Monday, February 29, 2016

Measure me or not?

"The pancakes filled them with all the things they loved. The freshly laid eggs came from the hens who scratched and tilled the orchard floor. Butter melting in the small orange pan just smelled right. Lei'ohu pinched enough of the sweet-smelling cinnamon to sprinkle over the whole wheat flour and old-fashioned oats. Sophie nodded when she thought there was enough. "Mommy uses a spoon to measure things like cinnamon when we bake." Sophie had her granddaughter wrapped in a patch-worked apron and encouraged her to use it to wipe her fingers and hands as needed. "There are many ways to measure what you need in a good recipe, Sweetie Pie. Some cooks will tell you spoons and measuring cups are must have's. Other cooks have an eye for what's right, and a feel for how much flour should go with that much (she pointed to the mountain of oats) oatmeal. I am one of the Lucy Goosey Cooks. Sometimes I measure, but not always. Other times, I just picture how things go together ... and most of the time I'm right."
"Mostly is good enough ha, Tutu."
The latest installment of the medicine story A Native Fern is called 'Measure me or not?" It starts with the paragraph above, and, though those bananas and chocolate sauce below aren't in that story, they could end up there because the thing about stories is ... they sniff for their next ingredient like all excellent cooks sniff for 'just right'.

Do you measure when you bake, or not? Step into the kitchen with Sophie Lei and her granddaughter Lei'ohu for something delicious. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Inventory, dreams, initiation

"Isn't it exasperating to go to the grocery for an item, only to find the shelf empty? Fortunately, grocers can correct that situation by taking inventory to learn which shelves need replenishment."
- February 24, Courage to Change 

Sometimes it doesn't take much of a nudge to get my hand sewing genes primed. Picking up a thought, or a bit of an email laying it beside a quote out of a book and off I go with a patch over a tee shirt -- a successful rescue. The quote that leads this post comes from the Al-Anon handbook I have carried for many years. It survives my many travels, moves and evolving spiritual journey. Today's reading began with the quote above. The last two sentence in the body of the reading are these:

"By taking inventory, my empty spots can be filled with the help of the remaining Steps. I experience the healing power of these Steps whenever the formerly hurtful circumstances recur while the pain that I once felt does not." 

I'm freshly up from a night of dreams. Last night, or early this morning I was being initiated into a tribe, the newly chosen mate needing to be shown the protocol, the ropes and the rituals. In the dream I am a grown woman with a grown son at my side. The first to meet me with a clipboard to assess me (taking inventory) is a man in a tan plaid flannel shirt. His hair is black and hangs just below his shoulders. His demeanor is just this side of neutral, but, he is not cold either.

My son in the dream is skeptical, but says nothing. We are sent to a corral. The details are fading, but we're to ride (a horse?) around the coral. "Seems doable," I say to my son. The ground is deep sand. He is skeptical not convinced, and gives me a smirk. We are instructed to ride the horse in reverse

The feeling I have as I wake is one of refreshment. Not in like having a soothing drink on a hot day, but kinda. It's more like, okay at this stage and this age I'm still "being chosen" (the guy was ... well, he suit my fancy), and Initiation into a new tribe is a theme that interests me.

Back in the daylight hours where email and blog posts offer threads that might entice, I found this about "Uranus in Aries and the Cosmic Soup" on Donna Cunningham's Skywriter.

Quote Credit

Donna opens her post on Uranus in Aries with an invitation to her readers to engage in a thread of what it's like with the Planet of Change (Uranus) stirring things up in the Mars(action) driven sign of Aries the Ram (often characterized with the emotion of rage.)  "  It’s time for a taste test of the current batch of Cosmic Soup. What’s that, you ask?  It’s that big vat of feelings and situations simmering on the back burner in our Collective Kitchen all the time. We’re all feeding on it. What’s in the pot changes every day, and we don’t know what we’ll get, but the pot is always there. There was obviously a lot stewing for us Skywriter readers for the thread is well past 40 comments.

