Thursday, March 31, 2016

The 'ike of subtle

'ike. 1. to see, know, feel, greet, recognize, understand - Hawaiian Dictionary, Pukui & Elbert



Spring moves steadily forward. Trees rooted. Blossoms unfurl. Birds thrill. Pollens riot. Cool nights and warm daytime. The moon rises in early morning, sets mid-day. This new spring I live with the riotous pollens with new remedies and old. Like the trees, blossoms and birds I dig into the experience of new life and launch myself. Into a new season.

Two teachers feed me 'ike (knowledge) to fold into myself. I listen again to Pualani Kanaka'ole Kanahele speak about The Living Earth, and her book Ka Honua Ola. She reminds me to remember, and practice several things: genealogy is exciting, and important; chants are timeless; 'ike comes in waves ... she needed decades to understand the Kumulipo (The Hawaiian Creation Chant); lessons were taught subtlely; Trust is vital ... and so much more.

"[...]Entering the world of ancestral memory requires a certain mindset. Take time to enjoy and understand each phrase or line before going on. Remember, this gift took many lifetimes to wrap. Don't be in a hurry to unwrap it and becoming frustrated in doing so. The meaning and force of ancestral knowledge will unfold precept upon precept, and each has a code to inspire you on to the next level.[...]"

Listening and watching Kanahele as she and the interviewer are seated along the slope of Pele in action, with an 'ole moon in the heavens, the power of place and enduring gift-giving and reciprocity is massaged into the viewer. We are given reasons to trust in the present unfoldings, softening our ground, and slowly and personally dig deeply for the roots of The Living Earth.

The other teacher fed me through an interview published in the April edition of Sun Magazine. Robin Wall Kimmerer answered questions posed by freelance journalist Leath Tonino about her life as an Indigenous scientist living and teaching two ways of knowing. In equal and different versions of sharing their experiences as Indigenous teachers, Kimmerer and Kanahele reinforce my trust in living now. I am a grateful learner of Kimmerer's work and writing. The interview was a spring treat to enjoy in compact form, encapsulating the subtle and powerful nature of teaching from an Indigenous voice.

The entire interview is well-worth the investment of a thoughtful read, and mulling. But a few choice questions and answers beckon me. (I have edited Kimmerer's answers.)

Tonino asks: You've said that an indigenous elder might see the scientific method, which asks a direct question, as disrespectful. Why?
Kimmerer: Because the organism being questioned has its own intentions, its own agency in the world. It is rude of us to prod this sovereign being and ask: How come you're doing that? ...living that way?...that color? How come ..." To someone who views each organism as a potial teacher, this type of pushy questioning is just plain rude...We don't need to know how something works. We need to know that it works to keep natural systems intact. We should remember that our curiosity exists in the human realm. It's sometimes said that we humans are the "youngest brothers of creation." We haven't been around very long, and we should be humble and pay attention..."
I relished the followup question, and Kimmerer's answer.
Tonino: If asking a direct question of the natural world is disrespectful, what's the alternative?
Kimmerer: We can find creative ways of pursuing inquiry that are courteous and delicate and don't demand information but instead search for it... Patience and commitment are the key to learning from a being or a place. Unfortunately the institutions of science don't commonly make room for the slow, steady approach."

The interview between Tonino and Kimmerer is skillfully inclusive of the value of the scientific method of knowing. When asked about the two different ways of knowing -- the traditional knowledge and science:

Tonino: Returning to the question of synthesizing science and traditional knowledge: Are there arguments for keeping these ways of knowing separate and, in a sense, pure?
Kimmerer: Absolutely. I am not talking about blending knowledge. With blending, you're left with neither of the original elements. They both disappear. Instead of blending, we need knowledge symbiosis, or relationship. I think of the metaphor of the Three Sisters garden. When you plant the Three sisters--corn, beans, and squash-- together, they complement one another and produce more nourishment than if they were grown in isolation..."
Closing the interview Tonino asks Kimmerer how frustration and anger fueled her work. I eagerly read her answer.

