Bought an Apple, Got a Lemon. Going Nuts.

 

 

Not my most auspicious visit to NYC. I guess I should have known things were a little off when I got chased by a squirrel. I was strolling through Madison Square Park on a perfect summer afternoon when the cute little guy practically posed for a photo. Ever the tourist, I couldn’t resist.

 

 

Watch out for this maniac squirrel in Madison Square Park!

 

As I took the photo, Mr. Cute Squirrel morphed into Mr. Attack Squirrel and lunged at me. When I stepped back, he CHASED me. I could just see the headline: “Woman Flees from Squirrel, Normal Day in NYC”.

Alas, this was not the only thing to go squirrely this week. Ominous messages were appearing on my laptop. “Disk storage full”. Ever compliant, I dutifully deleted file after file. And then…the dreaded blank screen. My practically brand new MacBook Air expired before my eyes. 

(If post ends here precipitously, re-load the site and voila! the rest of it will display)

In its first year of business in 2006, the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue averaged 50,000 visitors a week. Judging from the crowd, I think most of them were still there when I strode in with the corpse of my laptop. I waited two and a half hours – that’s ONE HUNDRED FIFTY MINUTES – to be told what I already suspected: my MacBook Air was DOA. Hard drive kaput. And hope you didn’t need to recover any of those files. The kicker? Gee, your warranty expired a month ago. 

As the squirrel would say, nuts.

A quick Google search told me I am far from the only one with a MacBook Air headache. Lots of sad stories out there. The nice young man who pronounced time of death for my laptop actually uttered the phrase “possible defective part” when he commented that my computer was in great condition and that nothing I had done had caused the failure.

So. Three bits of wisdom acquired. One it is dang nigh impossible to post a blog from an iPhone. Two, do your homework before you purchase a MacBook Air. And three: stay away from those squirrels in Madison Square Park!

 

 

 

Posted in Annoyances of Life | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Family Album: Maui Magic

Here’s how it added up: twelve people, ten days, one luau and about a half dozen giant slices of hula pie. Oh how we love Maui!

Just how we like it: view from our balcony of the Westin Maui pool and Ka'anapali beach.

Just how we like it: view from our balcony of the Westin Maui pool and Ka’anapali beach.

We started taking the family to Ka’anapali back when the girls were young teens and our boys were toddlers. Now we have grandkids in tow – another generation to enjoy the pool and the beach and, of course, the water slide at the Westin Maui.

Evie owns the water slide!

Evie owns the water slide!

We met up at LAX with all the young cousins.

Everyone ready for Hawaii?

Everyone ready for Hawaii?

Later that day the kids were exploring the garden paths at the Westin.

James and Thomas take Caleigh for a walk.

James and Thomas take Caleigh for a walk.

They look pretty happy to be in Hawaii.

They look pretty happy to be in Hawaii.

First order of business is to visit Keoki, the Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo who rules the roost at the Maui Westin. He is forty-four years old and has been in residence at the hotel since we first started visiting in the 1980’s.

Angie renews her friendship with Keoki

Angie renews her friendship with Keoki

We're always happy to see that the flamingos are still there.

We’re always happy to see that the flamingos are still there.

The grounds at the Maui Westin never disappoint.

The grounds at the Maui Westin never disappoint.

Big decision of the day? Pool or beach? Lots of both!

I don't know how she does it: Tina with a crew in the pool.

I don’t know how she does it: Tina with a crew in the pool.

James and Thomas at the pool.

James and Thomas at the pool.

John with Caleigh and Evie.

John with Caleigh and Evie.

Fun at Ka'anapali Beach.

Fun at Ka’anapali Beach.

Taylor couldn’t join us this year, but Daniel and his friend Peter brought the urban hipness quotient:

Angie's great pic of the temporary tattoo crowd!

Angie’s great pic of the temporary tattoo crowd!

Dad and Daniel

Dad and Daniel

Tina, Angie and Dad

Tina, Angie and Dad

Hula Grill is the heart of Ka’anapali Beach and our go-to for dinner with a big crowd:

Hula Grill sign 2015

And the big news is that the Hula now serves Hula Pie - yet another reason to eat there every night!

