Saturday, August 30, 2014

On the porch (of Vardo For Two) again

"The long dry summer has brought with it many cycles, interior ones as well as the seasonal ones. The ones that are visible to us collect at our feet, the alder have loosened their grip on their leaves with more of the brown-edges on the forest floor than on their slender branches. But on the other side of the woods down where the chickens root and scratch for morsels the old peach tree has plumped fruit as big as baseballs. We gather some of them for juicy treats, and the robins save us a few in spite of their greedy appetites for all things sweet. Tendrils of pine and hemlock, cedar and fir parachute slowly in swirls and land in your tea water, or hide in your breakfast if you are munching at the orchard table. Down the hill from us where the community garden and local farmers have things green, and roots red and orange the food from dirt to table feeds us day after day. We give thanks to the many hands that plant, weed, wash and bag vegetables. Pete has firmly planted himself as a volunteer of major proportions in those gardens, and the Food Bank which serves our South Whidbey community. The seasonal change of rootedness is one of those visible ones, and part of the "clarification process whereby we let something sit quietly while the Impurities slowly settle themselves out, allowing the substance to purify itself in time," that Jessica Macbeth writes about in the wonderful book The Faeries' Oracle. It has been a while since I've come to the blank pages of my original blog Vardo For Two. Closed the doors to let things, and life settle themselves the season's change has me on the virtual porch of this dear space once again..."

To read the rest of my meandering porch tale link here.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Who makes elders? How are elders born?

"The young make elders by seeking them, even as they long for or hunger for them."-Stephen Jenkinson

We have just picked colanders filled with peaches, and plums. The birds, mostly robins, have left us a share enough to feed us the bounty of a hot summer with late season rains. The blackberries are succulent and as big as my thumb I walk the forest and bump into them and pull them without attaching to the thorns. They rarely make it to the colander. The late summer sky is a murky blue, tinted by our exhaust and the chem-trails left by jets the air is not pristine but it passes for clear because the sun brightens the sky and t-shirts and short pants still make it not-yet-autumn.

Pete and I went into town earlier today completing the small errands of post office and library pick-ups. At the post office Pete found an envelope from the library. In the envelope the kindly librarian had found a former envelope addressed to me left in a book returned to that lending house just earlier in the week. Funny how the simple regularities of a life being lived can circle around. Favorite places and simple pleasure make for a well spent couple of hours in the town where we live.

Earlier still in this very same day I was wallowing around in a muck of malaise, muttering to myself as I washed the dishes, "I have made so many mistakes. The patterns of ill-formed decisions have been a model of ..." On and on I was going with the harshest of judgment. Oh it was beginning to stink up the air a real dastardly serving. Finally, there was just not enough muck to keep at it. STOP!STOP!STOP! I said to myself out loud as I washed the last fork.

At this moment my family back on O'ahu is celebrating and remembering a loved one. Cindy our cousin died a few weeks ago. I sent a short remembrance to be read at a service held at beautiful Kailua Beach Park in Lanikai on the island of O'ahu. Cindy's daughter received the written remembrance and said, "This is beautiful Aunty." This is the same daughter who came to visit just days after her mother passed. This is the young woman who has asked me questions about naming her daughter. She has listened to me tell her why I was giving her the stone carved woman I have carried from place to place for decades. She has asked me about her father, my first-cousin trying to understand his grief. I did not say this but I wish I had "We grieve the same as we our own individual way." Instead, I said your dad is doing the threshing work of losing a partner of forty years. It's messy, and not logical. As I write I think of my family gathering at the beach. The threshing work of transitions or initiations, death being the final initiation is something we can do well or we can do struggle or rail against. Like my muck-raking with dishes this morning, and over the past couple of days, my wondering had taken me away from the wonder of summer peaches, plums not eaten by the robins, and the initiation of elder-making that comes because a young person asks, "What is that about, Aunty?"

When I finished washing that last fork, I came to the computer and found something deeply satisfying to replace the mush of malaise I was wallowing in. The conversation was between two men, one of them I had never heard before, the other (Stephen Jenkinson) is a person I follow from time to time. From that conversation I found the window opened just enough to recycle my latest shroud of insufficiency (Angeles Arrien). I was as Angeles has described, started to embroider that shroud and that is risky business.