Tonino: On the whole, your writing is hopeful and celebratory. To what degree have frustration and anger also fueled your work?
Kimmerer: I remember being acutely disappointed when what I thought was important about plants growing up was dismissed by the scientific establishment. I remember wanting to know more about Potawatomi culture as a young person, and my family saying, "We can't tell you. We don't know it anymore." our heritage had been taken away from us by the Carlisle Indian School. It was one of many such brainwashing institutions. I remember being outraged by this as a child. I wanted to know why, if they could build a school that taught us not to be Indian, we couldn't build a school tht taught us to reclaim that heritage. Loss and anger can be powerful creative forces. My work with the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment comes from the outrage I felt as a girl. I wanted to created opportunities for that reclamation."

My journey of decolonization is a life-long journey. I continue to discover where I have hidden my self in attempts to 'blend-in' rather than grow as a sovereign being. In fits and starts, and bursts of insight I uncover the roots that lie just under the surface of my person, under my living earth. A visit to The Wing Luke museum leads me straight into the culture I have denied; my ancestors tattoo me with their 'ike. The inks find my blood, and flow differently. As I continue to live with this powerful subtle current, the symptoms and remedies for living with MCS teach me to observe and express the inexhaustible passion for being on this Living Earth. It's NOT always pretty, now easy, sometimes cruel and often messy. But. The roots endure; sometimes a seed is not enough to sustain or flourish. Digging deep or power-filled language, such as the Potawatomi word puhpowee, which means "the force that causes mushrooms to rise up out of the earth at night" is the power necessary.

I am a creator. I create story that is both mine and every blood. It is medicine, and homeopathic in its affect: subtle. Subtle because it works with my body AT THE MOMENT. It is in many ways a traditional and slower form of remedy that tattoos me internally. Can you see it on my skin as a form of self-identification? No. Could you see it if you could read my blood, or read my work ... the medicine stories? Perhaps.

The medicine is in the stone, in the calcium of barnacle, the patterns left on shells from the tannins of tree bark mashed with the tide, shells left after birds have feasted on the flesh; or it is in the shape of an incidental discover of a stone like the 'never-endingness' of an 'Ole Pau Po. The message is transmitted to those who are in the know. In the 'ike.

My daughter-in-law emailed me after I sent her the message stones (pictured above). She asked: are you chamane? what is the Hawaiian word? I replied and said, 'No, I am not a shaman. The Hawaiian word might be kahuna. I am not kahuna. I am a makua o'o a maturing human being, hopefully getting a little wiser with time.'

I sent her more messages on clam shells found at the Muliwai. Never underestimate the power of subtle.





Sunday, March 27, 2016

Destiny: another visit to the Wing Luke


Paul Anka wrote "You Are My Destiny" in 1958. I was eleven years old, impressionable times. He and every guy who was even vaguely cool had hair like this. It was a prelude to Sandra Dee and James Darren and "Gidget" movies. I was believing this stuff, these American fairy tales. Any appeal of Ancestral Voices or destiny was muted by the lyrics of Anka's pop tune; the promise that I could be(come) one of them as real as the feeling of fullness from eating sliced white bread. I ate it up.

"You weren't alone," my husband chimed in as we ate a late breakfast: a pot of simmered turkey thigh with mushrooms, onions and yams topped off with Mung Bean Threads, what we call "Long Rice". Delicious! "What a goulash." He was talking about the meal, but life is a goulash as well.

In the more than fifty years since I first listened to "You Are My Destiny" I have not thought about the song more than I have Sandra Dee. Not on my list of prime mover material. Until this morning.

I got a fever for Easter. Really! You can read about one version of that here, the 'medicine story' version. What I didn't write into the medicine story, and letter to the mythic granddaughters, is what happened when Pete and I made our latest visit to the Wing Luke Museum the other day.

What happened at the Wing Luke Museum?



