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Growing food year round

2014 February 19
by Rachel Turiel

This is what February looks like in our garden:

workshopNew experiment: soil amended by cast-offs from neighbor’s organic commercial marijuana growing operation. Little cannabis rootlets decomposing into the next generation of garden soil.



Which is to say, by late March there will be green things from the garden for making salads, for sizzling in the embrace of hot oil and garlic.

We are growing lettuce, bok choi, kale, parsley, chard, arugula, spinach and cilantro, each plant shrugging stoically at the cold Colorado night time temperatures.


April, 2013

Come join me at the 6th annual Homegrown Retreat on Saturday, February 22nd, 1pm at Fort Lewis College to learn How to Grow Food Year Round. (Hint: it’s easy, inexpensive, tasty and you get to bypass the fossil fuel economy for one nanosecond).

2014 food retreat poster-01 (1)

There are many other cool workshops, info-sessions and local eating opportunities. More info here

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Skijoring in Silverton

2014 February 18
by Rachel Turiel

Skijoring is an old Scandinavian form of transportation (originally using reindeer), but leave it to the Colorado new school crowd to ramp it up to a sport. How it works: the horse, duly prodded, runs at 45 mph straight and single mindedly down a short track. Meanwhile, a skier attached by hand-held rope, careens behind, swishing through gates, grabbing rings, and flying over jumps. In other words totally nutty, but exciting to watch. I figure for horse-people and skiers, there’s a lot to love about the Mountain West, so why not unite and go skijoring together? Here are some photos from the annual skijoring races in Silverton, CO, elevation 9300 ft. The true celebrities are  the horses.


Lovely Silverton. Someone should set a thriller here. Oh wait, my friend Blake Crouch did: Abandon.


Many of the riders were women. This girl and her turquoise-bejewled horse were our fave.


Skier about to sail over a jump at 45 mph.skij6

Rose, if you ever try this, you will wear a helmet even if I have to staple it to your head. Better yet, how ’bout we go cross-country skiing on a nice flat trail?


Replacing the rings between contestants.


Da Maestro.


Just out of the starting gates.


Another woman and her steed. Skier approaching jump.


Rose wins the kiss-sneaking contest, naturally.

Happy Tuesday; back soon with a recipe (not for bone broth!), info on a workshop I’m teaching (no mentioning of roadkill!), and more of the usual.

Also, I’m reading Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert and it’s so insanely good even if I can only finish 3 pages before I’m snoring at 9pm. Only 432 pages to go!  And This book was excellent fun.

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the karma of siblings

2014 February 14
by Rachel Turiel


karma2Why is there a tent set up in our house? In our 800 sf house? Dan? Daaaaan?



Col: let’s throw paper airplanes at the spinning ceiling fan! Rose: yeah!

Yesterday, outside: Col on skateboard, Rose on scooter, me performing the Winter Olympic event of soaking up the low-slung sun. Rose ditches her scooter and somehow finagles the first two laps down the hill on Col’s skateboard. After her second run Rose steps off the long board and shouts from the bottom of the hill, full-sass, ”Come and get your skateboard!”

I feel something hot and sharp catch in my sun-bathing throat, something like indignation and protest; something like the words: Hey, that’s not fair! I look up at Col, who’s already walking down the hill to retrieve his skateboard, whistling a cheery February tune.

I swallow and say nothing.

This is not my protest in which to hoist the banner of my opinion. There is no one to protect, no one to scold. Col and Rose have their own karma.

Karma, (as defined by and wikipedia), refers to the principle of causality where our intent and actions influence our future. Karma is the result of our own past actions and our own present doings. We ourselves are responsible for our own happiness and misery. 

Sibling relationships are a wild and mysterious thing. Something deep and old and unknowable is working itself out while it looks like Col and Rose are simply arguing over who got the best toy at the dentist.