And the big news is that the Hula now serves Hula Pie – yet another reason to eat there every night!

The days were just packed, starting with our glorious morning walks.

The Beach Walk to North Ka'anapali is not to be missed.

The Beach Walk to North Ka’anapali is not to be missed.

The breakfast buffet is a tradition:

Daniel and Peter at breakfast.

Daniel and Peter at breakfast.

There are arts and crafts to be made:

James and Viv hard at work.

James and Viv hard at work.

Lots of pictures to pose for:

Caleigh, Viv and Evie

Caleigh, Viv and Evie

Angie's beautiful photo of James.

Angie’s beautiful photo of James.

And for the more adventurous members of our group, there was the snorkel cruise:

Angie and boys ready for snorkeling.

Angie and boys ready for snorkeling.

John and Evie on the snorkel cruise

John and Evie on the snorkel cruise

The nightly reward for all that hard work: ice cream!

Cousins!

Cousins!

Such a great trip. Thanks, all, for joining us again! When can we go back?

Sunset at Ka'anapali Beach.

Sunset at Ka’anapali Beach.

Posted in All Things Family, Big Fun, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Good Morning, Maui.

I am so talented I’m capable of insomnia in any language.

Including Hawaiian, which, interestingly, does not seem to have a word for insomnia. This might be because everyone in Hawaii knows how to hang loose and sleep. Everyone but me, that is.

A bird in flight and I enjoy the sunrise at Black Rock, Ka'anapali.

A bird in flight and I enjoy the sunrise at Black Rock, Ka’anapali.

We have luxuriated here at Ka’anapali for a full week now, and I have had the luxury of more awake hours than anyone else. (Except maybe for Miss Caleigh, who has given her parents a run for their Mai Tai’s with her “No sleep! No sleep!” performances.

All smiles, no sleep: Caleigh and Tina

All smiles, no sleep: Caleigh and Tina

Most mornings I awake at 3 a.m., although some days  I have managed to sleep until four, when the mynas explode in chatter from their night roost in the sea grape trees outside our hotel room balcony.

The sassy mynas are ubiquitous on Maui.

The sassy mynas are ubiquitous on Maui.

One advantage to being up with the birds is that I get a jump on the competition for pool chairs. The CE, John and I have served as advance troops in securing the most coveted shade chairs for our tribe: there are twelve of us!

Dawn patrol: on our way to the pool before the sun comes up.

Dawn patrol: on our way to the pool before the sun comes up.

The Starbucks counter opens at 5 a.m. I’ve been their first customer all week. After a venti cup of Kona blend coffee the world looks pretty good, even if it is still dark.

Up with the birds: saying hi to the swan at 5 a.m.

Up with the birds: saying hi to the swan at 5 a.m.

By 5:30 a.m., I am ready for the morning stroll. One of our favorite things about Ka’anapali is the boardwalk that spans the length of the cluster of resorts, from the Grand Hyatt at the south end of the beach to the Sheraton at Black Rock on the north end. And best of all, behind the Sheraton is a beach walk that meanders past the golf course and all the way up to North Ka’anapali, where huge cranes announce new development even beyond the Westin Villas and the sprawling Honua Kai condominium complex. Ka’anapali has changed a lot since we first started coming here in the 1980’s!

Daniel was just a toddler when we first began visiting Ka'anapali.

Daniel was just a toddler when we first began visiting Ka’anapali.

When we first hit the deck at 5 a.m., it’s just us, the swan and the pool workers bustling quietly in their headlamps. The coconut vendor will soon arrive to set up his wares but for the moment, all is quiet and after we nail down our pool chairs we head out and have the boardwalk to ourselves. I think of the beautiful Hawaiian word alaula, meaning “the light of early dawn”.

Egrets at dawn on the Beach Walk to North Ka'anapali.

Egrets at dawn on the Beach Walk to North Ka’anapali.

By 6 a.m., the first runners appear and by 6:30 the sleepy boardwalk has become a superhighway. Runners and walkers jostle in passing and I start to feel that Maui sunshine heating up on the back of my neck. The glorious serenity of the morning is split asunder by the arrival of the fast-talking time share hustlers who perch like vultures at their kiosks lining the boardwalk. In case you haven’t noticed, Ka’anapali Beach seems to be  all about time shares these days.

