Real life is keeping us very busy so this will be short. Humor and the toys that show up in perfectly timed episodes? They keep the flow going on the 'high end of good.' Thanks for that descriptor for practicing decorum from ElsaElsa's Newsletter.
Thanks to our friends for name suggestions for the big ass yellow truck. When Pete showed up with the wonderful yellow frog (pictured on the truck's dashboard) the name came like the flick of a frog's tongue after flies.
Travelling Frog "T.F." for short is the name of the magical fairy frog in one of the first medicine stories I wrote when we landed in Tahuya, Washington after the long and transforming months of building Vardo for Two. If you're interested in reading that story you can poke around to read Woodcrafters. You'll need to be curious and patient with the format of reading the long and winding tale, but I promise you the read will have you traveling.
We send you good cheer, and hope you find yourself flowing on the high end of good.
P.S. A small but important correction. There is a second "l" in our magic, and the name of Travelling Frog. It took my own rereading of the original story to catch the influence of the European ancestors on the name.
"Throughout our lives, transitions require that we ask for help and allow ourselves to yield to forces stronger than our wills or our egos' desires. As transitions take place during our later years, a fundamental and primal shift from ambition to meaning occurs.
With this shift comes an initial restlessness, irritability, anxiety, or discontent with our current situation, and a deep questioning of the motivation surrounding our choices in career and relationships. Everything comes up for review." - Angeles Arrien
We are there. A fundamental and primal shift from ambition to meaning has been happening for us for many, many years. The sift is not something that happens once, nor does the process happen fast. The second half of life as Angeles Arrien describes in The Second Half of Life Opening the Eight Gates of Wisdom is a time for 'threshold work', rites of passage that begin around the fiftieth year; it's a long story long if that's the way of things. At this point being 71 years old, with Pete's 70th birthday coming in July we consider seven decades pretty long. Both of us at different times have said "I'm amazed to be alive today." The way has been rough often and our choices risky and unconventional. But wow, what an adventure. To be alive now, the issue of shifting from ambition to meaning does mean everything comes up for review.
I'm back at the keys after a mindful break, reopening the blog because Pete and I have made a significant step forward in our long story. We have bought THE TRUCK! And then, pieces of our unfolding lives fell into place with divine interventions.
The Big Ass Yellow Truck
A year and six months ago, our friend Maurine sent us the card above. The card has dangled in various windows or walls of the vardo, weathered by the sun on the Prairie Front, holding the dream, while the gifts of money provided us a reassuring cushion as we made our way to get there.
I sent an email to a good pal back on Hawaii Island: "We
bought a big ass yellow truck to pull us into the future, so the dream
of coming your way in July will need to wait for another July. Like this
truck, we gathered resources for a year and a half and finally (fingers
crossed) this 1979 Ford is part of the Good News Process. I
appreciate your confidence in the heART we pour into this life we
create! We aren't sure what will unfold but the dream is to be creative
with the journey and make Earth a little better having been here!"
While the truck was coming our way I filled the pages of this blog with over two hundred posts -- pictures, stories links and experiences. We were parked on the rise on the prairie along a busy Whidbey Island highway. We had many experiences to juggle, edging god out (ego) played hard ball on all sides of the borders; our relationship with conflict and differences were reformulating us. Our version of being creative is not often valued, but our initiations to the many rites of passage are constant; becoming an elder is the long story and I'm grateful for the complexity even while frequently stymied.
Wants and needs
A small but tenacious glow of hope within me wants to be able to return to Hawaii. When the way gets rough or windy or cold here in the Pacific Northwest that small spark tempts us. But you can't always get want you want.
I return to the film, the faces, the lessons and ancestors who are depicted in The Cave of the Yellow Dog and find room between the wants that will not cease, and the needs that are practical. At this stage and real-time now it is so important for Pete and me to secure our home (this small golden wagon) in a way that is more like my Mongolian Nomad ancestors. Though we will do it differently, the creative inspiration makes room for a dream to manifest.
Recently an email came to me with words and an attachment that said, "Could be interesting." A friend of my son has written a paper about ritual and traditions that can and do transplant divine act(s). The paper was written in Paris. The ritual, the traditions are Hawaiian. The tradition written of is Hawaiian dance, hula. The divinity at the core of this written discourse, is Hi'iakaikapoliopele, more commonly known as Hi'iaka younger sister of the fire goddess Pele.
Hi'iaka's story, her epic journey in my Hawaiian culture fuels me at deep and mysterious ways. Her journey was an initiation journey. Her chanting, her specific footsteps embed memory in those of us with ancestral connection. The fact that I remain so far from the islands of my birth still matters, the longing is undiluted (that small and tenacious glow), feeling homesick a low grade fever. But my mundane (everyday) experiences seed me with unlikely reminders that 'ritual travels.' My gods and goddesses are loyal! My job is to remember to remember. Kuleana (responsibilities and rights). Maile's Paper, as we now refer to that Paris originated communication, engages me with new cross-hybrid translations.
What does a goddess's initiation and our current saga from the bunny campground in Langley have to do with 'holding dreams worth living'? Let's just keep this ramble going and get ...
Back to the truck ...
We used all the money we'd saved to buy the big ass yellow truck. The money was a well-earned gift designated to buy the right truck. The truck came with a name: Banana Split. Cute enough name, but we're thinking she needs a new name. Maybe? Maybe as you read this post and get a feel for how this Golden Wagon World turns today you'll have an inspiration about a name. Great! Send it this way, we're having a contest for the best name. Leave your suggestion in the comments, or reply in the email we've sent to get you back into our bloggie new blasts!
That will be fun. Getting you involved in "Rename the Big Ass Yellow Truck" Contest. Yeh.
While I took a break from writing here, the work of tending to the details involved in holding a dream of a chemical and fragrance free everyday life from a small golden wagon has been the necessary work. Good. Hard. Work. Not without irritation and anxiety, Pete and I are making progress. Our bodies are old. No doubt about it. Aches and pain? Oh sure. But we are open to the intervention of forces greater than ourselves. When we got down to the business of growing up to the reality of our lives: sitting together to look at our daily, weekly and monthly income and expenses we were able to see how to help ourselves. And, where we did not have enough resources to help ourselves we had to ask for help.
Within hours the angels and different angles on the problems showed up!
Pete has been busy building a small 4 foot by 8 foot portable kitchen area off the porch of the vardo'. Many steps involved in fabricating that necessary sheltered area where we are able to cook and prepare food out of the wind and rain.
We can stay at the Langley Fairgrounds Campground through June.
If you look closely at the steps, you might notice how Pete has shortened the width of these steps taking several inches off the original. The cooking and preparation area (see the stove) will be to the left of the steps facing the vardo's front door. The idea is to set up the four metal sides when we are camped for long-stays (a month) and use the porch kitchen set-up for short-stays.
Porch kitchen set up
We have a reservation at Bruceport County Park, in South Bend Washington for the month of July. That gives us a specific place to go, and two months to get a lot more work done to prepare for our first trip with the big ass yellow truck doing the towing (and stowing. The moveable walls and our very pared down 'stuff' will go in that truck). Bruceport County Park has a sentimental and historic significance for us. It was that park Pete and I camped at during the fall of 2007 after I was diagnosed with MCS. We were driving south from Anacortes to San Sebastapol California to attend one of the first Tiny Home Building workshops given by Jay Shafer (Mr. Tiny Homes). With that journey south we would piece together the early threads of a dream to live in the golden wagon. The story really is a long and weaving one!
Shifting blogging gear
This blog and the more than twenty four blogs and stories I have written since 2008 have been my form of non-profit service. While we built the wagon, Vardo For Two, I shared the details of what it was like to live in a basement kitchen, sleeping on cardboard on the floor, while we learned how to adapt to an illness that was without a cure. The process of choosing safe materials was pioneering stuff. While we made our way through, Pete built, I learned to blog.
In 2017, I started writing A Golden Wagon after we dared to believe we would pack up the wagon, our Subaru, and a truck and move back to Hawaii. Through the posts we were able to raise enough money to do that. But. The place for us in Hawaii did not open herself to us. It was not time, we weren't given permission. We asked, and the answer was "No."
"ask for help and allow ourselves to yield to forces stronger than our
wills or our egos' desires. As transitions take place during our later
years, a fundamental and primal shift from ambition to meaning occurs."
With the big ass yellow truck parked not far from the Golden Wagon, waiting for the next steps that will license her and pay her way on the highways of Washington state ... I make a shift in my writing.
Keep an eye on this site, A Golden Wagon ... and you will see some of the stories remain free posts and others will be not-quite-free. Myth and Story Medicine the name of my income-generating blog gives my readers and supporters a chance to buy my heART felt medicine. Still tuned for that, too.
Our new life hitched to the big ass yellow truck will mean new challenges, new expenses and support from as many patrons and supporters as we can gather. This post is the start of my new approach to making and offering my heART. We don't need a lot of money to live, but we need more than our social security checks provide us.
We would love to hear from you. Leave a comment, or reply to the personal email we're sending to many of our regular readers and family and friends.
Our mailing address
Mokihana Calizar and Pete Little
P.O. BOX 483
Langley, Washington 98260
Mahalo nui to our angels, supporters and readers for your faith and care
Wish us Happy Trails!
"You should collect horses (or was it 'ponies'?)," Kamaiya told us. We have been here at the Langley Fairgrounds Campground a month today. Our young friend's voice is starting to fade, and it saddens me that a memory of much importance could do that. Treacherous mind, making room for some thing else?
In the short and amazing first weeks of adjusting to life on the campground, the innocent and truly magical joy of a child's friendship washed the debilitating vampires of doubt, judgment and small-mindedness off our backs. As I sat outside on the bright yellow metal folding chair to dip the washed dishes in boiling water, I was in the company of the toy horses left with us; gifts from a Muse, a child with heart and imagination freed of blood-letting voices.
Toy Ponies you left for us, Kamaiya.
The YouTube from the creativity workshop-musical Die Vampire, Die! was a gift* dropped into my lap after a literal blood-letting morning experience. (I had blood drawn to check the chemistry of the life's flow in me.) My veins are tiny, and an inexperienced blood-taker will not find easy access. "Are you right-handed or left?" the woman asked. "Right-handed." It was the left vein that allowed the let. "Does it usually work that way," I asked. "It does for you!"
*Pull the 'Pygmy vampire swarming around the head' reference out of the lyrics!!
So the irony and the magic of the musical gift was connection. I was whirling and conflicted by a message I received regarding new work I have begun. The YouTube clip was left as a comment by Ellen Kushner on writer-editor-artist Terri Windling's blog Myth & Moor. The post was "On fear of judgement (and pernicious perfectionism).
Windling's post includes practical and tender advice for artists. Here is something that fuels me:
"From the moment that our artwork, so tenderly constructed, leaves the
desk/studio/rehearsal space and travels into the world at large I can
guarantee you that it will encounter, somewhere, some or all of the things we dread the most: indifference, incomprehension, mockery, hostility, occasionally even downright hatred."
Before, during and after my morning at the clinic for the blood draw, I was dealing with fears of judgement and needed to hear Art and art chant and cant the vampires off my back and out of my head once again. The work I have begun builds on the medicine of fantasy-memoir -- medicine storytelling-- a kind of writing I do to dive into the real life that I live with the skin of a Water Being who is both totally afraid of what comes with the 'splash' of birthing and aware the splash is essential.
My most recent project is complex and tough speaking; but it is not just angry to be shocking. It is tough speaking because the nature of the pains are old and I am committed to letting air through the holes of my psyche and make a story rich with colors. Our/my colors. I am digging deeper, 'Eli 'eli kau mai say my Ancestors. Pualani Kanakaole Kanahele writes in her two hundred percent Hawaiian voice, a powerful edict for us/me, in the Preface of the book Ka Honua Ola (the living Earth) 'Eli'eli Kau Mai (descend, deepen the revelation),
" We as Native Hawaiians, must continue to unveil the knowledge of our ancestors. Let us interpret for ourselves who our ancestors are, how they thought, and why they made certain decisions ..." Entering the world of ancestral memory requires a certain mindset. Take time, to enjoy and understand each phrase or line before going on ... The meaning and force of the ancestral knowledge will unfold precept upon precept, and each has a code to inspire you on to the next level."
I reread and listen to Pualani because she speaks the language of my heart, the one I forget unless I read and hear it with that powerful mix of anger, justice, pono, fierceness. She clarifies me when I am being drawn on my vampires; I remember why my veins will not easily allow access.
"I'm a writer, an artist, a historian, a teacher and
mentor. I'm also an activist, a healer, a revolutionary. I tell
stories with medicinal powers. Herbalists who collect wild plants to
make medicine call it wildcrafting. I wildcraft the details of the world, of history, of people's lives, and concentrate them through art in order to shift consciousness, to change how e think about ourselves, each other and the world. The stories we tell about our lives shape what we're able to imagine, and what we can imagine determines what we can do. My job is to change the stories we tell and help us imagine a world where greed has no power, the earth is cherished and all people get to live safe and satisfying lives. Because once we truly imagine it, the pull to create it becomes irresistible."
I go to Aurora Levins Morales to help me feel less alone in my beliefs that the life Pete and I are living is valuable, precious, exciting and filled with that "irresistible pull to keep living it." Mentors, artists, and people who know me and love the work I do with the real life I live, are my audience. These are the people I write for, and they are the ones who will not suck my blood. It is a life-long discerning process to decolonize and ferret out the vampires and judges (both those outside and the ones with my own voice).
Aurora Levins Morales wrote the widely read and inspiring original volume of radical essays Medicine Stories in 1998. I have been eager to read the updated and revised edition, and again, another gift of connection led me to discover the book is soon to be available (April 19, 2019) from Duke University Press..
"In this revised and expanded edition of Medicine Stories, Aurora
Levins Morales weaves together insights and lessons learned over a
lifetime of activism to offer a new theory of social justice. Calling
for a politics of integrity that recognizes the complicated wholeness of
individual and collective lives, Levins Morales delves among the
interwoven roots of multiple oppressions, exposing connections, crafting
strategies, and uncovering the wellsprings of resilience and joy."
One of the most important pieces of activism and literary inspirations for me as an indigenous woman with so much to forget before I can remember who I really am comes from Levins Morales' essay The Historian as Curandera. The essay begins with this South African proverb:
Until lions write books, history will always glorify the hunter.
I have a much penciled in with lines and notes copy of this essay. From time to time I reread it, and draw on it to refuel my "complicated wholeness of individual and collectives lives." I am doing that refueling again as I write today.
"Tracing absences [of voices that speak my story] can balance a picture, even when you are unable to fill in the blanks. Lack of evidence doesn't mean you can't name and describe what is missing. Tracing the outlines of a woman shaped hole in the record ..., can be a powerful way of correcting imperial history."
Imperial History, colonized history, white privilege and other forms of oppression cover so much ground. Where is there 'common ground' or space for me to 'come to ground' with so many holes in my sould?
It matters that I am a diver, and I make my way through the water of potential through the bravery of my 'pen' or fingers on a keyboard; I dive and dig deep. The play and the work become potent gifts that are not meant to stay out of the way. They are meant to be expressed and this is what I do. Not to please, or make peace at any cost but 'so the moments of understandings do not flee without recognition'; it's my kuleana, my responsibility, my destiny.
The gift of expression and voicing truth for me, an indigenous elder in training, must not be frightened into paralytic thinking: 'this life is not being lived 'well enough' or evolved enough.' A'ole! No! My future, or my next life is fed by my Ancestors who chant for me to go deeper; and my Ancestors who offer me remedy in the form of toy ponies and abundant imagination create joyful todays and more tomorrows.
Toy Ponies For Kamaiya
"You should collect horses."
Her beaming face,
Always making room
Flowing hair and curious hands
Dug into our past.
Our cardboard boxes
Filled with bits of so much
But also toys.
"I love that!"
She will be nine in November.
Fully formed and richly-spirited.
"I found this," a rusty horseshoe.
"Gonna put this in my new bedroom!"
"It's for luck," she was without doubt.
"You should collect horses."
She offered us the remedy.
Toy ponies lean upon
The rusted wagon wheel-well.
Wild toy ponies for luck.
Luck and remedy from a child.
Leave no room for vampires.
This will be my last post for at least awhile. I've had a significant change of heart, and may need to attend to my heart and soul with more private care. Blogging to understand myself, and share the process, has been a very public expression with very little in return.
Diving in private now I hope to find the peace I need to ride and play with those wild ponies Kamaiya has left with us. Maybe without so much 'trying to fit' I can just fit where I am, inside.
Wisconsin cheese from Minnesota, playing out with a game of Solitaire
The first rain has come to Whidbey after a long stretch of dry. We are tucked up snug in the vardo enjoying the comfort of our twenty five dollars a night campsite here at the Langley Fairgrounds Campground -- more affectionately nicknamed "the Bunny Camp."
