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.

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

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.

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Ha’a Ka Wahine

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The Hula Sisters and friends at the Bandstand in Hilo town

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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.

 

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.

One of THOSE days…

As many of you know I sew A LOT! When I’m not dancing hula or line dancing, I’m in my little sewing studio answering the requests of Mainland halau for skirts, blouses, bloomers, garment bags, etc. There are times though when I have all my projects done, all mailed out and I’m able to do other fun things. So, when three of my line dancing friends asked if I would like to take a “Serger Class” at the local fabric store I jumped at the chance. I have a really nice serger for finishing off the seams of the many garments I make, but I bought the demo model and didn’t receive any information on it so I have sort of muddled through learning all it can do. When I got to class I was told we were making an apron using the serger. It happened to be the exact model I had. Whoo-hoo, this brought me back to 8th grade home economics class. I don’t remember making an apron then, but it certainly was the kind of project we would’ve had.

I’m an extremely messy eater so I thought the apron could double as a “bib”. Every one else put the pocket low on their apron but I put mine high, so I could pull it open a little and collect all the goodies I manage to drop down the front of all my clothes. I mean, I am famous among my friends! I enjoy food, have a great appetite, never take or order more than I can eat and I always clean my plate. So, I made all the fancy stitching around the pocket and around the edges of the apron and the last thing to do was to add the straps. I sewed on the neck strap without twisting it in the back, sewed on both the waist straps, but when I went to put it on, I couldn’t find one of the waist straps. Had I forgotten to sew it on? Was I imagining I had sewn it on? It had been a long weekend catching up on projects before leaving for the Mainland. I was a little tired, but not THAT tired. Then, I realized what I had done. Not paying close attention, I had grabbed the corner to sew on the strap, but the corner I picked was on the bottom below the one strap in the right place. I just went, in a very loud voice, Oh No! Which, of course, cause all the ten other classmates to look at me. We all started to laughed and since the camera cell phone is always available everyone had a camera and I was the focus of attention for the next ten minutes modeling my crazy apron with two straps on one side, one of which was dragging on the ground. I think I will actually make it into the weekly newsletter.

I’m sure we all have those days when things don’t go quite as planned. I took the apron home and fixed it in just a few minutes, but it will provide a great laugh for some time to come.

Oh, No.

Dancing My Way Through Life and Other Fun…

These past few months have been way too busy for me. I had three large orders in a row, each with a performance deadline, so my stress level seemed to stay up in the sky for some time. And, to top it off I added an intermediate/advance line-dance class to my already full menu of dance–twice a week hula, thrice a week line-dance. I’ve also had some extra practices for hula performances.

Last Wednesday we danced for the elders at the Life Care Center. We’ve been invited to dance there once a month to give the residents a little something extra in their day. It’s always fun and they are so appreciative. This time I was asked if I would like to dance a solo. This is something I don’t normally do and I think other than my uniki to alaka’i many many years ago, it was my first time. I chose a beautiful song I had learned when on Maui. On Monday, at practice, the downloaded music played and after the first verse all of a sudden a verse I had never heard before came on. Yikes! We had danced to a different artist on Maui. The one I had described wasn’t available, so in a couple of days I had to choreograph the new verse, learn it, and then REMEMBER it, all of which I managed to do. All in all my performance went very well. I can’t say that for some of the other dances. One dance I do with one other girl didn’t quite have the beginning we had hoped for. We’ve always had troubled deciding when to start She has always relied on me to hear the subtle differences…but I didnʻt this time. While the first verse started, without our usual vamp, we stood facing each other trying to decide how to get started. We finally, after a few false starts got it together and as our hālau members cheered we finished the dance. Then a couple of mele later we were dancing a fun Tahitian number. I knew the third verse well, but as I looked down the line, the other front row girls obviously didnʻt and were doing movements all out of order. In order for me to look like I didnʻt know what I was doing, I sort of followed their lead until we all got back on track. Itʻs a good thing most of the audience had no idea and this dance was followed up by another soloist who just charmed them back into attention.

Yesterday was a full day. I marched in the Women’s March and was so proud of Hilo and such a marvelous turn-out. Then I went to a wonderful Ho’ike (fundraising show) for a local hālau. The program line up was spectacular, the prizes for the many drawings were equally spectacular and the whole program moved along without any delays, beginning and ending on time. This is relatively new in Hilo as we run on “Aloha Time”. I followed this fun activity with line dancing at the Eagles clubhouse that evening where all my fellow line dancers made a big deal about my birthday which is actually tomorrow. I went to bed thoroughly tired, but sated. Today at church, I was sung to and then a friend took me out to lunch. Tomorrow another friend is taking me out to lunch, so I will have had three days of celebration! I may want to turn 73 again!

Sincerity

The Kahu of my church always has inspirational sermons, but todayʻs was both inspirational and thought-provoking. The sermon was about work and the expectations therein. He stressed the ethics of work that should include diligence, respect and sincerity. This is to say not prescribing in “fake it until you make it”.

The word sincere has Latin roots–sin meaning without and cere meaning wax–without wax?  He told the story of olden days when most pots, dishes, cups, etc. are made by hand by a potter. The potter works hard at his craft. He spends hours shaping a piece, smoothing and putting in the finishing touches. Then the piece is glazed and put into the kiln for firing. There were times, though, when a piece would come out with a crack. After putting in so much time and effort, sometimes the potter just fills the crack with wax, re-glazes and re-fires his pot. Although it would look perfect on the outside, the flaw was noticeable by the trained eye. This pot is not as strong as a complete, unblemished pot.

So, eventually pots that not only look perfect but are without wax  are stamped”sin cere” to distinguish them from those that are repaired with wax. It is a sincere pot. It is actually as good as it looks. There is no pretense. What you see is sincerely what you get. So, applying this to work in the modern world it means that you should be diligent and sincere in the workplace…not going in and sneaking off to spend time on our cellphone or taking a quick nap in the warehouse. It means if you are being paid for 8 hours of work, those hours will be spent DOING the work.

I know this applies to me. In the Hawaiian culture when you are, as for myself, sewing a pāʻū for a hula dancer, you want to put good mana into that skirt. You want to have good thoughts. You want to have respect for the garment. Sometimes when things aren’t going as planned, as in having to take out seams, etc. I have to think about the mana I’m putting into the pāʻū. If the thoughts are not good thoughts I generally take a break until the frustration or stress passes lest I pass this on to the dancer. I want to be diligent, respectful and sincere.

Poetic musings

You make me see life from the other side, keeping it real, allowing the little things slide. Not letting emotions cloud life’s moments of revelation–adapting, evolving, changing to meet the challenges of friendship. It matters not if it’s “like” or “love”, it’s the way you feel when both options are equally solid.

Paint and Sip

Over the years I’ve heard of Paint and Sip parties but have never the opportunity to attend one until today. This was a fun(d)- raiser for the daughter of alaka’i of our hula class. Tehani is running for Miss Hawai’i Teen America so I wanted to help support her in that effort. I had no idea what to expect. What fun! Along with the Merlot and Chardonnay we had pizza, katzu chicken, pork and string beans, sushi, veggies and dip and a variety of cheese and crackers…and did I say wine?

We each were given a table easel along with an 8×10 canvas and an example to follow. The painting we were to try to copy became just a memory as each of us “made it our own”. Several did get a very close to the original, but many decided to add to, subject from or just totally change the topic altogether. The original was that of a huge moon which covered the top half of the bigger canvas. Under the moon was a silhouette of Mauna Kea with palm leaves and the ocean in the forefront. Melia did a very Tolkienesque landscape in soft watercolor like purples, blues and pinks, with a touch of gold and a little greenery.  Patty went with a smaller moon with the fluttery leaves of ohi’a in the top corners. I decided to depict my mountain with a snowy top. I have four leaves instead of three. I put my moon into the corner, but generally stuck with the program as painting is certainly not my forte. I took photos of my progress along the way. In the end I didn’t hate it though it isn’t quality work, but for my first painting, well, I don’t hate it.

My first attempt.

 

Adding the palm fronds and the shoreline.

 

This is coming along, but the snow looked too “pointy”. So three glasses of Merlot later, I change it once again…about the tenth time!  I softened the snow and at this point I also added a sprinkling of stars using a cool splatter technique. I then added my favorite constellation–Orion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Added stars, smoothed out the snow…all pau!

This was a fun experience. It has given me some insight into where my creativity lies. This evidently is not as an acrylic paint artist. I will continue to keep on my path as a fabric artist!