Our walking companion: this friendly kitty can reliably be found on the Beach Walk at the Maui Eldorado.

Our walking companion: this friendly kitty can reliably be found on the Beach Walk at the Maui Eldorado. A much more welcome sight than the time share hustlers.

Once we return from our walk, the little ones start to tumble out of bed and gather for the breakfast buffet spread – omelets, waffles, lots of rice, the Portuguese sausage that is so popular in Hawaii that I hear it is served at McDonald’s, and a feast of fruit – mango, papaya, pineapple, watermelon and, of course, lots of guava juice with which to wash it all down. All this, and the kids still choose Lucky Charms cereal…

After breakfast, everyone else’s day is just beginning, but I’m thinking about the idea of a nap Only the idea of it, though, because a nap would involve sleeping, which is something I don’t seem to do.

View of the island of Lanai at dawn. Monet would have loved it!

View of the island of Lanai at dawn. Monet would have loved it!

While insomnia does not translate precisely into Hawaiian,  I did find a word that might work: uluku, a melding of the words ulu for “to grow” and ku for “to stand”. It can be translated to mean “to be restless, as the sea”.

My nights here are, indeed, restless, but I don’t really mind because I love being here to see the alaula. the light of early dawn at Ka’anapali. Being uluku is just fine with me, because I don’t want to miss a thing.

Aloha!

I'm happy to be up with the birds, as long as I'm in Hawaii!

I’m happy to be up with the birds, as long as I’m in Hawaii!

Posted in All Things Family, Big Fun, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Post Haste.

I can only write well if I am well-caffeinated, the moon is gibbous, rain has recently fallen in southern California and there are no distractions.

So, you see: basically never.

And this has been a week of distractions. A few things going on. A trip to pack for. A couple of squirrelly houseguests.

Trouble. In neon.

James and Thomas. Trouble. In neon.

I’m in good company when it comes to being easily distractible. Franz Kafka once said “…one can never be alone enough when one writes…there can never be enough silence around one when one writes…even night is not night enough.”

When you write, even only once a week, even only in an obscure blog, you discover a few things. Mainly, that writing, and pushing a boulder up a mountain, only for it to roll down and have to start anew, are pretty much the same thing. Sisyphean. Punishing work. It does not come easily, regardless of what Matthew Weiner would have you believe about Don Draper zenning out at Esalen and having the “I want to teach the world to sing” brainstorm for Coca-Cola. I think that only happens on TV, or at least that’s what I want to think.

I already miss Don Draper, by the way. (image from rouge18.com)

I already miss Don Draper, by the way. (image from rouge18.com)

I suppose, for  some writers, the words do come easily. Thomas Wolfe famously presented editor Maxwell Perkins with a manuscript so long it was stored in a steamer trunk. Originally called O Lost: A Story of the Buried Life, we know the book today by the title Look Homeward, Angel. Perkins was the editorial corollary to Michelangelo: he used his red pen to chisel away everything that did not look like a literary classic and we are all the better for it.

Writers' block was apparently not a problem for Thomas Wolfe.

Writers’ block was apparently not a problem for Thomas Wolfe.

Writers known for their work ethic include Stephen King, who apparently writes ten pages a day without fail. Ernest Hemingway wrote 500 words per day (I’ll take his 500 to King’s ten pages any day, but that’s just me) and left us with this gem of a quote about the process: “The first draft of anything is shit.”

Hemingway at work (latimes.com image)

Hemingway at work (latimes.com image)

Edith Wharton, along with Mark Twain and Marcel Proust, wrote well, often, and usually lying down. Truman Capote was a member of this club, as well, claiming to be a “completely horizontal author” because he couldn’t think and write unless he was lying down.”

Unknown-5

This is no big deal when you consider that Victor Hugo, the celebrated author of Les Miserables, had a penchant for writing naked. The story goes that, in a time crunch for completing The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hugo demanded that his valet take away all his clothes so he would not be able to leave the house. Hugo wrote his book while wrapped in a blanket.