My squirrely little mind wants to control, fix and steer. It wants to wave my red flag when I hear Rose commission Col to build her a lego computer for $3 (3 weeks allowance!), and then again the next day, when she demands a full refund. But who am I to say what’s best, right or helpful? They get to snap the pieces of their relationship puzzle together. If the pieces don’t fit, they can rotate or reconfigure them, sand them down, trade them out. Meanwhile, I swallow a wad of my own judgment and wish them peace.

Filing Col and Rose’s relationship under sibling karma is not a lazy way of checking out of my parenting duties. It does not mean that I don’t lead by example, or step in when the finger-claws come out. Rather, this allows them to engineer (and continually re-engineer) the terms of their relationship. Rose will come to kindness and generosity without me waving the Book of Morality in her face. Col will stand up for himself without the bodyguard of his Mama rushing in to protect him.

In fact, there may be nothing to protect. As an anonymous person said, I don’t have to attend every argument to which I’m invited. If Col even got the invite to attend a power struggle at the base of Skateboard Hill, it appeared he tossed it in favor of sailing down the asphalt. Maybe choosing not to be offended offers the reward of rewiring neural circuits, overlaying tired pathways that insist It’s All About Me. Maybe there was no choice, no victim, just a boy retrieving his skateboard.

These kids, and yours too, bring their whole complicated deep selves to every interaction. I get uncomfortable, dogmatic and righteous while their arguments crest and then wash out on grudge-free shores. Often, the best pep-talk I can give is to myself, to stand by quietly and trust them to work out their own tangled, mysterious and beautiful karma.

ps: Happiest of Valentines Day to you all. Thank you for coming back to this place again and again.

pps: And of course, only children have their own karma, too.

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Rose Raven at 6 1/2

2014 February 11
Comments Off
by Rachel Turiel


The 80’s called and they want their outfit back.

It’s currently 40F outside and the ground is a goulash of thick, shoe-sucking mud. While the rest of us schlub around in shapeless boots and an over-abundance of fleece, Rose will never succumb to the scourge of dressing for comfort.

She asks if our cat can have “just a tiny little smidgen of raw elk.” She tells me in the shower how I “look like a chicken without feathers – right around your belly!” She tells us that when she eats gluten it gives her a stuffy nose, and when Col eats gluten it makes him be mean and leave her out. When she’s upset and I fail to meet her with empathy, mistakenly trying to talk her out of her feelings, she wails, “that makes me even sadder!”

Rose seems well-suited to some sort of communal living where all possessions are held in common. If you bring a cookie, a tube of yogurt, or even a cough drop into our house, Rose will sit approximately one centimeter away from you, offering a hundred reasons why you should share. Meanwhile, she distributes gum, stuffed animals and stickers to her friends like they’re needy children bereft of the simple joys of childhood.

Last week she smuggled a wandering dog without tags onto our porch and wailed when I told her we couldn’t let him in, feed him or adopt him. “I’ll buy him a dog bed with my own money,” she cried. “I’ll walk him every morning!” I never acquiesced but I held the sobbing mass of her, my heart tenderized by the fierce love contained in 46 pounds.

Living with Rose is like having a fearless tour guide leading me through Six-Year-Old Girlhood. We stop at all the dazzling sights like: I would die for cats and two headbands are better than one. I’m usually two steps behind, filled with awe and wondering how it’s all going to work out, when Rose grabs me by the hand, yanking me into the present moment where she’s right here throwing her arms around me.

ps: If you’re celebrating Valentines Day, dazzle your lovies with this grain-free, sugar-free, raw, chocolate cake.

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The need to know

2014 February 5
by Rachel Turiel

Rose and I are in an outdoor public restroom, trying to take care of business without pondering too deeply the dark, wet stain on the concrete floor. Rose is singing cheerily in an invented language she calls Spanish, though it sounds more like something chickens might speak in private. She gets quiet, her eyes wandering through the graffiti sharpied across the cinderblock walls like we’re at the hallowed museum of outhouse art.

“Who drew that picture?” Rose asks about a sketch of a woman smoking, her eyes at half mast. ”Do you think a teenager drew it? Who is that lady? Does she like smoking? Is she falling asleep? Do you think she’s happy?” Before I can answer, the yarn of her questions fully unravels, wrapping around our feet, tethering us here.


