Archive for February, 2012

Farewell O’ Fairest and Finest Matriarch

February 24, 2012

‘Marie Theresa Caraher took over the kitchen in Heaven on February 14, 2012. God awoke on Valentine’s Day, smelled Mother’s cinnamon rolls, and said, “This is good.” She, God, got up, went to the kitchen and said, “Welcome. I hear they called you the Scrabble Queen on the celestial plane from whence you came. Feel up to a game?”

So began Marie’s obituary…

David’s mother (who lived in Arizona her last 17 years) passed away in her sleep early morning on Valentine’s Day. When I awoke at 7AM at home in Idaho David was already up. I found him sitting in quiet repose at the kitchen table. “Mother passed away last night.”

‘…Marie was 99 when she died. She was born in Council Bluffs, Iowa on September 27, 1912. Her father died when she was five and her mother gave her up a few years later. She grew up on a farm south of Council Bluffs, Iowa, cared for by her Uncle Chris and Aunt Annie. In spite of the fact that she was the fastest runner in her grade school and excelled at school work, she was not allowed to attend high school; her foster parents could not imagine how education could be useful for a woman….a bitter lesson that Mother never forgot.
So instead of going to high school, Marie milked cows, worked in the hay fields, cooked for thrashers, and spent her teenage years being groomed to be a farmer’s wife. But she never stopped reading…’

David and I decided immediately. We must travel to Arizona for her Memorial. Megan was up by now. We broke the news to her. She opened the Valentine’s gift we had left for her on the table.

The new stuffed puppy offered little comfort, albeit we chuckled at how much it looked like Rudy, or Rudy looked like it, for a moment, before he jumped down and dashed over to the cat bowl and licked it clean.

‘…She married a farmer, Thomas Fenton Caraher in 1932. And, Oh my, what a revelation it was for both of them. They became a couple. Child bride though she was (she was 19, he was 40), Mother was free. And with a man who loved her. Their early years together were spent on a farm south of Council Bluffs. Later, as their family grew, they tried city living in Council Bluffs itself. It didn’t take. In 1956 they moved to Jamaica, Iowa, and shortly thereafter to Bayard. A third of their brood of 11 children had flown the nest by then. But there were still seven young boys in the house…’

David was born in the middle of the brood. Child number … 8? The four oldest were daughters, followed by seven sons. David was the fourth son.

‘…Tom died in 1963. It broke Marie’s heart, though she, having known so many hard times, tried never to show it. Someone accused her of not crying at Tom’s funeral. Her tears were there; just not shown. Nearly fifty years later, one hopes they’re reunited in tears of joy…’

David was 16, the oldest child at home, when his father had a massive stroke and died. Marie was 50. David had to step into his father’s shoes. He planted the corn that year, albeit, when the rows grew tall, they weren’t as straight as David would have liked. 😉

‘…Marie remained in the Bayard area until 1994. During that time she did an admirable job of raising sons who were, uh, let’s say, a challenge. Subsequently to being known as the Mother of “those boys” she became known for her singing, her flowers, and her sewing, and (to some) for her Scrabble ruthlessness (“It took you that long to play THAT!”). Though widowed, she reveled in the freedom to try new things (albeit from economic necessity): She was a cook at the Bayard school and a cook at a fraternity (she understood boys) at Iowa State University. But the best job – she loved this job – was as a part time librarian in Scranton. It completed the circle of her lifelong love of reading…’

I collected photos from our walls at home to take to Phoenix to display at the Memorial.

‘…In 1994 Marie moved reluctantly to the Sunbird Golf Resort in Chandler, AZ to live with her daughter
Pauline. (Mother, you’re 82. We worry about you being alone in the Iowa winter). Their patio was adjacent to the tee box on the 4th hole of the golf course. Marie enjoyed looking down the fairway and pretending it was her back yard…’

David, Megan, and I hit the road for Chandler, AZ on Wed. morning, February 15. For the next six hours we drove mostly through rain, drizzle, sleet, but finally, heavy snow in southern Utah …

which, according to a sign we just passed here, off to our right is the town of “Snowfield.” Duh.

It’s a fifteen-hour drive to Marie and Pauline’s. We stopped in Vegas our first night. Stayed at the Rio:

view from our room

We arrived safely in Chandler, Arizona, (just south of Phoenix) on Thursday.