Victor Hugo, with his clothes (thankfully) on. (wikipedia image)

Victor Hugo, with his clothes (thankfully) on. (wikipedia image)

I suppose it doesn’t really fly to say you can’t write because you don’t have time. William Faulkner penned the brilliant As I Lay Dying while literally burning the midnight oil as he toiled away on the night shift at a power plant. Poet William Carlos Williams worked full time as a physician while also producing some of the most significant poetry of the twentieth century. Abraham Verghese, also a physician, somehow found the time to write the exceedingly fine novel Cutting for Stone. 

Verghese's Cutting for Stone is a joy to read.

Verghese’s Cutting for Stone is a joy to read.

So I realize I am without excuses for not having a post this week. But, as I am literally tossing the last items into the suitcase and heading out the door (goodbye dogs! goodbye chickens!) I hope you can forgive me. More later! I promise to send a post card!

Unknown-4

Posted in Music/Art/Literature/Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Use Your Words.

Each day there is a new creak or a new wrinkle. I used to see my reflection in a window and check to see if my hair was perfect. Now I glance and wonder GACK! Who on earth is that pudgy old woman and why is she stooped so?

But finally – a tiny shred of good news about getting old!

According to last Wednesday’s The Wall Street Journal, a recent study of intelligence published in the journal Psychological Science, shows that, despite the various losses as we age (they are legion, no arguing that…) one skill continues to shine. According to the study’s lead author, MIT postdoctoral fellow Joshua Hartshorne, “our vocabularies continue to grow, peaking as late as age 70”.

Anyone besides me suffer from this?

Anyone besides me suffer from this?

I collect words at an even more alarming pace than I collect chickens. Within the last few weeks, I’ve added these beauties to my list:

cerumen

prolonge

philtrum

Gold stars to anyone who knows these on sight. And may I never encounter you in a game of Words with Friends!

Cerumen is a fancy word for earwax. I came across it in a game of QuizUp, one of my go-to activities during bouts of insomnia. Prolonge is not a verb, but a noun, defined by Merriam-Webster as “a rope with a hook and a toggle used chiefly for dragging a gun carriage or attaching it to the limber”. (What on God’s green earth is a limber, I am now wondering?) I encountered it while reading about the Civil War, where I suppose a prolonge could make a difference in a prolonged battle. (And now let me take a moment now to deeply sympathize with anyone trying to learn English as a second language.)

In case you didn't already know, this is a prolonge. (image from historicalordnanceworks.com)

In case you didn’t already know, this is a prolonge. (image from historicalordnanceworks.com)

Of the three words, philtrum was the one I knew I had seen before. It was right there on the tip of my tongue. Well, directly above it, at least. The philtrum is that little vertical groove between the base of your nose and the border of your upper lip.

Right in front of your nose, almost: the philtrum (image from suggestkeyword.com)

Right in front of your nose, almost: the philtrum (image from suggestkeyword.com)

Certain authors send me scurrying to the dictionary on almost every page. I was charmed by Kent Haruf’s command of the language in his exquisite novel, Tinkers. Words like panicles, clepsydra, ichthyic roll off his literary tongue.

Probably not a compliment if someone pronounces you ichthyic, or fish-like (image from cartoon movement.com)

Probably not a compliment if someone pronounces you ichthyic, or fish-like (image from cartoon movement.com)

Famed physician/author Oliver Sacks is a master of word-play, scattering gems like eidetic, funambulist, peccant, recrudescence and aboulia among the pages of his book Awakenings.

You say funambulist, I say tightrope-walker. (image from juxtapose.com)

You say funambulist, I say tightrope-walker. (image from juxtapose.com)

The Second Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary contains entries for 171,476 words in current use. It is estimated that the average English speaker knows 10,000 to 20,000 words but routinely uses only 2,000 – 3,000 of them. Judging from texts exchanged with my adult children, that may be an optimistic calculation.

How parents converse with their children today. (image from list25.com)

How parents converse with their children today. (image from list25.com)

Dr. Hartshorne, of the aging study, delivers some predictably bad news about aging, but guess what? It begins earlier than you might think: “Processing speed – how fast we absorb and rejig numbers, names and facts – peaks around 18, then ‘drops off a cliff'”, he warns. I hadn’t realized that 20-somethings are right there with me in the lethologica department. All this time, I thought they were ignoring me, but maybe they, too, are searching for the right word?

