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.  😉 

magical, and musical!!! but how???

Besides “guardian angels” who hover to assist when necessary, I’ve got “elves” scouring the internet day and night in search of  “magic moments,” be they that, or something humorous, ghastly, eerie, or whatever. Sharing them with you depends upon the impression they make on me. Some may hit the “bull’s-eye,” others may not. Everyone has their own tastes after all, including me. 

I am very grateful that my “elves” filter through tons of possibilities, and forward on only those they think might captivate me. The following is one such. You’ll have to click on the website to enjoy it. I think it’s worth the extra seconds. Make certain your volume’s on, to hear the accompanying music.

What the message wishes for you…I do too, wholeheartedly!!! Oh, and it’s not a virus. Trust me.

http://www.elion.ee/docs/joulukaart/eng/

technological wizardry…at its best…hugmamma. 

snowfall or sunshine – “which do you think?”

Wish the snow was still falling here in my blog, and not covering the landscape outdoors. Brrr! This Maui girl finds herself pining for the good old days on the Valley Isle. Sun, warmth, flip-flops and shorts, I could get use to those tropical mainstays very easily. I’d better have a talk with my hubby. This Pacific Northwest weather sucks! Excuse the language, but if you had to sit indoors 24/7, 365 days a year, you’d be harmonizing with me, singing my song. Yes, I exaggerate, but not by much, believe me.

My dog would probably prefer the feel of soft sand beneath her paws, rather than the grit and grime of dirty snow turned to ice. She’d probably love to jump on a surfboard in front of me, and ride the waves at Makaha. I know, I know. I don’t swim, so how can I even contemplate surfing. I did once, when I was in high school and the guy I was dating tried to teach me. I think I tried to stand up facing the horizon, preparing to ride the wave backwards. I didn’t get far, but I did end up dating the guy for a year or so, captain of the football and basketball teams, you know. So I scored, even if I never learned to surf.

Now where was I? Oh, yeah, frolicking in the blue, Pacific Ocean. I can wade, and so can Mocha. We’re also great at lying around, soaking up the UV rays. No more oiling myself with Johnson’s Baby Oil though, as I did when I was an exotic coed attending the University of Hawaii in the late 60s. I remember baking in the Hawaiian sun alongside a couple of my sisters-in-law who were then in high school. While I turned a molten gray, their skin glistened like freshly polished copper. I always wished I’d had some “hauole” blood. “Hapa-hauole’s” (half-whites) always tanned a golden bronze. My skin tone skipped tan, going straight to black.

But at 61 I don’t care what shade my skin color turns, as long as it’s feeling the heat. Give me the heat! And Mocha knows that if hugmamma’s happy, everybody’s happy. So I know she’d like to get me where the sun is shining and the temperature hovers around the 70s. If I’m outdoors, she’s outdoors. Let’s face it, she hasn’t seen a whole lot of the doggie world lately, especially since I’ve been “under the weather” myself.

Until we find ourselves stretched out on Waikiki beach, do you think you could send some sunshine and warm weather, if you’ve even a smidgen to spare? Mocha and I would be much obliged, and forever in your debt.

for your generosity, sending you huge hugs in advance…hugmamma, and mocha too.

“sprinkling snow” and comcast

Have you noticed “snow” falling in my posts? WordPress.com’s wizardry never ceases to amaze me. Bloggers were invited to “allow snow,” and WOOSH!!! little white dots slowly descended, like sprinkles from atop a cupcake or ice cream cone. With “sprinkles falling,” December is officially here, with Christmas just around the corner.

Following that pleasant surprise, I got another. I just concluded a phone conversation with Amanda from Comcast. Having revealed my ongoing frustrations with our internet connection in a previous post, I received an unexpected “comment” from Mark at Comcast. You can read it at the bottom of the post. I decided to bypass picking up the phone, and pressing buttons to tell my problem to an automated voice, or a real one, and email Mark as he offered. Not too long after, the phone rang.

Company rep Amanda informed me that upon researching my Comcast connection, there did seem to be an issue. At no cost to me, their service person will come by to check things out. Hallelujah, for fabulous customer service! I knew if I waited long enough, the good old days of companies caring about customers would return. I don’t think Comcast has ever made me feel like I was a bother, although I don’t remember if I’ve ever spoken with them before. My husband may have had the pleasure.