The audio link to Ken Rose's and Stephen Jenkinson's interview is here. Rather than summarize it, I hope you wait until you have an hour (57 minutes will do it) to listen mindfully to the answers "Who makes elders? and How are elders born?" The two men get at the answers so I recognize how vital it is to be there, be available, just as I am for young people who might need to know, "What is that about, Aunty?"

One final snapshot of this one day includes me sitting on a moldy wooden park bench with Pete. "Just don't stir them up(the mold) ... they'll be fine." I said. We sat and looked at the tide coming rapidly into the seawall in our Langley town. Families with children, and families with pug-nosed dogs and poodles walked and chatted below us. Our park bench was positioned to see it all. While we sat we talked of common and uncommon things that make up our lives. We discussed the way we each maintain or resist boundaries: one natally facile with permeable boundaries, the other locked into 'draw the line' divisions in dramatic ways only to be proved wrong tomorrow or decades later. How do we do it? How do we manage to live together with such different takes on the borders? Time and commitment has taught each of us to value the ability and skill to play all the cards in a deck to test the resistance of the other (like a fish on a line ... no resistance the fish shakes the hook lose). We, my husband and I were sitting like old friends on a park bench. Book-ends. Holding life together with space in between for the young people who might come along to ask "What is that about?"

Monday, August 11, 2014

Full Moon in Aquarius, Yesterday, August 10, 2014 : Ready to hold more light!

"Let's use the ultra stimulating energies of the [Aquarius]Full Moon to each further our own life's mission. This is a fabulous Full Moon to make radical changes that signal to yourself and the world that you're ready to hold more light." - Molly Hall *
Yesterday was a full day and evening. It started with the conclusion to the writing of Mend Meddle Magic, the third of a triology of medicine stories I began two years ago. It takes a lot of courage, and a willingness to stay the course of creativity regardless of largesse -- grand success. Writing and creating this trilogy weaves in and out, and over and through the daily stepping of the life others can see with the world most others cannot see. This is courageous stuff because it can, and in my case, it has taken a full decade to recognize the joy and the medicine-magic of writing to create. Three stories later, and ten years after leaving the world of large business education/training, I celebrated by finishing a party scene with all the characters who showed up at The Safety Pin Café. The astrology of yesterday's Aquarius Full Moon affirms my commitment to keep living my soul's wishes to create and mentor at the same time.

"The two old dears, embraced with passion of the second half of life. "Aware of the gold in having lived with curiosity. Unafraid to be vulnerable. Humbled by the challenges of the unknown. Thank you," she said and she meant every word." - The conclusion of Mend Meddle Magic

This blog Makua O'o has been the foundation for standing firmly in my true nature, with roots grounded in the culture of my ancestors. The kupuna, the elders, have been steady in their regard for me. But, it is I (the ego's eyes) that didn't hear, couldn't understand the messages, or as teacher Angeles Arrien suggests perhaps "I was embroidering the shrouds of insufficiency with resentments and pretending." At 66, I am in the childhood of my elder years. What is encouraging about being a kid-oldster is I have so much more fun to experience before I reach mid-life old. I have room to hold much more light!

Yesterday Pete and I went into our downtown, and joined others, including our land-mate and dear friend, in the first ever in Langley, Washington Gay Pride Parade. Just before we headed into town we were talking with another friend. "We're heading into the Gay Pride Parade after we leave here." Our friend surprised me when she asked, "Why do they have to have a parade when we all know they're gay any way?" I told her "Why not have a parade!" And that is just about it. Why not? Because ... before yesterday my gay, lesbian, bi, and queer, trans-gender friends could not have a parade in down town America. Yesterday they could, did, and we celebrated with them.

As the sun set on our island we headed to our favorite moon rising place. For the third full moon in a row, Pete and I joined our Luna-tic Pals to watch the Osprey fish for supper, listen to the seagulls' ruckus ... coming to consensus about when to go, stay until the moon rose?? Who knows exactly; we could only speculate. There was an informal pool of where and precisely when Hina would rise above the tree line. No one won, and everybody clapped gently and chanted E Hina E as the sweet smiling goddess came up just where she wanted. The moon lit the sky holding plenty of light to glisten the tidewater with its golden cream. We listened to two young girls with sticky marsh-mellow crème on their fingers tell us about their dog, and winning their soccer championship. The chatty one plays defense, right, center, left wherever she is needed.

It was an all around full day on the Planet Earth. Hina is our company, our companion goddess and between her and Earth there's room for holding more light. You just have to believe that is enough, and that it is precisely what we came here to do.

* Molly Hall's Aquarius Full Moon post was for the August, 2012 Aquarius Full Moon. I missed that when I included it here. But, I feel the message is powerful, and right on for this 2014 moon. Astrologically I hope it fits anyway:)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Hiroshima, Hibakusha, Hope ... Hiroshima to Hope Seattle, 2014

We drove off island yesterday to be part of the gathering of people at Green Lake in Seattle, who come to remember and commit to a world without atomic energy used for any reason.
"The mission of From Hiroshima to Hope is to commemorate the victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and all victims of war and violence. We educate for peace, non-violent conflict resolution and nuclear disarmament through a public outdoor event each year on August 6th featuring music, speakers, and a lantern-floating ceremony."
The ferry ride and forty-minute drive to Seattle took us from the comfort zone of our usual Wednesday and put us in a place where the faces and the connectedness of our actions lit up. This was our second time at Hiroshima to Hope. We packed lightly, and were there without a hitch. My ankle is still in recovery but a brace, boots and a portable chair made the discomfort minimal. There we were with many others. Hina, the moon is becoming fat. She was there to witness us. With patches of clouds for company she looked on. The lantern calligraphers of Beikoku Shodo Kenkyukai painted messages of our choice onto the rice paper lantern sides, the sea of lantern bases made and donated by Eddie Griffiths, cabinetmaker waited for us like a port of ships dry-docked, waiting for this season of Toro Nagashi (the lantern floating ceremony, in which lanterns representing the souls of the dead are floated out to sea and prayers are offered that the souls may rest in peace.)

This year DREAM is what Pete chose for his lantern. This year I chose TOLERANCE. I was waiting for my turn at the calligrapher's table. A young boy was in front of me, he pointed to the laminated signs printed in Japanese and English. He chose TOLERANCE. I followed his lead. It is just the prayer word I would like to practice, and envision for this new year. Back at our spot on the grass with our lanterns and time to observe, and listen to the speakers, singers, musicians, and drums of taiko I joined the drumming with the sound of my tiny bright pink rattle. With the deep resonance of the huge drums beating like the collective heart beat, my little rattle reminded me to clear and bring the best of my nature to the gathering to the moment. I enjoyed that, I rocked to the drum and rattle.

Thirteen years ago on August 6th I was in Hiroshima with my friend. We flew to the place where atomic energy was used to end a war, and obliterate life. My experience in Hiroshima forever changed my life. My friend and I delivered a thousand folded paper cranes to add to the millions of other cranes folded to honor peace. Yesterday evening Pete and I came to refresh our commitments to peace in as many manifestations as possible, in our everyday. The program printed for the evenings gathering included the Peace Declaration (2013) from the Mayor of Hiroshima. In it Mayor Kazumi Matsui wrote "Indiscriminately stealing the lives of innocent people, permanently altering the lives of survivors, and stalking their minds and bodies to the end of their days, the atomic bomb is the ultimate inhumane weapon and an absolute evil. The hibakusha, who know the hell of an atomic bombing, have continuously fount that evil. Under harsh, painful circumstances, the hibakusha have struggled with anger, hatred, grief and other agonizing emotions." The hibakusha is the word used to identify radiation victims. The perverse and damming scarlet letters we humans brand one another with are part of the reason my prayer, and the letters on my lantern read TOLERANCE. Just before it was time to walk down to follow Rev. Cederman, Choeizan Enkyoji Seattle Nichiren Buddist Temple, Br. Senji Kaneada and Br. Gilberto Perez, Nopponzan Myohoji Dojo to the lake, I looked at the letters of calligraphy. I cannot read kanji, but as I tried to remember how the calligrapher's brush moved to leave her marks I knew I had placed the message upside down. I corrected it before we moved to join the monks. Tolerance is so easily turned upside down. Noticing that in myself, I hope the gift was to self-correct.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Piko, piko

"each of us carries
in our chest
a song

so old
we don't know if we learned it

some night
between the murmurs
of fallen kisses

our lips
surprise us
when we utter

this song
this is singing
and crying at once

--Francisco X Alarcon,
Body in Flames

Piko stones of Hawaii

Today, and tonight is the last of the four 'Ole Moon. The season of summer is now, hot, and only a sliver of wind moves the tips of the alder outside my door. As I write, the wind makes himself know with more presence. The salmon berry dances, too. It is a good season for gathering energy, a season of ritual gatherings where life is put back together. Put back together in a fashion that it has not experienced before, but yet, all the good and beautiful winds itself into the rituals. Raven calls in the nearby, not right above me, just out there. He too winds into the rituals of gratefulness making this day the gift that it is. The 'Ole Moons are the occasions when the moon offers me, a woman, time to reflect and consider what is good and beautiful, and what is not. Seasons come. Friends and family come. We sit at the wooden table in the orchard and we tell stories. We listen. The Sun, Moon and the every body else listen too. I am being initiated this summer to the power of the piko ... the belly button, that ancient and present connection to being born. Again. Before. I am a learner (being initiated) as I look again, feel again, and heal again this summer.

Last week I went to visit one of my Medicine Women to get her opinion on my injured ankle. I hurt it a week prior, and had been applying the remedies of self-care that made sense for me. There are healing plants every where in our orchard. We grow wheatgrass. I put the two together in our juicer and extracted the blood, kept the plant bones and made a poultice of them. For a week I am wrapped with this healing poultice. Still, I wondered whether an x-ray was necessary. I questioned my confidence with self-care.

Fortunately for me, my Medicine Woman has one foot in the system of allopathic medicine while the other integrates all other healing paths. It is good I found her to partner with not long ago. We sat under the trees and she asked me for my stories at this time. I told her of the progress with my season of grief, I told her of my study with the rituals and practices of the second-half of life. She asked, "What are you learning?" I told her about my rattle work, and how rattling is such good medicine. After I was done with my story, she laughed a full face laugh and thanked me for reminding her about how important the rattle is. My Medicine Woman made a special rattle years ago. It seems she had forgotten about that medicine, until that day under the trees.

After most of our story medicine, the Medicine Woman knelt at my foot and I unwrapped the ACE bandage and the green sock soaked in the poultice from the night before. She felt and asked me questions, and had me flex and move my foot. It was her opinion that the dressing and poultice were "awesome" and there didn't seem to be any sign of fracture. "But," she said, "I may by deluded, and I don't have a problem giving you a prescription to have an x-ray." In the end I did decide to have a scheduled x-ray close to home, and did what was necessary to be in the clinic. My x-ray was normal with no breaks, but there is some soft tissue swelling. "Keep doing what you're going," the Medicine Woman emailed me when she reported the results of the x-ray.

As I say, this is a summer of initiations for me. Times when listening deeply to my intuition and the voice that is as Mexican poet Francisco Alarcon writes, "each of us carries in our chest a song so old
we don't know if we learned it ..." I came across Francisco Alarcon's quotation when I opened to a page in The Four-Fold Way. Along with the study of Angeles Arrien's The Second-half of Life, I am integrated her earlier work from The Four-fold Way. I am infused with the energy of Leo energy (that's now!) and find myself open to outcome without (as much) attachment or control over outcome. I'm practicing that ritual. Weaving as a storyteller can when the scent of a story is both sniffing me, and leading me, I was heading to the place where a new series of stories is being drawn in the sand. It's a series of stories that I am writing and collecting for the Medicine Woman's grandchild. She asked me for them. It is something I had not thought about, till then. But, as it happens the Mexican poet with a name so similar to my grandfather's (Francisco Calizar) had something to add to this gift of a day. And then, I did a little searching and found this quote, and nickname that sticks to Francisco Alarcon.

""Bellybutton guy."
The moniker refers to both the origin of the word Mexico and the title poem of Alarcón's second award-winning children's book, From the Bellybutton of the Moon and Other Summer Poems:
whenever I say "Mexico"
I hear my grandma telling me
about the Aztecs and the city they built
on an island in the middle of a lake
"Mexico" says my grandma
"means: from the bellybutton of the moon"
"don't forget your origin my son"
maybe that's why whenever I now say "Mexico"
I feel like touching my bellybutton"
-UC Davis Magazine

Oh my, how wonderful is the magic of story and storytelling. In the Hawaiian culture, the bellybutton is called the 'piko' it is the center. It is the place of your beginning. And, I found today, the Aztecs of Alacon's beginning have led me to remember my piko.