We all know that what is referred to as “working memory” takes a hike as we age. So, for as many fancy words as I look up, you won’t likely have to suffer me using them in sentences. Yes, I looked them up. Yes, I know what they mean. I just can’t remember to use them!

May your weekend be filled with good words…

images-1

Posted in Music/Art/Literature/Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Past Forward

The years just fly by. Daniel was three and still wearing footie pajamas and Taylor was six years old and blanketed with chickenpox the day we moved into this house. Fast forward to 2015: Daniel just turned 25 and Taylor, gulp, is almost staring down thirty. How did that happen?

Sometimes we forget how many great memories we have collected in our twenty-plus years at this house, but a visitor this week helped us unspool some from the summer long ago: our young friend, Scott Sorge came to visit.

Lots of guests have walked through that gate since we moved here the last day of 1993.

Lots of guests have walked through that gate since we moved here the last day of 1993.

First the house and then a dog: the boys with Peaches in 1994.

First the house and then a dog: the boys with Peaches in 1994.

Now Daniel is all grown up and Chloe is the family dog.

Now Daniel is all grown up and Chloe is the family dog.

Back in the summer of 2006, Scott’s family was in the midst of a move. He was at loose ends for a few months, he wanted to train with our swim team, and somehow we became his host family. Easiest kid in the world to have around, Scott became our third son for the summer.

Scott and Taylor have a Scrabble duel, summer 2006.

Scott and Taylor have a Scrabble duel, summer 2006.

It was the same summer Daniel got his drivers license. A lifetime ago!

Momentous: Daniel got his drivers license!

Momentous: Daniel got his drivers license! (And what am I even thinking with that short skirt??)

Julia was a student at Westmont and working for us that summer; without her we would all have starved!

Julia and the CE in the kitchen.

Julia and the CE in the kitchen.

Things have changed a bit for Julia since then.  She and Grant were married at our home in 2009; they are now expecting their new baby to arrive in the next few weeks.

Julia and Grant at their wedding in 2009.

Julia and Grant at their wedding in 2009.

Julia and our young family friend Alexandra were planning to stop by Wednesday afternoon to hang out by our pool and enjoy some mom talk.

Julia and Chloe; baby

Julia and Chloe; baby “Chubs” is due August 3.

Julia and Alexandra in 2010.

Julia and Alexandra in 2010.

And Alexandra with new baby Ian, born in June.

And Alexandra with new baby Ian, born in June.

So when we heard from Scott, texting that he was on a road trip through Santa Barbara and wanted to stop by and say hello that same day, we realized we were in for a reunion.

We’d only seen Scott once since the summer he spent with us. We knew he had gone on to an illustrious swim career at Cal and we knew he kept in touch with our boys, but we were excited to catch up with him ourselves. Alexandra had to take baby Ian home before dinner, but Julia and Grant (and Henry!) stayed to welcome Scott and his girlfriend, Kelly. We ate pizza poolside by candlelight while the dogs  (especially Henry!) sneaked a treat here and there.

Henry likes to hang by the pool, especially at dinnertime.

Henry likes to hang by the pool, especially at dinnertime.

Scott had vivid memories of a turkey dinner we made that summer, and, sure enough, I found photos:

The CE ready to carve a turkey dinner in July, 2006.

The CE ready to carve a turkey dinner in July, 2006.

Taylor and Julia did the mashed potatoes.

Taylor and Julia did the mashed potatoes.

...while Scott communed with Soho and Birdie.

…while Scott communed with Soho and Birdie.

Scott couldn't believe it when I told him that Chadd is now driving!

Scott couldn’t believe it when I told him that Chadd is now driving!

It was so great to catch up with Scott and meet Kelly. They are both headed back to medical school after their summer road trip.

Kelly and Scott

Kelly and Scott

Scott had so many vivid memories of the time he spent here with us, and as he and Kelly left  to resume their road trip, I thought about how lucky we are to have been able to share this home through the years. And how lucky we are that all these young people have maintained a thread through our lives and come back to visit. We will even see Chadd this weekend – he is in town from the East coast and we are looking forward to dinner with him tomorrow.