Donna's post gave me a piece of metaphoric thread to tie my process of inventorying my empty spots. At the moment a huge, long transit of self-worth and value is filling in places on my core shelving; my backbone is being aligned, the mo'o is flexing, my sense of worth redefining. I use the writing of medicine stories to create the remedies, to heal. I do put the rage onto the page, and my stage? It's the blog, the audience is an unknown form of support, I know not who you are but have faith you who read are just where you need to be. I write for the right reasons and healing comes while the pain lessens even though circumstances repeat.

When I first discovered Donna Cunningham's astrology site I was struggling to accept it was a time to learn to float. My go-to astrologer Elsa P, had begun teaching me about floating.  Donna had a different approach to navigating with the sky, and is closer to my age and in the general physical vicinity. So with time, and a consistent internet relationship Donna joined an on-line writing group with me. We got to know each other as writers away from astrology. For me that connection and the creation of support available through on-line formats was the creative waterhole that fed my writing of more than a dozen medicine stories. I left this comment on Donna's post about Uranus in Aries: "...I love hearing you are writing that novel. When Uranus entered Aries I began to write for all the right reasons. Aries spans my 3rd and 4th Houses and thanks to this post I can reflect and appreciate the change in communication styles that drew the stories wanting to be told. “Retired and resouled” I believe is what began and continues to happen with Uranus in Aries. The Saturn and Neptune square helps a lot with that too as the watery and illusive(Neptune) support(Saturn) feeds the Medicine Stories that could never be written while I was a business woman pounding my head against that glass ceiling.
What I’m learning with Uranus in Aries is to take all the roads and flow around those that will not fit into logical progress; the voices of the interstitial love taking all roads across a border! I am forgetting things, and glory to the gods there are so many other options cued up for the extra space..." Donna replied: "Hi, Moki, we seem to be on similar paths–but then we always were, weren’t we? Retired and resouled, for sure!
I'm feeling the message of my initiation dream last night was cautioning me while soothing my long-suffering heart. Attracted and being attractive is a good thing. What attracts, and what affect the sweet thing has on me is another. For so long I worked for money, power and recognition. A brown woman in a suit pounding her head against that glass ceiling. Auwe!! With Uranus transiting as I describe in my comment to Donna Cunningham, I am finally writing as a 'retired and resouled' brown woman comfortable in her night clothes and no underwear (shoooo ... don't tell:); and learning to listen to tough tiny birds.

What's the taste of Cosmic Soup like for you? Any dreams of donuts lately?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Akua Po just after midnight

One makua up when the moon is shining on her lolo (top of the head), amazed and grateful to be part of it all. Mahalo Akuas ... all of you!

There is a medicine story where these pictures are finding a place to grow ... look!

Friday, February 19, 2016

For Free

Frame "invisible support" however you like ...

[...]"We all have a guardian angel? I have dimples which mask my intelligence, my cunning and my ability to persevere? You're 5'3" but as tough as they come? Invisible support may very well be the best support there is. Know why? Because it's pretty hard for someone to kick your support from beneath you when they can't see your support, smell it, or taste it. Tricky, huh? "[...]
 - An excerpt from ElsaElsa's SATURN TRANSIT 12TH HOUSE/SATURN NEPTUNE SQUARE 2015-2016 Workshop Transcript

The weather is stirring things up around here. I'm back to the Quonset in the woods after a drive to Greenbank (where I take myself on a walk) and the beautiful hills that overlook two bodies of the Salish Sea, Saratoga Pass on the east side of the island and Admiralty Inlet on the west. The narrow waist of Whidbey Island makes for very easy access for the winds; they, the winds, can come from any and all directions. Late morning, the winds were blowing from the south at more than 20 mph. That's a stiff blow! When I got to the walking trails the flags were held straight out ... horizontal to the ground. But there was plenty of blue sky, families of different shaped clouds and a temperature that was easy to be in. I prepared for whatever might come, and wore my five year old high top boots. They're well worn, but not worn out and comfortable on my feet. 