Rose has what I think of as a “Need to Know” personality. Information is a like a wide, swirling storm; if you don’t stand outside with your mouth open in receiving mode, you’re sure to miss something crucial. Rose wakes up every morning and slides an empty tray under the door of my consciousness, expecting it returned brimming with answers.

“What’s her name?” Rose asks in a voice reserved for deaf grandmas, about the woman I just greeted but whose name I can’t remember. Embarrassment blooms like a tulip in the suddenly quiet room. “Why can’t you remember her name? Do you like her? Does she have any kids? Do her kids look like me?” Sometimes it feels like Rose is simply dangling the extrovert’s fishing line: I am acknowledged, therefore I am.


“It’s wonderful that she’s so curious,” my mom says in that magnanimous, slightly removed way of grandparents who aren’t awoken at 6am with questions unspooling into the darkness of morning.

And it is wonderful. Right? To be so curious that questions trip over themselves just to launch off your tongue, even if we’re in the women’s locker room, and she’s asking in her stage voice, “Did you know some girls wear undies that are ACTUALLY JUST STRINGS?”


There are the sticky questions that require dissection with moral tweezers: Is it bad that they have a mean sticker about Obama on their car? There are the anxious questions: Are you going to talk to anyone at the store? And, the unanswerable questions, the questions that turn your brain inside out and leave you with blinking cartoon-character X’s across the eyeballs. Rose asks, “Does Beehead (our cat) know we’re having dinner right now?” “What did we do the day after yesterday?” “When is Piano Man coming on the radio?” My mind revs and sputters.

It’s also true that the question mark doesn’t fall far from the tree. My own conversational style has been called “probing.” I deeply trust the power of a well-placed question. Last week, a friend asked me such thoughtful questions about a current writing project that my own unexpected answers became a beacon lighting the way towards my next step. Perhaps someday Rose will be a life coach, therapist, investigative reporter, detective, or writer, her astute questions unravelling whole worlds of insights for the benefit of others.


Putting inquisitiveness to work: This letter is to Dan’s Aunt Roberta, asking questions about Dan’s dad, the grandpa they’ll never meet.

“What do you think?” I lob back to Rose in the suspect bathroom.

“I think the lady’s happy. I can tell by her eyelashes.”

Rose returns to her Spanish chicken-song, adding a kicky little dance step. I fold her small hand into my big one and we walk out into the bright sun.

ps: this is a great blog post on the art of asking good questions.

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2014 January 29
by Rachel Turiel

In the last nine years of living with children, coming home after being away from them (even if only a few hours) is a little like walking onto the stage of my own network show. Fans rush the stage, elbowing each other to be first in line to greet me. Col just wants to wrap his arms around me, holding me close for a minute, as if plugging in his rechargeable batteries. Rosie hopes to retrieve every minute we spent apart by re-creating them through headlines from the newspaper staffed by six years olds: We saw a skunk and ate a hot dog! Daddy said we could have coconut water with dinner! Col let me fly his helicopter!

I know it will never be exactly like this again. It doesn’t seem that long ago that coming home meant unhusking a milk-fat boob as I crossed the threshold, while Dan thrust a larval-like baby in my arms, my heart pounding with a something like love and panic. One year later, returning home meant finding the kids streaking naked through the house like the ad for a toddler nudist colony, while child flotsam bred and multiplied in corners.

It seems you could measure something about children’s development by how you’re greeted upon coming home. Someday, my returning will barely register a blip. But now it feels like a call to lay down the arms of my mind (the anxieties, doubts, jealousies, anger) and just let myself be loved.

On the homestead:

:: Recent roadkill elk, butchered entirely by women and children:

butchering babes

I call this: bodacious badass butchering babes.


I call this: child labor. Just kidding. These kids are thrilled to be wielding knives. Notice that Rose hung her necklace on the chair for the dirty work.

After Dan’s dry elk hunting season (though there have been a few deer), depositing this elk in our freezer felt akin to stashing some gold bars under the mattress.

