Michele Grgas Thomas The Triplicate

Less than a month ago I was driving Rick around in bumper-to-bumper traffic searching for a little shop I had read about in the Lonely Planet Travel Guide for Kauai. We backtracked several times on Kuhio Highway attempting to locate "Marta's Boat."

The gridlock was due to road repairs necessitated by heavy damages sustained when storms pummeled the island the week before. My fuse was short as we spent about an hour following vague directions with no visible sign of Marta or her boat.

"We only have this one exquisite day on Kauai," I thought, "and we're wasting it stuck in a car, stuck in traffic, looking for a business that may or may not still exist."

My evil twin was behaving disgracefully, taking out her frustration

on Rick, an innocent bystander who didn't even know what Marta's Boat

was or why we needed to go there. Finally, as we drove out of the last

shopping center left to search in Waipouli, I looked up to see the

"boat" in all its yellow splendor.

Marta owns and operates a unique women's and children's boutique

(built to resemble a boat). She and her husband,

surfer/artist/poet/philosopher Ambrose Curry III, live in the yellow

home behind the boat. Ambrose's studio and surfboard rental business is

on the same property. He is originally from San Francisco but has lived

on Kauai about 40 years and crafts one-of-a-kind surf boards and paints

vibrant, original designs.

Marta told me that when the economy began to slow down, she knew she

needed to reinvent her shop. So instead of relying solely on purchased

inventory, she began sewing original pieces from fabrics that Ambrose

painted. She displayed beautiful scarves, purses and dresses (both for

big and little girls) as well as a section devoted to Ambrose's renowned

"Surf for World Peace" T-shirts.

When Rick and Ambrose returned from exploring his studio, Ambrose

explained to us that surfing wasn't just about the ocean sport. "People

surf the 'Net and channel surf," he said. Surfing was a metaphor for

moving through life. And our movement through life should be toward

world peace.

Like he does often, Rick picked me up for lunch one day last week. We

went to a restaurant during the noon rush and were seated in the back. A

young man, maybe 30, and a little girl who had to be about my

granddaughter's age, about 2 and a half, were led to a booth across from

ours next to a window.

The little girl was darling. Her hair was up in pig tails and she was

dressed in a cute outfit. She was chatty and reminded me of my

granddaughter Kayla so much I couldn't take my eyes off her. She noticed

the blinds on the window next to her and started to play with them. Her

adult companion grabbed her arm, spanked her bottom and told her to

knock it off.

My heart sank as I watched her tear up and cry. She hugged the man

she called "Uncle" and told him she was sorry. The waitress brought

crayons and some paper and soon the little girl was coloring and singing

and talking to herself. Uncle told her she was too loud. He hit her

again. Hard.

I stopped eating about halfway through my meal. I gave the young man a

look - a look that said, "I see what you're doing and it's wrong." But

he stared back at me and in his eyes I read, "Mind your own business,


When we were paying our check the restaurant's owner asked if

everything was OK. I told him what I had witnessed and he said he'd walk

back and check on them.

And that was it.

Every day since I've wondered how that little girl is doing and hope

she is OK. I know she's not the only one getting hit and I know that

there are children out there experiencing worse. April is National Child

Abuse Prevention Month. And the words of abused children are written on

T-shirts displayed all over Del Norte County, including in the windows

of the Triplicate office.

I love my "Surf for World Peace" T-shirt. Ambrose explained what

"surf" meant and I understand the broader meaning of world peace. It

encompasses that little girl who was in my world for an hour. It's not

good enough to work to end military wars. We have to stop human

conflict. I should have kept my cool on Kauai, and that uncle needs to

keep his cool with that precious little girl.

Reach Michele Thomas, the Del Norte Triplicate' s publisher,

at mthomas@triplicate.com, 464-2141 or stop by 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Reach Michele Thomas, the Del Norte Triplicate's publisher, at

mtandshy;hoandshy;masandshy;@triplicate.com, 464-2141 or stop by 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.