Layered up to be with the winds, I felt supported from head to toe and accepted the weather as it is. In a very real way you don't see the wind but its effects are clear: clouds race, trees dance, flags flap and caps fly if not held in place. I grew up in a valley with a protruding ridge at its back over which the winds could howl for days at a time non-stop. My neighbor next door used to insert ear plugs, pull the blankets over her head and block out the noise to fend against the winds. Strangely, I never consciously registered the wind in Kuli'ou'ou (valley whose name translates one way as 'protruding knee') but remember the rain that regularly filled pots or pans in our old WWII cottage as we all slept together in one bedroom. Perhaps the natural force of the elemental was a balance to the often tumultuous dynamics of life inside the single-walls of our family home?

"Invisible support" could easily be the Elemental Gods that are so much the foundation of my Hawaiian ancestors. On the island of Kauai alone, there are names for hundreds of Winds, each of them an akua, a god. 

Early this morning, just after waking, I finished the last two short chapters in the book Language of Threads written by Gail Tsukiyama. The story is a sequel to Tsukiyama's first novel Women of the Silk, and both follow the life of Pei a young Chinese country girl who at eight years old is taken to work in the silk factory and live in the girl's house. By the time I finished reading the last word of Language of Threads it is 1973, Pei is a woman in her forties.(In 1973, I was a woman of twenty six.) A skillfully woven story will capture the reader's imagination, but, also the reader's heartbeat. Like a clock the heart of the story asks for the reader to be in sync.  

When the story begins ... "Like all the new girls, Pei had begun in the sorting room. The dim, hollow room filled with cocoons smelled stale and musty. She tried very hard not to ask too many questions of Lin, but every step was like a new adventure, from transporting cocoons on wooden carts from one room to another, to standing behind the long wooden tables sorting out the mountains of white. The girls who once whispered secrets about her now spoke in the same secretive hush with her. Soon Pei could tell a good cocoon from a bad one simply by touch, by the texture and the firmness of it's shell..
The first few months were miserable for Pei. She missed her family terribly. Sometimes, after everyone was asleep, she let her tears flow freely, her face pressed into her pillow. She often fell asleep exhausted by grief. Gradually, with the help and kindness of Lin and Lei-li, she grew accustomed to the rigorous routine and the long hours of standing... 
As I read the first of Gail Tsukiyama's novels, Women of the Silk, I was reminded of the neighborhood and specific friendships of my own early years. The names of the characters: Pei, Lin, Auntie Yee, Moi drew faces and bodies not only of the women of the silk, but also the faces of people I have known growing up on O'ahu during the 1950's, '60's. Their company the sounds of the names, and the ways in which they engaged or detached from people and circumstance: so familiar in an old and almost forgotten genetic protocol. My heart melted a little, a lot, and my tears flow freely into my pillow.

Page after page I read and turned the story and my heartbeat raced when the events arched into one more challenge, another loss. This writing -- here-- attempts in its circling language to ensnare my invisible support. What sources are they? And, what if they come and go without ever being acknowledged?

When I am out on the trails I commit to being aware of my footfall; the trails are uneven and to be cautious is wise. I don't walk with a stick for the first time in years and find the strength in my body to be sufficient without it.  Thank you, I say to my body and my aumakua (guardians) as I make my way. It feels good to know my body is enough.

Twist, twist, over ... twist, twist, over ...
(Hover over the photo for something else)

For the first three weeks of creating a new exercise routine, I was awestruck by the discipline and follow through I had. I was doing it! No one else told me to do it, and do it just this way. I found myself walking the trails I have seen for years from the parking lot of my favorite cafe where scones made with cream and butter lured me with flaky taste. After years of limitation, the logjam was freed up, and I felt good! How come, why only now? On that fateful day, the cafe was closed. Rather than eat and drink coffee I turned to my husband and said, "Wanna take a walk?"

Astrologically, the answer could be part of the long (November 2015-September 2016) T- Square between the planets Saturn and Neptune. Hah? Let me try to put this in common and understandable terms.

A square means two planets form a 90 degree angle. The square between Saturn and Neptune is almost a year-long transit (the two planets slowly, but steadily, move from this square over the year).

Elizabeth Rose Campbell wrote, "Look at any table in the room you occupy right now and marvel at its functionality. Consider the thoughtfulness of its construction, the vertical legs as they meet the horizontal top at the perfect ninety-degree angle that makes it steady." That is the beauty and practicality of a square. Campbell continues with one of my favorite descriptions for a square, "Squares are like speed bumps. Squares are the cautious question: Can I do this if I take my time and navigate carefully?"

