Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Brrr! Out Like a Lion, Too

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Maybe my personal body thermostat has been reset by my idyllic vacation in Hawaii, but coming back to snow at the end of March is almost too much to bear. Just as it began to look as though we would have an early spring, the weather turned ugly.

We muscled and muddled through the first few days after our vacation, and then decided, at the last minute, that we were up to heading down to Baltimore/DC to celebrate Purim with the kids. Big mistake, as it turned out. Deciding to head directly to DC after school was over on Thursday, we got caught in a huge traffic jam caused by an accident just as we hit Delaware on I-95, and we set the GPS to detour us around it. The ride was pretty pleasant after that, and we arrived in DC at exactly the same time that Ari arrived home after having some drinks with friends after work. We had pho together for dinner in Columbia Heights. Afterward, we bumped into Matt and Naomi’s friend, Jeff, who lives nearby, as we exited the restaurant. We discussed his upcoming marriage, and we discussed Naomi; her water had broken with a pinhole leak, so we knew the baby would be coming soon. (In fact, she gave birth last night and Jess was on her way to DC this morning with Sami and Izzy to visit their new niece/cousin.)

The next day, Friday, Ari left early for work and Saul and I slept late. As Saul dug into school paperwork that had been neglected while we were on vacation, he began to feel a cold coming on. I dug into piles of laundry and cleaning that Ari had neglected while he was on vacation with us. By late afternoon, as we headed for Jess and Alex’s home for Shabbat, we all felt good about cleaning up and catching up, but Saul was beginning to feel really awful from the combination of head cold and broken rib. Coughing and sneezing made the pain worse. We were joined by Alex’s friends and assistants, Abbie and Isaac. Alex, as usual, made a wonderful dinner—a spicy soup, big salad, borekas and felafel. For dessert, we had homemade hamantaschen and the rest of the cocoa coconut almond cupcakes that the girls had made. Just before we arrived, Jess and Alex had told the girls that they would be moving. Izzy was excited, but Sami was tearful and Abby, who moved many times in her life, went in to talk with her one-on-one after Jessica had been with her alone for a while. The ride back to DC after dinner was long for Saul as his cold was worsening by the hour.

We were supposed to join the kids in Baltimore for Purim services and to see the kids in costume, but Saul was not up to the drive and Ari and I were both too tired. In the afternoon, Ari and I went out for a while while Saul rested. On Sunday, we had a late breakfast and we were on the road home by 3:00 p.m. We missed all the Purim festivities completely, I am sorry to say, and in retrospect, we should have stayed home and rested. At least we caught up with cleaning and paperwork and enjoyed Shabbat dinner together. Also, I had a chance to enjoy the crocuses and other spring bulbs that Ari and I had planted in his garden in the fall. The weather was beautiful and temperate in DC that weekend and belied the fact that more winter weather was on the way.

Saul’s cold was mostly gone by Tuesday and we began the process of moving our bedroom to the other end of the house where Mom had her master suite. Right before we left for Hawaii, we had ordered a Sealy Posturepedic king-size bed (which would not fit into our bedroom suite) on the last day of a sale at Costco. Beth, Adele and Larry came over and helped us move things around so that we could make room for it to be delivered. A few days after it was delivered, Saul and I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond to purchase everything we would need to sleep on it, as Saul was distinctly feeling the need for a better mattress in his (broken) bones. Last Friday, Saul and I went to The Home Show in King of Prussia, and afterward, went to look at bedroom furniture that Ari and I had liked at a store in Oaks, PA. I was still not sure about the furniture after viewing it a second time, and Saul liked it, but was not wowed either. For two days, I shopped online and looked at virtually thousands of pieces of bedroom furniture. In the end, I ordered the original set that I had seen, online. It was $150 cheaper than the price that the store had quoted me. We were joined for Shabbat dinner by Larry, Beth, Paul, and Faith. Saul and I did not returned from our wanderings until 5:00 p.m., so dinner was a last minute throw-together. We had defrosted homemade challah, leek and Cope’s dried corn soup, spring mix salad with pecans and craisins, defrosted homemade steelhead trout burgers, cheese ravioli with butter and parmesan, and steamed asparagus. For dessert, we had a butter cake that Larry brought, leftover hamantaschen, and leftover chocolate cake. We went to services on Shabbat morning at MBIEE, but knew that rabbi was away in Israel for the brit milah of his new grandson. We spent all day at home on Sunday so that Saul could get our income taxes done.
We have moved into Mom’s room piecemeal, but today I decided to begin moving all our clothing over. I hesitated to use Mom’s furniture, but now that I know a new bedroom set is on the way, I feel better about it. I have plans to change almost everything around eventually, so that it doesn’t feel so strange to be in Mom’s old room. Just as I was sitting on the bed, contemplating how relieved I was feeling about staying in the house, making improvements, and not selling it as I have been trying to do for almost two years, a realtor called to ask if I would be putting it back on the market soon. I was really relieved to tell him to forget it, although the wanderlust in me that drives me to shake things up all the time, feels a bit let down. How’s that for mixed emotions?! Am I the only one that feels this way? Most people my age seem to be either digging in their heels to keep everything as it has been in the past, or moving reluctantly to retirement communities. I still long for a complete change of scenery. Perhaps it is just my fantasy that is best left in my head.