For weeks now I have been promising myself a field trip to see people who look like me, speaking languages and dialects different than American English, and the current edition of Sandra Dee or versions similar; tasting food my family might serve up. Sometimes it becomes more than I can handle to be a "Hawaiian woman" who serves as a tour guide for people who believe they would love to live in Hawaii, or wanna appropirate someone else's culture. Mine. I long for a taste of my roots.

Between the many activities that come up when season's shift, and winter gives way to spring, there was a opening for the field trip. Thursday. I had been fueled with the description of the latest exhibit at Seattle's Wing Luke Museum, TATAU/TATTOO. I read the pages of the Museum's website, describing the exhibit, and found a quote from Samoan writer, poet Albert Wendt, Albert Wendt who married my high school classmate was writing about something I needed to know, now. I needed to replace more of those Sandra Dee-James Darren movies from my backbone. I read Wendt's words again and again. And then we took a drive off the island and headed to Seattle. First stop: The Wing Luke. Well, actually, our very first stop was A Piece of Cake. Egg Custard tarts for Pete, and Oatmeal-Black Sesame Cookies for me.


"Our words for blood are toto, eleele, and palapala. Eleele and palapala are also our terms for earth, soil, mud. We are therefore made of earth. Our blood, which keeps us alive, is earth. So when you are tatauing the blood, the self, you are reconnecting it to the earth, reaffirming that you are earth. The tatau and malu are not just beautiful decoration, they are scripts-texts-testimonies to do with relationships, order, form, and so on. Tatau became defiant texts or scripts of nationalism and identity. Much of the indigenous was never colonized, tamed, or erased. 
The last time Pete and I were in the Wing Luke, I wrote about it. There's something about this place that lies in wait for me, a strand of destiny that is, perhaps as Louise Erdrich writes in her novel Antelope Wife. I'm reading that book now, difficult as it is, and I have always found Erdrich difficult to read. In the past I just put her books down, for decades. Until now. Now, I read the difficult descriptions of story overlaid with story overlaid with yet another version of the same story, and this quote becomes a transfusion, a needle inserted at the base of my spine, at my skull, the fever starts with that. The words she wrote in Antelope Wife were:

“The pattern glitters with cruelty. The blue beads are colored with fish blood, the reds with powdered heart. The beads collect in borders of mercy. The yellows are dyed with the ocher of silence. There is no telling which twin will fall asleep first, allowing the other's colors to dominate, for how long. The design grows, the overlay deepens. The beaders have no other order at the heart of their being. Do you know that the beads are sewn onto the fabric of the earth with endless strands of human muscle, human sinew, human hair? We are as crucial to this making as other animals. No more and no less important than the deer.” ― Louise ErdrichThe Antelope Wife
Once inside the Wing Luke, we listen to the fast-talk of the young woman at the ticket counter. We pay our Senior-rate ticket, and she binds us with a paper bracelet that allows us to come and go. We only come/go once. Up the steep stairway, to the left, through two double-doors. Tatau/Tattoo. The exhibit is tucked in the middle of other exhibits describing and visually exhibiting the lives of Pacific Island populations ... 'people who look like me' and are the same blood that is me. Pete lingers at the photographs and description of the Alaska Fisheries Filipino history. Unionizing workers. That is a lineage that speaks directly to Pete's blood. Union Work he will always be.

I head directly to Tatau/Tattoo. I know my limitations as a Pacific Island woman with MCS. I will be challenged to be inside a building, with many different materials, scents, chemicals etc. et.al. I zero in on my target, my prime reason for the field trip. A bee after the nectar.

Three pieces of the exhibit stand out as sources for this honey bee:

1. The photograph of a Filipina elder proud and ancient with her elbows bent and hands in the air as she displays her tattoos. It's her smile, her face. Familia.
2. The pegged samples of traditional tatau/tattoo designs and their meanings beckon. The one that grips me by the throat is that one of Centipede. CENTIPEDE. From the crevices of my once long-muted Ancestral voice box, crept Gayaman (centipede). First, it showed up in a 'fairy tale' a medicine story. Then, it showed up in the Wing Luke, and then, we showed up at the Wing Luke. Aiyah. 'Aue. Gayaman, friend of the headhunter, 'aumakua, another form of the backbone, the Mo'okuauhau. 
3. And then this postcard was tucked into a display box.