The tricky thing about a square between Saturn and Neptune is how the support (Saturn) you, me, or any one of us needs/wants during this transit will be invisible, or disappear (Neptune). For a period of time the Universe will be offering us countless (well, you may be counting) experiences with Neptune. Neptune is watery, changeable. What seemed real is not! What was not here a minute ago is back. Elsa Panizzon of Elsa Elsa describes this as the function of 'tide in, tide out'. A function that happens twice a day almost any where on Earth will be experienced in our daily lives more keenly. The effects can be tsunami-like: all that was held dear and stable? Gone.

Why do I attempt to frame "invisible support"? Three reasons. First, I have a Saturn and Neptune 'signature' in my natal chart. The planets were sextile or 60 degrees apart when I was born. But like so many aspects of myself I had 'no clue' as to its meaning, until now. Where did this awareness come from? I came slowly and steadily (Saturn) with the years of astrology study beginning in 2008 when Neptune brought a big high tide into my life. The way I was supported was through Faith. Logic wasn't enough (I had a diagnosis for my illness). What I needed was the help of unseen forces. I had faith in something yet to be ... what? I could only see a drawing in the sand, but that was enough. And, it's always been enough is the thing. Neptune is about faith-based reality, knowing without having to see it all before hand. In other words transcending (Neptune) limits (Saturn) is something I've been doing all my life. At this point in life with Saturn and Neptune squaring off to metaphorically and literally make that table top Elizabeth Rose Campbell describes, I am appreciating being tidal.
I laugh at myself and hear my Ancestors, who have always been water-influenced people, slap their thighs at the lesson being integrated; the appreciation for Tidal Wisdom applied in 2016. "'Aue, the time has come. She is learning to float in the deep water and the churning waves." That is the second reason I literally keep stroking these keys to form sentences from my experiences. Ancestral Wisdom is part of that "invisible support." For years now I have written stories to bridge the waterways between reality and myth; medicine stories drew characters and dialogue from the edges of non-fiction. That way I could use Neptune (faith/imagination) to speak for my emotions that were too often blocked. As a Valentine's present I wrote this Introduction to the story Splinters:

Time is maleable, my ancestors would probably agree that time is a membrane rather than a wall with access to wa i mua o i hope.  This is a story of time travelers and values that travel as surely as the moon, in cycles and variation you can count on regular surprises particularly if you are paying attention.  One family and their extended 'ohana experience time travel on the illumination of match sticks, splinters tipped with sulphur, and discover how ancient and contemporary truth adapt to survive.  This is a journey of visits with old heroines who remain as tangible as basil and tomato red sauce for supper.  Polynesian and ancient earth culture season "Splinters" with language and protocol of permissions to invite comfort in any reader with a longing to connect with the feeling of being at home.  If you will allow me, I will spin for you a tale kissing with tradewinds.  

Is there a third reason I attempt this post? Yes. The rains drum on the metal roof above me. Here in the woods on an island in the Salish Sea. A stack of paperbacks books serve me in my exploration of themes or threads to weave, twist and otherwise connect. Rain water, different than the Ocean's water but eventually one becomes the other. In Hawaiian epistemology, Rain is Kane, one of the primary gods, the giver of life; life-giving-water. The ocean is the domain of Kanaloa. Without them there would be no me, or huckleberries, computers or jets screaming overhead. The ties I twist, the stories I write are medicine. I write for myself to hear the voices and solidify my faith through the discipline. It is fleeting, no doubt. I forget what I have written, but, someone reads them. Invisible support you see?

Once upon a time there were two old dears who imagined they could build a different place. And that place they could call home. They started by drawing a picture in the sand (Saturn-Neptune).

Saturn and Neptune square through September, 2016. I heartily recommend investing $40 (if you have it) in the Transcript  "SATURN TRANSIT 12TH HOUSE/SATURN NEPTUNE SQUARE 2015-2016 Workshop Transcript" lead by Elsa Panizzon and Lara (Satori) Harris if you are a student of astrology or have questions about what and where "invisible support" lies in your life. I am in no way associated with ElsaElsa, except as a long-time student, supporter and follower of her work and blog. We have never met in person, I have faith in her and am supported. "Invisible support" again.

