Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Soulful Neighbors

I woke just as the Sun was showing himself at the crest of the tree line across Thompson Road. It was a time to mark his presence in late May so far north. The photos and musings that follow are a walking morning meditation. Appreciating my journey, my neighbors, and the unfolding nature of forgiveness and beauty connected with land, sky, sacred trees, and the creativity of a community garden within four hundred square feet.

Last Sunday after the Farmers' Market was over Pete and I spent the afternoon in our patch of garden, and planted corn starts from Midori Farm in Quilcene. We bought the corn on our road trip to Port Townsend earlier this month.

Planted 'Three Sisters' style, corn, with beans are planted together. Fava Bean seeds from Lesedi Farms are tucked in the moist ground next to the corn stalks. Marigolds anchor the four directions - North, South, East and West and hopefully help attract bugs giving the corn and beans a bit of a break. A single green bean start (won at Earth Day Tilth seedling guessing game ... thanks Angie) is company to the stalks. Soon I'll plant squash once the corn stalks are up a little further.
While the moon is in her 'Ole Phases (a time for weeding and preparing rather than planting), we found scraps of rebar and wire fencing. Pete bent the rebar into curves and wove them into the wire for support. When those 'Ole Phases are pau I'll plant edible pea seeds which can cling to the wire sculpture; a cucumber start will cover some space below and who knows what else may inspire companionship.

What might you plan here?
The rest of the photos are morning shots of some of our pea patch neighbors' gardens, and a visiting mammalian on four legs.

 At the end of my morning walking meditation it is to the golden wagon parked just on the rise here on the Prairie Front I come.
"We built our Vardo for Two to be part of an envisioned community where our way of life and our disabilities and sensitivities become understood and embraced; by befriending time, we have found how long it takes to give-and-take and create understanding and shared resources..."

A wonderful piece of writing from John O'Donahue excerpted from Terri Windling's blog Myth & Moor is tucked behind (some) photographs in this blog post. To find them you must be willing to stay awhile, and find them. It is not meant as malicious trickery, but rather a small dose of mischief and a way to weave a message of juxtaposition; literary neighborhoods made with layering meanings, images and art lived in the moment. Like a garden.

Lastly, speaking of soulful juxtaposition ... Johnny Cash singing with the Muppets "Ghostriders in the sky." Fun!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The bounty of this Salish Sea and Land

This is one of my rambles ... take it in doses, or have a nice cuppa your favorite whatever and dive in.

Pete and I left the Prairie Front early Saturday morning in our trustworthy Subaru, 'Scout', and boarded the first of three ferries. The 7:30 am Clinton ferry crossed the Salish Sea for Mukilteo. I think it's so important to record the appreciation I have for these ships -- the Washington State Ferries. This one in particular, maybe because we board them and ride them regularly and because it makes so many trips in a given day (37 thirty- minute trips).  It's no small expense to take a ferry ride, but not so much that we can't afford it on our golden wagon-smaller-than-a-tiny home monthly abundance. Monthly abundance sounds more fun than 'budget'. Anyway, the point being?

The point being, we spend a lot of our retirement/S.S. checks on food and flexibility (day tripping:)-- and ferry riding-- is right in there with organic veggies, organic dried herbs for infusions, organic chicken thighs, and Lopez Island Vanilla Ice Cream.

The photo above was taken from the second fairy, whoops, it was a ferry(though they can feel like being with the magical ones) we rode while I took that shot. Once we landed in Mukilteo I drove down the highway and freeway south to Edmonds where we waited, then boarded a ship bound for Kingston on the Kitsap Peninsula. While we waited in the holding area in Edmonds a large stand of fully-fluffed Cattails kept us company. Beautiful. So bountiful is the Cattail to those who know how many ways she gifts us. Someday I hope to gather and use some of Cattail's gifts. For now, it's enough for me to appreciate. It has been nearly ten years since we were on an Edmonds-Kingston ferry, and as I ride it memories of times long past as well as those more recently lived road along with me. Many believe time -- the past, present and future -- is lived all at once. It felt that way to me.

I took the photo above because a freighter was moving across the major shipping lanes as our ferry captain honked the horn on the vessel. Two leisure crafts veered around us when the captain sounded intent and fair warning ... "We're coming through." I watched as the two yachts turned portside (I think, that's to their left) and made way for the us.

Pete and I made note of those letters M A T S O N. MATSON is one of the major players when it comes to shipping stuff between Washington and Hawaii. When we were thinking, "Safe passage home to Hawaii" it was MATSON who would've done the shipping of our vardo, and our Subaru. But, that ship sailed without us.

Back in July I was working on this drawing. In it a woman wearing a tip of cedar over her breast wears her past and her present. Pele flows in her molten state to the woman's left. A mask covers the face of a woman lying prone, behind her is a puolo, a bundled gift, wrapped in la'i, Hawaiian ti leaves. The words of the 'oli Na 'Aumakua rise from the woman asking her Ancestors for permission, knowledge, strength, wisdom, insight, as it related to our desire to return to Hawaii. It would have been to Hawaii Island that we hoped to go; where Pele is busy making new land now.