:: In Rose’s homeschool co-op, they’ve been studying non-violent communication and team building. I know. It’s like Free to Be You and Me all over again, millennial style. If reading, writing and arithmetic are educational building blocks, then, articulating peacefully, listening wholeheartedly and responding with empathy are human building blocks. Rose came home from co-op at Fawn’s house with two crayoned pictures of herself: one happy (with leotards, no doubt), one anxious. My heart flipped a few times, because 1) Anxiety is a large and scary beast for a 6 year to wrestle, and 2) You go girl for naming it (correctly) without self-judgment.


Team-building by playing “mirror movements” while the other kids guessed who was leading, who was following.

:: Dan taught Col’s homeschool co-op recently on the topic of handicrafts, helping them make buckskin wallets. He is such a good teacher and should really teach more often. Hint hint. Dan? You reading this?


I have grown so fond of these kids in Col’s co-op, who’ve been learning together for 2 1/2 years. (I find myself composing toasts to give at their weddings). Recently they were all plotting how to save money to buy a plane together. I mentioned that at the rate they were earning, it might take them until they were 50 to purchase it. Silence followed. “Do you guys think you’ll still be hanging out when you’re fifty?” I asked. “Um, yeah,” they responded like I had asked them if kids like to play.

Bonus instruction on how to pull tendons out of an elk leg (which were dried, pounded, separated and used to sew up their buckskin wallets).


Seneca modeling finished wallet:


:: Rose has a jewelry shop which gets dragged out of boxes and then tidied away almost daily. I think it’s a way of subsidizing her propensity to give things away. If you show up penniless—wait!—she will present you with The Golden Ticket, carte blanche to pick up a few items for free.


All this costume jewelry was a gift from my Uncle Sol and Aunt Diane. I don’t think they’ll mind that it’s now well-distributed across Durango.

Rose is not shy about creating the rules and expecting customers to accommodate. Last week Col and Rose’s friend Kai was shopping at “Oodles of Jewelry” for his mom and three sisters. With each necklace he purchased, Rose foisted upon him three free extras. He began backing away towards the door, overloaded with his “purchases,” Rose running after him with slips of paper.

Kai: I don’t really want another receipt, Rose.

Rose: You get one anyway.

:: What’s the current national feeling towards jello? I’m sensing a resurgence, and not just because Col requested a mango jello cake with blueberries and whipped cream for his birthday (no baking necessary. Thank you kitchen gods).


We use this grass-fed gelatin (available locally at Vitamin Cottage), although Dan says he’s happy to boil down some deer hooves for us.

Tell me your mouth isn’t watering for whipped cream topped jello:


Recipe: mix 2 TSBP gelatin with 1 QT warmed mango juice, let set in fridge, add blueberries and whipped cream.

I think we’re all feeling the abundance these days, in jewelry, elk sausage, aspic desserts, and being greeted by a very small, earnest fan club upon returning home. What else could we need? (Okay, maybe a little snow).



ps: I’ve been informed by a few people that when they click on my blog in their “favorites” file, it reverts to a post from 2012. I believe this is happening because the grace period of wordpress rerouting readers to the new (as of Jan, 2013) site has expired. If you change my blog address in whatever system you’re using to you should be all good.


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Move over Rainbow Loom

2014 January 24
by Rachel Turiel

Have you heard about the new kid-craze sweeping the nation?
ws2Ok. Maybe it’s just sweeping through one small family in Tupperware Heights who’ve never been known to be on the cusp of anything. But, still.

Watch out Rainbow Loom, because Col and Rose have been making their own Word Searches. And I keep waiting for the kids to figure out that they’re actually practicing writing, spelling and categorizing, but so far everything is just registering as: fun. Perhaps the kids love it because word searches typically exist in tidy little, pre-assembled workbooks or in the Wednesday “Kid Page” of the newspaper. But to make your very own from start to finish is like being an engineer of important things.

Rose says: It is fun and homemade and I like writing all the letters in the boxes. It’s fun giving it to people. You guys might want to learn how to make them.

