September 7, 2017

“Morning has broken…” Thus begins one of my favorite hymns, written by Cat Stevens. I was born to a Protestant mother and a Catholic father. After learning my parents had eloped during WWII, Dad’s priest declared them living in sin and me illegitimate, which ended Dad’s years as a Catholic. Thus, after searching for a church they both liked, I was brought up Evangelical United Brethren, a church I still respect above all others.
“Blackbird has spoken…” As a child I wanted so to fit in, to be included, as do most children. At the age of 12 I was baptized with my mother and that Christmas, after all the pageant parts were handed out to the younger children, there was no part for me. I went to the pastor and told him I wanted to be involved and he chose me to read the Christmas story from the New Testament, my first time standing in a pulpit but not my last.
“Sweet the rain’s new fall…” When I was 13 we moved to Seattle and my parents dropped out of church. But I continued, going with neighbors or walking to the local Lutheran church, the closest congregation. I even considered joining but never felt I quite fit. Meanwhile my EUB denomination merged with the Methodists and I became United Methodist.
“Sunlit from heaven…”When my children came along, I dragged my husband to the nearest UM church and there he and the children were baptized, the boys with their father, our daughter as a newborn on Easter Sunday. I was the newsletter editor and was even sent to two series of classes in journalism at the local newspaper. The pastor was helping me fit in and find my niche. And I was again in the pulpit on occasion. After asking too many unanswerable questions the pastor urged me to study theology at a nearby Free Methodist university. I’ve never looked back.
“Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning…” By the end of my studies, the pastor had left and we got one who was just making the motions so when a friend invited me to her American Baptist church I went. There I became the Associate Pastor and was in the pulpit every week. I didn’t know their God, I was losing touch with the Holy Spirit. I didn’t fit in, I didn’t belong. Something was missing: the Wesleyan Quadilateral of Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience, And it was Reason that got in my way and ultimately pulled me away from the church altogether. To me “a fountain filled with blood,” part of a Baptist hymn, wasn’t reasonable, was actually kind of creepy. “All Creatures of our God and King” which I sang as a Methodist spoke of brotherhood with all mankind as well as the creatures of the earth and sky. I studied the Apocrypha, listened to interviews with Joseph Campbell and moved beyond into the “something more” I wasn’t finding in the church.
“Praise with elation, praise ev’ry morning…morning has broken…” And now I see the world around us is falling apart. Wars, threats of wars not seen in our lifetime, fires, earthquakes where the earth normally stands still, floods, droughts. I know how Christianity views this, through the eyes of the book of Revelation, written for another people in another time but interpreted, I believe wrongly, for the people of today. If one believes in God, in my opinion a loving God wouldn’t do this to His people. But of course there’s an answer to that–He mourns with them and lifts them up. But isn’t God the God of the Muslim, the Jew, the Zoroastrian, the Buddhist? That’s where the Christians jump in and start talking about Jesus. But I can’t believe god plays favorites like that so there must be something else going on. Maybe, as some believe, the axis HAS tilted, maybe mankind and climate change have brought this all on themselves, which is what I believe. I believe we’re all part of one whole, that when one of us dies all of us die a bit, when one is born all of us are reborn. I believe we created this mess and I believe it’s up to us to fix it. Not to enact laws, which are only as good as the people who make them, but to take action. To help one another. After all who is our neighbor? You are.
“Morning has broken…”
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August 16, 2017

“These are the times that try men’s souls” Thomas Paine wrote in 1776. These words are appropriate today, except we should add “women’s” to the mix. What the hell is wrong with our country? With our leaders? Heck, I can’t even call them leaders any more.

I grew up in the late 1940s/1950s in Wichita, Kansas, a state considered for all intents and purposes to be Southern in leaning. I remember my first contact with a Black person, a man whose car my Dad was fixing. We were introduced and I was afraid to shake his hand for fear the color would rub off. I was 6. Dad was mortified and apologized to the man. My first lesson in prejudice.

In Wichita at the time, neighborhoods were strictly divided and one didn’t cross over into the other. When a Black family, a doctor’s family, moved into my grandparents’ neighborhood, every house in that neighborhood went up for sale; I saw this happen.

