Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Hinged Question

We've been offline, without a computer and focused differently. In a couple days we gather at the vardo's front porch for an `Aha. An `Aha in Hawaiian means a gathering or meeting and it also means the cordage used to measure and position the corner posts for building a new home. In English, the same letters A-h-a would sound like someone exclaiming "Aha," as in "I get it!" A play on words and the synergy of Hawaiian and English hinge as we put this gathering together.

Like a question mark with many 'dots' to it hinged together literally, and visually, Pete and I worked to create this large playful prop; a vital character in our journey to get us from here (Whidbey Island in the Salish Sea, Washington) to an island (we're not sure which one yet) in Na Kai Ewalu (the eight seas of Hawaii). With a pencil I drew the rune and four circles onto a well-seasoned and aged piece of plywood. Pete cut the shapes out.
The hinge, Pete told me goes way back. "To a piece of leather, hide, connecting two things together." In one of his many cardboard boxes filled with things a man that tinkers and cobbles must have there is always a box of hinges. For as long as I have known him, there have been hinges saved or recycled from one project, gate, cabinet or box.
The idea, and image of a hinged question mark came during those days and nights without a computer when instead I have taken to filling a sketchbook with pencil drawings to navigate uncharted waters. I had just finished reading the mythic post end of the world story Tatterdemalion, a collaboration between my long time heroine-artist/drawing wizard and sister of the wheelie home Rima Staines, and wildcrafter writer Sylvia Linsteadt. One of the drawings done by Staines is that of a hinged fish, a salmon. From that inspiration I saw in my own life the many ways hinge plays a major role. The questions rose: how is my life hinged? what parts of me hinge because in some way I am broken? does it make me more or less ... 

This image and character was done with my non-dominate hand (the left one) and is growing into a story that will become something more. She has a story gestating. One of the dots on the many dots on that hinged question mark? Perhaps. While we concentrated on the hard work of making art of our real life, Art slipped in and me with it...  

She dangles here from the corner drain pipe of our outdoor kitchen, The Hinged Question, part of our present and very much included in the gathering of people and clues, questions and possibilities that we invest in with hopeful enthusiasm. We are the old people who are young at heart. I heard one of the young people described us that way today. He, that young person, said "That's why I like you two!" Nice to be thought of as young at heart by a young in age man. It is that youthful heart that will feed our curiosity as our bodies grow with age, and perhaps attract the strong bodied ones who can do for us what we need help with.

I hope he shows, that young strong man. Pete invited him to gather with us on Saturday. It will be the company of a mixed bag of hinges that we will feed chicken dinners and home made corn bread inviting a collective imagination and connections.

"Young at Heart" by Bing Crosby 1954... very old school crooned in the voice my father loved.


  1. Wonderful!!!! and great fotos!!!!! hinges must be played is a cautionary tale about that, sadly true!!!!! My brother, a Pete-type guy who always had the tools and bits of hardware needed (just add wood) for everything, made some lovely chip-carved mortise-and-tenon cabinets.....They were truly lovely, of re-used old-growth fir. He wanted special hinges, so he bought beeswax (bis blocks) and carved out a set of large strap hinges. Then life intervened, the project stored in the basement for a year, and, like the salt that can harden in its cloth if the dream is left too long, the wax was ruined by curious rats........The two chests live on forever in his daughter's house. Neither has hinges, but they do have sties inside and within....

    1. Ohhhhh, Lizzie. I just found your comment. I've been busy getting dizzy as my Ma loved to say when life just got OUT OF HAND. I love this commentary, can see your brother, see his handwork, and yes ... the pictures of Pete's hands at work work hinge things.

      This is a wonderful cautionary tale, and I have folded it into an update on our progress with Safe Passage. My dear dear Liz. Mahalo nui loa. This cybercanoe reaches us in places near and far xoxo Mokihana and Pete