Col says: They’re fun and I like sharing them with my friends.

In the event that your kids want to practice writing and spelling  create their own Word Search, here are Col and Rose’s instructions:

1) First, create a list of words from a theme. Theme Examples: Aquatic Life, Nautical, Mountain Life, Rose’s Favorite Things. Ten to fifteen words is a good number for kids.


Leotards! Which I formerly thought of as simply, tolerable.

2) Make a grid on a piece of paper with a ruler. The spaces between our lines run from 1/2 inch – 1 inch wide.


3) Fill in your chosen words in pencil onto the blank grid. Try to overlap words as much as possible, i.e. the “o” in mountain lion can also be used for the “o” in crow. Place words forwards, backwards, up, down, diagonal, and the wildest: backwards diagonal.



4) When your whole list has been entered into the grid, fill in the blank spaces with random letters. Tip: for extra challenge add duplicate letters around actual words, i.e. around “crow,” add “crox” or “crot” to fake your player out.


We’ve been making numerous copies of each Word Search to send to grandparents and friends, which I think makes the kids feel a little famous. If your kids would like to do a Word Search exchange with Col and Rose, let me know. Really. It’ll be the new pen pal.

ps: Thank you for all the birthday wishes and acknowledgement for Col.

pps: Since my book recommendation post, I read The Daily Coyote, by Shreve Stockton, recommended by Valeta. This book is about a city girl who, on a whim, moves to rural Wyoming and falls in love with a Predator Control Agent (AKA: he shoots coyotes to protect ranchers’ livestock), who gives her a 10 day old orphaned  coyote. That’s all I’m saying, except that I loved it very much.

ppps: Have a superb weekend.


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2014 January 17
by Rachel Turiel



The most mystical and cryptic part of parenting is this passage of time, the way children accumulate years to their very person, like accessories, like geological layers. I’m always so blindsided. What? Another birthday? because, although life with children keeps getting better—it truly does—I have also felt, at least 300 times in the past year: this place is good. I could stop and rest here awhile.

But that is never to be. The children are always inching forward, becoming more of who they are, while urging their parents, like very small zen masters, to get with the warp speed program of impermanence.


This is all on my mind because Col turned nine last week. Nine is one of those ages that just a few years ago felt like the other side of the world, parentally speaking. A place where children become unrecognizable, startling versions of their former selves, where parts of them I couldn’t bear to part with get tossed to the sea of oh-that-was-back-when-I-was-eight.

But of course it’s not like that. Thankfully, the daily pace is slow enough that each chaotic, messy, loud hour leads to the next in the string of regular life, taking us systematically, tick-tick-tick, to places like nine. These childhoods move like a conveyor belt unspooling so slowly you barely notice. Except, these days I do notice. But only because of where I’ve been. Nine years ago there was a blue-eyed baby; nine years from now a man-child will prepare to leave home. A whisper of truth circles my head when Rose climbs in my lap. It says: today these legs are yours for the squeezing, someday not. This is time, happening. The conveyor belt, moving. Everything, everything, feels time sensitive, the definition of which is: only relevant or applicable for a short period of time.


Col, at nine, wears a watch, and checks it periodically, like he’s got somewhere to go. I can no longer tell him I need to be alone for half an hour and then amble out of my room a vague forty minutes later. He creates art everyday, sketching airplanes and ships and archers, and I wish I had a way to tell him to hold fast to this talent, even as childhood slips away. He whistles continuously, loudly, in a way that could grate on you if you forgot the simple, lucky truth that it means he is here.


Col’s shelf is covered with his tools and experiments. Some are sludged with sediment or choked with seeds, some glow with the bright red liquid of dissolving cough drops. He is so much of what I am not, I am compelled to leave him a wide berth to be himself, while I observe like an anthropologist in a foreign village. (I just found him pouring a glass of water down the sink, watching, quietly and rapt, its pattern of draining).

