommet and Wallace, well, too bad!


We took a day trip also to the Cotswolds from Bristol.  We rented a car (in itself an adventure).  And a car rental company (Europcar) that doesn’t have handout maps of the city!  Very un-American!  Driving on the “wrong” side of the extremely narrow roads, with no shoulder,  turned out to be pretty stressful. However, the Cotswolds were lovely, even in the rain.  Below, a couple of the interesting houses and manicured gardens typical of the area.DSCF1824DSCF1822

One thing that impressed me was the number of homes, everywhere, that had flowers in pots hanging or in general decorating the streets.DSCF1816

We left Bristol after a few days to drive north to Shrewsbury, from there we took a day trip into Snowdonia National Park in Wales.  Braving the narrow roads again, we visited this lovely, wild area, quite hilly .  Every day, it seemed, we would walk at least a few miles and Wales was no exception.  There are waterfalls and walking trails across private land and in Conwy there is even a castle.DSCF1859DSCF1877DSCF1879

The signs are  in Welch and English…Conwy CastleDSCF1880

From Shrewsbury, we continued on, stopping along the way to check out the first iron bridge ever built – the prototype for subsequent steel bridges.  The designers completely over designed it, as they didn’t have a lot of confidence in the iron structure.DSCF1903

On to the Lake Country and Keswick, which turned out to probably, be our favorite place. Keswick is rolling countryside with many lakes and miles of hiking trails.  Most of the tourists appear to be quite athletic, since it is a popular trekking area.  Very few visitors weren’t wearing hiking boots.  Up the hill not far from the town we hiked up to the ancient, Castlerigg Stone Circle, similar to Stonehenge, at the beginning of a lovely 12 mile walk through rolling hills and pastures full of sheep.  Beautiful, sunny and pastoral.  Note that we didn’t visit Stonehenge – it’s quite the tourist trap, and you can’t get very close to it any more.  DSCF1921DSCF1924fullsizeoutput_e4aDSCF1931

Charlie’s the one in blue above; the ones in white are locals.

DSCF1932The last day at Keswick it rained and rained and rained.  It didn’t, however, deter us from another trek, which after 8 miles, we chickened out and took a bus back.  Our feet were soaked and we were starting to get chilled.  Note:  both gortex and umbrella.fullsizeoutput_e51

To escape the rain, we took a little side trip to a whiskey distillery, the Lakes Distillery, in Cumbria, not far from Keswick.  We sampled some of their blended whiskies and savored a lovely gourmet meal, an apt way to end our visit to the Lake Country.  The distillery is also close to another small village – we didn’t get to this one, but wondered about it.  I guess its only natural to wonder about a place called Cockermouth!

Now on to Glascow, Scotland….again driving, where we turned our car in.  We thoroughly enjoyed the city.  Our hotel was located on Bath Street, right downtown.  Two blocks from the bus station and close too, to the train station as well as Buchanan Street, a busy pedestrian mall.  One block from Bath street is another pedestrian mall, Sauchiehall St.  We walked west on it for several miles to check out The University of Glasgow as well as Kelvingrove Park, named after Lord Kelvin, a pioneer in the field of thermodynamics, who gave his name to the alternative to both Centigrade and Fahrenheit.  A highlight was a visit to a malt whisky bar, The Pot Still, established in 1835 and renowned for having over 600 different whiskys.  I bravely approached the bartender pleading ignorance, whereupon he introduced me to single malt scotch whisky…..and I loved it.  The one I chose had been stored in three different types of barrels.  Who Knew?ENGLAND SCOTLAND 062

After a couple days, we picked up another rental car and drove past Loch Lomand and Loch Ness to The Isle of Skye (Nessie wasn’t home, so didn’t get to see her).  The rolling hills and lakes of Scotland are not to be missed, again the narrow roads though are a challenge! ENGLAND SCOTLAND 083 Public transportation is minimal, so driving was the main option.  We stayed in a B&B overlooking an inlet  right in the middle of a sheep pasture and felt we were back in the 19th century.  fullsizeoutput_e58The scenery was spectacular, reminding me somewhat of Iceland with steep mountainsides, few trees, gray and misty.  The only real town we visited was Portree.  Ok, the only town on Skye!   I was impressed by the huge tides they experience.  When the tide is out, the boats are sitting on mud.  The town was quite picturesque, though rainy…..again.  And it was also blustery and cool (cold for us Hawaiians!)  Fortunately we found a little bar, with a wee bit of whisky………….DSCF1961England and Scotland lived up to their reputations of gray and rainy, we only had 3 days with sun for the first 17 days we were there.  We were glad to be well prepared for rain.