I made a friend at the butcher shop where my grandpa worked. We played whenever I was there and one day I asked my grandma if I could invite her over to the house to play dolls. I was told a firm “no.” She was Black.

When my folks decided to buy a house in Seattle after Boeing moved us there, Mom waited in the car while Dad went in to talk to the realtor. The realtor questioned this and asked if Mom was Black. Dad said, “No, but I’m an Indian.” There were no houses available after that.

In the 1960s I watched in horror as one leader after another was assasinated in the name of Civil Rights and wondered what kind of a terrible world I was bringing my new infant into. I watched on TV the marches, the protests, read about the hangings, the injustices.

And years later I went to Selma, I crossed over the infamous bridge I’d seen the marchers cross, I held hands in Atlanta at the tomb of Martin Luther King Jr and sang “We shall overcome” with Coretta Scott King and a crowd of people I didn’t know. My husband and I were the only whites present.

And later still I stood at the mass grave at Wounded Knee and laid my Sema (Indian tobacco) down and prayed. A Native elder sat at the bottom of the hill and gave me the quiet I needed while keeping others at bay.

And now it’s happening again. I’m not naive enough to believe that these things didn’t stop but to see it happen again and witness a president who seems to condone it is beyond belief. We’ve taken a giant step backward.

Who do we want to be as Americans? Do we want to stand for “freedom and justice for all?” ALL. Do we want to love our neighbor as ourselves? To stand up for our neighbor? Fear breeds hatred; we hate what we fear. And if it’s a person with a different skin color, be it Black, Red, Brown, Yellow or Blue, we will hate that person because we don’t know him.

When I’ve spoken publicly about the forced march of my Potawatomi ancestors from Indiana to Kansas in 1838 I’ve concluded my talks by encouraging people to get to know their neighbors. To get to know the person across the street, down the block. To share each other’s stories, to learn what makes them “tick.” Maybe only then can we start to heal. It begins with us, with you, with me. It’s time to begin.

August 5, 2017

Thank you, Hannah, for the Kaua’i chicken photo!
Bon season is winding down; we won’t see andagis and flying saucers until after Memorial Day 2018. I know I’ve spoken about Bon before but thought I’d add more to the picture to give you an idea of how special it is.
 
Wikipedia defines Bon as ” a style of dancing performed during Obon. Originally a Nenbutsu (Japan) folk dance to welcome the spirits of the dead, the style of celebration varies in many aspects from region to region.” Each segment of the dance has particular hand and foot motions that take months to learn and years to perfect. I took classes for 3 months several years ago and still only know one dance for sure.
 
Traditionally a Buddhist priest opens the evening with prayer and welcomes visitors and guests. Then the music begins. Special foods are available for purchase. Intermission features special performances, either dances or Takio drumming. On Kaua`i, each of our Buddhist Temples hosts the dance during the summer months with the exception of July 4 weekend.
 
You learn interesting things at Bon. Not just the history or the spirituality behind it but you can always tell if it’s an election year. Apparently this year is as our Mayor, who at about 6’5″ towers over everyone else, was dancing as well as at least one of our County Council members; they were on opposite sides of the circle which tells you something right there!
 
We’ve had lovely, hot weather this past week or two with light trades to keep our air clean. I feel sorry for those who are enduring the smoke of the West Coast wildfires as well as those in Arizona dealing with the flooding. When we experience vog, volcanic smog, I can identify with them completely.
 
There was a beautiful parade last weekend to celebrate Koloa Days. Koloa, about 4 miles away, is the site of the first sugar cane mill on Kaua`i and we have a 10-day celebration to commemorate it: not just the parade but crafts fairs, cooking demos, cultural exhibits, food and more Taiko drumming! It’s very small town and that’s the way we like it. You always run into someone you know.
 
Time to sign off for now. It was good to touch base again.
 
Aloha!

July 24, 2017

I’m slowly beginning to recover from my recent trip to the Pacific Northwest. My trip began in Portland, OR on Friday, July 14. After an overnight flight I met up with my daughter in Powell’s Books, just about the greatest bookstore ever! My daughter-in-law’s mother picked us up there and took us home for dinner (gee, I have a great family!) and then on to the motel where I finally passed out.
 
