Leave it to Beavers!

Nature’s Builders Help Ranchers and Farmers

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Often viewed as pests by ranchers and farmers, nature’s dam builders, the beavers, are now being hailed by many as “ecopartners” whose dams are helping to provide water to parched lands.

The phrase “busy as a beaver” is well chosen given that beavers are non-stop workers who gnaw away trees and foliage in the blink of an eye and build dams overnight. But, when this happens in the wrong spot, flooding one field or drying another, landowners get fighting mad. By the late 1800s in the Northwest, trappers reduced much of the beaver population to get rid of them and make money from their fur.

Lately, though, landowners and the large rodents are forming alliances. Becoming “frenemies” of a sort. That’s because the beavers’ ponds are providing new water sources to augment scarce rainfall and snow runoff during the West’s drought periods.

SurfWriter Girls learned that the beavers’ ponds – created by damming rivers, streams, and lakes – are also improving water quality by helping to filter sediment and recycle nutrients. Fish and wildlife are benefiting, too, finding shelter and hydration in the cool, clear waters around the dams.

The beavers have useful skills to offer. The trick is finding how to work with them. Federal and state government agencies are helping landowners in western states, including California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Colorado, and Idaho, create environments that attract the beavers and to identify the best places for beaver colonies to do their work.

By moving beavers from one area to another and routing dam water runoff to maximize water storage and reduce flooding, beaver construction crews can be valuable allies. Rather than adversaries to get rid of. But, to maximize these alliances landowners and government agencies must be open to new ways of thinking about the beavers and existing laws and practices that affect them.

Now that’s something to build on!

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Make it Fun!

The Art of Living Joyfully

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Remember when you were little and your parents said at dinner, “Don’t play with your food”? Children have a natural sense of fun whatever they’re doing. Good manners are important, but so is having fun and celebrating life’s moments.

Life is serious stuff. But finding the funny side can make us happier, especially when dealing with difficult situations.

Award-winning science journalist Catherine Price, author of the recent book The Power of Fun, says we need to “prioritize having fun.” Fun not only makes us feel better, but “brings people together. You’re embracing your shared humanity.”

She hopes that people will stage “funterventions” where we look for opportunities to have fun. Even work, family responsibilities, health matters, and other concerns can be made less stressful.

SurfWriter Girls Sunny and Patti agree that adding fun into our daily activities energizes us and keeps us in a good mood. Singing along to our favorite songs, doing yoga, taking selfies, cooking new recipes, wearing fun T-shirts, watching rom-com movies, turning a cup of tea into a tea party!

Recently we came across Barbara Ann Kipfer’s book The Happiness Diary: Practice Living Joyfully, a bestseller that explains that happiness doesn’t come from obtaining stuff or being perfect. It comes from “savoring and ingraining the good things you experience.”

The book provides exercises, reflections and journal prompts that help you to grow an emotional garden of flowers to pick when you have challenges to get through.

To increase your level of happiness, Kipfer says spend time in nature, do something positive, feed your mind through reading, learning and being creative, try something new, travel.

Even lounging – doing nothing (without feeling guilty) – is a skill we all need to learn. Just look at cats lying contentedly in the sun.

Yes, life can be demanding, and these past years have been difficult times, but adding in a measure of fun and learning to live joyfully can help to make things better.

Let’s keep the Ho, Ho, Hos happening in the New Year. Happy New Year to all.

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Washoku Seasonal Cooking

Japanese Honor Nature and Harmony

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

With hearth and home so important during the holidays, this is a good time to explore the Japanese cooking style of “washoku.” This creative, healthy way of cooking can add beautiful and festive new dishes to your table.

This traditional method of Japanese cooking gets its name from the Japanese kanji character 和食 (wa), which means Japan and harmony, and 食 (shoku), the word for food.

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel were drawn to washoku because of its harmonious approach to cooking that satisfies all the senses. The food is beautiful to look at and delicious to eat, in tune with the seasons.

Included on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List, washoku is a study in contrasts with food that is both simple and sophisticated.

A key aspect of washoku is its respect for nature and the four seasons. Food is prepared during its peak season (its “shun”) and cooked in a way that best showcases its flavors.

Spring is the time for asparagus, cabbage, eggplant, snow peas, shitake mushrooms and sanshou (prickly, green berries). Bonito tuna, cuttlefish and rock fish are plentiful then.

Summertime is the shun for edamame soybean pods, kyuri cucumber, and Japanese ginger. Fruits include cherries, peaches and watermelon (often blended into Kakigori, a shaved ice concoction). Eel, flounder, sea urchin and sea bass are in season.

