Posted by: marinmom | September 21, 2007

Dreaming of Polar Bears

The polars bears are disappearing, drowning in a sea in need of ice.  Of all the global warming stories, this broke through the busyness of my life. I stopped.

I pondered a life without Arctic ice.  Will there be a world without it?  I want a world with polar bears, walruses and whales.  

My kids love polar bears, we read about them all the time. I dream of taking my family to Canada some day to see them.  It is one of my top ten trips I want to do during my lifetime.   Will they still be there? I hope so. 

I guess it is time to bring my recycled bags to the store, shop local, buy organic and use public transportation.  I may not be able to save the polar bears, but I can save a little landfill.  Any other ideas on little things I can do to really make a difference?

Posted by: marinmom | September 19, 2007

Latte to go

It was the headline that got me, “Life Changes,With a Latte to Go.”  It was a review in the New York Times, about a book I recently read, How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else.  The review captured the essence of the book, the article’s headline captured my life. I am going through a bit of change lately and a latte in the wee hours helps.

Coffee makes me happy.  A latte with a little chocolate sprinkled on top eases me into the day and makes a bad day a little better. Maybe, like the author of the book I drank too much of the “coffee Koolaid,” but I don’t think so. I have laughed, cried, started friendships, ended relationships and taken a new job all over coffee.  

Plus as a busy mom, someone else is serving and cleaning up the mess.  My daily coffee run is a lovely little moment of vacation. The financial analysts say I should invest those dollars for retirement.  Nope.  I bet they go buy a good cup of joe on a regular basis, too. 

I know when I got hooked.  Years ago, my babysitter gave me tastes of her MJB laced with cream and sugar.  It was perfect alongside a bowl of Frosted Flakes. I loved it, I think it was half sugar, the coffee that is. 

During college, I worked at a coffee shop serving Starbuck’s mixed with Boyd’s to architect students.  In my college girl view, it was gourmet. That coffee shop is still my favorite job.  I knew my customers, I knew what they liked.  Room for cream anyone? Sugar first?  You got it.  Unlike college exams, I knew the answer could be found in a full cup perfectly served.  

It took Italy to make me fall in love with espresso. I didn’t have the italian words for coffee with a little cream.  I finally stopped trying and ordered cappucinos (loved the story about how it looked like the habits of the Capucine monks) at a little coffee place in Montepulciano,  I succumbed to the pace of the town, lingered for hours reading the International Herald Tribune, soaking up Italian sun, feeling that, hey, I’m on vacation feeling, not planning anything or making any decisions.  The coffee was the only way I measured the day.  I left before my fourth cup, but long after the third was empty.

My favorite place for coffee now is Caffe Trieste because of Zazou, the manager and barista.  I think Starbuck’s corporate should go hang out with him for a while.   He knows my order but also warms my day with light banter as he mixes my drink.  Like the old TV show, Cheers, he knows my name.  Better yet, he knows my order, “Single latte, to go.”

Posted by: marinmom | August 28, 2007

Swimming with dolphins in Hawaii for free

Recently, my family and I were in Kona, Hawaii and spotted some dolphins swimming in a protected cove.  We excitedly placed the kids on the boogie boards, donned our flippers and swam out to see them.  It was an amazing two hours.  They swam around us, spun up and out of the water and seemed to be as curious about us and we were of them.  I think for a moment I thought we were the stars of Flipper (a great TV show, get it for your kids.) We told everyone at our hotel about the experience and their location.   A few days later we spotted an article in the local paper discouraging this very activity. Unknowingly, we interrupted the dolphins’ rest and caused harm to this stunning creature.  Duh!  Somehow, I  knew it was too good for me to be good for the dolphins. And isn’t that the crux of the matter.  How to travel without trampling? 

Next time, I visit Mother Nature, I will show more restraint. 

My friend did it right.  With some guilt still remaining, I recommended a friend of mine seek out wild dolphins instead of paying top dollar for 15 minutes at a resort. (O.k. if you must do this, check out this article, Aloha Friday in SFGate or go to DolphinQuest.) She talked to the locals, found out which beach or areas the dolphins visited, brought her binoculars and watched them swim in the sea.  She even checked with the local ranger to find out how close she could get to them in the water without causing harm.  Unlike me, she had a wonderful experience and did no harm.  (At this point, I don’t want to say how close or far you should get.  Ask a ranger. Let those tired dolpins sleep.)

Families should seek out the effortless beauty of animals in the wild.  Kids and adults need to see animals in their natural habitat to understand why it needs to be protected.  Teaching our kids and ourselves not to get “too close” is just as important as learning not to litter or to recycle that bottle.  Next time I head for the mountains, the beach or even the local park, I will refrain from literally and figuratively diving in after them as I did. 

I do have a tip for dolphin viewing on Kona.  Rent some kayaks from Kona Boys and go to Captain Cook’s Bay (Kealakekua Bay).  The dolphins are often resting there.  Check the dolphins out from a distance and then snorkel for the day in the beautiful reef.  Environmentally responsible, a memorable vacation day, and fun without remorse.  Lucky you.

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