Thursday, July 28, 2016

Happy Birthday, Beatrix Potter

Terri Windling remembers writer, illustrator and naturalist Beatrix Potter in a blog post this morning. I woke to read the birthday post, drank my first cup of rich dark decaf MUK Coffee and ate breakfast in the company of one of my all-time favorite heroines. It was Beatrix Potter portrayed in film who inspired me as Pete and I lived in a basement kitchenette and applied our imagines to the creation of a new home. While I researched and tested dozens, maybe hundreds of different materials to create a safe for me tiny home, I watched Renee Zellweger slip into the character of Beatrix Potter. There is one particular scene in the opening of this film that has a place in my imagination. The hands of the young woman, Beatrix (Renee Zellweger) is choosing just the brush she needs for a watercolor. A hesitation before deciding; then a choice, then the color -- blue. Which blue? It is the dip of the paint brush into a clear glass of water that swims into the viewer. I become that blue every time.

Beatrix was born into a wealthy Unitarian family during the high period of Victorian England. She was ill-fit for the values suitable for a young woman yet found her calling in the writing and drawings that were her obsession. Nature and animals were her (and her brother 'Bertram's') friends. Her early call by the pencils and paper led to the writing of picture letters to friends and family. One of those letters was the acorn of The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

Beatrix Potter was born on July 28, 1866 in Kensington, London. The photo I've included with this brief post touches me, reminding me of my own Beatrix Potter character. A real-life woman of endearing character who was the first to see the writer as my call. She too walked her pet rabbit on a string, or walked beside rabbit with a big net around our Kuli'ou'ou neighborhood on the island of O'ahu.

I believe as never before how essential it is to have mentors, heroes and fantasy figures to expand the vistas of a child, an adolescent, and an adult in elderhood. The imagination is the essential space for growing into and down to the destiny fathomed for each of us. In the Hawaiian view of 'destiny' we each are born with kuleana, a slice of the whole pie. Our slice is connected to everything, yet, is unique with a memory of what is our genius. Embedded in our kuleana, or in the acorn as James Hillman has described it in his work, is a calling.

How wonderful to remember Beatrix Potter on her 150th birthday. Acknowledging her life, and her calling as it continues to inspire. She inspired me to believe it was possible to recreate a life from the one I was already living. We built a tiny wheeled home and I listened to the small voice who knew, "You write!" On this great lady's birthday, I am re-inspired to fold her into my stories and give credit to the magic and remedy of imagining an expansive definition of names, nature, and growing into one's call.

Hauoli la hanau, Beatrix, and thank you!

Link here to read the birthday post and see the beautiful collection of Beatrix Potter photos, as well as recommended reading about the artist, from Terri Windling. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

"Synchronicity" that's our tune, and Mercury in Virgo

Here's the description for this beautiful photograph "Shawn and Amy dancing in sync" from Wikimedia Commons (Frank Kovalchek). "Gypsy Underground is a collection of Middle Eastern dance groups in the Anchorage age. I'm fortunate to know several of them. They performed at the 2010 Girdwood Forest Fair - Girdwood is a small town about 30 miles south of Anchorage, Alaska - a very small community with great skiing, hiking, and beer.
I went looking for an image of synchronicity to accompany this post and found this to delight my Inner Belly Dancing Gypsy soul. The one who used to be able to do these moves, and set a groove. A different day, a different body, but all still possible in Mythic Time. The beautiful dance puts me in the spirit of reception as I take a break and pace myself from cleaning, clearing and preparing to flow activity.

Here's the in sync part: My friend and writing partner lives in Portland. She's a writer, blogger and respected astrologer. I emailed her to update her about life in general and the writing of fiction specifically; we are both venturing into the 'I'm writing a novel' zone. Via this amazing tool, the Internet, two people who have never met face-to-face but have gotten to know each other because we are bloggers, have a friendship grown over the past eight years.

I wrote to tell Donna about the progress of my writing and the necessary cleaning, clearing and revisions. She wrote back and asked whether I'd seen her latest post. I hadn't yet. What she was writing to me was an affirmation of a powerful nudge from the Gods and my 'Aumakua (family gods). The message was: clean up first, then i mua (go forward). Mercury in Virgo is a potent time for 'editing' in all its guises. Here's the link to Donna Cunningham's latest astrology post " Mercury's Long Stay in Virgo? Here's what to do." which begins with "Something prompted me this morning to look for the next Mercury retrograde period, since I regularly plan much-needed projects to tackle during those intervals. I was surprised to discover that Mercury will be in Virgo this year for total of 42 days starting on July 30th. It goes retrograde on August 30th at 29° Virgo and turns direct at 15° Virgo on September 21st,  so it’s retrograde for 24 of the 42 days.