A box of goodies arrived from Minnesota yesterday, gifts from Margaret, Pete's sister. The chunk of aged white cheddar sliced and stacked between bread and toasted in the small cast iron skillet was precious and delicious.
One of the things that we're doing -- part of the process of consolidating our living small life -- is to maximize the ways we use the space we do have. In the ten years since we began our vardo/golden wagon life we have kept the vardo a primarily sleeping space. To ensure a pristine and fragrance free space, we have eaten outside the vardo; in the outdoors when it was conducive and in a separate space when we had it or could create it.
Now we "tincture down" as I have begun to say about the consolidating process going on for us. Making our own medicines using the Plants who have made themselves known to us (Plant Allies) I listen as I introduce myself to the Chickweed, Gobo Root, St. Joan's Wort, Echinacea Root; I watch as I harvest and gather, prepare and fill a clean glass jar; and smell the 100 proof alcohol as I fill the jar packed tight with the leaves, flowers and roots. I cap the jar tightly and set it aside.
Over six weeks, or more, I watch the Plants "tincture down" giving their essence to the alcohol and changing the vodka to People's Medicine. I notice how the thick white rooti-ness settles to the bottom of the jar. Though it's not necessary, I turn the jar with root tincture makings upside down on occasion and thank the Plant for her generosity.
A tin once filled with cookies (thanks Joan) is now my tinctures tin, looked after by the Goddess Kwan Yin
Kitchen on the porch, a Pete retrofit
Booties and a Fleece Robe ... gifts that really do the trick! Mahalo nui Jen & JT
We are "tincturing down" the essential nature of our lives. What we thought we could do over the long haul we have to rethink, re-imagine and make room for the magic of a different sort of connectedness.
We have found a way to pay our way, here at the Bunny Camp, with other people many of them with young children. I introduced our readers to the first dose of family with children here, and here. And this week we met other children and a mother. They are Storytellers! We have exchanged stories, and gifted one another with the getting-to-know you thing that is the first step in reciprocity. Oh how good that feels.
We have found what it takes, now, to combine our wishes and dreams into another form of safety pin magic. The same kind of magic that dropped from the sky one winter day and fed me the original story on a day only a duck could love. What I'm getting at is now we are literally adding The Safety Pin Cafe to the front of our wagon! A dream of a scheme like that one, or any other dream with your essence tinctured in it, takes time.
We have bought sheets of red metal siding to begin the process of creating a four foot by eight foot moveable feasting and prepping area off the porch of the Golden Wagon-Vardo for Two. The add-on will allow me to cook and prepare our meals in the shelter of
walls that keep us 'private' yet convertible when we have to move from
'camp to camp.
Thank you Teri and Martin for sharing a bit of your unexpected bounty, which is a lot, with us. We're using some of it for those walls of the tiny Safety Pin Cafe. One of the big lessons we have learned from the months of attempting to share space is: there are limits to which others will share and then sometimes gifts come at expected moments.
We are here at Bunny Camp getting to know what the culture of camp is like; at least this campground. And that is helping us get real making the most of what we have and who we are. The issues of adjusting and adapting to the culture within a culture raise the question of self-worth; the definitions of home and homelessness factor into our lives all the time. There's no pretending the judgements of our way of living isn't happening; entitlement and privileges reign in this consumer culture.
I have begun the other part of adding onto the original medicine of the Safety Pin Cafe to coincide with the physical creation of the tiny space Pete will fabricate. My part of the process is called LUNCH @ THE PIN. You can read about that project here in a post entitled "Samsara", and I hope it will inspire you to join us and support our effort to "focus on tough topics that need to be chewed."
Saṃsāra (/səmˈsɑːrə/) is a Sanskrit word that means "wandering" or "world", with the connotation of cyclic, circuitous change. It also refers to the concept of rebirth and "cyclicality of all life, matter, existence", a fundamental assumption of most Indian religions. In short, it is the cycle of death and rebirth.Saṃsāra is sometimes referred to with terms or phrases such as transmigration, karmic cycle, reincarnation, and "cycle of aimless drifting, wandering or mundane existence".[2 - Wikipedia
And a final gift just purchased at our local mercantile, Star Store, set on the kitchen burner. As promised Jennifer, we found a teapot. It works and it whistles!That's the thing about being human and being on a spiritual path. Sometimes things do ... work as well as whistle. Thank you to all our friends and supporters who share what they do.
