Sew Me Hawai’i for real

When I first started writing this blog it was to be additional exposure for my new on-line business called, yeah, Sew Me Hawaii. I sew outfits and accessories for students or schools of hula. I was newly retired and ready to take on a new project that I could do at home. I have a passion for hula as is stated in my bio and absolutely never tire of making things from the beautiful Hawaiian print fabrics. Therefore, everything I make is made with tropical fabrics. I do believe my first blog was about the Etsy shop, but then it began to evolve. I started writing about things I saw or did in the islands. It started to look more like a travel log. I added poetry, photos of my yard. Lots of pictures of me dancing hula, my time on Maui and the many problems I had when I returned. Both my sonʻs weddings…

Now I am going to shamelessly promote my shop because I realize I have things in my shop that are not necessarily for hula. So, look out for photos that were originally made for hula, but can impersonate something else!

This is an implement bag for the different things we use in different dances, but I think they would make a great beach bag with pockets for a cell, a wallet, a tube of sunscreen, a book, towel and hat, etc. Or, if you have a little one who goes to slumber parties this makes a nice overnight bag.
This is a garment bag, usually used to carry dresses, skirts or blouses, etc. to performances, but they can be used for ordinary clothing as well. They come in a short size or a long size. They are fully lined with the full length zipper. Donʻt you think they look nicer that a plastic bag?
We dance with feathered gourds called ʻulīʻulī. They have a small gourd with little seeds inside that rattle and a top with rows and rows of feathers. These are covers for the feathers to keep them from sun damage, dust. However, I have used them as a bowl cover when at a picnic or at a potluck when the dish is waiting on a table. Or, a wild shower cap!

Of course, I make pā’ū (hula skirts), traditional tops, blouse, bloomers for under pā’ū, pull on “sleeves” to make a traditional top look a little more formal. And, more…

For your mug and muffin or cup and cookie. Helping to keep the crumbs off the keyboard! These are about 8″x10″–just right for a cup of coffee or tea and a snack.
Bring a little tropical splendor to your morning Starbucks…a coffee cozy. I always feel better about not adding to the landfill and they are so much prettier than cardboard!

For those of you who may actually dance hula or know someone that does, I will add a couple of photos of what I do the most…pāʻū and tops for adults and children.

This bright little pā’ū is perfect for a new dancer. She certainly won’t get lost in the crowd!
A beautiful adult hula pā’ū from my Etsy shop, no longer available, but oh so pretty.
Me, doing what I love the most. I did not make this dress. I do sew long muʻumuʻu for my hula sisters, but they are simply too much to do long distance and Iʻm not good at pattern drafting, so donʻt offer dresses in my shop.

Mahalo i ka hoʻomanawa nui–Thank you for your patience.

Political Activism and my thoughts at age 75

Last week I marched in a Black Lives Matter protest. Today on Juneteenth I marched against systemic racism. I’ve marched regarding climate change and in the Women’s March last year. Growing up in San Diego until age 17 I had never seen racism until when my family was moving to Hawai’i and we sold our beautiful home to a wonderful black family. My father, sister and I went ahead with my Mom staying back to make arrangements for shipping my sister’s horse, selling personal items and finding homes for special keepsakes. Since we were to be living on a 40ft. sailboat, downsizing was essential. So, my Mom was way out in the country alone when one night she arrive home at dusk to find two men with chains in the driveway threatening her with very racial epithets. My Mom always had pluck and she also had a small caliber gun in the car. When they started to advance, frightened, she shot right through the door of the car which made the men “literally crawl out of the drive”. As far as we knew they never returned, however I never knew if the new family had problems. That was my first and only encounter with racism.

I had been in the islands the previous summer staying with a lovely Hawaiian family who I still consider to be my hanai family (adopted). I was treated as one of the family and learned many of the traditions and ways of living with aloha from them. When we moved over permanently I tried to maintain that attitude. I have now lived in the island for almost 60 years and still have not felt, as a haole (originally a foreigner, now a caucasian), treated differently. We have a special way of living here. We have every race of the world in our islands and somehow we always manage to mostly get along. We do occasionally have problems, but very seldom. And, in my opinion, many of the problems come when haole move from the Mainland and never assimilate. They bring attitudes with them that simply don’t match those of the indigenous population nor of those who adopt the aloha way of life. I find, in my “old age” I have the pluck to say how I feel and I’ve taken to FaceBook and Twitter with a vengence, a renewed sense of activism. Though some will disagree, I find it hard to understand how anyone with any intelligence can stand with the man who calls himself president. From a distance I see our democracy eroding, I see hate. I feel strongly against about all of his policies. We no longer have confidence that our air will be clean, our water will be clear, our land will be preserved. Tomorrow he will put 20,000 lives at risk at his rally along with the people living in Tulsa with an already increase in COVID patients at further risk. He, as usual, is putting politics ahead of people. He find him to be so self-serving that he simply would be unable to side with people above himself.