In autumn, during harvest season, some of the fruits and vegetables in their shun include the Asian pear, Matsutake mushroom, persimmon, sweet potato, Japanese pumpkin, sudachi citrus fruit, and kuri chestnut.

The first rice of the harvest, shinmai (or “new rice”), is a softer and sweeter rice that’s greatly anticipated and only available from September to December.

In winter, yuzu, a citrus fruit like an orange, and strawberries come into their own, along with daikon, a winter radish. This is also the season for fugu, the Japanese blowfish that’s both highly desirable and potentially deadly, if improperly prepared.

Wagashi, Japanese traditional sweets often served with green tea, utilize seasonal ingredients, too, especially sweet bean paste.

Whatever the season or the dish, washoku always strives to embody the concept of “omotenashi” – hospitality – making friends and family feel warm and welcome. Things that mean so much now.

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Ansel Adams – Nature’s Photographer

Nature Brought to Life in Black-and-White

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

 

Fall – when tourist crowds are gone – is the perfect time to enjoy California’s natural beauty.

California’s raw coastlines and majestic forests are not only breathtaking to see, but through the lens of master photographer Ansel Adams, they are immortalized for all to enjoy.

Working primarily in black-and-white, Adams’ use of light and shadow and his fine eye for composition and detail turned nature’s landscapes into unsurpassed works of beauty.

Growing up, one of his favorite spots to wander was in San Francisco’s still-wild Golden Gate area and the nearby sand dunes along Lobos Creek. As a teenager, armed with a Kodak Brownie camera, he first discovered the wonders of Yosemite in 1916 and would spend a lifetime capturing all the facets of its beauty on photographic plates.

Starting in 1927, with his portfolio of photographs of the High Sierras, Adams launched a career that would encompass creating iconic images of Yosemite, San Francisco, Monterey, and other points throughout the Northwest, including Glacier National Park, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon.

Though he preferred black-and-white photography because it gave him more control over the finished picture than the limited options of the emerging color photography of his day, Adams did experiment with the new color medium – and got some amazing results.

A son of the West, who was born in San Francisco in 1902 and died in Monterey in 1984, Adams was an avid environmentalist and used his photographs to help build awareness and support for preserving natural landscapes. He also served as director of the Sierra Club from 1934 to 1971.

Once destroyed, nature’s beauty cannot be repurchased at any price.

– Ansel Adams.

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A Taste of the Tropics

Melissa’s Produce Has Just the Ticket

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

With autumn leaves falling, if you’re still longing for a summery taste of the tropics or a South Seas getaway, try heading out to the supermarket.

On a recent visit to Stater Brothers SurfWriter Girls Sunny and Patti came across a bounty of tropical treats just inside the entrance, beautifully arranged produce from Melissa’s, a specialty food company that provides produce from around the world.

Founded by Joe and Sharon Hernandez, Melissa’s has been providing fresh-from-the-farm produce sourced from local and global growers to restaurants and culinary professionals since 1984. The Los Angeles-based business has become the nation’s largest specialty produce company.

Now serving grocery stores, as well, grocery shoppers and visitors to its website can see what’s in season, get the latest harvest supply report, and find out what’s coming next.

SurfWriter Girls couldn’t resist looking at all the exotic fruits and vegetables and thinking about the countries they came from and the creative dishes we could make with them.

Strawberry papayas, blood oranges, finger limes, Kiwano melons, dragon fruit, Pinkglow pineapples, Passion fruit, Okinawan sweet potatoes, coquito coconuts, and more are currently center stage.

Seeing the beautiful fruits and vegetables on display reminded SurfWriter Girls of produce visionary Frieda Kaplan, the founder of Frieda’s, Inc. who revolutionized the food industry by introducing new produce that Americans had never tried before, including the New Zealand kiwifruit in 1962.

The country’s food knowledge has grown a lot since then, along with the desire to let our taste buds travel to faraway places. And lucky for us, produce suppliers like Melissa’s and Frieda’s have just the ticket.

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Agatha Christie Combined Surfing and Suspense

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Surfing in 1922. Whodunit? Agatha Christie dunit!

A 100-years-ago, at a time when most people, let alone women, had never surfed, mystery writer Agatha Christie – the best-selling novelist of all time – took to the waves in South Africa, Australia and Hawaii.

On an around-the-world book tour with her husband Archie, Christie discovered surfing for the first time at Muisenberg Beach in Cape Town, South Africa.

Eager to ride the waves herself, Christie soon realized that there was more to it than meets the eye. “Surfing looks perfectly easy,” she wrote in her memoir. “It isn’t. I say no more.”

As a woman, one of her challenges was finding swimwear that could stand up to the waves.

