Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The grand experiment

The calendar year wraps itself into close, 2016 ends in a few days. The Lunar Calendar and Chinese New Year of the Rooster begin January 28, 2017. There is a season and reason for everything and for me the grand experiment of writing blogs is over for me. Hundreds of blog posts and dozens of medicine stories have helped me sort life on this planet. Setting up the many different versions of my stories, and observations have been as much healing salve a any prescription and probably much more effective. Blogs have been a blank palette to fill in so many different ways. I am tired now.

Makua o'o and my other blogs will now be places to find archive posts, and links to other resources (found on the sidebars). Thank you for coming to read the meandering tales and observations of time and circumstances over the past years.

I have created a website Yvonne Mokihana Calizar where all the blogs and medicine stories collect in one place. The grand experiment with blogging is pau, but still the coral polp grows.



A hui hou,
Mokihana 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Sharing space, rambling toward affection

The first frost and freezing temperatures are here. We live in a relatively mild water rich environment, an island surrounded by sea and inlets that cinch the glacial waists. What happens to the water happens to the land and what happens to the land happens to the beings.The wooded space we share with our neighbors on two feet and four, the ones who flit above us and crawl on eight slender legs each of us live an attitude about sharing. Bundled in layers of warmth not far from the heater I've been thinking about how this attitude and practice has grown since we began imagining it was possible to live in a space that was like being between the pages of a fairy tale. For awhile it was that between the pages space, where there were no guarantees, that was both scary and exciting. If there were no rules for how that ought to be we could write our own fairy tale with adventures and endings that suit us.

Wendell Berry had this to say about imagination. "The term “imagination” in what I take to be its truest sense refers to a mental faculty that some people have used and thought about with the utmost seriousness. The sense of the verb “to imagine” contains the full richness of the verb “to see.” To imagine is to see most clearly, familiarly, and understandingly with the eyes, but also to see inwardly, with “the mind’s eye.” It is to see, not passively, but with a force of vision and even with visionary force. To take it seriously we must give up at once any notion that imagination is disconnected from reality or truth or knowledge. It has nothing to do either with clever imitation of appearances or with “dreaming up.” It does not depend upon one’s attitude or point of view, but grasps securely the qualities of things seen or envisioned.
I will say, from my own belief and experience, that imagination thrives on contact, on tangible connection. For humans to have a responsible relationship to the world, they must imagine their places in it. To have a place, to live and belong in a place, to live from a place without destroying it, we must imagine it. By imagination we see it illuminated by its own unique character and by our love for it. By imagination we recognize with sympathy the fellow members, human and nonhuman, with whom we share our place. By that local experience we see the need to grant a sort of preemptive sympathy to all the fellow members, the neighbors, with whom we share the world. As imagination enables sympathy, sympathy enables affection. And it is in affection that we find the possibility of a neighborly, kind, and conserving economy."
I've been thinking and chewing on Wendell Berry's description thoughtfully in regards to my journey with Pete my husband since the two of us hooked up in the mid 1990's. In one of the stories we tell I dreamed him up. Out of my misery and loss I saw Pete in his Carhart coat float through the upstairs window of the sweet cedar cottage I was renting. My dog Watson was my only bedmate, and I have no doubt Watson a sleek black and golden Cocker Spanial never saw Pete coming. In fact, when Pete did show up Watson was no where near ready to share the bed. Pete was my imagined knight. Watson was my real life dog.
What Berry suggests "By imagination we recognize with sympathy the fellow members, human and nonhuman, with whom we share our place" is the value the two of us, together and separately, have been fleshing out from the small and beating heart of a golden wagon on wheels. If my heartstrings can pluck a melody to harmonize with my finger tips this piece will say what my heart feels. I'm hoping for that. The cold weather does something very specific to a body. Unlike the milder seasonal changes of Hawaii, the shift from fall like fifty to barely twenty degrees will stiffen even the stoutest among us. Our small domiciles are equipped with modest trappings and simple remedies to keep us warm. The foil wrapped insulation packets that encase the Quonset Hut moderate the chill but still layers of clothes make it more comfortable. Last summer the Mouse Family found the cozy shredded denim insulation too hard to resist. Their nightly tunneling finally spurred Pete to open up the ceiling and excavate. No mice were harmed in the process, but the insulation what was left of it had to be removed and it was not replaced. So, part of the Quonset is less effective against the twenty-nine degree freezes. I'm grateful for the long red fleece robe hand-me-down, and the bright beanie hat sewn by a friend. The wool socks with patched heels toast me sufficently warm. It's a good feeling. 
“It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.” Erma Bombeck said that and she's right I guess. It does take some courage to write about a dream of living 'like Gypsies' in a world where wanderers and vagabonds, and homeless immigrants can and do have laws written specifically to make us unlawful. Awful stuff those laws. When we were in the early stages of imagining the vardo our olden wagon, it was the toasty excitement of living under the curve of a roof like the sky's that inspired us to draw up the plan. First we took pencils to paper with no ruler to draw the wagon to scale we simply saw what we could love. The curved roof was the key to it. No straight lines, the sky allowed for an open-mind. We were living in our car, parking between lines on asphalt at the edge of an island world that was once my home first as a girl and then as a woman with ideas and ideals of my own making. I had made up my mind and I'd written bad rhymes as Leon Russel said. While we tried to imagine what a life could be like with an illness no one really believed existed outside my imagination, the dream kept dreaming itself with us in it. Being a writer and a dreamer, Berry's notes are inspiring me to consider the virtues of living a life imagined at the edges of civilized and lawful citizenry and to make a case, or at the very least, braid thinking and activities into courageous wings from my silver threaded bird's nest of hair, the counter-balance to those awful laws and makers of awfulness. Let my heartstrings pluck a good collection of chords to go with words wanting to share space.
“I know what I have given you... I do not know what you have received," wrote Argentinia poet Antonio Porchia.  You don't know what other people think of you, and if you're a writer, the chance that you become published, famous, loved, and acclaimed is not the reason to write. Blogging gives us writers a publishing flatform (I'm grateful for it.). Fame comes to a few, and even the famous are forgotten. Loved for your accomplishments? Well that is a tricky fickle pickle experience if you have no investment in losing your heart just because that's likely to happen whether you try to or not. Just look at the twelve year old September in Catherynne M. Valente's wonderful tale The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. "“One ought not to judge her: all children are Heartless. They have not grown a heart yet, which is why they can climb high trees and say shocking things and leap so very high grown-up hearts flutter in terror. Hearts weigh quite a lot. That is why it takes so long to grow one. But, as in their reading and arithmetic and drawing, different children proceed at different speeds. (It is well known that reading quickens the growth of a heart like nothing else.) Some small ones are terrible and fey, Utterly Heartless. Some are dear and sweet and Hardly Heartless At All. September stood very generally in the middle on the day the Green Wind took her, Somewhat Heartless, and Somewhat Grown.” When I bumped into Valente's Fairyland tale I was out looking for a few good quotes about wishing. I came across just the words I for which I was hunting,put it in the hidden captions of a post about a New Moon and followed my nose to our local library where I reserved The Girl Who circumnavigated Fairyland in a ship of Her Own Making and am thoroughly in love with September and her adventures.
Before leaving for an adventure of his own with new people in our south Whidbey Island community Pete heated a large stone in water to tuck into an old sock. When the heart-shaped rock was ready he climbed the steps to the vardo and handed it to me wrapped in my old wool sock. "Put it under my feet," I said from under the heavy weight of comforter and blankets. He left me with a kiss and the promise of warm feet.