Saul is on a trip to the U.N. today with classes from Chestnut Hill College. I have been putting off scanning more of my parents’ WWII letters until the weirdness of dealing with the room change has worn off, but I really feel compelled to get back to them.

Erica’s husband, Danny, had a terrible tragedy in his family this past week. His 33-year-old sister died suddenly, unable to breathe. She was soon to be married, and had just picked out her wedding dress the day before she died. Danny’s mother, who is confined to a wheelchair with MS, has been inconsolable, especially because her daughter had been a great help to her. Last I heard, they were not sure what caused the problem, but suspected an interaction of medications she was taking. The funeral is today.

Jess had to take their beloved dog, Zeke, to be euthanized by the S.P.C.A. a few days ago. He was very old for his breed, and has been very sick, on and off, for the past few months.

Passover is just around the corner and we will be going down to Baltimore for the whole holiday this year. Next week, I will be onto kashering my kitchen so that I can be out of Alex’s way while I prepare our special desserts and sorbets for our last Pesach in Baltimore. It appears that good things are in store for us, but given this late March wintry weather, and all the tragedies of this past month, including the tsunami in Japan, I am struggling to stay upbeat and remind myself that Spring, warm weather, and my seemingly perennial optimism for planning and planting a garden will be arriving soon.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Kauai Hawaii Tsunami Breakneckie Aaiiee!

Despite the ominous title, we had a fantastic time on our vacation in Kauai this month, so much so, that we are dreaming about buying a gorgeous B&B that we saw up the street from where we were staying. I fear it may be only a dream, though. We just learned that Alex has signed a contract with Temple Beth Sholom of Cherry Hill, and this part of the family will be moving closer to us this summer. I just celebrated another birthday during a fantastic dinner at Red Salt in Poipu, and I have serious doubts about whether Saul and I have the stamina left at our age to get started on a new life and business together. If only this had come up 10 years ago.