The next morning we all met up at a restaurant for breakfast before going to once again visit family and yes! that garden!! I have a black thumb; plants come to my house, sigh and fall over dead. That afternoon we caught Amtrak to Seattle and I highly recommend it. Smooth, comfy and views. And dinner!
 
The next few days were filled with family, friends, the Ballard Locks to watch the salmon and the hungry sea lions, and a picnic at Coulon Park before heading off to the cabin on the Kitsap Peninsula for a short visit. We even got in a day of shopping but then are you surprised? A lot of activity was crammed into the 4 days I was in Seattle; I’m sorry I didn’t get to visit everyone on my list but that’s how it goes sometimes. I sure thought about you!
 
My grand-niece is adorable; hopefully someday she’ll get over her discomfort around me but at least by the end of my stay we could finger-touch! Her Mom’s a pretty neat lady and she has a cool older brother too. My nephew did good!! My niece’s kids are so tall; one’s as tall as I am but then… I enjoyed watching them all and getting to visit with their parents and grandmother.
 
Seattle has grown so much I hardly recognized her. Condos replace houses, even many of the cute little bungalows over by Alki. Traffic is horrendous–I won’t complain about our 5-minute wait in Kapa`a again. Bagel shops are great, lots of good coffee, and the weather was warm and sunny. I’m saddened to realize she’s not my city any more and I miss her.
 
While the flight to the mainland was smooth, the flights home were dreadful. Mixed-up requests, a bottle falling off the cart onto my head (empty fortunately, the bottle not the head) and that kid kicking me in the back for 2 hours. I’ve filed a complaint with the airlines but every time I call them they hang up on me. Their name sounds like “felta.” Even Makana, during his show on Saturday, said his guitar sounds funny after flying with them! And he only flew over from Oahu.
 
It’s good to be home. My bag’s unpacked and put away so I’ll be here for awhile. Bon Dance and Koloa Days, here I come!

JULY 8, 2018

Well, we survived the 4th and all the fireworks displays.  We drove down the road a half hour and saw a gorgeous display put on by a local community.  I was surprised to actually find parking but then we were early.  It soon filled up.

Nani seems to have survived the noise and explosions.  She still watches for her brother even though he’s been gone over 2 months.  We now have a neighbor’s cat visiting us at night so have taken to locking her in; Koa used to protect us from this cat, who seems to think this is his new home.  For heaven’s sake, please spay and neuter your pets!  This one isn’t and is a major nuisance.  Have you ever had someone else’s cat mark your bed while you were asleep in it?  I have.

The weather has certainly taken an upswing.  Upper 80s with slight trades, which feels great to me since I was born in Kansas and love the heat.  But I hear it’s 124 in a town in Arizona; I don’t think I love it that much.

If you haven’t read John Grisham’s new book I heartily recommend it.  I love mysteries with surprise endings and Camino Island is a doozy!  I was never much of a Grisham fan until I found Gray Mountain; then our book club read The Whistler and now with Camino Island I’m hooked!  Check out Ken Tucker’s review on Yahoo.

I’ve also been reading Sherman Alexie’s book You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me which is about his mother.  It’s a tough read, combining prose and poetry, about a rough upbringing and for me has proven to be slow-going.  I’d met Mr. Alexie many years ago in Seattle and so enjoyed his storytelling on that occasion.  I’ve loved the movie “Smoke Signals” based on one of his books; in fact I own several of them.  He’s a Spokane-Coeur d’Alene-American novelist, poet, and filmmaker according to his Google biography.

I also recommend Colson Whitehead’s book The Undergroune Railroad which is about slavery in the South.  It’s a pulitzer prize winner (2017 fiction) and presents a unique outlook on the topic.  I met him in 2016 at the Kaua`i Writers Conference and was taken by the way he writes.  Our book club read it and discussed it at length.  You can probably find it in your library.

Well, speaking of books, I need to go finish the book club’s July selection great small things by Jodi Piccoult so I’ll be ready for our next meeting on Monday.  I’m a fast reader so should be finished by then.  I confess I’ve joined Goodreads’ 2017 challenge and have read 38 of the 50 books I signed up to read.  And that’s in spite of the trip to New Zealand and a recent trip to Honolulu!  I’m so glad Mom taught me to read when I was 4!