“Research your

own roots

and water your

own

tree.”  *I track this quote down.


We were inside the Wing Luke for less than an hour, but, Tatau/Tattoo had done it's work. We were reminded of our histories, and "The pattern glitters with cruelty" as Edrich wrote. The colonization of peoples, including my Filipino and Hawaiian ancestors, attempted to wipe the slates clear to make us versions of Christian or Sandra Dee, but we resist. The process is embedded or beaded into the pattern of my place in the world, just as Edrich said, "[S]ewn into the fabric of life ..." Sixty years is not such a long time to remember something much different (or is it) from the promises of satisfaction and destiny in pop culture's music or contemporary 'Gidget' tales.

The effects of our Wing Luke visit keep stinging me with awareness, awakening me to the bones or gaps between the bones in my vertebrae which have been numbed. Those places that seek out the simplified version of history or inheritance are soothed by pastry promises: white bread, coconut cream pie, and plate lunches that used to satisfy. Our field trip included two others stops to find that coconut cream pie, and a catfish sandwich. Let me keep it short, this already rambling adventure, and tell you the pie was less than best, and the catfish sandwich was no longer. The place where once we ate those sandwiches is gone. Gentified Georgetown, Seattle. We could not find those sandwiches.

What lingers now is the lesson that if I am called upon to be a tour guide for people who wanna appropriate my culture, I might have to take down my shingle, or any scent that smacks of 'Tour Guide.'

"I don't wanna be your Tour Guide, honey.
No.
No amount of money will satisfy my hunger.
No.
I don't wanna be your Tour Guide, honey.
Let me show you my tatau."
(c) Yvonne Mokihana Calizar


Tattoo imagery Credit (Link to it)

Do you Wing Luke?


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

More Spider's Silk

"On or around June 1995, human character changed again. Or rather, it began to undergo a metamorphosis that is still not complete, but is profound — and troubling, not least because it is hardly noted. When I think about, say, 1995, or whenever the last moment was before most of us were on the Internet and had mobile phones, it seems like a hundred years ago." - Rebecca Solnitt


The ink was not yet fully dried. No never mind, there is no ink to fret about. I read the quote from
Rebecca Solnitt on Maria Popova's Brain Pickings, and the ends of spider silk sought the connections only a story can satisfy. It doesn't seem to take much to tickle my writing fancy, or prime the pump for something wanting expression. Perhaps it is my current retraining experience starting at ground level that spurs me onward? I am learning to walk on the balls of my feet, curling my toes to grip the earth; lifting my old habit of landing hard on my heels. It may be part of my Chiron's wound evolution.  Whatever the reason(s) I am grateful to continue pulling the silk through like Spider, and that makes for a continuity of interesting encounters with characters and circumstances both mythic and mundane.

Where was I in 1994-1995? I remembered that all too well. The bitter end and the blissful new starts experienced in one soul, one woman's body. Before there were cellphones and email there were letters. The life of an old(er) woman who is quick to tears and open to understanding their --tears-- many purposes has history to share with young people who call her Tutu, Grandmother. The story and the storyteller are not yet ready to leave the story alone. Ah.

So the Spider's silk picks up a thread from the Internet, and the sticky end catches on themes from The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy. The secrets. The messages. The creative mission of a daughter of abolitionist John Brown weave from the silk of a novelist. I am peaked in my curiosity. I see the two colored eyes of dolls with heads of wood, see the differently positioned swirls for cheeks. Only those in the know would. That is the thing. Only those in the know. There are letters in this book, too. Many letters are written. I remember letters written. Then too, in her acknowledgements the author Sarah McCoy names a woman "for truly being a second mother, singing "Going to the Chapel" in the car ...You are my magical God-mommy." The name of this God-mommy: Titi Ivonne Tennent. Titi is the name only my brother called me, and then all his family knew me only as "Titi". On my birth certificate, my name is Yvonne (Ivonne with a "Y"). The family name is completely different. But, in all those letters and words I see this acknowledgement. I know something is magically in place. I stick the silk to it and let the words fly.