Our vacation adventure began very early in the morning on Thursday, March 3. Our initial flight to Phoenix on U.S. Air was out of Newark, NJ, and was due to leave at 6:30 a.m. Over and above the call of duty, our cousin, Anne, who lives about 15 minutes from the airport, volunteered to drive us there at 4:30 a.m. so that we could leave our car at her house for the ten days we would be gone. We were well-prepared and awoke at 3:00 a.m. to dress and load our two carry-ons and small suitcase into our car. We figured at that hour we would have clear sailing over the New Jersey Turnpike to Westfield. Were we wrong! Forty miles out from Anne’s house we came to a standstill in a divided one-lane section of the turnpike that was under construction behind a line of tractor trailers as far as the eye could see. Absolutely nothing was moving on our side of the entire turnpike. We just about had apoplexy thinking about losing our first class seats, to which we had been able to upgrade with air miles at the last minute, and our connecting flight in Phoenix, where we were due to meet up with Ari who was meeting us there for the flight to Lihue. We also were due to honor 5:00 p.m. dinner reservations at The Beach House with Ken and Randi, Randi’s cousin Scott, and her sister Lori along with her husband, Jules. Randi’s family was due to leave a few hours after we arrived. We called Anne to advise her of our situation and she was standing at the ready for whatever we needed to get to the airport by 6:30 a.m. After about 20 minutes at a standstill, we saw a triangle formation of police cars with flashers leading a wall of traffic down the other side of the turnpike. Then, gradually, our lane began to move. Desperately, illegally driving down the narrow shoulder for about a half mile, we were able to bypass a slow-moving line of semis that were just beginning to power up. Once we got past them, the traffic began moving incredibly quickly. We only lost about a half hour. Our flights were relatively on time; we made our connections meeting Ari as planned; our plane did not require de-icing; and two hours of turbulence over the ocean on the final leg of the trip only required one Ativan on my part. The movie was The King’s Speech, a good distraction from the turbulence. We picked up our car, drove to the condo, dropped our bags, and we all headed off for our reservations at The Beach House where we watched the sunset over Lawai Beach drinking exotic libations and eating exquisitely-prepared local fish. It always boggles my mind that all this can be done in the space of one 24-hour period. After dinner, the others left as scheduled for their flights, which were also turbulent, but thankfully, all arrived back home safe and relatively sound.

On day 1, we all slept late. Ken and Randi had begun to set the table for breakfast, but I convinced everyone that we should go out because I was planning later to shop for and prepare Shabbat dinner that evening. On an impulse, we decided to have breakfast at Yum Cha overlooking the golf course at the Grand Hyatt Resort. We were too late for breakfast, but convinced the staff to make us omelets as the lunch crowd began to filter in. Afterward, we headed to Costco to hunt down the makings of a memorable dinner. Saul bought a few more Hawaiian-made aloha shirts. Ari purchased a snorkel, which was not sealed in its plastic bubble particularly well, and on opening, smelled suspiciously like pot. Our two “challot” were yummy whole-grain artisan breads warm from the oven there. Stopping in Old Koloa Town on our way back, I picked up candles at the Island Soap Shop and an inexpensive, but gorgeous, bouquet of local flowers from the small Sueoka Market there. Randi and I prepared a sumptuous dinner, and the men, particularly Ari, cleaned up and loaded the dishwasher afterward. Sleeping in Kauai is a joy with subtle trade winds spurred on by lazy ceiling fans wafting through the bamboo-slatted window shades. The restful sound of palm tree fronds brushing each other outside in the breeze is as relaxing as listening to a gentle rain.

After such a good night’s sleep, we were up early in the morning on day 2, my birthday, to take a walk along the greenbelt to turtle beach and watch large sea turtles, some with a little one in tow, bobbing through the lapping waves and sticking their heads up in the rocky protected little cove. Returning, we set out to breakfast at the Kalaheo Café where we know there is a farmer lady who, once a week, puts out her freshly-picked veggies for sale. I purchased fresh basil, golden beets, and green and yellow string beans from her. We drove up into the hills to return a scarf that Millard’s daughter, Debbie, had left at the condo. Her windswept aerie overlooks breath-taking vistas of the valley below. How Ken and Randi came to know Millard is a legendary and hilarious family story that Ken wrote and actually had published in a local newspaper a few years back. I will try to get the archive and publish it here one day soon. Debbie wasn’t home and Randi left the scarf by the door. We spent the rest of the afternoon basking in the sun and swimming with the colorful and abundant tropical fish at Poipu Beach. I took a brief nap when we returned and then dressed for my birthday dinner at Red Salt. Ari, Randi and I shared a bottle of wine while Ken and Saul drank Arnold Palmers. The food can only be described as exquisite, not only meticulously presented, but succulent as well. My rather whimsical dessert was a root beer float and chocolate, chocolate chip cookie. The ice cream was house-made root beer flavor, presented with the locally-brewed and naturally-flavored vanilla cream soda, a switch on the usual root beer float. After dinner, we strolled around the lovely grounds of the hotel star-gazing by ocean side at the plethora of heavenly bodies accentuated by thousands of miles of light-less ocean.