I think it’s no coincidence that the name of our street translates to “blessed road”. It has truly been two decades of a vida bendita.

It's been a good run at our

It’s been a good run at our “casa bendita”

Posted in All Things Family, Friends | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Family Album: “Oh No, Not Them Again!”

Like the bad pennies we are, we turned up again last weekend, all smiles, in Newport Beach.

For couples like Tina and John, who get to live the dream on Lido Isle it’s only fair that they should have to entertain a passel of relatives constantly from time to time, right?

They have nothing to do but entertain us, right?

They have nothing to do but entertain us, right?

And there we were: me, the CE (Chicken Emperor) and PG (Granny), wondering what was for dinner Thursday evening. Tina always knows about the latest and greatest places to eat in Newport, and she made a reservation for us at the trendy and fabulous Cucina Enoteca at Fashion Island.

Granny and Tina make a toast at Cucina Enoteca

Granny and Tina share a toast at Cucina Enoteca

The vegetarian Bolognese at Cucina Enoteca was amazing! (yelp image)

The vegetarian Bolognese at Cucina Enoteca was amazing! (yelp image)

Being as we were staying at the lovely Island Hotel, there was shopping to be done across the street at Fashion Island mall.  We convinced Phyllis that her destiny lay at Neiman Marcus, where the CE tried to talk her into a pair of summer shorts. Hilarity (of the nonagenarian variety) ensued.

Last Call, 70% off, but no, rest assured, she did not for a moment consider buying those shorts.

Last Call, 70% off, but no, rest assured, she did not for a moment consider buying those shorts.

Phyllis and the CE, ready to conquer Bloomingdales at Fashion Island.

Phyllis and the CE, ready to conquer Bloomingdales at Fashion Island.

All this was mere prelude to our true goal. You know how some people want to occupy Wall Street? Our goals are much simpler: we just want to occupy the Duffy Boat, ever so briefly. Say, just for the weekend. And since there was no getting rid of us until this was accomplished, Tina, John and family kindly indulged us.

John and Tina at the helm of the Duffy.

John and Tina at the helm of the Duffy.

These girls! Vivie and Evie on the Duffy. So precious!

These girls! Vivie and Evie on the Duffy. So precious!

And this one! Caleigh! Can you tell how shy she is?

And this one! Caleigh! Can you tell how shy she is?

Group photo!

Group photo!

The Island Hotel has recently undergone a glamorous makeover of its common areas, among them the pool. In the right light, and with a requisite number of umbrella drinks, you might convince yourself that your afternoon at the Island pool approximates a tropical getaway. We were drinking club soda, and had three little ones in tow, but our pool time on Saturday and Sunday still had a whiff of Maui to it. Good practice for our upcoming vacation!

Somehow, Tina always manages to look relaxed, even while tending to a very busy Caleigh.

Tina always manages to look relaxed poolside, even while tending to a very busy Caleigh.

Fun at the pool!

Fun at the pool!

Back at home, Caleigh showed us her “clubhouse”:

I want a clubhouse, too, but mine would be filled with live animals!

I want a clubhouse, too, but mine would be filled with live animals!

And showed off her Minnie dress:

Cutest two-year-old on the planet.

Cutest two-year-old on the planet.

Vivie was feeling a bit under the weather, but as beautiful as ever:

Viv managed a smile, even though she wasn't feeling well.

Viv managed a smile, even though she wasn’t feeling well.

On Saturday evening, Tina and John arranged a date night for me and the CE, sending us off in the Duffy with a lavish cheese plate and a dinner reservation at The Winery, where we docked the boat and dined waterside. Afterwards we cruised the harbor until nightfall. Such a perfect evening!

Date night!

Date night!

Off we go!

And off we go!

Such a lovely weekend trip. We are already missing our hearty al fresco breakfasts on the terrace at Island Hotel. We are missing the Duffy Boat rides. And, most especially, we are missing Tina, John and those adorable girls. Guess we’ll just have to plan a return trip – what are you guys doing next weekend?

The CE and Phyllis at breakfast on the terrace.

The CE and Phyllis at breakfast on the terrace.

Grandpa and those darling girls.

Grandpa and those darling girls.

Posted in All Things Family, Big Fun, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments