When I was born
Daddy was training fighter pilots in Florida
teaching them not just to fly
But how to lighten their planes
So they could fly faster and farther.
Doolittle’s Raiders had put this into practice
And were able to complete their mission.
When I was born
Mom was a young wife in Kansas
Working at the Coleman Factory
Living with her parents and brother
While awaiting my birth
Daddy tried anxiously to get home.
He barely made it.
When I was born I was an only child
We lived in my grandparents’ house
Then in a garage in Sebring
I had my first experience in a pool
An alligator moved in a few days later.
When I was born
Germany was yet to surrender
Nagasaki and Hiroshima
Were still thriving cities.
I had my own ration book
And FDR was president.
Anne Frank was sent to concentration camp
And imprisoned Jews were released in America.
When I was born it was a cold winter day
I had to be tightly bundled against the wind
Six months later I lay in a buggy
With a very proud dad standing beside me
And palm trees swaying behind me.
Two beaming parents posed for the camera
While I sat between them smiling.
And that’s how it was
When I was born.
The neighbor cut some branches off of his Longan tree this week and left some on our back doorstep; in another week or so when we harvest bananas he will be at the top of the list for a hand or two. It’s the island way and only one of many reasons we so love it here.
Longans have a tough, leathery exterior with a sweet, firm, gel-like fruit inside which surrounds a black seed. I find that biting into the skin and peeling it off is the best way I know to get to the fruit inside. The seed is for planting. I don’t know how to describe the taste. It’s not like a grape, sweeter than a lychee or rambutan and juicy when fully ripe.
I sat at the table this morning picking the fruit off the branches and headed to the fridge to put the bag in when I almost stepped on one of our Madagascar geckos that was hanging out in front of the fridge so the fruit is on the counter for now.
The geckos are still running around. Several hatchlings have been eaten by adults so we don’t have as many as one might expect; fortunately enough get away that our gecko supply is renewed.We had a cool, wet spell so didn’t see much of the geckos for a few days but it’s warmed up to 90 so they’re running around again.
And yes, I believe in global climate change. Our coral reefs are bleaching from the warmer ocean temperatures and we’ve never had such a long run of hot temperatures that I can remember; even the locals comment on it. But we had an amazing thunder and lightning show with lots of rain that helped cool things off.
Meanwhile thr first humpback whale was spotted off North Shore on October 1. The whales are back!! Time to get out the beach chairs and go whale-watching.
My father died of COPD and emphysema. His father died of emphysema. I suspect that smoking played a role in the deaths of all four of my grandparents as they all smoked freely. No one thought anything about it; it’s what adults did.
Daddy started smoking as a teenager. His father told him it would be good for him, it would help his asthma. He smoked until he was in his late 60s or thereabouts when a car accident shattered his lower left leg while on a trip to California from Washington State. He was flown home where my husband and I met him and arranged an ambulance to pick him up at the airport and transport him to his house, where I stayed to care for him until my Mom and Brother brought the truck and camper home.
He was then moved to a hospital in Seattle and Mom moved in with us; we all visited frequently, Mom visited daily. The doctors put his leg back together using bone grafts, skin grafts and muscle grafts and told him if he continued to smoke he’d lose his leg. He stopped cold turkey but his leg never completely healed; an open wound that wouldn’t close required daily tending and Mom did the tending.
By the time he passed away at the age of 89, he was on oxygen full-time and could barely walk from his chair to the dining room table or the kitchen. He dragged that oxygen tube with him. He developed macular degeneration, making him almost blind. For the last six months of his life my brother and I took turns taking care of our parents, flying from our respective homes. By this time our mother was confined to a wheelchair due to an injury; after Dad’s passing she went home with my brother, where she lived until her death two years later.
I’m not writing this for any sympathy or any comments about how good my brother and I were to our parents. I’m writing this as a warning against smoking. I watched Daddy shuffling around the Assisted Living home and remembered camping trips, vacations, moving from Kansas to Washington. Building a dog house. Building a bird house for me as a gift. Most of all loving us and providing for us.
I have never smoked but now I have asthma, probably because of all the smoking I was around as a child and young adult. Most of the time it doesn’t bother me but when I get respiratory illnesses it’s a factor in my recovery. It was also triggered by blowing dust in Arizona this summer.
And so I make my point. If you smoke, please stop. If you don’t, please don’t start. For it’s not just you who is affected but those around you as well. Just think about it.
IN DEFENSE OF THE SACRED
Many years ago I was preparing to embark on what for me was a sacred journey. I would be following a trail walked by my ancestors in 1838. I would feel the derision of others. I would feel the sorrow of few. I would know the heat and the cold, the wooded hillsides and the barren plains. I would be cared-for as they weren’t. It took me awhile to prepare for what I knew I would encounter.
But then I encountered something I didn’t expect. Shortly before we were due to leave I was called into the office of a friend and entrusted with a special gift, a gift from him and from a group of people who didn’t know me but gave me their trust that I would do as they requested. It was a small leather pouch carrying medicine to be shared at each site we visited, in prayer and memory of what took place there.
I received it with humility and tucked it away. And on the journey it came out and was used as requested but whereas others on the journey allowed photos, I asked that while I was doing the ceremony all cameras should be put down. What I was doing was between me, those who gave me the gift, the ancestors and the creator. And so it was.
Since then the pouch has traveled with me and been used in the same way. At tribal gatherings, family rites of passage, wherever it felt appropriate, it has made an appearance.
And then it disappeared. Just before a long trip I couldn’t find it. I searched everywhere, drawers, bags, closets. It wasn’t to be found. So for the first time in so many years I had to travel without it. The trip went well, I enjoyed the time with my daughter, but I felt strange somehow.
When we returned home I again began my search. I hurt inside, I grieved. I looked again in drawers, bags, closets but it was nowhere. And finally I did the only thing I could do. I let it go. I sent it out into the universe with a prayer that whoever found it could feel its power and be blessed. I prayed for it. And I released it.
And then in plain sight I discovered it. Lying safely in my office, it welcomed me. For me this small pouch is sacred. It represents so much: trust, friendship, honor, peace, responsibility. Self.
We all have sacred places, sacred things. For some the act of planting food is sacred. It’s a signal to the universe of life, of renewed life and hope. Of promise for the future. The act of giving birth is sacred. We will do everything in our power to protect and nurture that life. Death is sacred. It’s a passage from one reality to another unknowable one.
For many the family home is sacred. The place where the bodies of our ancestors, such as the cemetery in Kansas where my Potawatomi 3rd great grandparents lie, is sacred. The places where we worship: churches for some are sacred—temples, synagogues, mosques. The calm of a stream, the roar of a river, the music of trees, the vastness of the plains, the tallest of mountains. All these are sacred and to be respected.
On the Island of Hawai’i a sacred space is being threatened and people are rising up to protect it. Mauna Kea is being threatened by the building of a huge telescope. Yes, there are other smaller ones already there but this one promises to overpower them. The mountain was once used to create weapons of war against King Kamehameha’s forces; that too is sacred. Now the disrespectful want to bring people to the mountain who may not respect its sacredness. To stand in the way of those who just want to go up to the sanctuary of its space and give offerings to the Creator. Who want and need to feel the strength and peace of becoming one with the universe.
There have been protectors before, when the other telescopes were placed. But this time the cry of the people is being heard around the world. Japan, Samoa, Mexico, states such as Alaska, Maine, Nevada. People from Tonga, the Pacific Rim. And people from the other islands in our state, leaving homes, jobs, spending money they can ill afford to fly for support. Some Hollywood names are joining. The crowds went from a few hundred to over 2000. And they’re not backing down.
Even when the Kupuna were arrested and removed, they returned to the mountain. Protocols of welcome greet visitors who come in peace. Those in opposition are greeted. The police and the National Guard receive the same welcome. Now policemen speak with the elders with tears in their eyes, asking them to leave, letting them know they don’t want to be doing what they’ve been told they must.
But the Protectors stand firm. It is believed this is their last stand. If it’s not stopped, the top of the mountain will be scraped to form a site as large as four football fields. On this site a telescope will be constructed that is 80 stories tall.
My own ancestors were forced from their sacred places at gunpoint, after being gathered together and held prisoner in their church. Their burial mounds were destroyed, plundered. In later years what mounds were left were plowed over so the colonists could plant their fields. Many of their stories were lost, forgotten, because they didn’t have their sacred places, which to them told their stories.
These sacred places are needed and must be protected. Without them, a culture is lost, a people scattered such as happened to my ancestors.
I strongly support the Protectors and even though health keeps me from marching I can write and write I will. It’s my gift to them. My Aloha.
We have a porn show going on in our living room. In fact it’s been going on for some time now. They have no shame! They don’t care if it’s day or night, if it’s dark or they’re under a bright living room light. They catch sight of each other and the chase is on.
It’s actually been very interesting, though I sometime feel like a voyeur. She starts the action by twitching her tail in a certain provocative way and it appears to attract him like flies to honey, or in our house ants to peanut butter. He will race across the room and sidle up next to her, nudging her with his abdomen, and before you know it he’s wrapped around her like there’s no tomorrow. His tail twitches, hers twitches, and they stay that way for a good minute or longer. And it will happen several times over a 2 or 3 day time frame.
Geckos lay eggs and sometimes, when they’re on the window outside and the light is right, you can actually see a large egg within the body of the female. I’ve seen them with bulging abdomens struggling around the walls, walking in a manner very pregnant women walk, sort of a wobble. We have found their eggs on window sills in the house, in the printer, behind the TV and even in the smoke alarm.
And then we have seen the newly-hatched babies on the ceiling, about half an inch long and just plain cute.
However there’s a not-so-cute side to this. Adult geckos eat their offspring. They chase them down and swallow them headfirst. I’ve watched it happen.
One of our geckos has actually made friends with my husband. It will jump down from the windowsill, sniff his finger, stick its head down into his glass and if it’s something he or she finds of interest will actually crawl down into the glass and lick up what’s there. Or lick the condensation on the outside of the glass. We make sure it’s nothing that will harm it, mostly just water. Recently the second gecko has also come over to sniff Eric’s finger. They’re becoming his pets.
The cat finds this whole thing fascinating. She will watch the geckos, sometimes chase them or peer under a piece of furniture with great curiosity, but she does not grab them. I understand that they give off an odor or a protective shield that makes them unappealing to cats so Nani only peers and watches before returning to her chair for a nap.
Recently employees at the Ke Kai Marine Mammal Center in Hawaii started receiving numerous calls from within the hospital. Over a period of fifteen minutes they received nine of these calls. When the director approached the phone the calls were coming from, she discovered to her surprise that they were being made by a gecko! The gecko has now been returned to the outdoors and the phone now only receives calls from people. USA Today actually wrote this up after the director posted it on Twitter; the gecko was sitting on the touchscreen of the phone wiggling its feet which were making the calls.
You just gotta love it!!