The deal with being in sync has to do with something Donna said to me via email when we first started this writing buddy system in the whirl of novel writing. She asked first, "Same page?" I wrote what was going on with life and the writing. She wrote back, "Same page." Like the beautiful undulation of belly and hips the dancers are in sync. I love the image, and draw it down. Smiling broadly.

Mercury in Virgo is a powerful time with a retrograde to boot. I'm grateful for the heads up. This old belly dancer flows to dance however I can. And you, got some moves to prepare for? Click the link.

Thanks, Donna. How 'bout those moves!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Count on the Full Moon in Capricorn (today's)

Satori astrologer from ElsaElsa has written about the aspects and the potential of this Full Moon in Capricorn. This is a snip of that writing, click here to read the entire post.

"...Capricorn energy highlights hard work and the long process of building toward a goal. The full moon is completion, at least of this phase. Capricorn doesn’t stop, but here we level up. Mars in Scorpio sextiles the Moon and trines the Cancer Sun. Chiron holds the third point of a grand trine in water. The Moon forms the head of a kite. Completion here yields concrete results, a tangible, physical milestone...."

Kites from Wikimedia
This is great news for us as we look at building toward a new goal! How about you?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

"We need stories now more than we ever did"

Sometimes in this civilized world, symptoms and situations demand that one crosses the borders for remedies and solutions. A massage, a prescription they can be helpful. But, maybe the symptoms and situations are really craving the medicine magic, of stories. 

It's a Sunday in the woods, a summer late morning on a Salish Sea island of the Pacific Northwest American continent. Known mostly by it's Whidbey Island name, it has a more ancient name, and in fact every specific place on the island has an ancient name. Most who live here don't know those names and cross borders without knowing there are thresholds and gates or gatekeepers. Too busy with their real lives, so many of us keep dodging the potholes and when a neighbor, "Just the renter" is out filling in the hole? They ignore him, too. "Oh well, he, it, is of no real consequence."

From the pillows under my okole I reach for the keys to tease the magic through my finger tips. 1 The reach of my arms, the touch of my fingertips on the broad keyboard they know the border crossings. They have the passwords and the passport stamped STORYTELLER. Here at the keyboard with access to the tools I cross from the civilized world for remedy. Remembering to have a dose of community, other tellers, and then lose my symptoms in the remedy of knowing "We need stories now more than we ever did." 

The images of book covers Blackberry Wine and Chocolat are those of two Joanne Harris novels. At key cross roads in my life, and then over and over again I have plumped my imagination in the company of Harris's characters and their stories, and for a while my symptoms of illness are eased or a window of hope pulls me through. There's that spaciousness. The YouTube TEDTalk with Joanne Harris is a twenty-minute story for those needing to cross the borders for remedy. Hope you enjoy it.

And the woman said, "We are all made of stories, and they are all magic."

1 okole. buttocks. 

Saturday, July 16, 2016



`O ka pā mai a ka Ma`a`a
Halihali mai ana lā i ke `ala
He `ala onaona o ka līpoa
Hana `oe a kani pono
Hana `oe a kani pono

Nani wale ia pu`e one lā
I ka nalu he`e mai a`o Kananaka
Kahi a mākou a i he`e ai
I ka `ehu`ehu o ke kai
I ka `ehu`ehu o ke kai

`O ka mahina hiki aloalo
Ho`ola`ila`i ana lā i nā pali
Pōhina wehiwehi i ke onaona
Koni ma`e`ele i ke kino
Koni ma`e`ele i ke kino

English Translation:

The blowing of the Ma`a`a wind
Bears with it a fragrance
A sweet scent on the līpoa seaweed
Get to it until you are satisfied
Get to it until you are satisfied

Beautiful indeed in the stretch of sand
With the surf break of Kananaka
Where we had ridden the waves
There amid the spray of the sea
There amid the spray of the sea

The moon reaches its zenith in the sky
Reposing serenely there above the cliffs
A silvery gleam, lush with fragrance
Bringing a throb and a tingle to the body
Bringing a throb and a tingle to the body

Sweet listening and a mele of gratitude for life on this mysterious planet of contradictions -- Baba Yaga and Kananaka the blowing winds of Ma'a'a wind telling me of the beautiful scent of the lipoa seaweed across the great ocean.