Then after two nights, back on the narrow winding roads to Glasgow, where we, thankfully, got rid of the car and took a bus to Edinburgh.

After Skye, Edinburgh was frenetic, tourists everywhere.  We stayed down town with a view of the Edinburgh Castle, a large ferris wheel, a memorial to Sir Walter Scott and a park masking the railroad tracks.  This was the view from our hotel…… the gothic Scott memorial is in the foreground and Old Edinburg is in the background.

It’s a beautiful, old city, quite interesting architecturally, with many styles shown.  We walked The Golden Mile, to Edinburgh University, and around town…..we even had some blue sky (short-lived, but it was there) I took the opportunity to try the traditional Scottish breakfast and, since breakfast was included, I tried haggis and Black Pudding.  Both are a bit weird, especially the haggis, A traditional Scottish dish basically consisting of sheep’s internal organs, ground up, spiced, with oatmeal and cooked in the sheep’s stomach.  It was actually pretty good once you got by the thought of it.  Charlie wasn’t interested in trying either.  The black pudding is made from pork fat and blood and mixed with lots of oatmeal and is solid and sliced into rounds,  It was available at all of our provided breakfasts in both Scotland and England. I liked it too, it was truly black, no doubt my iron count benefitted.  English breakfasts typically consist of eggs, potatoes, fried mushrooms, and beans.   Strange………

From Edinburgh we hopped on the train to York, another quaint city with an almost intact city wall.  We stayed at a active convent, The Bar Convent, founded in 1686 as a school for girls and is still a convent for “the Congregation of Jesus community”.  It is a lovely B&B that is separated from the Sisters by a hall.  It was clean, spacious and the staff was extremely friendly.  It’s located just outside the city wall.  Our introduction was a small cruise down the River Ouse, DSCF1978followed by a visit to the York Brewery, a microbrewery offering tours of their facility along with a tasting at the end.  They offered some excellent brews.  IMG_0893The second day we took advantage of another free tour hosted by the Association of Voluntary Guides, many of the cities have these tours, in fact our tour of Bath was one.

Besides the brews, we met a couple of ice-cream boats on the tours.

York is well known for it’s old town walls and buildings, the Minster cathedral (beautiful stained glass), the Harry Potter book store, and the old city market.   We also traveled down Grape Street – if you’re familiar with Rick Steve’s, you might know the significance of that.  If not, ask me………..

From York it was on to our final stop, London.  Another train ride on Virgin Railroad.  This time we stayed in an area near Victoria Station, Westminster, quite convenient since it was close to the train station, the bus station and the Tube.

We toured the obligatory London Bridge (actually the Tower Bridge), fullsizeoutput_e6awalked around the Tower of London, and observed where the corpses were thrown into the river.  We decided we had enough time in London that we could also take a trip out of the city.  We asked one of the clerks in the bus station, if he had a day off, where would he go.  He suggested Portsmouth, we bought bus tickets and went the next day.  That turned out to be a great choice….it hadn’t been on our original itinerary.

I had my picture taken with Henry VIII, begging for my life.  He spared my life, and we continued to view the naval museum at Portsmouth. ENGLAND SCOTLAND 231 We read about the ill fated Mary Rose (Henry’s pride and joy) that had sunk in the harbor and not raised until the 1982.  The Victory, a steel sailing warship, is also one of the ships on display.

We spent the rest of the day walking the oceanfront and old town.  The day was even sunny – hurrah!ENGLAND SCOTLAND 243

The third day in London we strolled around Buckingham Palace (the queen was in) but we didn’t see her.  My idea was to see the changing of the guards, that starts at 11 am and Rick Steves recommended being there an hour early.  We were there at that time only to see crowds 6 deep against the fence and around the circle.  Too many people, so we continued down the street to St James, where the replacement guards were assembling ….not nearly as crowded……and watched whole pantomime of the troops, and the escort police horses starting to march to the palace.  That was pretty cool, and we didn’t have to brave the crowds.  DSCF2027

Click here to see a video of the event.