‘…But it wasn’t Iowa. And the soil! Bit of heartache there. She finally did manage to produce a wonderful set of flower gardens, again reveling in learning, study, and perseverance. She was shamelessly thankful for things she’d never had before: A dishwasher and an automatic garage door opener…’

Here’s a photo of their home in Chandler. Marie loved her flowers.

‘…In her last year, Marie’s health deteriorated, yet she remained unbending to conventional wisdom – she still got on the plane and traveled. She became more dependent on others, especially Pauline, and, while grateful, was uncomfortable with becoming a burden…’

Marie had flown up to Idaho for six days this past December to spend Christmas with us. At age 99!

Here she is December 26, 2011,

with our son, Ben. (Just seven weeks ago…)

…But she was never heavy. She’s our Mother…’

‘Marie was preceded in death by pretty much every one of her peers (99! You rule, Mother!), her parents, her husband, Thomas, her sister Ana Nansel, son James, and daughter, Rosemary King.
She leaves her sister Mae Green behind and nine children missing her: three daughters, Catherine Rahn, Pauline Caraher, and Margaret Larocca; and six sons, Tom, Ed, David, Jerome, Dennis, and Paul, 27 grandchildren, 37 great grandchildren and 18 great, great grandchildren.’

A Memorial in Chandler was held on Sunday, Feb. 19, for family, and friends in Phoenix who knew Marie her last 17 years. Another Memorial will be held in Bayard Iowa at the end of July.

We headed back to Idaho on Monday, Feb. 20. David did all the driving. And the gassing up.

We enjoyed the scenery in Northern Arizona and southern Utah.

We drove the fifteen-hour drive straight through, without stopping to browse at

Browse, which, why would we if there’s no services?

We arrived home close to midnight this past Monday night.

A large wind came up yesterday- the largest wind we have seen in a long time. I took a video of it
when I coaxed Rudy out in it to go potty (turn up your sound and watch it till the end):

That’s about a 70 mph wind gust you see at the end of it – a wind that toppled trees and limbs all over town. (Albeit with near-50 degree temps that melted all the snow – temps that are virtually unheard of this time of year.)

Looks like wind, but sounds a bit like … ocean?? (CLose your eyes and listen again?)

Which … Hey! Whatdoyasay we venture back to Hawaii? I’m sure Marie’s on board with us!

I haven’t yet told you, have I? About our last day on vacation in Kauai?

Kauai – Part V

February 11, 2012

Hanalei Bay Beach

Puff the Magic Dragon
Lived by the sea
and frolicked in the Autumn mist
In a land called Honalee

This 1963 song by Peter, Paul, and Mary tells a story of the ageless dragon Puff and his playmate Jackie Paper, a little boy who grows up and then loses interest in Puff, leaving the dragon alone and depressed. The story takes place “by the sea” in the land of Honalee.

His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain,
Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane.
Without his life-long friend, Puff could not be brave,
So Puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave…

“What’s with Puff and your blog?” you might ask?

I think we saw Puff! In his alone and depressed state oh so many years ago he may have slipped into the crevice at Rock Point (where we were yesterday- see Kauai-IV blog) and when he sees a human out there on the rocks he explodes out of that crevice as the angry, abandoned ‘Hissing Dragon.’


Puff could still be here at Hanalei Bay, and happy! – frolicking with the strapping young surfers. (If you look at this next picture carefully you will see them out on the water catching the waves.):

I could be happy, frolicking with the strapping younger surfers.

Just a thought…

Anyway, getting on with our trip …. We hiked the Kuilau Ridge Trail –

And I half-expected to run into Harrison Ford and crew filming another sequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark. I just now Googled it and, sure enough, the opening scenes of that movie were filmed in Kauai.

It’s a tropical forest. Without the bugs. On all of our hikes in Kauai combined, the only insects I saw were tiny ants, one small bumblebee, and one wasp. Well, and spiders. That’s the beauty of hiking in Paradise. If you see a flying winged thing, it’s probably a bird.

On Friday morning we hike the Kalalau trail, an 11-mile ridge trail along the Napali Coast. (Impressive, huh?) We start at Ke-e Beach and head for our destination: Hanakapi-ai Beach. Okay, so it’s only two miles to Hanakapi-ai Beach- but the trail climbs 600-ft to the ridge and then drops 600-ft to the beach.