Last week my sign said Black Lives Matter. But, today my very unprofessional sign held a different message. It said: Cops…Citizens…Communities–Here, We are all ‘ohana.

‘Ohana means family. Police Officers are someone you turn to if you’re in trouble. They try their hardest to keep us safe. When returning to my car after the peaceful rally (all of us masked and distanced) I passed several police officers standing by their car. When I got close, I showed them my sign and one of the cops said, “thank you for protesting”. This is how it is in Hawai’i. We have respect for each other.

My Neighborhood Walk

The other day I did a YouTube workout–p.e. with Joe. Three days later my muscles are still aching so this morning I decided to go for a walk instead. I planned my route which is just about two and a half miles. I didn’t want to go any farther because for some reason I gave my good jogging shoes to the recycle center. I’m now having to wear my just walking around the mall sneakers. It is a beautiful spring day. The sun has just appeared so it’s still cool and it hasn’t rained yet this morning so I’m in luck. Talking about luck, when I walk I generally take my phone with me for assurance and I carry a face mask in case I meet someone on the road. So, as I walked I took the time to “smell the roses” and took lots of photos of my adventure.20200418_071700_00120200418_071521

So far…Lilikoi blossom, an unexpected pineapple, hybiscus – melemele & ‘ula’ula

Jade plant, Bougainvillea and Tahitian Tiare

More Bougainvillea, something I don’t know, I think a Century Plant

Okay, I don’t know what any of these are, but they were interesting. The first is growing on the trunk of a coconut tree, the second is a weed that grows everywhere, but it has really sweet purple flowers. The third is a tree that has a perfect ball for a fruit.

These are trees…the beloved ‘Ohi’a, a fan palm and a different palm.

There were many more but I think this is enough for now. The last three are from my yard, my Monstera, a Paclan, which is in the Magnolia family with fragrant small tiare looking blossoms that bloom every couple of months. The last is my Fern Tree and my tiny home behind. I’ve recently acquired a Pua Melia or Plumeria and it is just now getting leaves. Soon it will have heavenly scent blooms which are still my very favorite flower. 

Thanks for going on the walk with me. I glad I had some virtual company.

What I’ve learned about myself & others during the COVID-19 crises

I am going on my third week of self-quarantine. I’m perfectly fine staying by myself. I’ve always enjoyed my own company. I’ve live alone many times in my life, as a 20-something in my first apartment to the many times, married. when David was in the Mainland, when on Maui for three years and now back on the Big Island and living by myself again. So, sheltering in place is not a problem for me. However, I find that I really miss the interactions with friends. I have several groups that I regularly dance with. I have my hula hālau with 30 women. In Hawaiian style we are use to hugging and kisses each other in greeting.  When the virus first started and we werenʻt yet on restrictions, we started blowing kisses and keeping a distance when dancing. Then the classes were closed. I danced with a group of 12 called the Hula Sisters. We dance within the community. We performed at the pier for visitors coming in on the ships and we danced for tourists and locals at the Moʻoheau Bandstand. Several of us danced at luʻau and celebrations. Another group of three, Na Haʻa Wahine, danced at the Life Care Center and Hale Anuenue, care homes. Three times a week I had a line-dance class. When you spend this much time with friends on a weekly basis it’s now up to technology to keep us in contact. My phone has become my life line for messaging. I realized that though I like living alone, I don’t like giving up my dancing life. Practicing to videos is not quite as much fun as dancing with friends. I am on the board of directors of Haili Christian School and tomorrow we are having our first virtual meeting on ZOOM. That should be interesting. My church’s Kahu has his sermons on line, but it’s different then being there sitting in the church.

I have discovered how much I enjoy trying out new recipes. This afternoon I made banana crunch muffins and they were amazing…Thank you Ina Garten. They had mashed bananas, diced bananas, walnuts, granola in the batter with a crunchy granola top. I eat a lot of granola type cereal and when I’m at the end of the box, down to small bits, I throw them into the freezer. I can then put them in smoothies, grind them in a food processor and use them as a “flour”. They are good on ice cream. When I started doing this I thought to myself, “are you nuts, this is just going to take up space.” Whoda thought? Last week I made braised short ribs with a tomato/wine reduction. They were so tender, fell off the bone. I got five meals out of them. Tonight I’m having shrimp/asparagus risotto…not a new recipe but it’s my comfort food.