The newest Spider's silk begins with two letters, here at Letters Remembered. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Equinox Ceremony prepares for Aries-Libra Full Moon Lunar Eclipse, March 26, 2016

My favorite astrologer writes: "... Libra is concerned with relationships, usually one on one.  The Aries/Libra axis presents a question or a quandary, or a challenge, ME vs WE. How’s the balance in your life?..." 
I'm preparing for ceremony in a couple hours; I wrote about it, and have just returned from a preliminary scouting to make sure the public access where we get to the water is 'okay' for me. The juggling act that is my life means I prepare for allergies and sensitivities as much as possible, but, this is life, and sometimes preparing isn't enough. Stuff happens. Let's get to the scouting: I told my husband I was going down to the beach to see whether the large Scotch Broom (which I am very allergic to) is in bloom. If it is I would need to make other plans. Turns out the plant is half-way to be fully blossoming. So I needed to come up with Plan B.

Public Access to the water which surrounds this Island is a big issue. PRIVATE PROPERTY and KEEP OUT signs are prevalent. Them's that have got their land on the waterfront don't want to share the right to enjoy the waters of the Salish Sea. An entitlement thing comes with occupation. I know, I grew up on 'occupied land.'

My Plan B though led me to find a smaller access on the same road. I checked it out. Sure enough on either side of what appears to be Public Access (there are no signs that tell anyone), there is a sign saying this is PRIVATE BEACH. The signs are posted like small fences that run from the public road to the beach. So ... the space between those signs is probably public. Again, there is no sign to say that. It's possible I will be trespassing, but maybe it's an issue of me vs them. In a couple hours we'll see whether there is a problem with walking to the beach from this smaller entrance.


 To the left
But, in the middle and out to the water we walked gently over churned limbs and trunks to a place where we could be part of the publicly accessed water's edge.
And to the right, we read these signs, PRIVATE BEACH NO TRESPASSING
~*~

My reason for posting with the tangent above grows from this:

1. It is this beach that influences many of the medicine stories I write. Written into the dialogue and character development of these short stories I infuse my wishes for continuity, and the evolving backbone of cultural equity. The character "Jacob" is gatekeeper, mo'o and manager of water rights. It is this beach, and the muliwai, the estuary that feeds and is fed by the ocean that inspire the stories.

The issue of public access ties intimately with Native Rights for hunting and gathering; issues that my Ancestors in the Pacific have dealt with and continue to deal with, and the Ancestors of Native Peoples here in the Pacific Northwest dealt with. Chief among those negotiations was the Bolt Decision of 1974. 

When I write the stories, letting them unfurl one 'dose' at a time, I am doing it from a heart that needs to be lubricated with tears and truths that will sustain generations beyond my own. I write for the mythic mo'opuna, the grandchildren who may not know my name. 

2. The ceremony preparing for Spring Equinox and Ka Piko o Wakea begins with asking for what we need to know. We will do that with the chanting of Aunty Edith's E HO MAI. If we listen with our whole bodies we will proceed aided with wisdom 'from above.'

What do I need to know? We chanted, and then waited for answers.

Today our friend, my husband and I learned that we can access the power of respectful ceremony if we give ourselves time at nature's pace. A friendly (and welcoming) woman working in her flowers saw my friend slowly driving, and looking for the new-to-us access. She was there a few minutes before us. "Are you looking for the public access? It's right over there." She pointed across the road. Our friend was welcomed. This set the tone for our ceremony. Mahalo!