Enjoy this as I do on this Hua Moon, fattening moon leading to the Fullness of a Capricorn Full Moon on Tuesday, July 19th, 2016. 

Mahalo nui loa, mahalo piha. Here is one source and credit for this mele.  The source is that of Kihei and Mapu DeSilva of Halau Mohala 'Ilima, who speak of their introduction to "Kananaka" from Aunty Irmgarde Aluli, who got the mana'o from her sister Emma Sharp. The genealogy of the mele and it's connection to the women of Lahaina, Maui is such valuable story. The voice, the YouTube, and version of "Kananaka" is that of Keali'i Reichel. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Yesterday, a good day to deep clean

Baba Yaga riding a pig coming after Crocodile
Elsa wrote about the Scorpio Moon yesterday. Her post entitled, "Good Day to Deep Clean". She was literally cleaning her house for company, so were many others as the comments revealed. I had a day that expanded the definition of 'deep cleaning.' And today, the dust has settled and I have shampoo to clean the pitch (from the Grandfather Pine) out of my hair. Wore the Earnest Hat all night to keep my head under wraps. (There's a lesson there.)

Ever have one of those Baba Yaga days?

Friday, July 8, 2016

Notes, outrage and art

Yesterday I went walking with a Buddhist priest. We were new to each other, that is, we had never met in person. We had things in common though, and those commonalities were enough to bring us together for a morning of deeply satisfying conversation, history share, and hope. Both of us live with the illness of severe chemical sensitivities, and soon both of us will live from a tiny house. 

Rev. Eko Noble's Go Fund Me project is here. If you would like to help build a NonToxic Tiny House, and meet the first woman priest of her Shingon Buddhist lineage, what a contribution we could all make.

While the very low tide at my favorite Whidbey Island shore laid a banquet for the many feathered tribes of Eagle, Heron, Gull, and Swans we walked the sandy shore and talked story. We were sharing the notations and footnotes of our individual lives and the common thread of living with this very inconvenient illness. 

After two hours of walk and talk it was time to part. My mind and soul was full to overflowing. Face-to-face conversation is not a common exchange for me. I love it when I can get it even though the next day means I must shift to low. Listening to Rev. Eko's stories the similarities and her current journey of researching, testing and building a non-toxic tiny house refreshed my journey -- building Vardo For Two. We built the tiny vardo as a refuge, and a place for restoring health. The journey continues. 

For readers who have followed the writing here at Makua o'o, the medicine stories will be familiar parallel thread where I mix myth and fiction with the mundane reality of hauling dishes across the forest to a sink where hot water will get them clean. The mundane includes the experiences necessary to live with chemical illness. The myth crosses the borders for remedy and medicine. 

"I began writing Beatrix Blunt after being inspired by a piece of writing that I read in our local (Seattle) online 'magazine' the SLOG. The writing and the issue is one I knew, and experience: Forests Burning. Like the character Beatrix Blunt I use oxygen to breathe when forests burn, or my neighbors burn their fires inside their chimneys or in piles outside. Rather than recount my initial motive and fuel for writing, I leave you this link to read Charles Mudede's SLOG post to get a feel of it, if you choose. That was the spark. But what has come from that initial source has led to the twelve-installments of the story thus far. Ending with "Leavings" and the conundrum facing the three characters: the young intern Alexa E., Leslie Mills former Miss Hawaii, 1974 and Beatrix Blunt blogger and journalist on the verge of retirement from public life. The trio has been visited by a ghost, and the ghost brought music and flowers. Now what?

"There are threads and themes of story written into the bones ..."

"The stars and circumstances in life today are conspiring with me. I believe it is time to take this story and grow it into a novel. There are threads and themes of story written into the bones of these twelve-installments that beckon, shout more like it, for the meat of the larger version. So with the blessings of those stars, the Ancestors, and my guardians who know what story needs to be told, I tell you this medicine story will grow behind the scenes as a novel. Below the astrology of a two year forecast looks to me like a good time to engage in 'vigorous activity and self-assertion.' There is history and story to tell on many levels, and in doing it well, there could be art to remedy the inconvenience of greed, consumption and oppression."