On day 3, the trouble began. We arrived at 10 a.m. in time for our reservations for a wonderful buffet brunch at 22° North, which last year was Gaylord’s. Although everything but the name seemed the same, we were told that the new identity is meant to reflect that most of the ingredients used in the restaurant are locally-sourced from their own large plantation and farm. Stuffed from overindulging in brunch, Ken and Randi headed off to the condo while Saul soaked up the atmosphere in a comfy chair and Ari and I explored the small specialized gift shops housed in rooms on various floors of the old plantation. Ari purchased unique necklaces for the girls. The gift box contained an oyster, sealed in a plastic bubble and a silver necklace with a heart-shaped pendant in which you are supposed to insert the hidden pearl from inside the oyster. It seemed like a good idea at the time, very unique, interactive, feminine, and from the island of Kauai itself; in practice, as Jessica said sarcastically, “thanks for the new pets!” The girls were fascinated with their gift, but neither wanted to open the oyster, not to mention the fact that we were bringing oysters to a kosher home… on Shabbat!? In some other shopping at nearby Costco, Walmart, and Koloa Town we purchased sunglasses, flip flops, tea mugs, and a neat beach chair for Ari. When we returned to the condo, Ken and Randi were headed down to Brennecke Beach where Saul lost his wedding band last year. We put on suits and joined them there. The water was quite rough, perfect for the local children who were having a blast on their boogie boards on this beautiful Sunday afternoon. Saul and I waded in to cool off as the sun had become quite hot. We were standing in water just above my knees when a wave broke just over my head. I suggested to Saul that we get out as the water was quite unpredictable and that he has been a bit unsteadier since his stroke four years ago. As we began to wade out, Ari decided to come in and Saul joined him. Together, they were body surfing in deeper water when a rogue wave caught Saul, flipped him over, and bashed his head and right shoulder against the rocky bottom. He returned shakily to the beach chair, his forehead and cheek scraped and a bit bloody, and his neck and shoulder aching. We had the wonderful leftovers from Friday night’s dinner and Saul went to bed hoping that a hastily-purchased dose of Aleve would quell the pain by the next morning. He spent an awful night.

Day 4 for Saul and me was spent almost entirely in the Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Emergency Wing of the Wilcox Hospital in Kauai. We were shocked at the name because we knew of the philanthropy of the Weinberg family and knew some of their descendants in Baltimore. We just never realized how much their philanthropy extended to all of Hawaii. After I made us breakfast of mushroom and cheese omelets and taro pancakes with coconut syrup, Ken and Randi spent the day at the beach. I sent Ari away to explore, once he dropped us off at the hospital, telling him that I would call when we were done. After several uncomfortable hours in a neck brace with visits from various well-intentioned and pleasant hospital staffers, Saul saw a doctor, had an MRI and x-ray, and found that he had broken his top right rib. The neck brace was removed, and he was told that nothing is done to immobilize a rib. He was given an impressive choice of pain medication, and chose Tylenol with codeine. While at the emergency wing, he met two other men who had broken bones on Brennecke the same day. One younger man from Minnesota had broken a bone in his neck and did indeed need the neck brace. We met him on the parking lot of Walmart where we had all gone to get our pain pills. The other, much younger, man had broken two fingers on his right hand and his rented boogie board. The doctor we saw in the emergency room told us that the hospital employees call the beach “Breakneckie Beach,” and he said that he had almost killed himself there years earlier when he had first come to Kauai. Needless to say, having lost a wedding band and broken a rib there, we are not intending to return there for a third strike. While waiting the 45 minutes for the prescription to be filled, Ari, after beach-hopping all day, took us all for a ride up into the mountains in Kapa’a. We had dinner at the Barbecue Inn, an unassuming local down-home favorite in Lihue. We had soup, entreés of well-prepared fresh local fish, delicious sides, and a slice of one of their seven flavors of cream pies, all for $13.00.