When Pete and I arrived, we parked behind our friend's car, and waved to her already walking the beach. We found a space to sit on a large tree truck lodged into the sand. We chanted E HO MAI for ourselves, the three of us asked for what we individually needed to know. We listened to the lapping waves as accompaniment the clouds there to see and hear our asking. They, the clouds were a diverse tribe. The temperature of the air as we began was warm. Warm enough to take our socks and boots off. Blissful!

We walked and considered our ceremony with this time between high tide and low. We walked and noticed. We chatted. We laughed. We looked at our footprints. We noticed the sand, the rocks, the wind, the lapping water and the many pieces and bits of trees formerly growing with roots into Mother Earth, and hair in the Heavens of Wakea.

We began to consider 'getting a new groove' ... letting down, letting go.

 At tide shift the change in temperature came with a cooling wind across the water. Noticeable. Pete looked at the time on his cellphone. 3:00 PM. The tide would start to recede and go to low. We each dug into the bag of salt I had brought. Making a hole in the sand at the water's edge we scooped salt into the hole as we quietly offered the thoughts, beliefs, behavior, whatever we individually wished to let go and recycle with the outgoing tide.


The ceremony was simple. Done with respect, and fun. "Let's do more of this," Pete said. We liked the sound of that suggestion. We all needed this. And now we are home. Dinner has been cooked, and eaten and for dessert there is Marion Berry pie and Vanilla ice cream. Celebration and ceremony should always include good food.

Mahalo Ke Akua e Na Aumakua. We give thanks, and let go of the rest. A new groove!






Friday, March 18, 2016

Story with many endings

"... Spirits, gods and goddesses and the family of Others was something Sophie Lei Maku'e was generous with sharing. But that had not always been the case. She considered the changes that made her world open as she watched the little girl cracking the soft brown shelled eggs now..."-" Measure me or not?" A Native Fern
I'm never sure about the length of the tale that wishes to be told when I start to write. Maybe, it has to do with translating old messages coming through new experiences, or as Aunty Pualani believes, "when translating, all definitions must be considered." The story began because my loss of memory was troubling. Was it, is it, necessary to age with less of your memory intact? Or, was there another way to translate the experience?

An Anna's Hummingbird, a Mo'o named Jacob and a small family with roots deep and far-reaching make a batch of oat-meal buttermilk pancakes and in the process little girls learn that old people cry, a man can be a mo'o and words have many meanings. The mythic mo'opuna, fantasy grandchildren, are the little people who groom me, this aging woman, to be generous with sharing even if that was not always the case.

The last segment (at least for now) is written. Read it here.

  

Preparing for Spring: Ka Piko o Wakea

I gather information, and timing to create ceremony on Piko o Wakea, Spring Equinox, happening in Washington, where we live, on Saturday, March 19, 2016. That means Sunday will be the first complete day and night of Spring.

But, for me, it is valuable to become familiar, and acknowledge the shifting effects of the Universe on my life. It is one thing, or one culture to say 'Spring has come'; it is another to say 'as the sun's rays hit the piko (equator) of the Earth on which I live, I create 'ceremony' consciously and respond as Pualanai Kanaka'ole Kanalele implores.

"We, as Native Hawaiians, must continue to unveil the knowledge of our ancestors. Let us interpret for ourselves who our ancestors are, how they thought, and why they made certain decisions..." 

video
The video records a moment in the woods with Mahina in her 'Ole Pau Holoku (her final 'Ole gown, her 'never-ending' reminder)

READ MORE HERE about the process I go through to create a home-made ceremony to celebrate Ka Piko o Wakea, the Spring Equinox.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Writing the 'medicine'

" I never made a conscious choice about who would live and die in this tale...I just let the story unfold page by page, and go where it wanted to go. When I got to the end, I suddenly realized, with a sinking feeling, that Thumper was going to die -- and as much as I didn't want it to happen, writing anything else at that point would have been...false..." - Terri Windling in conversation with readers of her novel Wood Wife
A friend sent me an email the other day, "There is something different in your writing, a blooming, a peace, a comfort. Must think about that more." This friend is an avid reader who sends me books -- novels -- she has read and loved. Another friend, and long-time first reader of things I write told me once she didn't know about 'learning how to write' she just knew when she read a good story.