As far as I’m concerned, Comcast should “bottle” their well-trained personnel, and share them with other service-oriented companies who could use some pointers. I dread having to speak with most of them, for fear that my blood pressure will boil over, or because I end up talking to myself like a “loonie” when I get off the phone. I’ve often felt like the rep thought I concocted the problem just to aggravate him. He vacillates between defensive and offensive, leaving me no choice but to do the same. Very little is accomplished, except that I continue working my way “up the ladder,” until management is involved. On a few occasions, I’ve gone as far as the president’s office. I even called the owner of Culligan’s Water at his home, because of missed deliveries.

Among companies I’ve “blacklisted” are Citibank for upping my interest rate to 23 % without my prior knowledge, and for a reason that had nothing to do with my charge account. I think it had to do with a late payment with someonelse, which I’d squared away, but which made no difference to Citibank. With the economic downturn, they canceled my card, which I hadn’t used in years anyway. Anytime I hear their name or receive an application for a credit card, I cringe, the smile on my face quickly turning into a frown.Funny thing is, when I worked in Manhattan, I often ate lunch at one of the cafes in Citicorp’s building on Lexington Ave. That was probably 25 years ago, and as far as I’m concerned Citibank is history.

I’m hoping when Comcast fixes my internet connection problem, it’ll stay fixed. But that’s not real life. In case issues crop up in the future, I hope the company will be as accommodating as they were in my current dilemma. I don’t mind complications, once-in-awhile; glitches happen. If the person on the other end is patient with me, then I can be patience personified. And Amanda from Comcast got what she gave, a completely cooperative customer, me. I can’t forget to thank Mark, who got the “snowball” rolling.

for fixing my problem, comcast, and tweaking my post with “snow,” wordpress.com…huge hugs…hugmamma.

“north pole” interference

Just wanted to let you know I’ve not fallen off the face of the earth. Am under a blanket of snow, yard, gardens, and decks are probably ankle deep in the white stuff. Had to cancel appointments. Not venturing out, preferring to enjoy the scenery from this side of the wall-to-wall picture windows. Mocha’s impatiently pacing, hoping to get out and play. Thankfully, my daughter’s up for some frolicking. Didn’t do it when she was a toddler and I was in my 40’s, am not about to start now when she’s in her 20’s and I’m in my 60’s. Nuh, uh. I don’t think so. Those are specifically daughter-father bonding moments. I’m fine helping them out of wet coats, hats and gloves, and serving up mugs of hot chocolate. I’ll also get down on my knees to towel off my dog’s soaking wet, grimy, matted fur. Being Hawaiian through to the bone, I am perfectly happy inside where the temp hovers around 70.

Am making this a short post because previous efforts have run into intereference from cable connection. Have a nunber of posts in the draft stage, awaiting completion, and publication. So I’m hoping it’s dry and warm where you are, and you’ll check back for updates regularly. There might be a barage of posts when next you look. 

Thanks for your patience, and hope your Thanksgiving is a cornucopia of blessings for you and your loved ones!!!

huge hugs for all…hugmamma.  

“last frontier,” holland america line

Rugged Alaska is truly the last frontier, where wide open spaces abound and wild animals still outnumber people. For me its appeal is in a topography that is so unlike Hawaii’s. The extreme cold requires hearty vegetation. Evergreens do not flourish as they do in the Pacific Northwest, the barrier of ice beneath the soil preventing the penetration of tree roots. Most of Denali National Park is comprised of craggy, barren hills dotted with low lying bushes and rivulets formed by melting snow. There it’s possible to see bears, in clear view, ambling up hillsides or wandering alongside the road in search of food. Some with cubs trailing behind, others meandering  in solitude. Moose or elk might be seen, if one looks really hard, standing like statues behind patches of tall trees and brush. They wisely remain safely ensconced, out of range of hunters and their guns. Bears don’t seem to have that same innate dread, sidling up to tour buses sniffing the air hoping for a tasty morsel. Perhaps a “tourist-Mcmuffin?”