In Hawaii a particularly strong wave caused a “catastrophe,” as Christie put it. “My handsome silk bathing dress, covering me from shoulder to ankle, was more, or less, torn from me by the force of the waves. Almost nude, I made for my beach wrap.”

After that, Christie searched out something more practical, finding just the thing in a hotel shop – “a wonderful, skimpy, emerald green wool bathing dress, which was the joy of my life, and in which I thought I looked remarkably well. Archie thought I did too.”

From that point on, there was no stopping her. Christie put the same determination into learning how to surf as she put into devising the intricate crime thrillers that were her trademark. Murder on the Orient ExpressEvil Under the SunAnd Then There Were NoneThe Witness for the Prosecution, and countless others.

“All our days were spent on the beach and surfing,” said Christie, “and little by little we learned to become expert, or at any rate expert from the European point of view. We cut our feet to ribbons on the coral until we bought ourselves soft leather boots to lace round our ankles.”

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Madaug and Patti Kishel are in awe of Christie’s persistence in conquering the waves. Definitely hooked on this sport of Hawaiian kings, she described surfing as “one of the most perfect physical pleasures that I have known.”

Like others – from Captain James Cook, the first European to reach Hawaii, to the Father of Surfing, Duke Kahanamoku – Christie was captivated by surfing. There’s “nothing like that rushing through the water at what seems to you a speed of about two hundred miles an hour; all the way in from the far distant raft, until you arrived, gently slowing down, on the beach, and foundered among the soft flowing waves.”

Far from being an armchair novelist, Agatha Christie proved herself to be a true adventurer – as bold and mysterious as the characters in her books.

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National Parks Offer a Sea of Adventures!

Eight Coastal Treasures to Discover!

national-park-service-logo-on-yellowstone

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Thanks to the vision of nature lovers who saw the beauty in America’s undisturbed landscapes from Yellowstone and Yosemite to the Grand Canyon and the Everglades, many of these have been preserved as National Parks for all to enjoy.

Today there are 58 national parks throughout the country. What’s more, SurfWriter Girls found out that many of them are right on the beach! Each of the eight parks below offers a unique coastal experience that celebrates the world of nature.

Coastal-California-National-Park-Map-Poster 

Eight National Parks On the Coast

california-redwood-national-park

 

Redwood Forest National and State Park, North of San Francisco, combines the majesty of the giant Redwoods with 40 miles of pristine coastline.

 

Santa Monica Cave National Park

The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, near Malibu, is a breathtaking ocean retreat just a short drive from Los Angeles.

Channel-Islands-National-Park

Channel Islands National Park, off the coast of Santa Barbara, CA, encompasses five islands that are home to many rare species of plants and animals and archaeological and cultural sites.

Olympic National Park, in Washington, has close to a million acres of beautiful vistas from glacier-topped Mt. Olympus and old-growth rain forests to over 70 miles of raw coastline.

Olympic Nat. ParkAcadia Nat. Park

Thoreau

Cape Cod National Park, Massachusetts, has over 40 miles of beaches, marshes and ponds. Observing its tranquility, Henry David Thoreau said, “A man may stand there and put all America behind him.”

Acadia National Park, Maine, a 47,000-mile getaway on a rugged coast, offers the chance to see moose, whales, and bears against a backdrop of deserted beaches and granite mountain peaks.

Haleakala postcard

Haleakala National Park, Hawaii, on Maui, is considered a sacred spot and offers the opportunity to see glorious sunsets over the Haleakala volcanic crater.

biscayneBiscayne National Park, Florida, is an ocean enthusiast’s dream with turquoise waters, barrier islands and vibrant coral reefs to explore.

These coastal treasures – and America’s 50 other national parks – would be standouts on any Bucket List!

Whether you want to swim, surf, hike, or just admire the view, there’s a National Park waiting for you to discover.

Everglades_National_Park

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Jamaican Resort Fit for a Spy

Channel Your Inner Bond at GoldenEye

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Looking for the chance to say, “Bond, James Bond” or to order your martini “Shaken, not stirred”? Then get ready to check in at the Jamaican resort GoldenEye, the former home of author Ian Fleming.

Fleming wrote fourteen James Bond novels here.

Named after a WWII mission Fleming devised during his years in British intelligence, GoldenEye is a lush, coastal property that Fleming’s villains would have favored

Spread out over 52-acres, the luxury, get-away features dazzling beaches and private coves, tropical forests, and a saltwater lagoon – with a variety of beach huts, cottages, and villas where you can stay.

 

In 1952 Fleming wrote his first Bond novel, Casino Royale, at GoldenEye. Using the Caribbean island setting as a common locale in his adventure stories, the movies Dr. No and Live and Let Die were both filmed nearby.