The people that were there then walked down the street, following the troops.  We felt we got to experience the ceremony without dealing with the masses.  We spent 5 days in London, and hit highlights such as the Victoria and Albert Museum and Hyde Park  but one sight that we thoroughly enjoyed was the Mews.  That is where the queen’s carriages and horses are housed.  One horse had just been exercised and we were able to stroke his nose.

We were floored by the elaborate, gold-plated carriages and enjoyed the monologue provided by the tour guide.  The huge (gaudy) coronation carriage was particularly impressive, pulled by 6 horses.  It was pointed out that each pair of horses had one rider guiding (there is no seat on the carriage for a driver).  They did mention that none of the carriages were particularly comfortable and each served a specific function.DSCF2047

Because we were in London, we had to check out a couple of iconic department stores.  We first went to Selfridges and then to Harrods (below)

DSCF2040where we had a drink at the (very expensive) caviar bar.  There were also special chocolate displays and the seafood display below was amazing.fullsizeoutput_e6e

No trip to London is complete without a view of the London Eye.ENGLAND SCOTLAND 209

At last it was time to come home – it was a great trip, lots of fun, and rain!

And one final thought – as I write this, I’m watching TV, and thinking back to watching English TV.  Not once did we see any ads advocating us to ask our doctor if ‘abracadabra’ or some other miracle medication was right for us.  Who knew that English TV is so much more advanced that US TV!




Where did May go?

We’ve been enjoying this month, the rainbow shower trees are blooming, IMG_0755mangos are beginning to ripen, the cacti are blooming,IMG_0746 the trades are back and there has been a lull in the visitor traffic.  We have also had two seal pups born, PK1 was born to K22 and PK2 to K30, three days apart.  We spent Memorial Day pupsitting PK1.  Cute as can be, they are so very black and hairy when they are born.Rainbow 005

Half the time we are watching, we worry if the pup is getting enough milk, I always want to hold the pup up to the “spigot”  They do seem to be able to find it, and they will grow by leaps and bounds, getting to close to 200 lbs in 6 weeks.IMG_0759

We do enjoy sitting at a lovely beach listening to the waves and making sure everything is good.  Not too shabby!  We will take turns sitting on the beach and observing until about a month after mom weans the pup.  They are usually weaned between 5-7 weeks old.  That is the time span that they are the most vulnerable.IMG_0766

Other than pup sitting, we always seem to have plenty to do.  Every week Charlie has softball, practice 2X per week plus the Saturday game.

I was talked into learning to BON dance, the buddhist circle dance honoring ancestors.  We had a practice first at our local temple and a second at Hanapepe.  I’m starting to get it, despite having two left feet.  The dance consists of 16 songs, depicting different activities, harvesting rice, drumming, mining, and various other activities that I haven’t interpreted yet.  The series takes about an hour, there are two every weekend, Friday and Saturday nights, starting in June and ending in late July….if you go to all of them, you become quite proficient.  This was the beginning of the first Bon dance of the summer.Rainbow 001

Every now and again I am reminded that we are a small island when I walk next door to the community center and see the following relic (and they are found throughout the island).IMG_0750I was lucky enough to be invited by Jamie to go check out K30’s new pup PK2, who was born one day after PK1, however, she birthed again up on the Na Pali coast on a remote beach.  We again rode up on Captain Tara’s zodiac (Captain Nat was operating this boat), about an hour ride, where she dropped us off to swim to shore.  Jamie gave me the dry bag to push through the waves and he took the two signs that we planned to put up.  His swim was more challenging because he had to keep them somewhat dry and keep them from submerging.

K30, again had a healthy pup, this year it’s a boy.IMG_1185

After posting signs and taking pictures, we settled down to wait for our ride back.  Unfortunately, Captain Nat had engine troubles and was delayed for a while.   She did get one of the two started and we limped back to the harbor….only 2 hours late for the next charter she had booked.  The trip was a huge success for we saw not only spinner dolphins, but also bottlenose dolphins. They’re considerably larger than the spinners.  We did see a young seal with a hook, but unfortunately we can’t do too much out in the open water.

