happy easter…happy spring…

Because the weather here in the Seattle area is so iffy…rain pouring down on us without any warning…hubby and I decided to forgo Easter Day celebrations in lieu of gardening. Praise God…the sun decided to spend the day.

Celebrating the holiday early, we treated our nephew and his lovely wife to lunch yesterday. Immersed in conversation and enjoying one another’s company, we barely noticed the raindrops pelting ferociously against the windows of the restaurant, as if pleading to to be let inside.

It’s not often my husband and I get to spend time with young folks. Our daughter’s the exception, of course. We’re lucky that she and our nieces and nephews get that we’re fun, sometimes weird…in a good way.

Hubby and I laugh a lot. We cajole one another. We make each other smile. We exchange silly remarks. We even call each other goofy names.

IMG_1709

…young uns ourselves back in the day…as kooky then…as we are now…

I’m pretty sure my husband’s business colleagues would be thoroughly surprised were they to see him bumming around in his “allo, allos,” as we Hawaiians like to say. Translation? “Raggedy clothes.” Not that they’re raggedy, they’re just not his usual corporate duds.

In fact, even his personality undergoes a transformation. He’s not so careful about minding his p’s and q’s around the house. He’s not the reticent, quiet guy he projects at work. It’s more like he goes from being Clark Kent and Superman to being George Burns, the comedienne and straight man to his wife and comic sidekick, Gracie Allen.

I’ve always been a self-proclaimed Lucy…as in “I Love Lucy.”IMG_1493 I probably started squirreling away all those crazy antics of hers, ever since I first laid eyes on that zany redhead back in the 50’s. Add to that a touch of Gracie Allen, and you get an idea of how kooky our household often is. My daughter threatens to follow me around with a camera so she can post a youtube video showing the world the real hugmamma. (Not going to happen. Trust me.)

So it’s nice to be loved by the likes of my rather normal daughter, and young relatives, who go out of their way to humor their elders whenever we’re together. 

Although an unconventional celebration at a small Japanese restaurant the day before, our Easter holiday was indeed happy and blest. 

Aloha and mahalo to Kanoa and Erica for making it so.

And I’m hoping yours was equally joyful as well!

………hugmamma.

 

 

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“it’s the daughta!”

That’s what my husband and I exclaim when our daughter calls on the telephone.

“It’s the daughta!” To which she replies “It’s the madda!” or “It’s the fadda!” Inside joke. And one which has us grinning like cheshire cats and laughing like madhatters.

What’s she been up to these days, for those of you wondering since our daughter left ballet for contemporary dance?

Well, her recent performance in Houston Grand Opera‘s AIDA went splendidly.

upper right corner..."the daughta!"

upper right corner…”the daughta!”

Our daughter was the dance lead which placed her front and center in Dominic Walsh‘s choreography. She was also honored to be only one of two dancers featured in the show’s glossy program, alongside the several, notable opera singers from around the world. The other dancer was the male lead.

Not one to be put off by funky costumes, our daughter relished her role as the Ethiopian witch doctor who battles the Egyptian warrior intent upon enslaving her people for his pharoah. I applauded her wild, frenetic moves in battling with her armed opponent.

I imagined our daughter following in the footsteps of her great aunt, my mom’s eldest sister, a kahuna…a native Hawaiian witch doctor. I never saw my aunt “in action,” although I’m sure she was just as formidable.

When not the wild and wooly witch doctor, our daughter joined the other female dancers as high priestesses and slave girls. Years of training and performing ballet continue to shine through our daughter’s seemingly effortless moves. Her solid foundation in technique will serve her well no matter where she lands in the dance world.

On the final day of the show the dancers were invited to audition for the opera’s spring engagement of CARMEN. The entire NYC production will take up residency for a month-and-a-half. Houston’s opera was asked to provide one male and one female dancer to “cover” or understudy the dancers being imported from the Big Apple

As she sat on a plane leaving Houston bound for Pittsburgh and her next gig, our daughter was notified by email that she was chosen for CARMEN. Talk about an ego booster!

While performing great roles is of course a dream come true, for our daughter the process is equally as important. 

Working with artists from whom she can learn and grow, and sharing in the camaraderie of fellow dancers with varied backgrounds and experiences is something our daughter relishes. She does not like to stagnate…as a dancer or as a person.

As she charts this the next course in her dance career, networking is absolutely vital. Hence working with the movers and shakers from the New York production staff of CARMEN will put our daughter in touch with folks she might not otherwise have gotten to meet. Already she was excited to work with the woman who put the dancers through their paces as she auditioned them for the opera. Our daughter looks forward to working with her again, as well as the director and his assistant who did not make it to Houston for the audition.

Hawaiian ballerina in Spanish mode

Hawaiian ballerina in Spanish mode

And here’s the thing. Dancers in operas CAN make more money than ballet dancers. For CARMEN our daughter’s salary will be nearly double what she made with the ballet company. After being with them for 6 years, mind you! I’m certain even some of the principals don’t make as much as she’ll be making. 

But then, of course, there’s the flip side to every coin. And that’s the fact that our daughter must pay her own way…from housing to health insurance…and everything in between. So life isn’t always…a bed of roses.