On day 5, Saul rested. I made a breakfast for us of oatmeal with fresh papaya, and fresh pineapple taro pancakes. Ken is always happy to breakfast on the local tropical Anahola granola every morning. I also made some coconut tapioca. The rest of us took a morning walk down to Poipu beach and back. Then we put on our suits and spent the afternoon lolling on the beach. I got a bit of a sunburn, blotchy, because I had not been careful spraying on my sunscreen on such a windy day. I had been wearing my straw hat to protect my face during our walks, but Saul found a cobweb on it and brushed it away. I was afraid to wear it after that, especially since that evening, a small spider crawled across my cheek and freaked me out. I detest spiders, but they are appreciated on the island for their ability to eliminate mosquitoes and other harmful pests. Saul witnessed some excitement while home. Our neighbors were yelling and banging on their door. Their combination lock had broken and the whole family was locked in their condo until a locksmith arrived and managed to free them about two hours later. He said that, as far as he knew, that had never happened before. Late in the afternoon, when there was shade from palm trees and surrounding buildings, Ari, Saul and I spent some time in the condo’s pool and volcanic stone hot tub. While there, we had an interesting conversation with a family visiting from Alaska… really! We made sandwiches from our leftovers for dinner with whole grain bread, horseradish sauce, lilikoi (passion fruit) mustard, caesar salad, and creamy leftover flan from Costco.

Day 6 was preplanned to be our pilgrimage to Ke’e Beach on the northern part of the island. Saul, Ari and I awoke at 6 a.m. to get an early start. We had breakfast at the Olympic Café in Kapa’a where we spoke to Neri’s mom, Efrat, in Israel on the iPhone via Skype about her plans to come to the U.S. for Neri’s graduation in early June. There is a 12-hour time difference between Hawaii and Israel. There had been an earthquake off the coast of Japan a day or two earlier and we were surprised to find that the waves at the usually-placid, cove-like beach were roiling and wild, creating strong currents. The ocean was beautiful to watch, though, striking alongside the verdant Mount Makana, usually known as Bali Hai from the movie musical, South Pacific. We were surrounded on the sand by cheeky families of brilliantly-plumed feral roosters and chickens loosed on the island by a previous hurricane. They peck at any hint of a crumb and shelter in the exposed gnarly roots of aged trees foresting the edges of the beach. After a time, Ari and I went for a walk up the road looking for a phone signal on high ground between the steep volcanic mountains. We ventured a short distance into the Limahuli Botanical Gardens, but neither of us had brought our wallets along to pay for admittance. After two hours of exploring and taking photographs and videos, including of the mystical cave of Puff the Magic Dragon, we gave up on finding a decent phone signal and returned to the beach. Ken and Randi joined us there. Saul left with Ken and Randi after a few hours to find something to eat in Hanalei before our date with sunset on the elegant terrace of the St. Regis Hotel in Princeville. Ari and I, not hungry, remained behind to savor the beach for just a little bit longer. I began to realize that my two-hour walk with Ari sans hat had done terrible things to my previous day’s mild sunburn. I wished I had thrown a baseball cap into my suitcase beside the straw hat. Ari and I met Ken, Saul and Randi at the Hanalei Café as they were leaving and decided to stay and have a light bite also. We shared halves of two fish sandwiches, one a Hawaiian “lox and bagel” made with a cured local fish that was delicious, but only one thin slice. The real knockout was the fried mahi po’ boy. It was yummy! We rendezvoused at a condo that we had rented for the day in a retro building we had always admired when visiting the Princeville Hotel. We showered, changed, and enjoyed the striking ocean views from the top of the sheer cliff right outside our living room windows. An hour before sunset, Ari and I took the short walk, and Ken, Randi, and Saul drove to the Princeville St. Regis, where ensconced on the terrace with bar snacks and expensive, exotic tropical drinks in hand, we took multiple pictures of ourselves and the flaming sunset behind Bali Hai. Checking out the menu at the St. Regis, which was extremely pricey and not extremely interesting, we decided to slum it by going to Scotty’s Beachside BBQ on our way back south. We loved the warm and friendly atmosphere, local beer, food, and unique donut-like dessert, the puffasada, which we photographed and put up on “Foodspotting,” an app which was unfamiliar to the local restaurant owners, but which should really catch on in such a small place now that they are aware of it. Like the sunset, the day was practically perfect. Around 2:00 a.m. I awoke to the realization that my CPAP had stopped and I was gasping for air. I discovered that we were experiencing a power failure. I discovered that it was just as dark there with my eyes open as closed. Using my bedside iPhone for light, I looked outside to see if the whole neighborhood was dark, or just our condo. The whole neighborhood was dark and I wondered if the whole island was dark. I woke Ken and Randi because he sleeps with a CPAP also, but he was not awakened by the power failure because he also breathes through his mouth. I thought about the earthquake in Japan a few days earlier and wondered if other underwater quakes could have an effect on Hawaii’s power. The outage lasted for two and a half hours. I never learned what caused it, but it was only in our immediate neighborhood.