A number of years ago, my husband and one of his sisters organized a family cruise to Alaska. Twenty five of us sailed from Vancouver, BC, for a week of fun at sea. We all agreed it was the best vacation ever. Traveling with relatives on a ship meant having companions close by, with “elbow room” to do our own thing when we wanted. We shared formal evening meals in the main dining room. We celebrated our daughter’s high school graduation in the Pinnacle Grill, a very special gathering. My husband hosted a cocktail hour for the entire group in the Crow’s Nest lounge. Other than these get-togethers, everyone ate breakfast and lunch where they chose, in the Lido Restaurant or around the pool. Ship board activities were also left to everyone’s discretion, which included relaxing, shopping, swimming and gambling. Evenings we lounged together in the Piano Bar, the Sports Bar, the Crow’s Nest, the Lido Lounge or the disco. After dinner, most of us strolled to the rear of the ship for a musical extravaganza or a magic act. Some of the men got sidetracked, settling at gaming tables where we found them later, still gambling. A couple might have been big winners, although I’m not sure if they “broke even,” having invested a good amount. What’s certain is that they had a fabulous time.

Shore excursions were a “free-for-all.” A few of the men went fishing, some toured Mendenhal Glacier by helicopter where they landed for a dog sled ride, others walked the ports poking around in museums and shops. My husband, daughter, a friend of hers, and I,  joined a tour to see black bears. We flew a prop plane to a small island, where we stood a short distance from bears feeding at a salmon hatchery. Thank goodness the river overflowed with fish for we never felt threatened, never worried that we were a backup food supply. One outing the entire group enjoyed was whale watching. Other attempts made by my family in years past while living in New England, proved fruitless. Alaskan whales showed up on cue, swimming beneath our boat, breaching alongside, feeding in groups, and displaying their calves proudly. I’m positive everyone took enough pictures to fill 50 albums.

My husband, daughter and I had cruised Alaska a few years before the aforementioned one with family. That trip too was wonderful because it was our first to the “last frontier.” I remained as enamored of Alaska, the second time around. Perhaps there’s a third trip in our future, with family members who weren’t able to make the first oceanic reunion.

Holland America casts its “line” in the hopes that it will reel you in “Imagine giant glacial peaks and massive snowcapped mountains that glisten in the sun. Such is the view from the spacious deck of your five-star ship. Watch for breaching whales, soaring eagles and resting seals as you pass by. In as little as seven days, you’ll have a chance to pan for gold in Juneau and fish for king salmon in Ketchikan.”

With our family we took the 7-Day Inside Passage, Roundtrip Vancouver. We sailed to Juneau, Skagway and Glacier Bay National Park. Watching the glacier “calve” (break off) into the icy, blue waters below, magnificently displayed the power of Mother Nature. The sight was awesome, and humbling. 

  • In 2011, the ms Zuiderdam sails Saturdays: May 14-Sep 17
  • In 2011, the ms Volendam sails Wednesdays: May 18-Aug 31
  • In 2011, the ms Zaandam sails Sep 18

My husband, daughter and I took the 7-Day Explorer, Roundtrip Seattle (originally Vancouver, BC). It sails to Juneau, Hubbard Glacier or Glacier Bay, Sitka, Ketchikan, Victoria.

  • In 2011, the ms Oosterdam via Glacier Bay sails Sundays: May 8-Sep 18
  • In 2011, the ms Westerdam via Hubbard Glacier sails Saturdays: May 7-Sep 17
  • In 2011, the ms Amsterdam via Glacier Bay sails Sep 16

“The pleasure of mid-sized cruising – Our fleet of spacious, mid-sized ships makes a big difference in your onboard experience. You’ll feel it in generously proportioned public rooms, elegant staterooms and airy open decks–with plenty of room at the rail to see glorious Glacier Bay. Our ships are large enough to offer the amenities sophisticated travelers expect while preserving a refined ambiance.”

So give your travel professional a call to discuss a one-of-a-kind trip to see the “last frontier.” Or call 1-877-SAIL HAL (1-877-724-5425), or visit www.hollandamerica.com for more information. And tell them hugmamma sent you. You won’t be disappointed. Others I know have given the same “thumbs up” review.

hugs for the great outdoors, on a HAL cruise…hugmamma. 

“freddie the leaf, the fall of”

The only author I can wholeheartedly call my favorite is Leo Buscaglia. Otherwise, I select books according to their subject matter. But I’ve enjoyed reading every one of  Buscaglia’s books. A postscript to one of my favorites, reads:

“Leo Buscaglia approached life with joy and enthusiasm. He pursued a path of perpetual learning that took him to places of wonder, excitement, and enlightenment. His sense of urgency to live life now and explore all that is possible was contagious to all who knew him. His life was dedicated to the single concept of ‘Love’ and all the beautiful and positive elements that it encompasses. …He died of heart failure on June 29th, 1998, at his home in Lake Tahoe, Nevada at the age of 74. A note was found on his typewriter the next day. It read, ‘Every moment spent in unhappiness is a moment of happiness lost.’

In 2004 I was in Chautauqua, New York, visiting my daughter while she danced in a summer program. Browsing through the bookstore housed in a charming building, I happened upon “The Fall of Freddie the Leaf” by Leo Buscaglia. Tucking myself away in a corner, I read it. A lump formed in my throat for the story was written to assuage a child’s loss of someone special, to death. The book, in its 20th edition, is a “beloved classic that has helped thousands of people come to grips with life and death.” I’d like to share it with you now, in the hopes that it might someday do the same for you.

Spring had passed. So had summer. Freddie, the leaf, had grown large. His mid-section was wide and strong, and his five extensions were firm and pointed. He had first appeared in Spring as a small sprout on a rather large branch near the top of a tall tree.

Freddie was surrounded by hundreds of other leaves just like himself, or so it seemed. Soon he discovered that no two leaves were alike, even though they were on the same tree. Alfred was the leaf next to him. Ben was the leaf on his right side, and Clare was the lovely leaf overhead. They had all grown up together. They had learned to dance in the Spring breezes, bask lazily in the Summer sun and wash off in the cooling rains.

But it was Daniel who was Freddie’s best friend. He was the largest leaf on the limb and seemed to have been there before anyone else. It appeared to Freddie that Daniel was also the wisest among them. It was Daniel who told them that they were part of a tree. It was Daniel who explained that they were growing in a public park. It was Daniel who told them that the tree had strong roots which were hidden in the ground below. He explained about the birds who came to sit on their branch and sing morning songs. He explained about the sun, the moon, the stars and the seasons.

Freddie loved being a leaf. He loved his branch, his light leafy friends, his place high in the sky, the wind that jostled him about, the sun rays that warmed him, the moon that covered him with soft, white shadows.

Summer had been especially nice. The long hot days felt good and the warm nights were peaceful and dreamy. There were many people in the park that Summer. They often came and sat under Freddie’s tree. Daniel told him that giving shade was part of his purpose.

“What’s a purpose?” Freddie had asked. “A reason for being,” Daniel had answered. “To make things more pleasant for others is a reason for being. To make shade for old people who come to escape the heat of their homes is a reason for being. To provide a cool place for children to come and play. To fan with our leaves the picnickers who come to eat on checkered tablecloths. These are all reasons for being.”

Freddie especially liked the old people. They sat so quietly on the cool grass and hardly ever moved. They talked in whispers of times past. The children were fun, too, even though they sometimes tore holes in the bark of the tree or carved their names into it. Still, it was fun to watch them move so fast and to laugh so much.

But Freddie’s Summer soon passed. It vanished on an October night. He had never felt it so cold. All the leaves shivered with the cold. They were coated with a thin layer of white which quickly melted and left them dew drenched and sparkling in the morning sun. Again, it was Daniel who explained that they had experienced their first frost, the sign that it was Fall and that Winter would come soon.

Almost at once, the whole tree, in fact, the whole park was transformed into a blaze of color. There was hardly a green leaf left. Alfred had turned a deep yellow. Ben had become a blazing red, Daniel a deep purple and Freddie was red and gold and blue. How beautiful they all looked. Freddie and his friends had made their tree a rainbow.

“Why did we turn different colors,” Freddie asked, “when we are on the same tree?” “Each of us is different. We have had different experiences. We have faced the sun differently. We have cast shade differently. Why should we not have different colors?” Daniel said matter-of-factly. Daniel told Freddie that this wonderful season was called Fall.

One day a very strange thing happened. The same breezes that, in the past, had made them dance began to push and pull at their stems, almost as if they were angry. This caused some of the leaves to be torn from their branches and swept up in the wind, tossed about and dropped softly to the ground. All the leaves became frightened. “What’s happening?” they asked each other in whispers. “It’s what happens in Fall,” Daniel told them. “It’s the time for leaves to change their home. Some people call it to die.” 

“Will we all die?” Freddie asked. “Yes,” Daniel answered. “Everything dies. No matter how big or small, how weak or strong. We first do our job. We experience the sun and the moon, the wind and the rain. We learn to dance and to laugh. Then we die.” “I won’t die!” said Freddie with determination. “Will you, Daniel?” “Yes,” answered Daniel, “when it’s my time.” “When is that?” asked Freddie. “No one knows for sure,” Daniel responded.

Freddie noticed that the other leaves continued to fall. He thought, “It must be their time.” He saw that some of the leaves lashed back at the wind before they fell, others simply let go and dropped quietly. Soon the tree was almost bare. “I’m afraid to die,” Freddie told Daniel. “I don’t know what’s down there.” “We all fear what we don’t know, Freddie. It’s natural,” Daniel reassured him. “Yet, you were not afraid when Spring became Summer. You were not afraid when Summer became Fall. They were natural changes. Why should you be afraid of the season of death?”

“Does the tree die, too?” Freddie asked. “Someday. But there is something stronger than the tree. It is Life. That lasts forever and we are all a part of Life.” “Where will we go when we die?” “No one knows for sure. That’s the great mystery!” “Will we return in the Spring?” “We may not, but Life will.” “Then what has been the reason for all of this?” Freddie continued to question. “Why were we here at all if we only have to fall and die?”

Daniel answered in his matter-of-fact way, “It’s been about the sun and the moon. It’s been about happy times together. It’s been about the shade and the old people and the children. It’s been about colors in Fall. It’s been about seasons. Isn’t that enough?” That afternoon, in the golden light of dusk, Daniel let go. He fell effortlessly. He seemed to smile peacefully as he fell. “Goodbye for now, Freddie,” he said. Then, Freddie was alone, the only leaf left on his branch.

The first snow fell the following morning. It was soft, white, and gentle; but it was bitter cold. There was hardly any sun that day, and the day was very short. Freddie found himself losing his color, becoming brittle. It was constantly cold and the snow weighed heavily upon him. At dawn the wind came that took Freddie from his branch. It didn’t hurt at all. He felt himself float quietly, gently and softly downward. As he fell, he saw the whole tree for the first time. How strong and firm it was! He was sure that it would live for a long time and he knew that he had been a part of its life and it made him proud.

Freddie landed on a clump of snow. It somehow felt soft and even warm. In this new position he was more comfortable than he had ever been. He closed his eyes and fell asleep. He did not know that Spring would follow Winter and that the snow would melt into water. He did not know that what appeared to be his useless dried self would join with the water and serve to make the tree stronger. Most of all, he did not know that there, asleep in the tree and the ground, were already plans for new leaves in the Spring.

The Beginning.

Having purchased the book as a keepsake for my daughter, I turned to the first blank page and penned the following inscription.

Summer 2004

Dearest daughter,

I discovered Leo Buscaglia in Chautauqua this summer. Reading his  words was like looking at my soul through a mirror. He wrote, and lectured about, and lived a life of love, always having a positive attitude. “The Fall of Freddie the Leaf ” continues Buscaglia’s outlook thru to the final stage in life. 

 Live each day to the fullest, love hugely and passionately, strive always to have a positive attitude toward yourself, others and life. These are what I leave to you, when I fall from the “Tree of Life.” And I know you will do the same for your children, when your turn comes.

I will always be with you in spirit until we are together again, where all leaves spend eternal springtime together. Think of me as your “Daniel.”

All my love, forever…Mom

my sentiments for you, as well…hugmamma.