Located on the North coast of Jamaica on Oracabessa Bay, the resort is built around Fleming’s original villa. When SurfWriter Girl Patti worked for Delta Airlines she visited Ocho Rios just a few minutes away and saw firsthand how beautiful and secluded the area is.

Along with relaxing on the beach and enjoying gourmet meals, it’s definitely a place to inspire a sense of adventure whether you go exploring, snorkeling or paddleboarding. Or pick up a pen and try writing your own spy thriller.

And don’t be surprised who you run into while you’re here. Fleming hosted many notables at GoldenEye, including Princess Margaret and Breakfast at Tiffany’s author Truman Capote. Celebrities Sting, Michael Caine, Pierce Brosnan, Grace Jones, and Richard Branson have all vacationed at the island retreat.

Truly a resort fit for a spy, the amenities at GoldenEye include a license to thrill.

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Surfing Animals Get Onboard!

Pets are Hotdog Surfers

surf dog on board

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Let’s go surfin’ now
Everybody’s learning how
Come on and safari with me

People aren’t the only ones watching the pro surfers at this summer’s surfing events and following The Beach Boys song to go on a Surfin’ Safari. Dogs of all sizes and shapes, cats, pigs, goats, and more are heading out on surfboards to enjoy the beach action.

white dog on blue boardsurfing pig

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

goat surfing

squirrel surfing

Every year surf dogs from around the world come to California’s Huntington Beach and Imperial Beach for Petco’s Unleashed Surf Dog Competition.

Unleashed-By-Petco-Surf-Dog-Competitioncool surf dogs

With paws on the nose and tails wagging, the canine competitors go all out to see who’s Top Dog.

dog closeup on yellow board

Didga, the Aussie skateboarding cat phenomenon, shows that she’s got some surf moves, too, and isn’t afraid to get wet. Go, Didga! Go!

Didga on surfboard

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel love seeing all the animals out in the water having fun. Our friend Huntington Beach surf artist Dave Reynolds is a sight to see when he goes surfing with his best buds Nacho and Lance, a Chihuahua and a Labrador mix. Nacho may be little, but he holds his own against the big dogs.

Surfing Nachosurfing animals alphabet book

When you’re on dry land, to keep the fun going for groms (and adults, too!), take a look at this book we discovered: The Surfing Animals Alphabet by Jonas Claesson, a Swedish artist and designer who lives in Australia.

SurfingAnimals open page

 

This illustrated alphabet book with animals in the ABCs lineup, is just the thing to get young surfers on board about reading.

service-surf-dog and child

As for the animals, now that the dog days of summer are here they want to have fun!

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Hawaiian Shirts Bring Happy Summer Smiles

Chill Out in Style!

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

What better way is there to put a smile on your face than wearing a bright, colorful Hawaiian shirt? It’s the perfect way to chill out in style on warm summer days.

Also known as an Aloha shirt, the colorful, short-sleeve shirts originated in Hawaii in the 1920s and became popular on the mainland after WW II when soldiers stationed on the islands brought them home.

Movies like Rodgers and Hammerstein’s blockbuster musical South Pacific (1958)

and Elvis Presley’s Blue Hawaii (1962) jump-started the island-themed fashion trend even more.

President John F. Kennedy added to the Hawaiian shirt mystique, too, wearing them while sailing or relaxing at his family’s Cape Cod home in Hyannis Port, MA.

So did Tom Selleck in the hit TV show Magnum P.I. and singer Jimmy Buffett while “wasting away” in Margaritaville.

And now, fashion brands from Tommy Bahama to Ralph Lauren and Prada feature the carefree shirts in their lineups.

Originally embellished with traditional Hawaiian quilt and flower designs, the shirts have taken on a wilder life of their own with palm trees, birds, sunsets, cocktail glasses, and more showing up.

If you’re looking for an authentic Hawaiian shirt made by descendants of the original Polynesians, SurfWriter Girls friend Jeffrey Sakamoto, who’s become an expert on island lore, recommends the shirts from Pili Pacific, which utilizes the Tahitian-inspired designs of co-founders Sue Pearson and Herman Pi’ikea Clark.

A must-have for anyone spending time in the islands, whatever you choose, the fun-to-wear Hawaiian shirts bring a taste of the tropics wherever they go…and bring out the party animal in us.

A shirt you can wear tucked in or out – no necktie required! – a Hawaiian shirt takes you anywhere in style…even if it’s just inside your own home.

Mahalo to SurfWriter Greg for taking the photo of us…and all the other photos he always takes! He’s our production crew working behind the scenes.

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