I entitled the drawing, "Asking." The answer we got was 'No.' We were blessed. We are grateful for the guidance of our Ancestors, and grateful for the bounty of this Salish Sea and its people where we do live.
Our Saturday destination required driving from Kingston to Port Townsend where we were headed for yet another Farmers' Market. Ironically I did NOT take any photos of the market that was teeming with activity in the Old Town section of Port Townsend.

We chose this Saturday to make this trip because of the wind. Pete checked for a pattern of winds. With a clear sky, a Northerly or Northwesterly wind prevails and that means the smoke from the paper mill(s) blows away from town. This is a good thing, especially for me with my sensitivity to sulphur and smoke. Our hours there were enjoyable and gentle on the sulphur.


Sunday was Mothers' Day. We stayed put, recouping from our many-phased Saturday of water and road travel. Two of things that challenge me physically were very present on Saturday: Scotch Broom in bloom and Round-up. The yellow blooms, wildly out of control in Western Washington were everywhere. I try a different approach with their pollen, and ask for the grace and flexibility (and a year of Nourishing Herbal Infusions) to accept they are present and so am I. The out-of-control use of Round-up is tamed here. On the Prairie Front there is no Round-up. Except for minimal use on the County Roads, the telltale signs of dead grass along the highways is not something we live with in South Whidbey. 

Recouping from exposure to Round-up triggered old episodes. Lots of rest, and letting go are part of the healing process. It fits with the present conditions of the Hawaiian Moon Cycle. Today/tonight is Muku the last night of the Hawaiian month, and according to my kilo kumu (teacher of observations Hawaiian style) Kalei Nu'uhiwa, Muku is a good time to complete a project, cut off a bad relationship, quit a job. Nu'uhiwa continues, "Muku is an excellent night for you future kahuna kilo to learn new in and out skills ..." What can she mean by that? Cut out the bad sh*t and accept what I cannot change is one option. Gratitude is the other part of the process. Real people, including the community of South Whidbey Tilth were involved in negotiating this 'modified' use of Round-up where we live. It's a major reason we live here; great time to be grateful for what we've got.

Our friend Austin uses his old VW Van as his pallet. How cool is that!

Angie Hart and her partner Ben had a display for the 'Taste of the Week' at the South Whidbey Tilth Farmers' Market. Sprouts in various stages of sprouting with information, samples and recipes. The sprouted garbanzo hummus was delish eaten on a thin slice of radish. The recipe for the hummus in above.
Anza Menchow of Maha Farms with visitors and customers shopping for veggie starts.
Pete with a tray of collard starts he bought from new grower at the Tilth David Prisbey of the Old School Market Farm.
This is barefoot weather, and that's just fine with me. It's great to keep my promise to my feet, who have waited all winter long for these conditions. I was on my way to visit the other 24/7 residents on the Prairie Front. The Chicklets (my name for them). 

This is a bountiful life. No guarantees about the way forward, but there's a line from Charles de Lint's latest novel, The Wind in His Heart that I'm hoping to live a little more ever day. It's from the last bit of the story set in a mythic Southwestern American town. The line is this, "to be a better person, do better things." Good reminder for me.

Mahalo nui!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mother's Day 'Oli Mo'okuauhau

HAPPY MOTHERS' DAY to all us mothers. 

Especially, I think of my Ma, and Aunty Lily, my cousin Mokihana, my other many cousins who are mothers, Jen who continues to keep the Waimanalo clan glowing, my friends old and new near and far, and the Elementals, the Goddesses who keep us on our toes. And of course, I mahalo my kupuna, all of them, especially the mothers who kept our line alive.

Kalei Nu'uhiwa posts to FB the expression of Pele and her eruptions:  "Moʻokūʻauhau* come to life these last 7 days. Haumeaʻs children and their elemental functions as the eruption process." She shared this YouTube of Aunty Pua Kanakaole Kanahele. I share it here. 
*'Mo'oku'auhau' means genealogy in 'olelo Hawaii.

xoxo Mahalo nui!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Gratitude and tobacco: tools for decolonizing

"The word for "tobacco" is asema, and it is essential to bring some for this reason: Spirits like tobacco. Their fondness for the stuff is a given of Ojibwe life. Tobacco offerings are made before every important request, to spirits or to other humans. Tobacco is put down by the root if you pick a plant, in the water when you visit a lake, by the side of the road when starting a journey. Tobacco is handed to anyone with whom you wish to speak in a serious manner. It is given for a story, or as an invitation to join someone in a teaching or writing project. Tobacco begins every note-worthy enterprise and is given as a thank-you at the end of every significant event. Perhaps spirits like tobacco because they like the fragrance of its smoke, or because people like tobacco and they appreciate thoughtfulness." - from Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country, Louise Erdrich

Pete and I spent our Sunday journeying first East, then North where we met our "guide", Michelle Myleslanguage teacher at the Lushootseed Language Department who said, "Keep going, South." I first met Michelle Myles a few years ago, when I began my research into the proper/ancient naming of the land currently called South Whidbey Tilth. Reconnecting with Myles was an affirmation: trust Spirit to lead, of all the people of Tulalip I wished I would see, it was Michelle Myles. We didn't have a plan for the day, but knew it would unfold.