Click here to read the entire post written on Beatrix Blunt. From the emotions of outrage the experiences of repression and suppression turn the victimized me into an art-making elder. There is hope and something beyond simply processing

This leads to one of my favorite exchanges of dialogue about 'processing' between writer Michael Ventura and psychologist James Hillman. In their book We've Had a Hundread Years of Psychotherapy--And the World's Getting Worse. 

Ventura: But what are you supposed to do with this stuff if not process it? How the fuck are you going to "individuate," or even grow up, if you don't process it?

Hillman: Well, now what did Jonathan Swift do? He wrote the most incredible satires. What did people do in the Elizabethan and Jacobean vengeance plays? I mean, this stuff is tremendously powerful...This kind of processing is really hard. This is the stuff of art. Rilke said about therapy, "I don't want the demons taken away because they're going to take my angels, too." Wounds and scars are the stuff of character. The word character means, at root, "marked or etched with sharp lines." like initiation cuts." 

The excerpt from the Ventura and Hillman book appears in The Sun Magazine, July 2016.

Saturday, July 2, 2016


Buffy Sainte-Marie and Big Bird

 "I'm a low-maintenance girl; I know how to take care of myself." 

Buffy Sainte-Marie at 75, February 20, 2016
Click here to watch an interview on CBS about Buffy Sainte-Marie's biography, "It's My Way"
(I loved hearing the lilting endings in some of her speech and the flow of 'pidgin' as a result of more than forty years of living on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, a global woman. )
In this interview Sainte-Marie champions the value of the internet, and says, "The internet is a lot like the streets were in the '60's." She advocates for the blog and the blogger who can self-publish and is freed from ownership from corporations ..." 
Up early this morning, before the sun lit the forest and the birds began their opening arias, I went looking for music for breakfast and found an unexpected inspiration. Buffy Sainte-Marie. On Feb. 20, the one and only Buffy Sainte-Marie turned 75 years young. Among the many treats available thanks to the internet, I found this article from Digital Drum, "75 Facts About Buffy Sainte-Marie". 
" With a catalog containing hundreds of songs and spanning more than four decades, she is living proof that longevity and relevance can coexist. But even more impressive than her staying power in an industry driven by “flavours of the week” and “next big things” is her ability to connect. Whether it’s through her music, her art or her philanthropy, Sainte-Marie continues to shed light on the important issues and speak to – and for – entire generations.In three quarters of a century she has established herself as more than just an artist, an activist, an educator, a pioneer, or a celebrity. She is the epitome of a true Canadian icon.To celebrate her incredible 75 years on Earth, here are 75 facts about Buffy. (I've clipped a cupful of those facts that pin together a picture of her to inspire me. The photos and video clips fill things out.)

1. Buffy was born Feb. 20, 1941, on the Piapot Cree First Nations Reserve near Regina, Saskatchewan.
 2. Her birth name was Beverly.  
 3. Orphaned at a young age, she was adopted and raised in Massachusetts.
4. She taught herself to play piano at age three.
 16. While in her 20s, she bought acreage in Kauai, Hawaii. She has lived there ever since.  
 17. She shares her sprawling estate with goats, horses, chickens and a cat. 
18. Also in her 20s, when she had more money than she knew what to do with, she turned to philanthropy. Says Buffy, “When I was maybe 24, I was a young singer with too much money, I knew I’d be able to have two meals a day for the rest of my life, so I took my leftover singing money and I started a scholarship called the Nihewan Foundation for American Indian Education. I really set out to address the problem I saw in Indian country where Indian kids would graduate from high school, want to go to college, but didn’t know how to negotiate the path to college. They didn’t know how to get a scholarship, they weren’t connected by family and friends. I have an Academy Award, but that’s not my biggest honour. My biggest honour was to find out that two of my early scholarship recipients had gone on to found tribal colleges. Can you imagine that kind of thrill?”  
 43. Given the messages of some of her songs, Sainte-Marie’s music was blacklisted by American radio stations in the United States, a move approved by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
... 65. She dabbles in astronomy. She says, “On Hawaii, we have this local navy base and I have security clearance to go and use their telescopes. I’m an amateur astronomer, and when you look at the stars … or even when you spend time with your kitty cat in your lap … to me, it’s the most beautiful, natural phenomenon … the earth. It’s what connects us all together with everything and each other.”
The 75 facts about Buffy Sainte-Marie is a long list in a life that inspires a genuine sense of sovereignty, independence and connectivity. It's something that fills me more than I can say. The quote from the Honolulu article ends with a real punch line to nod at. "A low-maintenance girl, who knows how to take care of [herself]." That's something!