Nonetheless, our daughter is thrilled to be the one picking and choosing which roses she’d like to smell as she wanders down life’s path. And as far as we’re concerned, hubby and me…

our daughter is the most beautiful and fragrant of roses…

………hugmamma

through others eyes…

A number of my posts have referenced my cultural heritage…I’m Hawaiian.

I’m also half-Chinese, although I know very little about the culture since my father died when I was one, and my mom was never accepted by her in-laws because she wasn’t Chinese. What I do know was gained from having lived among the Chinese, whose numbers figured large in  Hawaii‘s “melting pot.”

You’ll agree, I’m sure, that who we become is influenced by the environment in which we have been raised. By osmosis, we absorb the good, the bad, and the nuances…of our surroundings.

Born in 1949, I was a Hawaiian on the verge of becoming an American. Once a monarchy, Hawaii became a state of the union on August 21, 1959. I turned 10 that same month.

English: President Sanford B. Dole of the Repu...

English: President Sanford B. Dole of the Republic of Hawaii, his cabinet, and officers of the United States Army, reviewing from the steps of the former royal palace the first American troops to arrive in Honolulu, in 1898, on their way to Manila to capture the city, which Commodore Dewey held at bay with the guns of his fleets. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the lead up to becoming an American, I was not allowed to speak my native tongue nor learn about the history of my island home. Instead, I was formally educated in the English language and in American history.

My mom, widowed with 9 children, supported us with her meager earnings as laundress for a Catholic orphanage run by Maryknoll nuns from Boston, Massachusetts. She inferred from them that she should only speak English, and she should abandon her superstitious, island traditions.

As a result of my family’s experience with having to adapt to become  Americans, I am sensitive to others who view America as wanting to usurp their uniqueness as a people…with their own cultural beliefs and traditions.

Despite the Birthers who refuse to acknowledge President Obama’s American citizenship, he was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961 at 7:24 p.m. at Kapiolani & Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu. His father, 25 at the time; his mother, 18.  You can view the long form of his birth certificate at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/rss_viewer/birth-certificate-long-form.pdf

President Obama and I share a commonality…we were born in Hawaii. Me, 10 years before it became a state; the President, 2 years after.

I think most will agree that the first years of a child’s life are the formative ones. They were for me.

English: President Barack Obama signs H.R. 847...

I don’t profess to know all about President Obama, but I sincerely feel he is imbued with the Aloha Spirit so closely identified with the islands we both call home. In fact, he has said as much.

Reflecting later on his formative years in Honolulu, Obama wrote: “The opportunity that Hawaii offered—to experience a variety of cultures in a climate of mutual respect—became an integral part of my world view, and a basis for the values that I hold most dear.”[38]

President Obama’s approach to foreign policy is reflective of his upbringing.

He stands tall for American values, all the while recognizing that others have the same right to take pride in who they are and in what they believe. In attempting to bring them around to a more democratic outlook in how they govern, the President does not see the need to annihilate the essence of who they are as a people.

Respecting other nations and supporting them as they take the lead in pursuing their own democracies, President Obama acknowledges that America can no longer act  as the imperialist nation it once was.

America remains the most powerful nation on earth. We still “speak softly and carry a big stick.” It’s just that others are more inclined to call our bluff…namely the terrorists…and China.

We need more in our arsenal of weapons than just bullying postures and empty threats.

First and foremost the President is opting to sit around the table with our allies, and other nations important to the stability required in these very uncertain times. He has made every effort to effect what he has said. That he hasn’t done it to everyone’s expectations might be credited, in part, to the rapidity with which events unfold. And the need to remain flexible, feet grounded, but not immovable.

That America must assert its authority as it once did in previous eras, such as during the Cold War, is not seeing where we are today.

The Middle-East is comprised of such divisive factions. There is not a “one-size-fits-all” solution to the problems that exist there.

Governor Romney’s vision of American leadership in the world is a throwback to what prior Administrations have held. Perhaps appropriate to some degree then, less likely today.

President Obama’s’ visits to leaders of the Arab world had been viewed as currying favor with those leaders.

My view has always been that the President was reaching out to people who have always been demonized by us, just as we have always been demonized by them. He was trying to build a bridge. A conversation between perceived enemies, if you will.

The world is not black and white. It is colored…textured…multi-faceted.

We need to live outside of ourselves, in the real world where others are trying to do the same. Realizing that how we expect to be treated by others…is how they would like to be treated by us. Sound familiar?

…i invite you to step back…and see the world…through others eyes…

………hugmamma.

superstitious…in this day and age?

It was with uncharacteristic smugness that I read “Snow Job: Ski Resorts Call on Higher Authorities to Save Season…After a Native American Ceremony, Vail Gets Blanketed; ‘Pray to Ullr’.” It wasn’t so much a chest popping moment for myself as it was an “aha” moment for all indigents whose cultures have been trampled by white settlers…here on the mainland…and in Hawaii, my ancestral home and place of birth.

Native American Indians and Hawaiians have regained considerable pride in their ethnicity, owing in part to tourism and government intervention on their behalves. What amazes me is the respect assigned cultural superstitions in modern society.