While returning past PMRF, we observed navy osprey planes landing and taking off on the beach.  One pilot even gave us the shaka out the window.  They certainly are strange looking.IMG_0770

Otherwise, life goes on, and we seem to spend increasing time monitoring seals.

While driving into Lihue the other evening, we saw a spectacular display.  a wide rainbow of colors jutting straight up into the heavens, what a sight!  People were pulling over just to take pictures.  You can see the second rainbow just starting to form on the left of the photo below.IMG_0787On to June…viva Kauai!Rainbow 019

Hooray it’s May

It has so far been a very busy May.  Curiously, my morning run to Poipu was interrupted, twice by animal encounters.  As I was merrily jogging along Hapa Trail, a huge wild boar appeared to block my continued run.  Obviously, I stopped to let him disappear into the brush, I was in no mood to confront him.  He must have outweighed me by 300 lbs.  After he disappeared, I continued on, 100 yards further along the trail I was stopped by a herd of steers that had escaped from the pasture.  Again, wait and detour.  Finally, I got back on the road and eventually met Charlie at the beach.  He was wondering whatever had happened to me.  I’ve seen goats and cattle in the pastures on that route but those were firsts.  I have to admit, the morning runs to the beach are darn spectacular.IMG_0732

Early the first week of May, our old friend G22 got hooked……again.  This hooking turned out to be more complicated that the last.  He had hauled out on the beach fronting the Grand Hyatt.  We assembled the usual crew, picked up the crowding boards (large white pieces of plywood), the capture net, the capture sling, and 4 wire gates.  As well as bolt cutters and vice grips.  G22 was sound asleep close to the water when the 6 of us, carrying the boards snuck up on him and crowded him up the beach and set a wire enclosure around him.  We put up a sun shade to allow Mimi and Jamie to assess the situation.  This time the hook was wrapped around his jaw, making it impossible to pull out.  The head vet in Oahu was consulted and we arranged to capture the seal, cage him and transport him into Lihue to the base yard to await Michelle, the head vet, to arrive the next day to attempt dehooking.  In order to get him from the beach to the carrying crate, we had to roll him into a net sling, that had two long sticks for 4 people to hold and let him loose into the crate.

At the base lot, Jamie and Mimi alternated sleeping near G22 overnight until we all regrouped at 8 the next morning.  We set up a sun shade, kept dousing him with water (as they had overnight) and released him onto a tarp where Michelle gave him a tranquilizer and anesthetized him.  They had also brought a portable X-ray machine along to see if he had swallowed another hook.G22 007G22 019

Note the yellow X-ray machine.

Finally, after about 20 minutes the hook was removed, no more found and we could allow G22 to come out of his drug induced stupor.  Next, back into the carrying case and of to Lydgate beach to release him.  That beach was the easiest to back the pickup close to the water.  He was quite happy to return to the ocean.P1070314

I’m opening the end gate to let him loose.  Quite an operation……Pretty cool!

After observing the BON dances for the past 4 years, I decided that I needed to learn how to do it and what it is about.  So I started going to BON Dance practice at the nearby Koloa Jodo Mission.  BON is time to remember and honor those who have passed on before us and is supposed to be time of reflection.  The first couple of practices, I felt like I had two left feet.  This year, there 18 dances, all involve various movements with one’s hands, arms and feet.  One of the moves shows rice harvesting, another pulling fishing nets.  The other participants have been really helpful in trying to teach me the moves., though the best way appears to follow the lead of an expert.  We slowly move in a large circle and if there are more people than can be accommodated in one circle, a circle within a circle.  The dancers are both male and female and of all ages.  The BON dances occur at various Buddhist temples and missions throughout the island.  On Kauai, there are nine 2-day dances (Friday and Saturday) scheduled for this summer starting in June.  I understand Oahu has many more.   The venue has a pedestal in the center of a field with loud speakers blaring the music for each dance.  So far I can’t recognize the words announcing each dance but Im starting to recognize the moves.  Mining, harvesting rice, hoeing are among the different moves.

This week also provided another hooking.  This time it was K90.  She had a large circle hook sticking out of the corner of her mouth.  K90 is a mature female, around 300+ lb, definitely more challenging than G22.  In fact, we were called with short notice, to help.  Short notice because we have to respond before the seal leaves the beach.  A staff member from Oahu, Mark, was flown in also to assist.  So, Charlie, Tree, Gary, Mimi, Jamie and I were the de-hooking crew, Shannon and Julie were photographing.  It was especially challenging because R336, a large male was sleeping right beside her so that we had to separate them before we could de-hook her.  We first crowded them apart with large white crowding boards.    K90 is behind the boards in the picture below, with R336 to the right.