Here's something, from the Guardian, an article entitled, "Is the short story really the novel's poor relation?" : "[...]The story is small precisely because life is so big. Novelists are expected to tie up loose ends, whereas the short story writer can make a virtue of ambiguity. The short story is fundamentally different from the novel; not better, just different.[...] 

I've been feasting on novels reading for pleasure, and curiosity. Friends send me things to read and I am grateful to be able to pick up a page of former heart wood and enjoy the journeying of print on the page. Recommendations from trusted sources (like Terri Windling) steer me to books I would otherwise have never met. The other night as I climbed into bed and settled, into that space between activity and possibility, I saw myself at eight or ten looking into the glass display case in the old Kaimuki Ben Franklin Store. Pens. Esterbrook fountain pens. The one I see with ten year old eyes is a gray marbled beauty. Pete sat on a cushion on the vardo floor leaning against the futon. For a moment, maybe more, I edited myself hesitating. But eventually I said, "I have always loved to write..." I shared the Esterbrook moment with him.

Today is an 'Ole Day, the second of four phases of the Hawaiian Moon Calendar good for weeding, or repairing your fishing nets, or honing your tools. That's what I do here with these musings as I consider how my love of words, and crafting of words and expression grows as I age. Terri Windling's Q&A Session from Good Reads (2011) about her novel Wood Wife stimulated a frightening influence in the writing of my current medicine story. Did someone have to die in the story in order to be True? I wrestled with myself ... this writing life is a solitary match, but the bruises come nevertheless.

It maybe that at this stage of my writing life the feast of novels is fine-tuning my taste buds and story ear. A particularly good read for me is different today then when I was young; though some favorites retain their value over the long haul, and I reread them again and again. In between the savoring of novels where the writing is 'expected to tie up loose ends' I open the pages of my hard cover copy of The Hawaiian Dictionary, or Pualani Kanaka'ole's Ka Honua Ola to refresh my native instinct for multiple meanings and pluck words like omens. The expectation for tying loose ends changes when I go between the borders of 'correction.'

"The short story writer can make a virtue out of ambiguity." There. That is something that rings true to my internal tuning fork. Perhaps that is why I find such delight in writing the medicine. Short. Ambiguous. Layered with potential.

I have left the medicine story A Native Fern with this picture . As the 'Ole Moons include four of them prior to a Full Moon, I am giving the story time to tell me if more is to be revealed. What do you think?




I highly recommend reading Terri Windling's novel Wood Wife if you are in need of a beautifully crafted story wrapped into a novel about place, spirit, love, and timelessness. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

New Moon and Solar Eclipse in Pisces: March 8, 2016

Today is New Moon and Solar Eclipse in the sign of watery Pisces. My favorite astrologer Elsa P. prepared her readers for today's new lunar cycle, and the added punch of the Solar Eclipse with this blog post. (link to it). In a reply to one of the comments Elsa wrote: "This would be a great day to be born. A visionary with a great work ethic." Weaving in Elsa's comment about this day being a great time for a birthday, I added to the medicine of story in A Native Fern

"This segment is written as a birthday wish for this author's mythic mo'opuna (grandchildren), as she sets her intention for dreams of  value and communication to grow like they (the mythic mo'opuna) grow."

Friday, March 4, 2016

Mai kela pe'a a keia pe'a ... from this border to that

"There are thousands of mo'o on O'ahu alone."
- Lilikala Kame'elehiwa

Several years ago my son wore this mo'o on his back; the silk-screened design emboldened his tee shirt. Time and life as it moved forward and backward from this border to that, the tee shirt and my son went mai kela pe'a a keia pe'a, from one border to the other. The tee shirt with Mo'o was left here, with us, when time and life moved my son mai kela pe'a a keia pe'a.