English: Photograph of an Old Hawaiian woman b...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s been a long-standing practice in Hawaii, that a new construction site is blest by a religious minister as well as a representative of native beliefs. The latter is especially required if the land is known to have been a Hawaiian burial site, or a heiau. The tenants of the building would not want to co-habit with island ghosts. Take my word as a native Hawaiian…you wouldn’t want to see one of my ancestors coming at you in the dark. Imagine your worst nightmare…it’d be even more hair-raising than that. I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes…and I’m one of their own.

According to the article, written by Ben Cohen, Vail Resorts invited Eddie Box Jr to “perform a snow dance.” A member of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe of Colorado, 66-year-old Mr. Box hasn’t skied in 40 years. Since his intervention on January 7, Vail Mountain back bowls have had 25 inches of snow.

Uintah Ute couple, northwestern Utah, 1874

Image via Wikipedia

As a result of Vail’s success, other resorts followed suit. Park City Mountain Resort in Utah “invited 30 Northern Utes to a plaza near its base for a mountain blessing at high noon. Park City had reached out to them around Christmas. ‘We felt like it was time for Mother Nature to kick in,’ said Park City marketing director Krista Parry, as she watched five inches of snow drop outside her window Wednesday.”

Lake Tahoe skiing areas expect “enough snow to salvage the season’s dismal opening,” after a snow dance was performed by descendants of several Native American tribes at a nearby state park.

North side of Vail Mountain, and Vail Valley.

Image via Wikipedia

So what exactly does a snow dance entail? Read on

     In Colorado, conditions on New Year’s Day were the driest since 2002, according to the National Resources Conservation Service. Mr. Box received an email from Vail on Jan. 2. The Southern Utes had been to Vail before, including in 1999, the year the mountain hosted the Alpine World Ski Championships.
     “We would love to celebrate the Native history of the area, and hopefully help put an end to our ongoing drought of snow,” the email read. Mr. Box chose Jan. 7. The weekly forecast then called for more dry weather. Immediately he incorporated requests for precipitation into his daily prayers and sweat-lodge ceremonies.
     In Vail, he began the ritual at 8:30 a.m. Snow showers already swirled around a few hundred spectators. In the colorful regalia he might wear to a powwow, Mr. Box danced to the rhythm of hums, drums and an eagle-bone whistle. He also led what he called a “friendship dance,” in which skiers and onlookers joined hands and moved in a circle.
     Vail promoted the event using Twitter and Facebook, but not through advertisements or media invitations. The resort covered Mr. Box’s expenses and lodging while he was in town. Mr. Box says he doesn’t accept money for snow dances.
     Before closing, Mr. Box presented Mr. Jarnot, the COO, with a package of tobacco and asked that he find a special place on the mountain and sprinkle it in all four directions.
     Mr. Jarnot and three others rode up to a run that overlooks the back bowls. They skied down a trail, clicked out of their skis and hiked five minutes to a secluded location. “We took a little moment to make our offering and show respect,” Mr. Jarnot said. “Then we snapped our skis back on and skied down.”
    It was snowing so fiercely by then that Mr. Box’s wife, Betty, had convinced him to drive home to beat the storm. “My honey said, ‘We have to get out of here before it gets really bad,’ ” Mr. Box recalled. “We had to four-wheel it.”

Wouldn’t it be amazing if all cultures could reach out to one another as easily as the skiers and the Indians did earlier this month. One of the finer moments of our capitalistic society, I think. The rich looking to sustain their wealth by asking the not-so-rich for a little help. And the not-so-rich offering it for room and board…and nothing else. Except perhaps…respect for their heritage…

English: Neris Juliao And Native American Indi...

Image via Wikipedia

…and that’s priceless…don’t you agree?…

………hugmamma.  😉 

raining…lemon drops…

Photogram created by slices of lemon on colour...

Image via Wikipedia

Ever hear the expression…”When it rains, it pours?” You’d literally expect that here in the environs of Seattle. However with my recent good fortune of having lemons dumped in my lap…I’ve now got lemons falling from heaven.

How’s that you say? Raining lemons? Well for this Hawaiian hugmamma it might as well be. Snow has been falling steadily since 4 a.m. this morning. By tonight I might be up to my eyeballs in the white stuff. That’s if I venture out to romp around in it. Which you know I won’t. Maybe when I was a spring chicken. I’m afraid I’m an old goat now. My romping days are definitely over…sigh.

Mocha, on the other hand, would love to take me sledding. I can see us. She bounding along on one end of her leash…me bumping along on my butt on the other end. No. I don’t think so. Especially since my back is finally returning to that of a walking, talking 62-year-old, and not that of a bent over, wizened old crone. You think I jest?

Dr. Öz at ServiceNation 2008

Image via Wikipedia

But what got me out from under my cozy covers to scribe this post was the effects of my latest vitamin supplement, SAMe. According to both Drs. Oz and Amen, its suppose to brighten my mood. I’m here to say it does seem to have that effect. No matter the situation, I’ve been able to  weather the dark mood that tries to settle in on my brain, by flooding it with positive thoughts.