Mahalo nui!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Tea: a meditation, ceremony and course correction of history?

"You can organize a tea meditation to provide an opportunity for your friends to practice being truly present in order to enjoy a cup of tea and each other's presence. Tea meditation is a practice. It is a practice to help us be free. If you are still bound and haunted by the past, if you are still afraid of the future, if you are carried away by your projects, your fear, your anxiety, and your anger, you are not a free person. You are not fully present in the here and the now, so life is not really available to you ... In order to be really alive, in order to touch life deeply, you have to become a free person. Cultivating mindfulness can help you to be free ... When you drink tea in mindfulness, your body and your mind are perfectly united. You are real, and the tea you drink also becomes real ... This is genuine tea drinking." - a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh from the Epilogue in the book Liquid Jade The Story of Tea from East to West by Beatrice Hohenegger.
Our local library is as good a treasure chest as any great-grand daughter of a pirate could wish for. The delights are diverse and unexpected while on alternate visits my longing for something familiar and reassuring is sated. Hundreds of viewing hours have created visual and auditory journeys that captivate and entertain us; watched again the pleasure of familiar scenes become cherished friendships. I have not outgrown the delight in a creatively depicted fantasy; and in fact grow more enamored as I age. The shelves of compact discs and digital recorded movies free to us because we carry a library card are as sweets, or a savory scone.

Books are a library's core genetic makeup. Thank you La'au Nui (Tree Family!) When I'm in my favorite Langley Library, I scan the "New Books" Section and am almost never disappointed; rewarded with at least one good find. Other times I have reserved a book or two because some one has recommended a tale, or story to feed my curiosity. But sometimes there will be a book that has sat on the shelf for many days, and I will spot it or perhaps the book gets a whiff of me and draws me to it. That is what happened with Liquid Jade The Story of Tea from East to West. The book got a whiff of me.

Slowly, because mostly I could devour a book like cookies, I have been reading Beatrice Hohenegger's history and telling of the Camillia Seninsis (tea leaves). What was most interesting to me right from the start was the title that promised to tell me of my ancestors in the East's relationship with tea and the journey of tea to the West. (It also helps to have fallen in love with the pale green cover of the book, and the cover art.)

I am a tea lover who knows I must temper my lust for black tea because caffeine will buzz me over the edge, and without a tether (limits) that can be difficult on my body. I moderate my love of black tea, and ask my body to accept my occasional indulgence. This story and post is about the meditation and ceremony of tea as Buddhist monk and teacher Thich Nhat Hanh so beautifully describes above. In that frame, the tea ceremony can be amended or adapted by the type of leaf used to create the brew. Though the story of tea, as "liquid jade" refers specially to the leaves of a specific plant, Camillia Seninsis, Thich Nhat Hanh's ode to tea could be describing a time spent when two dear friends enjoy herbal teas sans caffeine. That is what happened this weekend when my red storm coat and I drove north to visit a long-time friend.
Bundled up for a beach-side tea ceremony
The wonderful thing about this visit was the way life unfurled to create a practice that encouraged two old friends to bundle up in the moment, allowing the past and the future to steep in the mugs of freshly brewed 'Catnip Tea' sweetened with a spoonful of blueberry honey. Our conversation flowed forward and back, picking up the past tense (we have known each other since we were breast-feeding mothers in our twenties); considered the value of our siblings (we each have one brother) and while we sat in deck chairs the feathered ones made their presence known with chatter and warnings. We included the interstitial -- all beings.

The telling of tea's story in Liquid Jade fuels me with limbs from a family tree to dangle from as I explore my feelings about the centuries old tradition of tea culture begun in the Southern provinces of China where it is possible my Ancestors lived. The history of tea's legacies is pock-marked and bullet ridden with war, greed, and colonial brandishing; I don't enjoy the truth of it. I skipped many of the details in Hohenegger's book. Those legacies are all too familiar to me.