I am my mother's daughter, and along with my mother's appreciation for the safety pin, Helen Mokihana (Ma) kept a reserve of clothes for the best of reasons: someone might need them. I count both those practices among my finest ancestor signatures. I practice the art of "believing in survival so that when we need to to survive, we recognize the concept ... and apply liberally again and again."

The Mo'o pictured above has survived time and movement. Because the shirt had been washed and dried using all the usual scented products of our post WWII chemical crazy, I have had to apply the concept of survival to flush and air the mo'o and the shirt ... thinking I would be able to wear it at sometime in the future. Years have passed, and the mo'o has been rained on, wind blown, milk washed and soaked in soda and vinegar. I have tried to wear it, but, I am still a very sensitive Mokihana, and 'aue ... I cannot.

The Mo'o had other ideas, and so rather than me, it is my son who will be getting the Mo'o back. He needs a little bit of kick and protection from the aumakua (personal god). "There are thousands of mo'o on O'ahu alone," said Lilikala. "They are responsible for water management," she stated without hesitation wrapping things up at the 2015 'Aimalama Conference. Yes, here I am pulling this and that from here and there, because that is what a mother does. Of course. With all the wear there have been tears to the tee shirt. If you look closely you will see one of the patches I sewed into the joint of the Mo'o's claw. She is being held together with a patch of fabric with the design of niuola (the coconut). Even mo'o can use a hit of that resilient and flexible tree of life.

This early morning ramble at the keyboard ends with an invitation to keep following the medicine, as the story of Sophie Lei Maku'e and family grows. Go there>.

Mahalo nui loa na aumakua,
Mokihana and 'ohana

Photo Credit: Mo'o is part of the Aumakua Series of silk-screened designs of the artist AIKS. I have been unable to identify the artist properly, all rights belong to the artist. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Pockets of forgetting



... Yes, the work is important as much for the next generation as it is for us who flounder on our swims at tidal shifts: as elders in the making. I write as much for us Old Ones who are forgetting. It's there ... in the pockets of forgetting that the power lies break down and hybrid stories rise like mo'o with gray hair, wrinkled breasts and poetry with many meanings. Medicine." - a comment left on "True Stories", a post written by Terri Windling
My husband and I have these wonderful conversations in the dark as we lie down beside one another in our futon. 'Assume the position' (horizontal) and there is an evenness to the stories that spill from us. I hear myself tell truths that I would otherwise swallow if I were standing; or if it were light. These kinds of truth-telling don't call for Justice with captures, they are the things that must be spoken. They are the power lies that are breaking down. These are the ones that create illusion and dissolution in the lit world. The stories that come in the dark while lovers lie disentangled are food for the Mo'o who have always been the gatekeepers.

When I began the story "A Native Fern"  it was the trigger of forgetfulness that incited the first words. Perhaps, or indeed? Maybe or maybe not, the experience of forgetfulness in this contemporary world could so quickly be a sign of a diseased-state, a signal for the onset of being even more 'less-than' normal. Forgetting faces, or familiar names for things could be cause for fear and that would mean the Forgetful was losing control.

"Sometimes the only way I can determine whether I'm trying to control someone else or whether I'm simply expressing my feelings is by noticing how many times I say the same thing." - Courage to Change, January 29
 As I write the sun has woken the forest, the winds are roaring, the birds' songs excitable. I ask myself whether I am trying, at this stage at this age, to control and use the measurement of noticing ... how many times I say the same thing. I laugh at myself when I count the dozens of blogs, I have written to say what is in my mind and heart. The only way I can justify my obsession with blogs is to realize: there's no controlling how many actually care what I am writing. It let's me off the hook and I wiggle free to swim another tidal shift.

This morning I wrote a new segment to the medicine, bringing The Old Man and his mo'o(puna) his grandchild closer to the Muliwai where the second half of the story waits, and where the tides give answers to old and young who notice.


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