I have been making cloth face masks for essential workers. These, of course, aren’t suitable for doctors, nurses, etc. but are good for care givers, nurse’s aides, the general public for going shopping, etc. Making them makes me feel like I’m doing something for my community. I’ve made about 60 or 70 of them to give away. One of my neighbors gave me a stack of 100% cotton fat quarters which is perfect for the masks. I always have lots of elastic as I buy in 144 yard spools.
I find a like bartering and trading. I gave some masks to one friend and was given two laulau in exchange. She makes the very best! For those unfamiliar they are little packages of beef or pork and butterfish wrap in luau leaves and then either in ti leaves or foil. They are steamed and the luau leaves become much like steamed spinach. They are so delicious. I gave another friend some masks and she gave me some hand sanitizer along with a bottle of aloe gel for making my own. The stores no longer have any so this was a welcomed gift.

I find that I have more time to write. My blog is finding it odd that I would post more than once every month or two. I also have time to work on my book. I have been writing letters to people who haven’t voted for a time or two. It’s through Vote Forward. They send you a list of voters to tell them the reason I vote and encourage them to do the same. My first list is from Georgia. It makes me feel good that I could have a hand in turning Georgia blue. We aren’t allowed to be partisan but I think a lot of people who drop out are democrats. So, if I can urge them to go the polls, so much the better.

So, I hope you are all keeping in touch with love ones, friends and family and are finding ways to enjoy your time at home.

All is Being Cancelled

As the country is reeling from this disastrous virus, I am trying to minimize my movement in my community and staying at home as much as possible. This morning I dropped off packages at the post office which happened to be the last of my orders. I was glad I was able to catch up and get all out. I have a lot of time on my hands right now. Hula has been cancelled, ships are no longer coming into the port, so pier performances are cancelled. Since Life Care and Hale ‘Anuenue are care homes for mostly elderly residents our monthly performances have been cancelled. I had one Mo’oheau Bandstand performance in the morning and a line dance class the following day, but those have been cancelled. There are still a lot of people milling around, shopping, etc. but tourism is drastically curtailed therefore performances will also be curtailed as they are for the tourist trade. I have lots of food in my freezer. I bought TP before the hoarding began, I have water, two N95 masks that I bought when we had the ongoing eruption (though I have offered them to a doctor friend). I have cat food, a couple of books to read. I have TV and radio. Because the news is so ugly, I find myself watching the Hallmark romantic movies. I do admit I watch them from time to time anyway, but right now they are a good diversion. I listen to NPR when I’m sewing. I find it honest and thoughtful though, along with myself, is not enamored with Trump. I will probably alienate any of my Republican readers, but I blame him for the lack of response to this deadly viral disease calling it COVID-45. We should have had test kits months ago. He could have used test kits from WHO and he turned them down. They still haven’t tested all those residing at the Life Care Center in Seattle which was the first hot spot in the U.S. because they don’t have the supplies. So far, Hawai’i has had 70+ positive tests (most from outside Hawai’i), only five on the Big Island, but we have a dearth of supplies. We could have 1000s of people who have been exposed but don’t have symptoms. These are scary times. My oldest son lives in Seattle. He has always been rather non-communicative so any conversations have been rather terse but all is okay. My youngest son lives in Santa Cruz and is finally working at home. The higher up boss doesn’t think working at home is productive. What??? This younger generation knows how to be productive at home. And Jaron is so honest, he would never slack on his work. I talked to him every week or so, long informative talks.

Lately I’ve had a couple of incidents that made me stop and think. The first was a woman who stated she loves Trump and thinks he’s the best president ever. When I incredulously asked her why she said, “because he is such a good businessman”. When I countered that he has claimed bankruptcy five times her response was that any big businessman has had a bankruptcy and he has big hotels. I just sighed and turned away. I was tempted to say, “that’s because he built them on the backs of his construction crews, etc. that he never paid.” I held my tongue. I think of her being in a cult. The leader is supreme. It doesn’t matter how many times he proves otherwise he will remain so in their minds.

The second incident was as much as a shock. I received a thank you card, in person. It was very cute. It had an American flag draped in the background. In the foreground had three very cute puppies. One red, one white and one blue (bluish gray). When I told her how much a loved the card she said, “Oh good. I wasn’t sure that you would like it because of the American flag, but then I guess even Democrats can be patriotic.” This shook me to my core. Do all Republicans think they are the only patriotic Americans? This was a week ago and it still shakes me.