We then had to net her and hold her down, all the time making sure that R336 didn’t sneak up behind us.

R336 was in the water trying to return, while I’m standing guard.  Good seal.

We accomplished the whole procedure in 3 min 45 seconds, whereupon K90 joined her boyfriend and swam off……hookless.  This was a difficult de-hooking, due to the location, the presence of R336, and the size of K90.   Fortunately it all went well.

The second half of the softball season has started and the May 13th game was quite interesting.  Several of the players are missing, either because of other obligations or in the case of three players, injuries.   One with a broken foot from the last game, one with a strained hamstring and one with a strained shoulder.  Such is athletics over age 60.  Luckily, our team won the last game.  Afterwards, during the obligatory potluck, 3 team members from another team, who also happen to be musicians, decided to jam in the shelter.  So many Kauaians seem to be good singers….as well as dancers.  Almost everyone in the shelter was singing along and even one (septarian) entertained with a dance.  Check out the video below:

In spite of the hula being performed and the singing, most of this fellow’s teammates continued talking, oblivious to the performance.  We though were hooting and hollering, really enjoying this moment.  Neat camaraderie!

The first tropical storm of the season has been named, Adrian, almost 2 weeks earlier than hurricane season.  It isn’t supposed to approach Hawaii, but we’ll see what develops this year.

Its officially Spring

Though the season changes are subtile, we do have spring.  The cacti are blooming as are mangos and limes.  Unfortunately, the monkeypod trees are dropping their sticky pods also, necessitating our picking them up from the lawn before mowing so as not to gum up the mower blades.

I’ve met the young goat kids on my morning run to Poipu Beach, requiring me to stop for a few minutes to enjoy their antics.fullsizeoutput_e0d

One of our regular seals, G22, was found by several snorkelers at Mahaulepu with a hook in his mouth and a fishing line trailing that was wrapped around some coral.  It was swimming frantically around trying to release himself.  Luckily the snorkelers had a knife, cut the line and released him.  He swam off with the hook in his mouth and 20 feet of fishing line trailing.  GOPR0031-1-2We discovered him the next day at a private beach, Palamas, and Mimi, Jamie, Charlie and I went down with crowding boards, netted him and cut the hook out of his mouth.  This was a large (about 2.5 inches in diameter) hook and was fortunately not swallowed or deep in his mouth.  IMG_0693G22 has grown quite large in the past couple of months, he is only 2 years old but probably weighs over 200 lbs.  Jamie had the head, Charlie the body, and I had the tail.  He was a strong bugger and it was all I could do to hold his back flippers.  Until I got him pinned, he tossed me around like I was on the end of a flyswatter……I had sand in my face and my hair after he lifted me up and then face-planted me in the sand.  We saw a video of this – it was pretty funny watching me get thrown around.  Mimi handled the bolt cutters and we successfully cut and removed the hook.  G22 left, without all the gear trailing…..another successful seal rescue.

Every morning when we go down to Poipu to check for seals, we see anywhere from 2 to 14 turtles basking on the shore.  One day, while following a seal around to the Keiki pool, I came upon a turtle that appeared to be sitting up on a rock in the water.  With closer inspection, the rock underneath was actually another turtle.  That is the first time that I’ve actually seen turtles mating.IMG_0700

Note the shiny seal back (K31) in the water directly behind the turtle.  Upon turning around, I saw another smaller turtle wedged between two rocks, unable to free itself.  So, being a good samaritan, I and a visitor picked it up and let it get back in the water.  That turtle swam off, leaving a wake, but not as much as a thank you.

The last culinary luncheon was held showcasing the aspiring chefs, as usual so creative.  They design everything from determining the menu to designing the printed menu that is always very creative.ENVOY 009

Poipu Beach has been extremely busy with as many as 4 seals up at a time.  And this is the time of year when many of our regular volunteers are leaving the island – some are seasonal volunteers, others are just going to the mainland for vacation.   Regardless, we’re swamped with activity, and short of people.  A new arrival started hanging out on Brennecke’s rocks, V76, a female probably from Ni’ihau.  I think that she is probably in estrus because males are appearing from all over.