Eric leads the way. Right away we experience a close encounter

of the worst kind for Eric…spiders. You can’t really see them all in the picture but there are five webs there in a cluster, and, well, we learn not to look too intently above our heads. I feel sorry for the first person on the trail in the morning busting through spider webs (yeah, in my dreams, while I’m sleeping in).

It’s a steep climb that first half mile and we arrive at the ridge. We take in the view of Ke-e Beach behind us

and the Napali Coast in front of us.

It’s a 2-hour hike to Hanakapi-ai Beach. We are getting close now…

What’s that sign say? Unseen currents have killed how many people? (Okay, so we won’t swim at the beach)

We cross the Hanakapi-ai Stream

and encounter wild life on the rocks near the beach

Seriously, this “Kauai kitty’ looks affectionate and cute, but there is no way you’re going to catch it, or even touch it. There’s a litter of three hungry feral cats here about 3 months old. Did someone carry them in and abandon them here? Did their pregnant mother fall out of a helicopter and land on this beach?

David and Eric on the beach.

They’re a tough breed.

I didn’t take a picture of the water (Duh)

We’re headed back now

up, up, up,

There’s our trail traversing that hill ahead

It’s nice to have hills you just look at and don’t have to climb…

We’re atop the ridge again

The ocean is fifty shades of blue.

The view of Ke-e Beach is just as awesome on the way back.

Almost down now…

I mean, up! AAaaaa! Don’t slip! We did pass a hiker half-covered in mud.

We’re down now. Time to rest and enjoy some ice cold coconuts.

The milk’s the best!

A native visitor meets us by the car.

It’s Alpha rooster. He wants his share of that coconut meat.

Afterall, It’s HIS island.

Okay, so I gotta put a wrap on these seemingly endless Kauai blogs.

Kauai – Part IV

February 8, 2012

Tuesday, January 24. Day 5. (Or is it day 6? Jeez, it’s flying by…)
We are headed to Kauapea “Kay-oo-uh-pee-uh”
(about every one of these Hawaiian beaches and trails sound the same to me) Beach, otherwise known as ‘Secret Beach.’

The waves are magnificient.

We climb the rocks for a better view (you can see the Lighthouse in the far distance).

“Mountain Goat” is always ahead

and usually higher than the rest of us.

Uh, maybe we don’t want to get too close …

It might be approaching high tide

Don’t see anyone swimming…

We’re headed back to the car now.

Thank goodness we’re at sea level. I wouldn’t want to be climbing this hill in high altitude, I’m gasping for air as it is.

We drive to the Ki Lauea (great Scrabble word if you’re burdened with vowels) Lighthouse. I didn’t capture a picture of the Lighthouse, I don’t know why, you see it in lots of brochures. But I did capture a great view from the Lighthouse of the coastline (and Secret Beach, where we just were).

We learn about the Red-Footed Boobies

that are nesting all over Crater Hill

there, across the cove.

We’re pretty pooped at this point (literally) so we return home.

Except Eric is restless and hyped up to check out the ‘Hissing Dragon’ at Makapili Rock, or what I understand as ‘Rock Beach.’ He piques David’s and my curiosity and we decide to come along.

He had found the exact route to the Hissing Dragon by way of a one-lane dirt road that we drive on for almost a mile. Then it turns into a mud hole, so we pull off and walk the last half-mile of road

to get to the rock bench that runs along the shore to Makapili Point.

Rock bench? I was thinking ‘beach’ which is why I’m wearing flip-flops.

We climb over rocks for the next 45 minutes. I take no photos, I’m so focused on every step, and fearful of falling, or losing a flip-flop, breaking a flip-flop, stubbing my toe, breaking a toe …

We can go no further now. David and I meet up with Eric sitting on a rock.

“So where’s the Hissing Dragon, Eric?”

We wait around for a few minutes. I’m thinking of how I could catch a helicopter back.

Suddenly we hear a sucking noise coming from this crevice in the rock cliff a few feet away.

David walks over first. The water comes foamimg up and blasts out of the hole like an explosion. Holy %$*#!

I flip-flop over there and wait with my i-phone. Nothing happens for several minutes. Then the sucking noise… I take a photo. I take another photo, then another…. WHOA!

I fly 10 feet back from the thing. I’d hate to experience this exploding geyser at high tide.

We start heading back.

I’m flip-flopping at a ferocious pace to keep up with David.