What is hopeful in terms of my appreciation for tea, and legacy, is the details of tea's history that are being woven into medicine, and story. Myth and legacy have a very long and enduring relationship; it's a symbiotic one makes for a present that transforms history if only for one reader, or the writer. Happening upon books, or treasure can mean there is a happy ending to a story that had yet to be complete. Or, maybe the story needed to be unraveled and told differently.

Here, the story is mostly a recounting of something, an event that happened with reference to something a source that might intrigue you. Over there, this same story might take on a version laced with a mythic point of view. I hope for adventure and take myself on real-life trail walks to keep my senses tuned to the taste of wind at his bluster best, keep my head covered against the storm that was predicted and all the while I keep my heart open to visitations from small beings with big messages.

I wonder: What experience have you had with tea?

Photo Credit: Thank you Martin!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

A Native Fern

A Native Fern is the newest medicine story I am writing. Its title was plucked from the pages of the Hawaiian Dictionary on a morning when something other than loss was greater. The word is maku'e, which means "A native fern with long, narrow, undivided fronds, which are coated on both sides with soft, brown scales." 

If you are new to these medicine stories, they are written in doses, homeopathic remedies for healing soul and heart(h) in gentle stanzas influenced by daily life and messages that cross the borders where separation is mutable, and subject to artistic tampering.

This story comes with the first hours of the New Year of the Fire Monkey, a clever year of tricky activities that can make for surprising outcomes. Monkey is not unlike the many Tricksters of the Universe and for me the year began with a not so subtle realization: I am forgetting ... To deal with and make something of this awakening the Fire Monkey sent a 'morsel of a being' to listen to my thoughts. New characters showed themselves, and gave me permission to name them.  Sophie Lei Maku'e, and her life at the stage when all is not fresh and green has a story wishing to be told. Here it is (click).

A small and swift moving Anna's Hummingbird has shown up to be Sophie Lei's coach, therapist, astrologer, friend. Sophie must be one of us, a Makua o'o, in training to be an elder. 

I am having fun with this new and unexpected tale wishing life,

Monday, February 8, 2016

Welcome! The Fire Monkey Year

We opened The Safety Pin Cafe to welcome friends and the Fire Monkey. Take a peak at the fun we had monkeying around and talking story. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Preparing for the Year of the Fire Monkey

I'm pouring my energy into getting ready for the Year of the Fire Monkey at The Safety Pin Cafe.

The safety pinned slip of story reads ... 
 "We cross borders without regard, ignorant or arrogant of the protocol native to the transitional spaces that take us from this place to that place. Traditions remembered and practiced would maintain and pass along the right things to do, at the right time, and in the right frame of mind. Have we all become wanderers with passports unstamped with the memory of teachings from the Ancestors and Nature/ There are rituals to remember and common magic to induce respect for the beings and places that share this planet."
- from the "Introduction: to the medicine story The Safety Pin Cafe

I'm spending time playing around with red envelopes, good luck coins, a slip of story from The Safety Pin Cafe , and a safety pin. This Sunday we open The Safety Pin Cafe with a celebration to welcome the Year of the Fire Monkey.
The Chinese New Year begins with the second new moon after Winter Solstice. Like many Indigenous cultures, My Chinese and Hawaiian ancestors recognized the moon as a major time piece not just put it onto a calendar for the refrigerator:) Pete and I are just beginning to scratch the surface of the Ancestral Wisdom attached to lunar cycles.

Our friends and guests will make a lucky monkey made from copper wire, or colored pipe cleaners to take with them. We will give thanks to our community, the place "the prairie front" South Whidbey Tilth, and remember our Ancestors as well as the Gods ... the elemental forces -- Hina (the Moon) in particular.

As the tide turns from high to low, we will bang pots and pans and dance up and down the 'aina at the South Whidbey Tilth. On an outgoing tide, the old and worn energy we send out to be recycled in the deepest waters. We are celebrating on the Eve of the New Year, so if you would like to welcome the New Year you could do it wherever you are on Monday, February 8, 2016. Check the tide chart for your area. It's the low tide or out going tide that you want to choose as your pot and pan banging time. Clean out, let go, and give thanks to Hina for her powerful effect on the waters on our Earth (and within our bodies).