Above is a picture of three of the males that are pursuing her….the turtle isn’t.  V76 isn’t in this picture, but she’s in the area, and therefore the young studs are here.

Since our house was built 8 years ago, it was time to repaint.  So we invested in a electric spray painter and starting painting (after first pressure washing the house).  It was lots of work, but the house now looks really good, it only took us about 4 days….working between rain showers.  We did get some overspray on to the foundation plants, but they grow fast so should be fine.   We still have some trim work to touch up, and then we’ll need to redo the lanai floor, but it’s looking good!

It’s April

We had a sad beginning to the end of Feb.   Barry Werthwine and I were lucky enough to accompany Jamie and Mimi, our leaders, to a more private beach to tag a young seal that appeared on Kauai.  We had thought she was about 3 yrs old, but after capturing her, determined that she was probably more like 4.  She gave us quite a fight.  It still didn’t take us more than about 3 minutes to tag, chip and take her blood sample.   Hopefully, with a good data base, we may be able to match DNA and determine relationships between different seals. After a productive day of finding the new seal and two more seals we got back to a place that we could get calls, only to find that one of our favorite seals, 4DP was found dead at a place called Glass Beach.  4DP was an adult female that would often appear at Lawai and Baby Beaches and would generally leave around noon, unlike most of our seals.  We had gotten to know her well, thus this was a shock.  She had seemed very healthy, fat and active and suddenly here she was.  Charlie was at softball practice and we had to call him to help lift the 450 lb carcass into a pickup truck to transport her to the base lot and then on to the airport.  After packing her in ice and into a body bag she was flown to Oahu for a necropsy.

Unfortunately, the necropsy determined cause of death was blunt force trauma; fluids were also sent to a histology lab for analysis.  With so few Monk Seals left, it especially hurts when we lose a healthy female .  A $50,000 reward has been offered for information leading to an arrest of anyone regarding the 2 most recent seal deaths.  This was like losing a family member, we knew 4DP so well, having watched her numerous times here on the south shore.

The culinary luncheons are in full swing again, and upon receiving email notification, we jump on them, since they’re in high demand.  It has been an enjoyable way to support the Kauai Community College Culinary students….the food presentations are always phenomenal, note the duck confit below.IMG_0653

EKK has also returned with a vengeance , every Monday evening from Jan to March has been taken up with that event.  Again, we had many awesome performances ranging from Hula to ukulele music.  We seem to be getting more and more involved, with; not only, EKK, but also other musical events on the island.  Handling ticket sales, box office sales, and putting up posters among our responsibilities.  We get to see, or at least hear, all kinds of music…..we are often in the back totaling receipts during the performances.  I also help with drawings for CD’s during each break.  IMG_0659

This was one of the more recent EKK evenings, Kupaoa.

Moani and Allie are getting along well, each had some illness necessitating several trips to the vet, but both seem to be back to normal.  Moani is growing by leaps and bounds.IMG_0101West Side Seniors softball team is doing well, we have several players that graduated into the 60 year old bracket (they had been alternating, since only one 55-59 year old can play at one time) so the team is much improved with the young blood (not to mention young knees!).  However, that also means that Charlie hasn’t been able to play as much, often being the designated player (only batting).  We are still enjoying the camaraderie ….and the pupu’s and beer after the games.  I also am still the team score keeper (I get to sit in the dugout) a job nobody wants to do….it’s pretty intense.

We still go down to check the beach in the morning and I still run the short and slow 3 miles (I don’t seem to be as fast as I was in my youth) to hitch a ride back with Charlie.  The seal volunteer population has been somewhat sparse lately, so there have been occasions that I’ve had to stay on the beach up to 5 hours in order to maintain full coverage.

We also were informed that, after 65 years of the monk seal population decreasing, the past 3 years have shown an increase of about 3% per year.  Lets hope this trend continues.  The estimated total Hawaiian Monk Seal population is now 1400.

Charlie and I have gone down to Kukuiula Harbor a few evenings to watch the sun set and sip on a glass of wine.  Most recently, we shared a picnic table with a local musician (almost everybody on the island is a musician).  We had our own little (EKK) community sing in the shelter.

