Kaua’i Flooding April 2018

In 1986 my family was evacuated from our home when the hillside across the road collapsed during a particularly bad Seattle storm, bringing down boulders, mud and large trees in its wake. Immediately the neighbors came out of their houses and started shoveling mud, diverting it away from our home and two others and down our driveway into the garage and out into a wooded area.

In response the city delivered empty sandbags to our location, which our husbands started filling with mud; the sand didn’t come until a day later. Bales of hay were placed alongside the road which provided the only access to our homes. We were able to walk on these bales to our homes to do laundry and prepare food but had to be out by dark because city inspectors, fearing the slides would continue (which they did) and we wouldn’t hear them ordered us all out and posted “CONDEMNED” notices to that effect on our doors.

We were the fortunate ones. Two other houses were destroyed and never rebuilt. One afternoon my husband and I stood at the top of the slide area surveying the damage only to see another slide, taking a tree with it, moving down toward our home. Luckily it was diverted down our driveway and into our garage, where it flowed into an open pit area; we’d been visiting friends so still had our car.

We moved into a hotel kindly arranged for, at a much-reduced rate, by a friend who worked there. The Postman agreed to deliver mail for all of us to one mailbox on a neighbor’s front porch while the Seattle school district arranged transportation for our three children to and from school daily. I was taking classes at a local university studying for a degree in Theology and my class that quarter was “Revelations and Apocalyptic Literature,” most appropriate we decided.

When the rains, floods and mudslides hit the North Shore of Kaua’i, we had only a slight inkling of what the residents here are going through. My daughter is the team leader of CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) Kekaha, my daughter-in-law a member of the Kekaha team, while my husband is a member of CERT Kalaheo. All were called out to volunteer their time and energy to survey the damage and to assist the families so badly affected, distributing food, cleaning supplies and evacuating well over 450 people caught unaware.

While most of us were able to return to our Seattle homes a month later, it won’t be that easy for the North Shore. Well over 49” of rain poured down on Hanalei and the North Shore. Highways were buried beneath mud, boulders and trees. Homes were pulled from their foundations and some washed down rivers. Bison from the nearby farm were also impacted and several lost their lives, though many others were recovered. The taro crop was lost beneath floodwaters. Businesses were covered in mud.

Recovery will take months and unfortunately some areas may never recover. But the people of Kaua’I are strong and resilient. They’ve faced disasters before and undoubtedly will again. They roll up their sleeves and get busy, doing what needs to be done, sharing what they have with others who have lost everything. While there were injuries, no lives were lost and in a spirit of gratitude they survive.

the photo at the top is of a tree on Kaua’i


APRIL 2018

I’m back. I’ve been trying to find something positive to write about for the past few months but the news keeps getting drearier and drearier. So I’ve been avoiding it as much as possible.

I do notice that now there’s a march or walk for something or other nearly every weekend. If it’s not a march/walk for a disease, it’s for an important cause. All of these marches/walks are important and serve good purposes so I cannot choose just one to showcase over the others.

Instead I will write about a beautiful event that happens the weekend after Easter: the Merrie Monarch Festival. The festival showcases hula, both Kahiko (before the illegal overthrow) and Auana (after the illegal overthrow). All of the dancers were spectacular; I’d hate to have to judge. And the halau (hula school) on our island placed this year in Wahine (women) Kahiko, Wahine Auana, Wahine Overall, and Overall Winner! What an exciting three nights!!

That same weekend I took a class lead by my friend and fellow writer Dawn Kawahara on Riddle Chants, of which I knew nothing. A riddle chant asks a primary question in the first stanza and then answers it in the following stanzas. I wrote my very first one and decided to share it with you. As a genealogist, of course it deals with my ancestors:

Where Is The Home Of My People

Of you I ask a question.
Where is the home of my People?
Where should I seek them?

In Eastern forests
Deep, dark, dense
They dwelt among the wild things
Roamed where they would.
The forests are silent now.

Of you I ask a question.
Where is the home of my People?
Where can I find them?

Among the buildings of newcomers
Bustling with activity
The smell of furs heavy in the air
They took up brief residence
But the newcomers are gone now.

So I ask a question.
Where is the home of my People?
Where should I seek them?

At the dividing place
They dwelt in harmony
And separated in peace
Choosing to take three paths
That place is now filled with strangers.

And again I ask
Where is the home of my People?
Where should I seek them?

Beside running waters
Wild birds, deer were plentiful
Marshes offered reeds for building
Roots gave food for growing
That land gives home to new people

And I must ask
Where is the home of my People?
Where should I seek them?

Long trails carried them
Prairies void of trees
Alkaline waters
Confinement, containment
At the mercy of the winds

Where is the home of my People?


the image of Turtle Island was posted on facebook by a friend

October 23, 2017

#me too

I hadn’t planned to post anything about this but after reading all the posts from friends I realize it goes so far beyond what I’d imagined. And the question came up, “Does this count?”

My answer: if a man/woman makes you uncomfortable by his/her behavior, comment, message or any form of communication or action then yes, it counts. Check out “Tea and Consent” on Youtube.

I don’t recall my earliest exposure to this behavior but I think it happened in grade school; I’ve completely blocked it but it must have been before I was10. I just remember feeling creepy.

My high school yearbook described me as having “a cute face and a funny smile.” Not quite how I wished to be remembered–I’d have liked to be remembered for my writing skills, my sense of humor. I wondered if they’d describe a guy that way–no, he gets comments on his sports acumen, skills, intelligence. Not how he smiled or what he looked like.

The following year a good neighbor lost his wife to cancer and he told me he wished he were younger as he hugged me. Again that creepy feeling. I told my parents but they didn’t believe me so again I stifled it.

Working at the phone company brought me in contact (yes I meant to say that) with the touchy-feely boss. I reported him to his boss who said I’d be welcome to work for him. I don’t know how it turned out because my new husband wanted me to quit work and I did.

Even in my sixties, after going through cancer and double knee replacement, I still wasn’t immune apparently–the only difference was that I couldn’t run. While terribly upset but with a tad bit of humor, I realized that no woman is immune, no man is immune to this treatment, no matter what their age may be.

If some my friends feel free to post on facebook, I wonder how many others are still too ashamed, embarrassed, angry to speak up. I wonder how many of your friends feel the same way.

I want them to know that they did nothing wrong. They didn’t dress in the “wrong” way, comb their hair and put on makeup in an alluring fashion, walk in a way that would attract a predator. The predator is the one who did wrong. He or she was looking for anyone who came along, using criteria only he or she knew.

I learned to speak out. I wasn’t always believed but I continued to speak out and was believed more often than not. And we need to continue speaking out. Don’t let it stop with one post. Talk to your family, your friends, your employer, his or her employer. We’ve put up with this too long. Silence kept it going. Speaking may help bring about an end.

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…”

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.

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!