I will probably be able to write more often now that I have more time. I will continue to do some sewing, catch up on things for my virtual store. I will continue to practice my hula and my line-dances (Our Round-Up scheduled in June has been cancelled). The dances are difficult. Maybe next year we, Hilo, will be hosting so I don’t have to find the money for travel, hotel, car, etc. I did volunteer to make 100 Hawaiian cloth bags for the dancers and the goodies that go into the bags so I’m putting them on hold for awhile.

In their place I am sewing cloth face masks for care homes, Hospice, etc. These will, I hope, fill in some of the gaps in our supply chain. Unfortunately my Cloud stopped working so none of the photos I’ve recently taken are available so you just have to imagine how colorful face masks are when make in bright Hawaiian prints

Mahalo nui loa for sticking with me, Ki’ihele

I’m ticked off.

I just wrote for an hour and when I went to publish it wouldn’t go through. After several tries, still no luck, so I had to close AND I lost the entire hour of writing. I’m so ticked off. What happened to drafts? I previewed it without a problem which generally saves everything, but this time didn’t. If I get more pissed, I will probably quit WP and just vent on Facebook! Any suggestions?

All the latest in my life…

It’s literally been months since I’ve had the time to just sit and write. I do miss it, but my life has been so crazy, so busy, but so much fun. First, on April 27th my youngest son Jaron got married to his sweetheart Alexa. The perfect union. The wedding was an Old West theme and took part in a State Park with a western “town”. A steam engine took us up to the site in the middle of a majestic redwood forest. As Jaron’s middle name is Nahele which means forest, it was apropos. It was beautiful. David and I were able to walk him down the aisle which was so cool! I got to wear my boots. And, I made this perfect outfit in the wedding colors. Both David and Jaron looked so handsome!

It was such fun. 100 happy guests. He and Alexa have wonderful friends who worked so hard at making it the perfect reception.

Then in June my line-dancing class traveled to Kaua’i for the annual Round-Up. We stayed in a condo in Lihu’e. We had two performances which were certainly different from the normal line-dance. One was a hip-hop, the other a cha-cha. The costumes were outrageous! But, everyone looks forward to our crazy costumes and dances.

Lately I’ve been immersed, as usual, in hula. My halau just competed in the Kupuna Hula Festival for the first time and won first place. I didn’t dance in the competition. I have enough stress in my life. But, I did get to dance in the Ho’olaule’a which was quite an experience. I’m the one in the middle area with the silver hair. I look back at most of my pics and my hair was still brownish red, but I like it natural. We usually wear our long black skirts with a black tee and a pareo tied at the shoulder as in the blue, or we turn a pareo into a kind of blouse as in the red.

The competition group wore beautiful long dark green velvet dresses with lei po’o, lei at the neck and both wrists. They were beautiful, danced beautifully and deserved the first place win.

My friend Kapoliokealoha in her competition dress

We dance at Life Care Center, Hale Anuenue, the Mo’ohuea Bandstand, The pier for those tourists getting off the ships. We dance at the Women’s Club and just about anywhere we are asked for a quick performance. We just love to dance hula! This next month alone we already have 10 performances scheduled. And, we have scheduled practices and we are even throwing in a couple of lunches!

In the future I will try and keep up a little better. I promise. The only problem is that most of my life centers around hula, so it’s difficult having other things to talk about, but I will try.

Computer Blues and Hula

I have spent the last three days crying over all the problems I’m having with my new computer, actually the second one I’ve owned in the past week. My last new one jammed up and refused to leave a page. I couldn’t exit, couldn’t cancel, couldn’t move the cursor and became a raging curser! The January woman, according to the sweatshirt for sale, has the mouth of a sailor…how true! I was embarrassing myself. Now I have another computer because I took the last one back. This one has just as many problems. I’m not a complete idiot when it comes to technology. I’ve been able to sync photos, make changes to my Etsy account, install apps and delete or uninstall programs without a problem. But, no, not this time. Everything imaginable has gone wrong. Half the time my browser is unable to connect to the internet even though I have a secure connection or it takes so much time to find the program it just gives up.
Here’s hoping I’m able to get through this post without having to threaten to throw the computer out the window.