Meanwhile, till next time.  Aloha and Happy Reading!

 

June 22, 2017

 

I think I know why I don’t want to live in a big city! True, shopping is fantastic, so many shops, so many choices!! But alongside that there’s so much traffic! And the high-rise condos. We lived in a small apartment for the first 6 months of our marriage; it was in an old converted house and there were six apartments but even that drove us nuts. The noise of people walking, fighting, whatever was more information than we wanted; we lasted six months before buying our first house.

And now we live in our second house. Imagine that! However, it’s on a small island and some services available in larger cities aren’t always available here so there are times you have to catch a plane and make a trip off-island. So there we were at the airport planning to make a necessary trip. But when we do, we combine necessity and fun and this trip was no exception so off we went to Honolulu.

We landed EARLY on Sunday morning and ended up at a Summit honoring the Hokule’a home from her 3-year voyage around the world. Crew members, teachers, students, tourists–all were there. We enjoyed stopping at various tables, watching the excellent movies, purchasing memorabilia. I met a crew member who’d written about his time sailing on board and spent time visiting with him about the similarities between Polynesian and American Indian cultures. Shopping occupied the afternoon as well and then we checked into the hotel.

Monday was reserved for the purpose of our trip.

Tuesday morning we fought Honolulu traffic to get to the Iolani Palace for our scheduled self-guided tour. We were only 10 minutes late, though allowing over 30 minutes to get there. TRAFFIC! The 45-minute tour took nearly 2 hours but was time well-spent. They had electricity in the palace before the White House thought to install it! We visited the King’s and Queen’s bedrooms, viewed the quilt Queen Liliuo’kalani created with her ladies-in-waiting during her exile (read a history sometime). I recommend the tour if you ever get to Honolulu.

Tuesday afternoon we spent with an old friend who moved there from Kaua’i. She’s fighting a return of her cancer but we laughed and talked genealogy and it was like old times. One pill a day is helping her in the fight. Amazing!!

And now we’re home. Our lightly-packed bags were stuffed and heavy, our new bags likewise. But what a great time! i must admit however, I’m glad to live on a small island in a small town with only one traffic light and cows and wild pigs counted among our neighbors!

MAY 22, 2017

You never realize how much your kids know about you until a special day comes along. Birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day, etc. Mine never cease to amaze me. I have a pot of mums sitting on the dining room table and a Mom’s Sippy Cup (shaped like a wine glass) sitting in the cupboard. And yes I’ve watered the mums and used the glass.

I’ve not written lately because on April 30 my beloved cat Koa died of a blood clot following surgery. He was almost 13.

He was an amazing cat. My husband doesn’t like cats but curled up with Koa every evening to watch TV. My husband swore he’d never have a Siamese cat in the house but delighted in Koa’s “talking,” which sounded very much like a Siamese cat’s vocalizations (he was a feral cat we adopted with his sister so don’t know his lineage for sure).

When Koa got bored, he opened the bottom drawer in the bathroom cabinet (both bathrooms, he wasn’t fussy) and dug everything out. He liked to nap under the bathroom sinks or on the 2nd shelf of the linen closets after he opened the folding doors. He taught his sister Nani these tricks, too.

He didn’t care for fish but liked spaghetti sauce if we put our plates on the floor. He would claw at my chair, and my arm, and lead me to his food dish to show me it was empty or to the sink where he wanted water (no water bowl for him!).

Instead of giving us the “stink eye” when we got home after long vacations, he was overjoyed to see us and rolled around purring to let us know. When we were in New Zealand for three weeks in March, even though he had a daily visitor, when we pulled up in the driveway and I called him; sure enough, the rolling around/purring began.

The end came quickly. We noticed a lump on his left rear leg and when the vet excised it it turned out to be cancerous. Since the cancer hadn’t spread beyone that site his leg was amputated to save him and because the tumor was lying next to his sciatic nerve. Three days later he left us. He’s now buried beneath the bathroom window, as close to his food dish as possible.

Nani watched for him to return through the cat door, perhaps she hears him when we cannot, and has finally started eating again. She follows me everywhere and has started repeating some of his favorite “tricks.” We can only smile.