We enjoyed the company and culture of Indigenous Nations all afternoon; first on Tulalip Land and then with the many tribes of dancers, drummers, elders, and relations at Edmonds Community College's 33rd Annual PowWow "Weaving the World We Want."

When we traveled North, our destination was the Hibulb Cultural Center on the Tulalip Tribes of Washington land. The magnificent carved doors of the main room of HCC is pictured above. I respectfully depict that carving here, and if I have offended or abused protocol, please correct me, and I will take this photograph down.

The quote that begins this post comes from the writing and the book currently influencing with big medicine and powerful inspiration. Louise Erdich, Ojibwe-French-German woman, writer, storyteller and book store owner touches countless people through her work and her example. I had a chance to meet and speak briefly with her when she was in Seattle's Town Hall promoting her (then) new book La Rose. It was, for me, a touching and affirming meeting and we, both Pete and I, have been blessed with the potential to spread that "significant event" as we live our everyday journeys.

Encouraged by Erdrich's memoir Books and Islands in Ojibwe County and those notes on tobacco, I write this post -- not to steal the medicine of tobacco or appropriate culture-- but to honor Tobacco as I practice being an Indigenous woman of Hawaii living on Turtle Island. In Hawaii we do not name Earth, or the islands of Hawaii my birth land 'Turtle Island'. We have other names for Earth, among them, Haumea. However, since we, Pete and I live with the people of 'aina that do name her thus ... I have begun to carry tobacco with me for many of the reasons Erdrich suggests in her story above.
I left handfuls of tobacco with Michelle; the storytellers who left their stories with us as listeners in the HCC Longhouse; and lastly with this great Cedar on behalf of a dear long-time friend who asked for prayers.

Decolonizing is a process, and one that takes many cycles to restore well-being. I am seventy years old and the journey of being makua o'o ... an adult maturing, or an adult learning to use the digging sticks to eli eli kau mai dig deep are a life time thing. I am grateful to be proceeding and use this blog to navigate the metaphor and the mundane chapters of a twenty-first century Filipina-Hawaiian-Chinese woman living on Whidbey Island. To decolonize is a way for me to feel less alone, lost in my own body; unsure of the value of my history based on a nearly eradicated mother culture.

MCS, Environmental Illness, as odd as it may seem, is the leveling agent for me. Making my choices physical, and not 'just in your head' my body gives me unflinching messages. What a sense of humor do my kupuna have to retool me!

It seems fitting to me, as Pele opens up new channels for making new life filled with both the chaos and the organization of elemental goddess that she is that I too ought to recognize new channels opening for me/us, too. When we go on these trips away from the Prairie Front, to affirm our need to take care of our selves (body and spirit) we open to the flow of decolonizing making room for "note-worthy enterprise."

Any new channels for new life opening where you are?

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Road trips and Space

We took ourselves on a Saturday day trip to Anacortes yesterday. The town of Anacortes was having its Farmers' Market Opening, and we planned to meet a good friend who has recently returned from a year's stint in Guatemala (Peace Corp). 

Relaxing under the Madrona Forest at Depot Park, sitting on long grass sparkling with tiny fuchsia-colored wildflowers Pete and I enjoyed the company of drums, children laughing and playing, the shadows of tree limbs; and time with space and each other and strangers. We arrived early at the Farmers' Market and had time to wander the vendor booths, dance to the intoxicating beat of African drums, and ate a breakfast style gallette (a crepe with egg, ham and mushrooms) along with other yummy things. We dodged the many fragrances of things that smell, and even made room to be at peace with the Scotch Broom -- not allowing them to spoil the wonderfulness of the day. 

Just after noon we chatted for hours with our old friend, Liz, learned of her adventures and revelations of life in a Guatemalan community; and shared our own. 

We returned to the Prairie Front in the late afternoon. There'd been lawn cutting, more than we had anticipated. Freshly cut grass is difficult for me that's why we plan these road trips. 

The vardo was prepped for the mowing before we left -- with the air filter on high and windows taped against the cutting. While I climbed onto the futon and settled into an early bedtime and slipped into blissful recuperative sleep, Pete took the pictures below.

I didn't get to see that red rainbow, or the contrast of a orange sky with the incredible white blooms that are covering the limbs of Crabapple Trees, and the beautiful combination of Apple and Crabapple (in the last photo above). Looking at the photos Pete had taken while I slept ... wow. 

Life is full of surprises, the trick is to be resilient and flexible with choices and responses in relationships ... that's big, not always easy, and not necessarily without messiness. We practice that resilience and flexibility and pray for the wisdom to know the difference between what we can change, and, what we can't. And turn the rest over! Whew. Surely there is a Power greater than myself who creates a red rainbow.