Waves come thrashing up through rock crevices along the way.

What’s this thing?

Some kind of omen?

That white speck against the patch of green up there is Eric.

He waits for us to catch up.

Are you serious? I’m supposed to get up there?

This section is pretty sketchy. Especially in flip-flops. With your stomach tied in knots.

We’re back off the rocks now, away from the shore.

If you do get your rig this far in you may not get it back out.

What happened to these people?

We’re walking on the road again, headed to the car (sounds like a verse to a song, and I feel like singing it, too).

Yay! Whew! What a relief to find the car, undisturbed, right where we left it, was it two hours ago?

If you ask me, this whole excursion had all the makings (and evidence??) of a death march. (…Eric)

Yeah, well, I gotta admit, that Hissing Dragon was pretty cool.

Kauai- Part III

February 5, 2012

Our trip was all play and no work. Except, well, you know that expression, ‘fish and relatives stink after three days.’ So by the fourth day David, Eric, and I thought it prudent to jolt ourselves out of ‘freeloading’ mode and offer Steph and Vic some assistance with home repair/improvement projects.

So we had a ‘work day.’ Starting with following Victor to the dump.

David and Eric are unloading our rental car. (I see Eric’s wearing his obnoxious Einstein shirt.)

I’m taking photos (hey, that takes two hands)

of them recycling boxes.

(Isn’t this fascinating?) Have photos, will post! Does this blog totally validate me or what, regarding my contribution on ‘work day’!

David replaced lights on the outside of the house

while Eric replaced lights on the inside

because Eric has a total irrational fear of spiders… uh, these Kauai spiders in particular…

which, I might add, were nesting in the outside bushes and along the roofline and which are completely harmless (as long as you don’t disturb their web).

Victor is famous for his Won Ton soup


He did most of the cooking:

Meanwhile, Steph never wastes a free moment, even on vacation,

researching scientific articles about bio-chemical processes to write her health blogs.

David is still replacing outside bulbs

Eric scrubs the grill

and repairs a deck chair.

I do have a picture of myself at work

lounging beside Steph on the deck (oceanview side) so she can discuss with me her theories on cholesterol sulfate and why its production (mainly in the skin from sun exposure) is essential to health. My work here in the above picture is three-fold: listening to Steph, producing cholesterol sulfate in my skin from sunbathing, and photographing it.

Our other quest was to find evening entertainment. We consulted the concierge at a nearby resort to investigate the local prospects of our favorite vacation past time: Karaoke. Verdict: None. (What’s that about? They KNEW we were coming?) So we had to improvise, implement Plan ‘B’ (Turn up your volume)

Hey. What can I say? Steph and Vic have an i-Pod with about a thousand tunes that connects to a Bose sound system.

Who needs Karaoke?

Yeah, well, when you’re vacationing in Kauai, everything you do is play.

Kauai- Part II

February 3, 2012

So where were we?  Oh yeah, we had just finished lunch at the Koke-e Lodge and were watching Eric cast his magic spell over the feral chickens (tossing crumbs from his leftover sandwich).

We made our way back to our cars – in anxious anticipation of Victor’s hike – which would take us to two fabulous lookouts, the Kalalau and Puuokkela  in Kokee State Park. Say it aloud: “Kay-lay-lay-oo and Poo-oo-oh-Kay-el-ay in Koe-Kay-ee State Park ….”  Oh, forget it.

We’re on the trail now.  It’s a tad more rigorous than I had anticipated.

Steph on the trail - David above Steph

How did you get UP THERE, Eric? And how am I going to do it?

Oh, that’s right. You’re half mountain goat.

We climbed, clung, and clawed our way to the top.

David at the summit

We’re headed back down now

Clouds rise up the side of the mountain and roll over us

That’s the ocean in the distance. It follows the ridge. Or maybe the ridge follows the ocean.

We’re halfway down now

No, I guess it’s up.

And still up – before we gradually descend to lower ground.

The ocean comes into clearer view.

We’re down now. Headed back to the car.

Why did the rooster cross the road?

Because he owns it. Seriously. These fowl critters strut around like they’re the State bird.

We pass through Waimea canyon again on the drive home.

A mermaid washes up on shore.

"Cuddles Cutes"

And then another mermaid.

It's my Hubby!

Yeah, well we put them on the dishes when we got home.

What do you suppose those two were up to after that? …