Day 7, Thursday, was Ari’s birthday. We traveled to the west side of the island and had a gigantic breakfast at Grinds. Just as a note, breakfast in Kauai usually includes big scoops of steamed rice. From there, we drove to Glass Beach where we collected a big bag of sea glass for Ari and for Sami, who remembered it from a few years ago, and asked me to bring her some. Then, we drove to Hanapepe and wandered around the quaint shops and artists’ galleries there. For my honey collection, I bought a gray, cutesy angel-shaped bottle of honey from bees belonging to the grandson of Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku, also known as “The Big Kahuna,” the man who invented surfing. I was told by the shop owner that the dark honey is mostly from avocado flowers. Also, as a note, the avocados grown on Kauai are “to die for.” I finally bought a hat that I admired in the window of one of the shops. Randi had slathered my blistering nose with white zinc oxide ointment that I bought at a pharmacy across the street from Grinds, and I must have been a sight. Ken and Randi went on ahead to JoJo’s for shave ice, while we visited one of my favorite spots on the west side for local products, Ishihara Market. There, I found the elusive Kauai Island honey, more of the Duke’s grandson’s honey, and more taro pancake mix. We met at JoJo’s where I had a #4 Haupia shave ice (coconut) with macadamia nuts. Ari and Saul shared a #2. Ken and Randi went to look at some real estate, while we headed farther west toward the navy base and to revisit some of the beaches there. We could see Ni’ihau, the Forbidden Island, in the distance. Turning around, we gassed up the car in Ele’ele and met Ken and Randi to tour the house they were seeing. After an afternoon nap, we showered, dressed, and headed for Roy’s to celebrate Ari’s birthday. Roy’s has been exceptional these last two years. Saul and I each opted for two different tasting menus which provided a great adventure in dining. Randi, Ari and I polished off a bottle of wine. At the end of this beautiful evening, the waitstaff informed us about the huge 8.9 earthquake and ensuing tsunami in Japan. At first, we thought they were talking about the earthquake that had taken place a few days earlier. Then, they told us that a tsunami was expected to hit the island a few hours hence as a result, and that some people on the island were becoming unnecessarily alarmed and flocking to gas stations and convenience stores. They told us that many people weathered last year’s insignificant tsunami right at the restaurant because they were on high ground. They certainly appeared not to be terribly alarmed and seemed mystified at all the commotion that we later learned about by watching the news after our 10-minute ride back to the condo. My stomach did a flip immediately on hearing the news, however, because I knew that an earthquake of that size must have killed thousands, if not tens of thousands of people. Also, everyone who knows me knows that I have a recurrent nightmare about being underwater in pitch blackness so that I cannot tell which way is up. I have never taken a cruise for this reason and I also particularly hate flying over the ocean at night. Randi was shaken because she cannot even swim. The guys immediately pooh-poohed my idea of getting in our cars and driving up into the mountains until the threat was over. I had to agree for a few reasons. One, our condo was well out of the evacuation zone and on the second and third stories of our building as well. Two, the news media was urging anyone not in an evacuation zone to stay off the roads so that people who needed to evacuate could do so quickly. Three, our route would have needlessly taken us through low-lying areas where there was a chance we might have gotten stuck in traffic. Four, if there had been any devastation, we might be stuck in the middle of nowhere with no food or water.

