Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Kauai Holiday

Lucky us. Here we are in Kauai for the final week of 2011. We celebrated the holidays here and will be back in the continental USA on New Year's Eve. We'll have seven days in paradise.

The photo above shows "the kids" (Laura and Adam, Marika and Evan) with their paddle boarding instructor just prior to launch on the Hanalei River which, 100 yards to the left in the photo, empties into the Pacific Ocean.

After an on-land lesson to learn how to stay upright, they ventured into the upstream current for some ferocious paddling and, when they got to their destination, enjoyed a more leisurely float back to their starting place -- doing yoga on the boards, lying on their backs watching the sky float by overhead and enjoying a new way to spend time in the water.

(As an aside, they met Laird Hamilton -- the very famous surfer -- on the river when their instructor said "hi" to Laird and introduced the kids to him as they were passing.)

See for yourself how incredible and record-breaking Laird is:

On our first day to Hanalei Bay, we spread our towels out on the beach and discovered we were sitting less than 20 feet away from Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgewick. (So there was less than six degrees of separation if you get the point!) We've had more "Hollywood" sitings so far than if we had been in Hollywood itself.

(Please excuse the indulgent name-dropping but -- hey -- it's way cool!)

As I've said in previous blog entries, it is too rare these days to have all six of us together for these kind of vacations. This week has been incredibly rewarding for our family.

The kids have scheduled themselves for all the island activities they can sign up for. Each activity involves lots of exercise -- hiking, paddling, kayaking, running, etc.

Gil and I try keeping up with them but find ourselves enjoying the quiet times reading and photographing and hanging out in the solitude that Hawaii offers.

I'm reading The Thinking Life: How to Thrive in the Age of Distraction by P.M. Forni. Hawaii is the perfect place to shut out the "distractions" in order to concentrate on the book's contemplative lessons.

On the more technical side, I'm also reading the manual for the new Lion operating system for my Mac and the iOS5 manual for the iPhone and iPod. So many new features and I want to know all the device capabilities so I can stay current!

Gil is reading the #1 New York Times Bestseller Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know by Alexandra Horowitz. He's also reading Annie Leibowitz Pilgrimage which is a book of her photographs with an introduction by Doris Kearns Goodwin and which is filled with incredible photographs.

And we can't keep him from reading several books he brought with him on trading in the financial markets -- a perennial favorite of his at home and on vacations.

We're eating all the fresh local fruits and catch-of-the-day fish for our mealtimes. Washing it down with tropical island drinks and locally brewed beers. It's easy to have such a healthy lifestyle when you spend so much time outdoors.

We're savoring the fresh salty-sea air and the views from our timeshare unit and closeness of our family.


Lots of memories
Being made on this island
Family counts most.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Post-Thanksgiving Gratitude

This is how we spent our recent Thanksgiving holiday. Separated by hundreds of miles.

Gil decided rather late in November to join his California cousins at a rented hacienda-style enclave in Palm Springs to help celebrate a favorite cousin's 60th birthday during the Thanksgiving weekend. 

As it turned out, I would not be joining him because I had already invited my mom and brother to Michigan to celebrate Thanksgiving. 

Over a dozen family members from Gil's side of the Senter family gathered to tell stories and catch up on current events and activities.

Since Gil would be in Palm Springs, our LA kids -- Adam, Laura and Evan -- decided to drive to Palm Springs and join all the cousins for a quick 48-hour visit during the time Gil would be there.

Back in the midwest, my mom and brother and Marika and I did our best to make our "intimate" Thanksgiving feast a memorable one. 

Yes, indeed, this was the year that I got to carve the turkey!

We're lucky to be going to our timeshare in Princeville, Hawaii from December 24 through New Year's Day this year with our nuclear family -- Gil, myself, Adam, Laura, Evan and Marika. I don't know how many more years we will all have the time off at the same time -- this time the week between Christmas and New Year's. We're using two of our units during that one week to accommodate the six of us. Gil and I will have one unit since we are notoriously early-to-bed folks. The kids will have the adjacent unit since they are of the stay-up-all-night types. That way, everyone gets just the right amount of sleep during just the right hours of the day.

Gil is enjoying trying to stay safe in the volatility of the global stock market. Still loving his research work. Trying to get back into photography. Feeling absolutely well and healthy.

I am making slow but steady progress in my diagnostic workup of "probable" Cushing's syndrome and have been referred to a neuroendocrinologist at the University of Michigan by my current endocrinologist. (He says my case is complicated!) I'm also moving at turtle-speed doing artwork in my freshly-appointed and well-organized art studio space here at the house.

Adam is spending the next couple of months flying back and forth across the country for dermatology residency interviews. He's coming to University of Michigan for an interview in mid-December so we'll get to visit together then.

Laura will be leaving her research job at UCLA mid-December and taking a new job in the biotech industry in nearby Santa Monica starting in the first of the year. We are all very excited for her.

Evan is, like Adam, flying across the continent doing interviews for radiology residencies. He's going to use our home in Milford as his home base for the first two weeks of January since many of his interviews are east of the Mississippi. (No sense flying back to LA in between interviews.)

Marika is enjoying her research lab and involvement in several projects that require an advanced proficiency in operating a new high-powered microscope her lab has recently purchased. Can't quite tell if she is "over" her love-affair with California and all things "warm and sunny" but she is beginning to look for winter clothing during her shopping sprees. She's heading to Brooklyn mid-December to visit a high school friend.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful December and holiday season!

We're Hawaii-bound
A week of fun in the sun
Obama's birth place??