Life continues to be quite busy, last week Charlie was involved with a project to move a young seal, H92 from a canal in Kapaa to PMRF.  After much discussion, it was determined that, because she was being lured up the canal with fish entrails (illegal) like two previous young seals, she was in danger of getting trapped in nets that were put in the water.  Unfortunately, she was moved last week and by this week, she had swum around the island and returned to the canal.  The TV news and newspaper now have been filled with pleas to locals to stop throwing fish scraps in the canal.

Unfortunately, we were shocked by the devastating news that a dear friend of ours on the mainland shot himself.  This friend would communicate daily with Charlie and though he had serious health problems, this was unthinkable..  We’ve both been alternating between anger and sadness, trying to understand what would drive someone to do this.  Very sad for everyone.




The Canadians are back -its that time of the year

With EKK resuming and multiple seals visiting, we’ve been very busy.  We’ve had strong winds, more rain than usual and it’s been cool, upper 70’s in the day and mid 60’s at night.  We have been enjoying our comforter.  The beaches too, have an influx of Canadians as well as the “snow birds” from cooler parts of the mainland.

Our biggest news concerns a new acquisition.  Meet Moani, the newest member of the Fafard family.  She, like Allie, was born in Maui at the same breeder from which Allie was adopted.  Moani is a real sweetheart.  We kept the two separate for about 4 days but they have adjusted to each other swimmingly.img_0606

As you can see, Allie is enjoying the company .img_0619

Allie is suddenly getting way more exercise, that should keep both cats healthier.

Our friend, Shannon, and I planned to go to Maui to do some whale-watching while the humpbacked whales are visiting from Alaska, giving birth to their young and (hopefully) breeding.  We’ve gone the past two years, and usually go for a couple of days and pack in as many whale watching tours as we can fit in.  Luckily, KokuaKats had one kitten left from a litter and the timing was perfect to pick her up when I was there.  Because she was born on the islands, there is little problem transporting between islands, unlike from the mainland where (because we have no rabies in Hawaii) it is extremely complicated to “import” pets.  Consequently, I could carry her in the cabin.  She was a perfect lady and everything went quite smoothly, she charmed everyone she met.  She charmed Charlie immediately too, since we had bought her sight unseen, it was a relief that she was so personable.  We named her Moani, that means “gentle breeze” and it seems she is appropriately named.  I had insisted, since she was a Maui girl, that she have a Hawaiian name.  Our seal coordinator Jamie, stated that, hopefully, she won’t turn into a “hurricane”… far so good.

Charlie volunteered to help Carol Yosuta, the local arts dynamo, with hosting a Canadian group called the “Comic Strippers”.  So the first part of February immersed us in distributing posters, coordinating ticket sales, and staffing the Performing Arts Center at Kauai Community College where the event took place.

These fellows, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, perform an act that parodies male stripper programs.  We didn’t know exactly what to expect, however they turned out to be extremely funny.  It was actually an improvisation act in which they involved the audience  while they pretended to be not very good male strippers.  The audience, both male and female  and quite a bit younger than the usual EKK audience, loved it. It does seem that Charlie has become the go-to person for nuts and bolts on the Arts Council since he is so organized.  And that attribute resulted in Carol having him coordinate electronic ticket sales for another upcoming show in March.

A highlight of EKK recently was a performance by Kalani Pe’a.  It became a tense situation when his flight to Kauai got delayed due to high winds on the Hawaiian chain.  Flights were cancelled and the musicians got to the venue only about 15 minutes before the event was supposed to start.  Kalani, had to  leave after the performance to attend the Grammys where the next day he won, the first Hawaiian to win a Grammy, for Regional Roots Music Album “E Walea”.  It just goes to show what amazing talent Carol arranges to perform for the 10 weeks each Jan-Mar.  We’ve enjoyed being involved.

The following week featured a “Hawaiian” Swing band that encouraged swing dancing, and the next was Hula.  A local Hula dancer Aunty Bev, from Malie Foundation,  also offered hula lessons.

All this is besides the daily seal volunteering, that has been also hopping.  One Friday we had 4 seals up on the south shore in three different locations.  That always makes for complications in attempting to cover all locations with 2 hour shifts and a limited number of volunteers.  Our old friend K31 has been showing up along with G22, W06, 4 DP, F28 and 3 CX.  K31 and F28 look very clean since both recently molted (shedded all their outer layers of skin).  It can be challenging to identify them, since any bleached identifying letters comes off with the skin.