When we returned home, it was about 10 p.m. and we began the countdown to the tsunami arriving at our shores at 3:07 a.m. by switching on the local news coverage. Watching intermittent coverage of Japan and seeing the devastating footage was very disheartening. We all felt that the local news coverage was very effective and informative, and there were no commercial interruptions the entire evening. My plan of action, which gave me the feeling I had some control and which all three men found laughable, was to move all of our drinks and fresh water and non-perishable food up into the bathtub on the third floor. I also filled whatever large vessels I could find in our kitchen with tap water and carried them upstairs. We could not fill up the bathtubs themselves because the stoppers were missing. On our third floor loft area were Ari’s bedroom with a queen-size bed, an open room with a queen-size bed, and a bathroom. I asked Ari if I could wait out the tsunami in his room. Everyone else went off to bed. Randi set her alarm to awaken them for 2:30 a.m. I was not able to fall asleep. We felt a bit incommunicado because the internet circuits were so busy we could not get a signal. Jess texted Ari about 2:00 a.m. as the East Coast was beginning to wake up and hear the news. He could not return the text and I went downstairs to use Ken’s business phone that he had set up and reached her immediately to tell her what we were doing. Then, Jamie called and reached Ari on his cell and, because she is pregnant and very emotional, I went downstairs again, awakened Randi, and put her on the phone with her daughter. At 2:30 a.m. I awakened Saul to come upstairs. Ken would not be budged from his bed and slept through the whole thing. In retrospect, he was the smart one. Ari would have slept through the whole thing, but was very annoyed that we all piled into his bed to watch the news for the last half hour and woke him. The news had remote live cameras pointed at a beach wall on the North Shore where the tsunami was supposed to strike first. Our island was to be the first in the chain of islands to be hit. The actual tsunami that we watched consisted of just a few waves that were slightly higher than normal and did not even manage to top the low wall. After about 20 minutes, we began to realize that it was over, everybody went back to bed, and I immediately fell asleep in Ari’s bed. I awoke just before sunrise and went back to my own bed. Later in the morning, I moved everything back to the refrigerator, and Randi dumped out the tap water and brought our pots and pitchers back downstairs.

On day 8, we went back to the Kalaheo Café for breakfast after checking to see if it was open. The waitress told us that they were doing a brisk business as many of the locals from evacuation areas had slept in their cars on mountain roads and were gravely in need of a good cup of coffee. The schools and beaches were closed on Friday. Ken and Randi went to Poipu beach anyway for the day. Saul, Ari and I were feeling peevish after our long night. Saul was in pain from the broken rib. I was still very sunburned. Ari was tired. We decided to go for a long drive and get lost on some country roads around the island. In our travels, we came upon little screen houses where farmers put out their produce and you leave money in the cans on the honor system. We bought bananas and a grapefruit/pummelo hybrid. We went to Costco again to buy provisions for Shabbat dinner, then, to the nearby farmers’ market at the soccer field near Lihue airport. We bought an assortment of exotic fruits there, including Saul’s coveted guavas, a mamey sapote, which Ken had greatly enjoyed the previous year, cherimoya, calamansi, rambutan, longan, and cream apples. For dinner we had caesar salad, pasta, seared sesame-crusted tuna, sauteéd mushrooms, glazed Brussels sprouts, steamed beans with roasted beets, and tapioca pudding and leftover flan for dessert.