For the past two or three months I have had soooooo many hula performances. It’s been such fun. I am now dancing at the pier for tourists exiting the huge ships. I’m dancing at Mo’ohuea Bandstand for the tourists who have made it into Hilo town. I dance at the Life Care Center, The Vets Centers, the Hale Anuenue. I’ve danced at a Quinceanera party for a 15 year old Mexican senorita. I’ve danced at the Visayan Philippino Party. We’ve celebrated Thanksgiving in dresses I made for this season, Christmas with dresses I made for the winter holiday season. I’ve had the opportunity to wear most of my dresses that I’ve bought for our Merrie Monarch Hula Ho’olaule’a. It’s fun dressing up with lei and flowers in my hair–well sort of. My hair is short and flowers simply don’t attach well. Because we dance so frequently we use silk flowers so I glued or clipped mine to a headband. The band doesn’t really show and the flowers go right where I want them.

Ha’a Ka Wahine




The Hula Sisters and friends at the Bandstand in Hilo town


And with all the costume changes over the past couple of months, you have witnessed my hair color changes as well. I’ve decided to stop coloring my hair and letting it go natural. It’s prettier than in the Christmas picture. It’s silvery and I like it. My birthday is in a few days and I will turn 74. It’s okay if I look 74. I feel good, I look pretty good. I’m able to attend my hula, line-dance and ballroom dance classes and keep up. I think learning different dancing skills helps with memory, fitness and social connection, as well as brain health. I’m having fun and that’s an important part of living.


What a Difference

During all the drama between the lava flow and the hurricanes, I took the time to drive to Waimea with my friend Kapoliokealoha for a hula performance. It was the grand opening of a realty office, a small space for only five of us. The office was right in the heart of Waimea next door to the famous Merriman’s restaurant. It was 10:00 in the morning and we only danced three songs. We were treated to a brunch which included pastries and frittatas, fruit etc. It was quite sumptuous and we enjoyed mingling with the guests. It was, however, over very quickly so instead of driving straight home to rainy Hilo we changed clothes, met another friend of Kapoliokealoha’s and decided to go on a hike. Actually, it was more like a walk, but then that doesn’t sound as much fun. There is a lovely nature reserve right above the town so we started our walk of the Alawai o Waimea. It was absolutely beautiful. Flower landscapes, glorious trees and a flowing stream. The meandering course of the stream took us about a mile along its banks which turned out to be loop that took as a mile back. No rain, no wind, no lava. Just a beautiful day of friends enjoying the day together. I took a few photos along the way…

The beginning of our trek

Along the stream


There were seven different colors of  lehua, however only the red was flowering at the time.

A stunning yellow hibiscus.














A day later the hurricane had passed, the rain and wind had stopped. I was driving through downtown Hilo and realized that our town is gorgeous. The shower trees were flowering and we have some beautiful heritage trees.

The flowering shower trees



A Monkeypod in all its glory

nce a month I dance at the Mohouea Bandstand for the locals, the tourists off the ship and those at the farmer’s market. We dressed in our new modern outfits and three of us dance monthly at different care homes on the island. We have retro 1960’s outfits for this.

And the Wāhine Aloha



My Love/Hate Relationship With Summer

When I was young, and probably foolish as my skin is now attesting, I loved summer. I spent many many hours riding horses in the sun, baking in the sun with coconut oil slathered over my skin. I surfed in the sun, I sailed in the sun and I really did love every minute of it. But now, summer has become a lot hotter, a lot more humid and just sitting at the computer with open windows and a tradewind blowing, I’m dripping with sweat…hmmm, I’m glistening. The oddest words pop into my head–languid, lethargy, ennui, enervating, all of which I’m feeling in one form or another today. Summer is also the slowest season for my online shop. Hula halau (schools) are no longer gearing up for May Day or May Fest or Spring Fest or Merrie Monarch Hula Festival, so I don’t have a lot of sewing projects to get done. I should be sewing for my shop, but it’s 94 degrees in my little studio. I find myself watching The Hallmark Channel, crying over the sappy love stories and wishing I was one of the characters. I’m taking NAPS! I haven’t taken naps during my entire life, even in kindergarten. But, when it’s so hot and humid it just saps my energy. I eat bowls and bowls of salads. Don’t get me wrong, I love salads and eat them many times with my main course, but now they have become my main course because turning on the stove or oven leads to a heat I’m not willing to bear. I do find the sun helps with making “Sun Tea” which I consume by the gallons. I have too much yard work to get done but just keep putting it off. I really want to get my garden going again and I have the most beautiful, fragrant, wormy compost ever just waiting to nourish an abundance of veggies, but the thought of standing in the sweltering humidity planting is more than I can imagine these days. I can’t even turn on my ceiling fan until dusk as it just blows hot air around the room.

I’m so looking forward to fall, but then, that’s followed by winter which means I will be living in sweat pants and sweat shirts for about five months, complaining about the cold and yearning for spring. Oh, to be young again and be in love with all the seasons.