So what can I make of the snowfall? Projects! Numero uno on my “to do” list is reorganizing my half of the garage, the side where I can’t park my car because it’s full of my opala…Hawaiian for…junk. The other half is where my husband parks his car. So, yes. As I type, my poor little Betsy is freezing her buns off…as she shivers in the cold…parked in the driveway. But she’s from Seattle, so she’ll manage.

Deutsch: König Midas, Öl auf Leinwand, 71 x 54 cm

Image via Wikipedia

For crafty folk…no, not the deceitful ones…who love to putter away making things to keep or sell, what better time to get to it. I use to be one such. I’ve the supplies filling plastic bins in the garage to prove it. Those days of laboring for pittance are long gone. Now I prefer to write…for nothing. Actually both were, and are, done for the love of the thing. I never thought, still don’t, I’d become King Midas. I may lay an egg…but for sure it won’t be golden.

Meanwhile…

Lemon drops keep falling on my head…but that doesn’t mean my eyes will soon be turning red…cryin’s not for me

………hugmamma.  🙂

it takes a village…the punch line (read part 1 first)

This part of the yarn is not as long as the set up…true for most punch line endings.

Loving You

Image via Wikipedia

According to my husband, present throughout, I was happy…and loving…in the recovery room.

“You were very happy.”

“You kept telling everyone ‘I love you. I love you.’…the nurse who was there the entire time…the Asian nurse who came in for a few minutes to see how things went…and Dr. Patterson.”

“They all smiled and chuckled. As they did when you went on to say ‘This was good. I like this.’ “

“You asked Dr. Patterson if you could hug him. He said “yes” and leaned over for a hug, still in his scrubs and custom-designed cap. In fact when he left, about 10 minutes later, you asked if you could give him a second hug. Again Dr. Patterson let you hug him…smiling the whole time.”

“Then you announced that you would make him teriyaki meatballs. To which he laughingly replied ‘Okay! Anytime!’ “

Throughout my “loving everyone up,” my husband said I was lucid. When the doctor showed me the photos taken during my colonoscopy I was pleased there were no problems. That’s probably why I was so ecstatic.

Besides the colonoscopy, I’d had an endoscopy. Suffering heartburn for some time and having difficulty swallowing certain foods, like rice, Dr. Purdon, my general practitioner, suggested the procedure. Being a gastroenterologist, Dr. Patterson could do both at the same time. How convenient not to have to make 2 trips to the hospital and down nasty liquids twice…yuck! I’m sure Premera Blue Cross is also glad not to see my costs doubled.

Dr. Patterson had thought that there might be a thin membrane obstructing the passage of foods in my esophagus. If there was, the endoscopic tube would easily break the membrane. However the procedure showed no such obstruction. So the only conclusion drawn was that the sticky texture of rice might be an issue. No worries since I normally eat brown rice as a part of my high-fiber diet.

It seems I was focused enough, not totally la-la, to ask if Nexium might be something I should take for my heartburn. In response Dr. Patterson likened the drug to taking out the “big guns” to solve a little problem. Instead he recommended I use Pepcid AC or Zantac, as needed.

Not too long after my “pow wow” with the doctor, he and the nurses left me to get dressed to leave. When the time came to actually walk out I needed the aid of a nurse pushing me in a wheelchair. Even then I continued to say how I loved them all…and that I would be returning with the promised teriyaki meatballs.

I wonder if Dr. Patterson and the nurses have stopped talking about the babbling, Hawaiian islander who couldn’t stop showering them with love, hugs and food? A lot of yada…yada…yada…

…but I meant everything…i did…and said…right down to the meatballs…

………hugmamma.  😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

365 photo challenge: culture

Although I’ve not lived in the islands since 1977, my heart will always be Hawaiian-bred. The spirit of Aloha with which I was raised is forever ingrained in my moral fiber. My penchant for compassion, hope, and sending forth positive energy in an ever-increasing environment of me-ism and profit above all else, are owing to my Hawaiian roots where harmony within ourselves and with others is always something for which we must strive.

….and so i celebrate…………………………..ohana (family)………………………………

…the best example………….of my hawaiian culture………………….hugmamma.

“shaka, bra…”

Sunset from Ka'annapali, Maui, Hawaiian Islands

Image by Mastery of Maps via Flickr

That’s Hawaiian speak for “it’s easy,” “no worries,” “right on.” At least that’s what I’ve thought it to mean when I lived and played in the islands, decades ago. I’m sure over time it’s come to mean more things to more people. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to find the following email from kamaainas (non-locals who become locals by virtue of moving to Hawaii or owning property there). I don’t know them personally, but feel I do through their intermittent communication. Hope you enjoy this mini “pigeon-english” lesson. Never know, it might come in handy on a future visit to my native island paradise.

Aloha!
The “shaka” sign has meant many things over the years and is a definite part of Hawaiian culture and the aloha spirit that is always present in Hawai’i. Today, it can mean many things, including “Howzit?” (How’s it going?), “No worries!”, “Thanks!” and much more. It is by far the most well-known and used gesture by Hawai’i locals and islanders, men, women, and keiki (children) alike. It’s used as a gesture of friendship, to greet, and to say goodbye. It’s how local people wave at others. Interpreted to mean “hang loose” or “right on,” the “shaka” sign is a constant reminder that in Hawaii, it is not the norm to worry or rush. “Shaka” represents the embodiment of “island style.” It signals that everything is all right.

Road to Hana, Maui, Hawaiian Islands

Image by Mastery of Maps via Flickr

The “shaka” sign is more than just nonverbal communication. When you use it, you acknowledge the true concept of aloha and participate in the synergistic heartbeat of Hawai’i. A guest expressed it this way: “We remember when we got our first “shaka” in Hawai’i. We were enjoying the drive on the road to Hana. We looked in the rearview mirror and noticed a pickup truck following behind us. We assumed the folks in the truck were local residents and weren’t on a sightseeing mission as we were, so at our first opportunity, we pulled over to let the truck pass by us. As the truck passed, the passenger gave us a ‘shaka’.” (By the way, local residents will always appreciate your pulling over to allow them to pass if you are driving slowly.)

Edited photo of

Image via Wikipedia

To make a “shaka,” extend your thumb and pinkie while curling in the index and middle fingers. You can rotate your wrist too.

The “shaka” is a simple, yet powerful, way to remind locals and visitors of the way people look out for each other on the Islands, and strive to spread aloha day in, and day out, in keeping with the Hawaiian principle of “malama i kekahi i kekahi,”…”take care of one, take care of all.”

If you’re new to the islands, don’t be shy about throwing up “shakas.” Just make sure you’ve got the hand gesture down first!

road to hana

A hui hou…
Anne & Wes

 
 

 

 

365 photo challenge: pupil

my daughter as a pupil of ballet……………………………………………………………….

and as a professional………………. she continues to train……………….as a pupil

and i’m still learning all the intricacies of ballet………………………………………..

as a pupil of art appreciation…………………………………………………hugmamma.

hawaiian garbage, literally

Indians to U.S.: Take Out Trash – Washington State Tribe Sues to Keep Hawaiian Garbage Off Ancestral Lands” demonstrates our seeming disregard for the environment. Rather than find a long-term solution that benefits the planet and future generations, we prefer the less diligent response of wanting to hand it off to someonelse. Just as this particular dilemma isn’t new, neither is the solution. But will we ever resolve it once and for all?

The Yakama Indian tribe sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture to halt “shipment of municipal waste from Honolulu to a private landfill by the Columbia River.” A temporary restraining order by a federal court in Spokane on 7/29 prohibited the first shipment. Judge Edward Shea concurred with the Indians that the waste posed a potential threat to their use of neighboring land in the preservation of their cultural heritage. “In their complaint…the Yakama cited fear of invasive plant species from Hawaii, as well as microbes, insects and other pests that could attach themselves to the trash cargo and contaminate Yakama lands.” The 60-page diatribe went on to say that “future fishing stocks” would be threatened and that ” ‘Yakima citizens gather huckleberries and chokecherries and roots like lammush and bitter-root and pick various flowers and plants from the lands surrounding the Landfill–all for use as food or medicine,’…”

Beginning in 2004 landfills on the mainland offered to accommodate municipal waste from Honolulu, strapped for landfill. Eventually settling upon a site in Klickitat County, Washington “along the Columbia River dividing Washington from Oregon”, Hawaiian Waste Systems began “bailing tons of trash in anticipation of the 2,600-mile voyage from Hawaii. From the port of Longview, Wash., the bales of trash were to be taken by rail to a landfill in Roosevelt. While that route skirts the 1.4-million acre Yakama reservation, it would pass through the ‘ceded area’ the Yakama claim as a result of an 1855 peace treaty ending hostilities between the tribe and the federal government.” Rather than concoct a solution that expends so much time, effort and money in its logistical maneuvering, wouldn’t it make better sense to apply as much, or more, man hours and dollars in delineating a permanent resolution, like recycling?

Where we live in Washington State, we are required to recycle into jumbo bins, all plastics coded #1 and #2, all glass, and paper, as well as food garbage and yard waste designated for composting. What’s left that can’t be recycled is emptied into a small trash can. Our daughter is also required to recycle where she lives, as I’m sure people in other states are forced to do as well. Why then is Hawaii still exempt?

It’s hard to imagine that one of the loveliest states in the Union sends its ugly garbage hither and yon, in search of a dumping ground. It is  difficult to justify preserving the land of one native people who, consciously or unconsciously, irretrievably destroy the land of another native people. The Law requires travelers between the islands and  elsewhere, declare the transportation of fresh foods and plants. The concern, of course, being the infiltration of insects and other life forms which might destroy native species and their habitats. Shouldn’t the same consideration extend to the Yakama and their native species and their environs? 

Western civilization seems adept at pondering deeply the preservation of our capitalist society, but gives so little thought to the preservation and prosperity of the earth and its natural resources. Are we a narcissistic people, only concerned with ourselves and our needs? Is it inevitable that unless we change our ways, we may ultimately “pull the plug” on ourselves?

here’s hoping we don’t…hugmamma.

break out the champagne!

Make it an arctic cosmo for me, from Coho in the East Lake Sammamish Shopping Plaza, or a lemon drop martini from Old Hickory Steakhouse in the Grand Ole’ Opry Hotel in Nashville or a blue martini that tastes like a margarita from Ellendale’s in Donelson. And you, my friends, grab your favorite drinks and lift your glasses, or beer bottles, in a  toast to our awesome collaboration thus far. Some time today our blog hit the 1,001 viewing mark!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yesterday there were 72 views and today there are 36, and counting. It’s taken a month and four days, from 7/13 – 8/17, to arrive at the start of our journey over a rainbow of new memories going forward. Thanks to all of you for extending “a hand-up” by reading what I write about, giving credence to my thoughts, ideas and values. You and I may exist on the periphery of mainstream media but our lives are no less meaningful, for their effect on others are like ripples on the water when a stone is tossed. Change can, and does, happen one person at a time. Such a person was Gandhi, who said “Everything you do in life will be insignificant. But it’s important you do it anyway, because no one else will.” 

And so, I raise my “full cup” to toast you in thanks for allowing HUGMAMMA’S ATTENTION TO DETAIL to be a part of your daily lives. As we say in Hawaiian, “Okole Maluna!!!” …..”Bottom’s Up!!!”

and so I blog, with great appreciation…hugmamma. 

 

surrogate fathers

Reflecting back to my fatherless childhood, I was one when my father died, I probably pined for a male figure to parent me alongside my mom. But I don’t remember obsessing about it, although there were times when certain individuals were present in my life who I wished were my father.

My earliest recognition of just such a man was Uncle Lot. I adored him even though he was not really an uncle; “calabash” relatives were commonplace in extended Hawaiian families. Bronzed by the sun, silver white hair framing a handsome face, I imagined he loved me like a precious daughter. He and our Aunt Miriam, spinster brother and sister,  lived next door to the first home I ever knew, conveniently located across the road from the beach. When not frolicking on the sand or swimming in the warm waters, we’d be playing with Melabee, a German Shepherd belonging to auntie and uncle. We were always invited into their antique-filled home where we snacked on little sandwiches or small, scrumptious desserts. I always loved curling up in Uncle Lot’s lap, burrowing my sleepy head into his chest heavily scented with cologne. I’d rest there while he, auntie and my mom chatted amiably among themselves. I never wanted to leave when it was time to return to our house.  Their home was so much grander, filled with beautiful things, and food more delicious than was our usual fare. As a child I never understood aunty and uncle’s relationship. They were related, but they seemed so comfortable in each other’s shadow, like husband and wife. But they weren’t married, so I wanted Uncle Lot to marry my mom. Of course it was a child’s fantasy, and there it remained.

As a kindergartener I remember we were in a different home, one that I would live in until I moved away to college. Our Chinese landlord lived next door. At first it was “Popo” (grandmother) to whom we paid rent, but upon her death, her son Ah Sing assumed the responsibility. I became long-lasting, best friends with his daughter, an only child for many years. A brother was born into the family when my friend was in high school.

Ah Sing took pity upon my situation, a fatherless child with a mother struggling to support her young family. He would include me on outings with his daughter. One vivid memory is of a visit onboard a navy submarine docked  in the harbor. I still have a small, black and white photograph somewhere, of me perched on a metal seat on an outer deck, long, black hair caught up in the breeze, a furtive smile on my lips, a shy glance directed at the camera. My girlfriend’s mom was not as receptive toward me however, perhaps because I wasn’t a fit companion, being poor. No matter, I became a fixture at their home because I was like a sibling my friend wanted, and another daughter Ah Sing cherished.

The only physician I recall visiting as a child was Dr. James Fleming. His shoulders seemed broad, as though he could carry the weight of the world on them, well… at least that of the sick who visited his office. His hair was a sandy blonde, he wore spectacles and he always had a smile on his face. His bedside manner was comforting, especially to a child who rarely saw a doctor because it was an expense my mom couldn’t regularly afford. But like other generous people in our lives, Dr. Fleming discounted  our fees and never pressured my mom for payment. Receiving a lollipop or large, orange gumdrop was one reason I behaved during an appointment, but more importantly, Dr. Fleming felt like a father if only for the time I spent with him. When I was much older, my mom told me that he had offered to adopt me since he had no daughters, only 3 sons. You can imagine how elated I felt, and disappointed, that I never got to live the fairy-tale life of the Lahaina Flemings. But more than anything, I would have liked to have felt the love of a father like Dr. Fleming wash over me.

My father-in-law, now deceased some 20 years or so, treated me like a daughter. When I first spent time with my husband’s family, I thought my father-in-law didn’t like me. I always seemed the butt of his ribbing. Teasing was something I grew up with as the youngest, and I wasn’t particularly fond of it. I never had the wherewithal to fight back, and felt I must not be loved, or liked. Increasingly, as I was around him more, it became obvious that I was a favorite of my father-in-law’s. I guess I was a combination, pretty Hawaiian girl like his wife, Catholic raised and educated, attending college, with lofty ambitions that might rub off on his eldest son. But best of all I could out-talk the “Portugees,” as he would love to tell me, himself being Portuguese. We could banter back and forth endlessly. My father-in-law, looking much like and behaving very much like my husband, was the closest I ever came to having a father. So it saddened me to see his body, and spirit, deteriorate through the 8 years he survived after a massive heart attack which destroyed 50% of his heart.

And then there’s my husband. A Catholic seminarian a week prior to our first meeting, he had changed his mind about being called to the priesthood. Having left home after completion of 8th grade, he had spent the next 4 1/2 years studying theology. I’ve often joked that God was preparing him for an even greater task than leading the faithful, and that was keeping me on the “straight and narrow,” which he has successfully done for 40 years.

Because I was fatherless as a child, it was imminent that my daughter bond with her dad immediately. So I didn’t look to either my mom or mother-in-law for help when our baby was born. I wanted my husband, myself and our daughter to forge a strong and loving union which would survive the ups and downs of whatever lay ahead. And to this day, our strength as a family continues to thrive upon the foundation upon which it was built. We enable one another to follow our passions, knowing that our love and support is always available 24/7.

So while I may not have had a father of my own to nurture and guide me, there were those to whom I could look for the wonderful qualities that I would one day find in a husband. So I thank my “fathers”, of whom only Ah Sing survives, on my lovely, island, childhood home of Maui.

 very fortunate to have had surrogate fathers, love me…hugmamma.

preservation of a people

Prominently featured alongside “Google Agonizes on Privacy As Ad World Vaults Ahead,” is another article, “In Alaska, a Frenchman Fights to Revive the Eyak’s Dead Tongue.” It’s undeniable that the internet giant Google is more relevant to millions worldwide. But for me, the struggle to keep a native people from disappearing altogether is of greater significance to humankind. Obviously the editors of the Wall Street Journal feel both Google and the Eyak’s deserve equal attention by deciding to feature both on today’s front page. Kudos to the Journal!

Twenty-one year old, French, college student Guillaume Leduey, proficient in French, English, German, Chinese and Georgian, and able to sing one Lithuanian song, has made it his mission to save the Alaskan Eyak language from extinction. “Mr. Leduey’s Eyak odyssey began at age 12, when he happened on the language while trolling through an online dictionary of languages in his hometown of Le Havre. By searching more online, he discovered Eyak appeared to have only one native speaker, Ms. Jones. ‘I was like, “Wow, one speaker left. I must do something to learn the language,” ‘ Mr. Leduey says. His parents were less than thrilled. ‘They don’t think it’s useful,’ he says.”

An aspiring sculptor, Leduey had never left Europe until June when he made the trip to Alaska to study with 75-year-old Michael Krauss, a linguistics professor at the University of Alaska who knows conversational Eyak. “While as many as 20 native dialects remain in Alaska, Mr. Krauss says Eyak is considered extinct because there are no fluent, native speakers.” Sequestered in a room together for 5 hours each day, they pored over Eyak documents. As a diversion, Leduey sang Eyak songs to the professor’s Norwich Terrier, Scamper.

Immersing himself into the culture, Leduey journeyed to Cordova, “where the Eyaks made their last stand against being swallowed up by civilization.” Rival Tlingits helped white settlers in the takeover of the Eyak territory. Some part-natives took Leduey to visit a demolished village site and Child’s Glacier, a natural attraction. There a harbor seal leapt out of the icy waters to which he exclaimed “Keeltaak,” the Eyak word for the animal. To complement his education, Leduey learned the tradition of cooking salmon in the ground. He dug a shallow pit in the front yard of an Eyak descendant, then tended a crackling fire in which 2 red salmon roasted in giant skunk cabbage leaves. Still raw after 90 minutes, however, the salmon were thrown into the oven to finish cooking.

Several have sought lessons from Leduey, like 50-year-old Mr. Lankard and 53-year-old Ms. Curry.  Her “…mother, Marie Smith Jones, was considered by Alaska historians the last native Eyak speaker when she died in 2008. Her descendants and others didn’t become fluent in the language because of a stigma around speaking anything other than English in Alaska’s native villages.” Curry, eyes brimming with tears, viewed a film in which her mother spoke in the Eyak tongue at a tribal ceremony. To understand the words, however, Curry turned to Leduey to translate. She thanked him saying that it was beautiful. To which he replied “It’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you God. ” Curry feels that learning her native language, which had been passed down through storytelling,  is the right thing to do now in spite of the past stigma. “‘This will help keep my mom’s memory and spirit alive.”

The extinction of the Eyak language and potentially its culture, reminds me of my childhood growing up in Maui in the 50’s. My mom was a native who spoke Hawaiian fluently with her family and native friends. She did not, however, speak it with us, her children. Prominent, powerful landowners were lobbying to make Hawaii the 50th state, for obvious business reasons. To support these efforts speaking English and studying  American History were a mandatory part of school curriculums. Our native language and culture were virtually squelched.

As her friends passed away, my mom had fewer and fewer people with whom to speak Hawaiian. Long before she died, she had ceased speaking it, having lost much for lack of use. Not until long after my husband and I graduated from college and moved away from Hawaii, did a movement among the natives slowly bring about a resurgence in an appreciation for the language and the culture. Today they are taught in schools statewide, including at the University of Hawaii. Proud of their culture, islanders are more than happy to share their food, song and dance with new communities, when they relocate to other parts of the country.