This is F28, born in 2015, all clean and shiny.

Every Saturday again, we have softball and West Kauai is doing pretty well, with some “young” players able to play the whole game.  The rule in Senior Softball is that all team members must be 60 or older, with the exception that players between the age of 55 and 59 can play but only one in the game at a time.  Two of our better, younger players just turned 60 so the team is taking advantage of that.

EKK hosted a community Hula event on Presidents Day in the spirit of E Kanikapila Kakou (that means the community sings together) and it seemed that most of the audience participated in the lesson in the beginning of the event and then joined the Halau in their dances.  It was a colorful event and very well attended.  It is a highlight in our week though Charlie and I work pretty hard greeting, registering folks, compiling the donations and cleaning up afterwards.  By the end of the 10 weeks, we are usually ready for a break.img_0627

Its a New Year

The crowds haven’t left yet, we thought that things would settle down after the holidays, but so far it’s still pretty busy.  Unfortunately, the person that had been pulled out of the water in the last issue, did die, the first of the season.  Since that one we have had one more, a man swimming off Moaloa’a.  We had a week of Kona winds with the accompanying warm, muggy weather but then suddenly, the trades returned with a vengeance.  Sustained winds of 20-30 with gusts 40-50 that we haven’t seen since the windy hurricane season summer before last.  The days have been in the 70’s and nights in the 60’s…..we’re piling on the layers.  Funny how one become accustomed to warm weather and when it cools down a few degrees we are cold in temperatures that when we lived in Wisconsin would have seemed balmy.

Softball season is starting, we had a scrimmage already and we’ve received the new uniforms ……pretty gaudy, Charlie says they look like NASCAR shirts.  The new season starts on the 28th, I’m sharpening my scoring pencil.  Since writing that, we had our first game, which we won over a team that normally beats us, so we’re off to a good start!IMG_0570.JPG

So what do you think, is it garish?

We embarked on our SUP adventure that we had won at the Hawaiian Children’s theater event last month.  It consisted of a 2.5 mile standup paddle board trek up the Huleia Stream, past the Alakoko Menehune Fishpond (an ancient Hawaiian fishpond) to a haul out along the stream, where we hiked up along the stream to a couple of waterfalls.  This was Charlie’s first attempt at SUP and though it was tiring, he did quite well.  I had a bit more experience with them then he had.  At the two waterfalls, I had to use the rope swing to jump in.  The water temperature  was quite a shock!

The hike was through rainforest and beautiful.fullsizeoutput_df0img_0535The excursion ended on top of a hill in Kipu Kai, looking toward Lihue and Nawilliwilli Harbor, this was a view made famous by the movie The Descendants and was outstanding.img_0540The end of January starts our new season of EKK, E Kanakapila Kokau, the annual Hawaiian music venue that lasts for 10 weeks.

The most outstanding news this week was a press release from The Monk Seal Research Program about the Hawaiian Monk Seal population.  Statistics on the population of the seal is, that for the past 3 years, the population has increased by about 3% a year and that our new estimate is, unlike what we have been saying,  1400 seals.  For 6 decades, the numbers have been decreasing from a high of about 4000.  Charlie is kidding Jamie and Mimi noting that the increase has occurred since we came on board.  hmmm.  The release further says that 30% of the monk seals now alive are the result of our program’s work.

Joanie, a friend that we have made here invited us to a picnic for her birthday and she held it up on top a hill at Kukui’ula.  What a spectacular view, one can see for miles!  It was cool that evening so we needed jackets but it was quite fun.

img_0566Looking north

img_0569Looking Southeast

img_0564Looking south

Kukui’ula is a very upscale development on Poipu’s south shore, with a golf course, country club, houses and cottages.  Property with a cottage here starts at over $2.5 million but views are lovely and amenities over the top.

We had the second EKK concert, busy again for both of us.  This was a hula special and our friend Wes Kaui (shown below with his guitar) was the only male among the musicians and dancers.  Wes was in his glory.  The turnout was very good, with both locals and visitors represented, it is one of the highlights of the year. img_0573