His kindness challenges me to be kinder. When Col spontaneously decided to donate half of his Maria’s Bookstore birthday gift certificate to his sister, my heart gasped, first in protest, you don’t have to, honey! And then in relief, for getting out of my own way to let kindness be. Col is quiet and thoughtful, and has already mastered what the Buddhists say is the path to enlightenment: having few preferences. When selecting a DVD for Family Movie Night, Col and Dan are conspicuously quiet while Rose and I opinionate passionately.


Col seems to have miraculously outrun his preemie past. Only 20% of babies born at 25 weeks have no lasting problems. I don’t even know what constitutes a lasting problem anymore. (Two doctors have joined his pediatric office in the past couple years and we haven’t even met them. Used to be, we’d amble regularly down those carpeted halls balancing an oxygen tank, Rx’s for inhaled steroids, and my own worried heart).

All that remains is that Col seems to have an unusually great need for snuggles. Perhaps he’s making up for those first four months sleeping alone in the NICU, while one mile away my alarm woke me in the night. I’d sleepily attach the breast pump fittings, flipping the switch from low to high until it revved like a racecar. My two pound son would flash in my mind: skin like parchment under a sprawl of tubes and wires, hulking machines crowded around his incubator, saving his life continuously. And I would pray, deep in the night, in the only way I knew how: Please let him be okay. Please let him be okay. Please let him be okay. 


I am grateful, so grateful.

Happy birthday beautiful nine year old.


Your Mama

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2014 January 13
by Rachel Turiel

The opposite of the whole silver lining thing must be what’s happening right now, which is returning from the tropics to get slammed with nasty colds. But, as the positive types of the household keep saying, “It’s a good thing we weren’t sick in Kauai.”

On other positive fronts, a new “One Stop Cough Drop Shop” has opened in our living room, complete with cough drop menu. (But don’t assume that being family gets you any free perks).



Also, when we’re all well enough to be upright and verbal at the same time, it’s a little like college dorm life, people dragging their blankets into the common space to chat and be together. And as Rose badgers us to buy cough drops, and Col recounts his dreams in long, hard-to-follow monologues, interrupting himself to add more confusing details, I find myself thinking, I really like these people.


Dan got a “Cat’s Cradle and other String Games” book from the library (inspired by Riley Kenrick in New Jersey, age 7) and has been engaging in loud self-congratulatory competitions with himself. “Didn’t think he could do it, but look…it’s…wait…it’s…THE CATERPILLAR!” 

Between periodically inspecting my tonsils with a flashlight (which have taken on an eerie geologic-ness), I’ve been reading. The kind of reading you can get away with when you’re sick and your kids are over 5 and fevers keep you up half the night. So there’s that. And I wanted to recommend some books to you all before I go back to bed.

Maybe I’m the last person to hear of the novelist Elizabeth Strout, and you’re all completely in love with her already, as you should be. I’ve read The Burgess Boys and Olive Kitteridge, both which take place in Maine (and some NYC), both of which are so well written, family sagas, real and raw with just enough slivers of light to not ever be depressing. I would start with whichever your library has first.

Also, Norman Ollestad’s harrowing-amazing memoir, Crazy for the Storm, which I’m mostly recommending for the guys who read this blog. Not to be sexist, but even all the reviewers say it’s a must read for all fathers and sons. In 1979, a private plane carrying Ollestad and his father to a ski championship award ceremony crashes in the San Bernadino Mountains in winter. The crash kills his dad and the pilot, and Norman, at 11 years old, is faced with making his way down from the crash site to safety. The book is also about Ollestad’s relationship with his father, who was unendingly charismatic, offering his son adventure not available to most kids, but also continually pushing his son beyond his comfort levels.

And Fayegail Mandell Bisaccia’s memoir Dancing in My Mother’s Slippers, a journal-style book about her parents aging and dying, in which she did a beautiful job recounting the way grief is not linear, nor time-sensitive, it changes and stretches and flows and still stings many years later. (My parents keep requesting an End-Of-Life discussion with Dan and me, which is funny since they’re going to live forever).

Also, I read The Orchardist, which started out lovely and interesting, and just got more depressing and upsetting, which would have been okay if the characters weren’t so flat as to be hard to care about. And I’m aware that I may be the only person alive who didn’t love this book, so feel free to disagree.