While there is a strong comparison between the plight of the Eyaks and that of the Hawaiians, the latter did not face extinction. Westernization did not eradicate their culture. It was ingrained as much in the land, as it was in the people themselves. The gods of the earth, sky and sea would not relinquish their hold, nor would the natives abandon their attachment to the islands without bloodshed. That is the history of the Hawaiians. And it has been preserved through the ages by the monarchy, and following their demise, by natives and others  loyal to their memory. Kamehameha School has long been an institution dedicated to educating children of native descent, not only in the academics but in all aspects of Hawaiian heritage. It remains at the forefront of yielding young adults not only well versed in their own culture, but in the world-at-large.  And they confidently take their place in society, a credit to their native roots.

We should applaud the efforts of Guillaume Leduey for taking on the preservation of a culture almost singlehandedly. It seems when others ask “Why?” Leduey asks “Why not?”

a people depend upon it, that’s why…hugmamma.

who i am

Girls become women; boys become men. In the beginning it seems to just happen. Females emulate their mothers; males, their fathers. Their traits become ours, seemingly by osmosis. As children we don’t stop to differentiate between good and bad characteristics. What we see becomes what we are and what we do. As we grow older and experience life outside our family, we begin to compare ourselves with others, our lives with theirs. We see what we like and don’t like about us, about them.

I think only in older age, especially if we have children, do we understand those who walked in “our shoes”, before we did, our parents. My father died when I was one, so I never knew him. My mom was my world, in good times and bad. Throughout my 50’s I gradually became aware of the legacy she left behind.

Widowed at 30, nine children to raise, my mom managed with the help of Maryknoll nuns who ran the orphanage where she worked. She was laundress, part-time cook, and part-time chaperone. She never missed a day on the job, driving an hour from our home in the city, to the orphanage in the country. As a toddler, I accompanied her, my days spent rolling around in huge crates filled with freshly laundered clothing and linens. The youngest orphans were my playmates; the older ones my babysitters. They were my family, since most of my siblings had long since left home.

My mom’s car was our “bread and butter,” as she would repeatedly remind us. It was essential to our subsistence, getting her to and from work.  There was no AAA in those days, or if there was, we were too poor to subscribe. My mom changed her own flat tires, tinkered under the hood, and faithfully had the car serviced. With a sergeant’s precision she showed us how to wash and wax the car.

We would drag out the bucket, the hose, the detergent and lots of “elbow grease.” Along with two siblings, a brother and sister who were still in school, we cleaned every inch of our two-toned blue, Dodge sedan, until it glistened under the bright, tropical sun. We often looked like wet fish, having pelted each other with water from the hose or soapy water scooped from the bucket. When we were seized by fits of laughter, my mom’s eyes would twinkle and a huge grin would emerge to temporarily smooth away the frown lines deeply imbedded above her brows.

Active in our church community, my mom served as president of 2 women’s groups. She allowed me to invite foreign students to live with us for several days or weeks, giving them an opportunity to experience life in our country. It wasn’t unusual for my mom to invite total strangers into our home, like a young, handsome, Chinese man who was selling Life magazine subscriptions. We couldn’t afford it, but my mom felt sorry and subscribed anyway. To thank her, the nice man returned with an ice cream cake, which we happily devoured. One particular Jehovah Witness was a regular visitor on Sundays. A devout Catholic, my mom still listened when others spoke of their faiths. I’m ashamed to say we children hid, hoping they would go away. My mom suffered painful arthritis as far back as I can remember. At 3 a.m. when I’d head to the kitchen for a drink of water, my mom would be pacing the floor, attempting to walk off the unrelenting ache in her knees. She’d moan heavily, sometimes crying. I was too young to be of much comfort. My mom sat in the bleachers, watching with pride as I led the crowds in cheers for our team. She sewed one-of-a-kind clothing, some “hit the mark”, others not so much. Strumming the ukulele, she’d harmonize old Hawaiian songs with me, a favorite being “Ke Kali Ne Au.”

Without realizing it, my mom was bestowing me with her strengths. A single parent, she forged a life for herself and her children as best she could. She wasn’t above accepting help, nor did she shy away from helping herself and others. While raising us, I can’t recall my mom investing in much time bemoaning her plight. She was a handsome woman who prided herself on how she styled her hair, and how she wore her makeshift dresses.

I may not mimic my mom in every way, but like her I’m a strong woman with a soft underbelly. She has instilled me with her graciousness toward others, her “funny bone,” her songbird’s voice, her sense of style, and her gourmet sensibilities. And like my mom, I have faults. While she didn’t apologize for them, I’m certain she asked God to forgive her trespasses. Like her, I pray to be pardoned for my transgressions. 

Foremost among the lessons I have gleaned from my mom’s life  is compassion, for myself and others. Because her journey was fraught with more “lows” than “highs,” it’s a wonder she lived well into her 80’s. She was plagued by health issues, family discord, and personal demons. Besides which, my mom never remarried, remaining a widow until the end. For 50+ years, she shouldered her burdens without the love and companionship of a soul mate. So if she floundered, who could stand in judgement? “For unless you have walked in someonelse’s shoes…”

who I am is owing in part, to her…hugmamma.