Pete and I left the campground yesterday to be in the audience, a packed house, at Hugo House in Seattle, to listen and watch this woman read her art. This woman is thirty year old Morgan Parker, poet and author of her newest book Magical Negro.
" Los Angeles–based poet Morgan Parker titling her new potent book of poetry Magical Negro is
hilarious, because this book doesn't cater to white selfhood or
knowledge at all. Instead what we get is a portrait of 21st-century
Black womanhood: our complexities, our sadness, our everydayness, our
shared ancestral trauma and the violence done against us, our splendor,
our humor. My body is an argument I did not start. That's the pitch of
Parker's language." - Jasmyne Keimig
Leaving our usual world of routines is an investment in our well-being (it's good to add something different to the mundane, tho' there is very little about our life that feels mundane). Timing-wise going into the city to listen to a young Black woman read her art? That was a gift for the Moon-in-us for the Dark Moon was coming in the early hours of Friday. Pete drove the light-Thursday-traffic to give us power to our New Moon in Aries Intentions.
Third House New Moon (me): Mean what you say. Don’t back down.
Eighth House New Moon (Pete): You’re responsible for and in control of your own psyche. Don’t be pushed around or misled.
I am reaching a peak of awakening to the life-long ancestral trauma that every non-white woman and man experiences. The problem with that long time trauma is it's difficult to articulate; or more truthfully it's difficult for whites (who are the majority of my friends, associations, and sources of daily contact) to hear (entitlement creates a stout wall) let alone comprehend and apply.
"My body is an argument I did not start."There. That. As I sat in the darkened theater and listened to Morgan Parker read that line, I felt the answer. Her answer. My answer. Ya, my language has been trying to give my body a better, bitter answer to all the condescension and white entitlement that has and still does keep that argument going.
The oxygen flowed through the purse-carrier sized tank, through the stainless tubing and out of the ceramic mask. At a constant flow poised on "4" I held the life-giving element -- 02 -- up to my seventy-one year old Filipino, Hawaiian, Chinese face. The young Black woman was funny, tired from a book tour that was not even near finished. She read from her newest collection of poetry as well as poems from earlier books. She 'clarified' the title of her book There are More Beautiful Things than Beyonce because the title stirred people (her own) to name the poet blasphemous. After sips of something clear and icy with a slice of lemon with Tequila in it, Morgan Parker scented the oxygen I sucked up that night with deep truth and reinforcements for this old woman. This old woman who could have used that "My body is an argument I did not start" line decades earlier as an antidote for sucking up to white power, or sucking on white cock.
I'm not sure where this peaking awakening will take me. I know it was no accident this past year of episodes with the white folk of this liberal and sustainably self-identified community. I know the challenges Pete and I face as a couple duking out racial and cultural differences counts for something. What exactly?
I'm not sure. But then the way is not over yet, and this edge-dwelling version of life for us has a message that fuels us to remain curious and wise in our everyday. So many ways to make a different choice. Not so many choices when you are not white, and even fewer choices when the margins of definitions tag you 'Chronically Homeless'; 'Homeless'; 'Temporarily Homeless' ... or the honest but cold shit description we heard as the New Year of the Pig was birthed?
"In the way."
I am planting new seed, digging up new ground, and making connections with the Bunnies and the Children here at the campground in Langley. The way forward is clear, but the how and who are still having that age old argument in my body. "It's an argument I didn't start," the young Black poet sez. She is right, but what an old Brown and Asian writer can do is to pen the bravery of my life and say:
"No. I won't start out-of-the-way." In as many ways as I can, that may make that argument (I didn't start) weigh more on the side of the Colors than in times past.
Read here for more of what's happening for New Moon, New Day, New Way. I mean what I say, and won't back down. Wow, the poet made the perfect argument for why it makes no sense to back down now.
" a new site prepares me to take new and bolder steps
with my art, my activism, my words and the reality of an indigenous
woman living in a very white-is-right and privileged world. Odd and
quirky as it might appear ... Brown Nose Bunny and all his Relatives are
feeding this Hawaiian elder woman with their spirit energy and here's
what I mean."