Now I need a new book. What books have you guys been enjoying? (Also, I’ve been so out of the internet loop, what else have you been enjoying: blogs, recipes, magazines, music, videos gone viral featuring chickens in sweaters?)



ps: thanks for all your island good wishes and encouragement.

pps: Hawaiian coconut smuggled home no problem, despite Rose at the agriculture check in station, shouting, after we denied having any fruit, “BUT WHAT ABOUT ALL THE COCONUT?!!!?”

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2014 January 8
by Rachel Turiel

ki3-story avocado and friends.

ki2Stripping coconut bark to make cordage.

ki3Shaking a coconut to assess goodness. Two more coconuts bulging out of backpack.


Making friends with the guys who have machetes is key.


The processing of coconuts is somewhat like butchering – the peeling off of the skin, cutting of the raw coconut meat into smaller pieces, the celebration at the bounty.

Okay. I think we’ve figured it out. The meaning of life resides in a coconut. It contains nourishment, electrolytes, water, good fats, protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, flour, antioxidants, medicine. So you’re pretty much set for life with a palm tree. (Meanwhile, in the “alternate realities” file, we just got a call from our housesitters who reported that due to extreme high winds the pilot light on our hot water heater went out, and because the hot water heater heats our house via loops in the floor, things were very chilly).

Dan and Col have been using all their powers to suss out ripe coconuts, which skitter under some leafy plant metropolis while your average tourist is Facebooking their vacation. Today Dan and Col went on a little “coconut scout” and came back with seven, which is pushing it even for us. But if we have to leave the kids’ clothes here on the island to make room for some coconut smuggling, well, that’s a sacrifice I’m prepared to make.


Why yes, we did buy some of these roadside akule fish. Turned out to be pretty bony, so we made—wait for it—fish bone broth! Boy, was it good.

Watching the sunset is a nightly event. Us plus my parents plus longtime family friends Greg and Jo = a very pleasing adult to child ratio.


The danger of island life is you start feeling this hippie urgency to live your dreams, or, as the phrase goes: to do whatever it is you would do if you knew you couldn’t fail. As the ocean laps the shore, trivial things like, say, mortgages and retirement funds shrink in significance while we imagine living off coconuts (or deer sausage and dandelion greens) and the earnings from our creative endeavors…at least until it’s time to scrap together dinner while the kids exclaim over the volumes of sand accumulated in their cracks. Ping! Reality.


Rose is fierce enough to get in line with all the adolescent male boogie boarders waiting for the next wave. Dan gives her the high sign and that girl jumps on her board, riding it like a rocket to shore. (Also, inexplicably, the sea turtles like to hang out in these lines, all nonchalant about flippering their ancient scaly bodies around all these humans). Col likes the boogie board but also can be found engineering sand and digging covert traps topped with sticks and leaves. Both kids snorkel around without assistance – stalking the whimsical technicolor fish that could only have been created by the Kauai tourism board.

Hanalei Bay:



ki9Taro fields and the Hawaiian “nene” goose, back from near extinction:

Monk seals often haul out of the ocean to catch a snooze in the sun. Volunteers rope them off to keep Col people from curling up against their bellies and snuggling with them.ki11

The baby-est baby gecko (these guys click and clack pleasantly outside our window all night). Also, has rainbow loom swept through your town? We had never heard of it when we left Durango and, no fooling, at every house we went to this trip with kids, they were the Big Thing.ki12

Hike in Waimea canyon: ki15

Hard to see, but Col is holding Greg’s hand, who’s been a dear friend of my father’s since before I was born. Despite the age difference these two have a lot to talk about: engines, aircraft, and what happens when you shoot a flaming arrow at a block of wood your brother’s holding and other true stories that make a mother pale. It’s very special.


Beach yoga?


Thanks for indulging me all these photos and stories. Is it unbearable? Back soon with re-lighting blown pilots, ice-scraping and other winter adventures.

With love,



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