Day 9 was to be our last full day on Kauai. We were cleaning up leftovers in preparation to move Ken and Randi to their condo on the North Shore where they were going to spend four days before moving back south to the Lawai Resort where they would be spending the rest of their vacation. We had all the usual—omelets, oatmeal, taro pancakes, and tropical Anahola granola. We spent several hours at Poipu Beach on a gloriously beautiful day. A covered picnic area was set up there for an elaborate birthday party for a child. They had a huge inflatable water slide, moon bounce, long white tents with long tables set with centerpieces of tropical flowers and vases with the child’s photo on them. The tropical fish were everywhere in the calm water. After a short time on the beach, I sat at a picnic bench in the shade of a palm tree and tried to soak it all in. Then, we broke camp and headed for the happy hour at Brennecke’s Beach Broiler across the street. Sitting on the open, porch-like second level overlooking the beach, Ari and I polished off two pitchers of made-from-scratch margaritas with a little help from Randi. We all shared a huge plate of nachos which were so delicious with their topping of house-made jalapenos, that we decided to order a second one. Also, we had meant to photograph it, but had forgotten. We were having such a good time, the second one was almost demolished before we realized we had forgotten to photograph it also. Saul, who is never embarrassed by anything, wandered off to shamelessly photograph another table’s order, but theirs was not nearly as pretty as ours because they had ordered everything on the side. We enjoyed our repast so much that it occurred to us that we had all the fixings except the special jalapenos among the leftovers that we needed to use up in the refrigerator, so they packed us up a little container of those and we set off for home. Ari and I walked back along the beautifully landscaped paths of the greenbelt that surrounded our condo area. I immediately took a nap when we returned, but awoke just as the final rays of sunset began to dwindle. I felt a little badly that I had missed it. Randi was busy preparing our third load of nachos. They looked and smelled yummy when they were baked, but only Randi and Ari had any appetite left even hours after we had eaten at Brennecke’s. Later that evening, we all began the packing process so that we could get started with the moving early the next morning.

On our last day, we managed to fit everything into Ken’s large vehicle so that we could return our own rental car to the airport (so as not to be charged extra) on our way north. We unloaded our luggage and paraphernalia at the absolutely beautiful condo that they would be using for four days, changed into bathing suits and cover ups, and headed off to breakfast at Kalypso Island Bar and Grill in Hanapepe. Our vista was of a long, narrow silver streak of a waterfall cascading down a huge green mountain in the distance. No photographs that we could take would do it justice. After breakfast, we lolled on my favorite beach, Ke’e, alongside Bali Hai feeling melancholy and trying to soak up the entire experience before heading off to the airport for our red-eye flights. Finally, tearing ourselves away, we returned to the condo, showered, and dressed for the flight into colder climates. The act of putting on shoes after a week-and-a-half in flip flops is very disheartening. Feeling queasy, I gazed at the beautiful views of cloud enshrouded verdant mountains from every window in the sumptuously-appointed apartment. For dinner, we ate at a very famous downscale joint near the airport, Hamura Saimin. Saimin is the Hawaiian version of Vietnamese pho, a big bowl of steaming noodle soup, perfect for settling a stomach with pre-flight jitters. Across the large communal table from us was a mother with three girls who were roughly the ages of our three granddaughters. They were a great distraction at a very discouraging hour. Ken and Randi dropped us off at the airport where we eventually found ourselves in a very crowded room. Ari and I sat on the carpeted floor while Saul wandered off to engage in conversation with some of the other passengers and eventually, he found a seat. Our plane’s departure was delayed about three times, but finally we boarded in just enough time to catch our connecting flight in Phoenix. For the first few hours, the flight was smooth and I was very grateful for that as we flew over the dark ocean. I again took pills as we hit turbulence for the last two hours before we reached Newark.

Anne was there to pick us up immediately, and we offered to take her out to dinner before heading home. Saul had only taken his pain pills at the beginning of our flight, so he was able to drive us home. We were famished as we had just had time to share a sandwich in Phoenix and had been flying for over eleven hours altogether (the flight home is considerably shorter than the flight there). As Anne drove us back, we came upon a very promising-looking restaurant that she had been wanting to try, BoulevardFive72 and we read very good reviews of it on Yelp as Anne parked the car on their adjacent parking lot. I think we were all unprepared for how elegant and upscale it truly was when we entered. In the end, I think of our experience there as a serendipitous finale to our Hawaiian vacation. The menu was intriguing and inviting with most entreés in the $18 to $30 price range, only $5 to $10 more than one would pay for dinner at a Red Lobster, for example. As tired as we were, it turned out to be a “wow” restaurant experience. The food was ample, gorgeously presented, and succulent. The ambience was warm, cozy, and elegant, all at the same time. The waitstaff was friendly, efficient, and professional without being stuffy. We were so happy that everything turned out as it did. When we finally got home, we literally dropped our bags inside the door and collapsed into bed. Saul needed to be up at 6:00 a.m. the next morning for school.