"It's all about relations," he said. "New friends."

"Yes, I said, waiting for the heat to climb out of the rock and into my foot. We are growing a dream, imagining a community made up of younger people who are eager to explore their ideals. An aging population of community activists (us) needs to pass responsibilities on to a young generation. We're excited to envision and commit to this goal. Wendell Berry's lecture began to feed me inspiration as I composed a fundraising letter to hire an intern at our local Tilth organization. It was Wendell Berry's example and passion that fueled the creation of the Washington Tilth Assoication back in the 1974 when he spoke at the Spokane symposium "Agriculture for a Small Planet." In 1974 I lived just across the Salish Sea from my present Whidbey Island home. I lived a life as a new mother, and wife to another man. Pete was not even a smatter of a dream yet. My imagination would need to grow into a place where that was possible.

Change is slow and evolution a spiritual and physical game of chance,  application of will, and a unique fondness or resistance to things that are new. If I had continued with life as a wife to a man other than Pete this version of my fairy tale would could have been different. As It turns out this is the version I am living and writing: sharing space with two lesbians, a highly strung Border Collie and a large blonde cat on five acres of Stewardship Forest. I see what Berry means when he said, "It all turns on affection." (the title of his lecture). This is our sixth winter living in this Stewardship Forest where those who lived here before us did so with an eye of affection. Trees were chosen, wrapped with ribbon like gift-wrap and not logged. For sure there was money involved in the cutting, but the whole of the forest was not cleared. There was a wholeness of thinking, imagining what this land would be like once the trees and their companions rebuilt, and healed from the losses. We live and feed the land with our growing hearts and wildly wavy shades of graying heads filling and emptying with our various fairy tales.

We thought we would be moving from this land, going to a drier climate where mold and moisture weren't a constant. It would or could be easier on my body and the trickiness of living with Environmental Illness. Instead, at least for now, the story included a visit to dry country tides where the dome of a sky was as clear and Milky Way studded as we had ever experienced. An amazing, incredible long distant alignment applied itself to us but the dry country was not to be our home. Instead a move of fifty yards keeps us here on an island in the Salish Sea and we keep learning about applied affection as a value of humane humanity. Our friends who pay a mortgage on this Stewardship Forest find a place of affection for the folks who live in a wavy-walled golden wagon at the edge of the communal parking lot. Pete helps with chores they cannot do and gets paid a bit of cash to cushion life living on Social Security checks. We complain a little, but not much. We consume less and set as a goal to learn to share better. That second part of the equation is the bit that makes Berry's attitude of affection a gear worth greasing.

Those fundraising letters asking for help with our imaginings have begun their adventures into the stream of snail-mailery wrapped in bright orange envelopes emblazoned with superpowers (Wonder Woman stamps). The words were assembled as a story and sent on their way before the Moon slipped into her Waiting Gowns (those moons we call the po 'ole or quarter moon phases). I finish up this rambling in the early morning after the 'ole. She the Moon is fattening now and new activities can proceed. The gears of affection pucker for their share of love, and that would be us who can supply a heart for that call.

The photo above was taken not long ago as we headed out of Langley town where Sheep and Heron share space.



Saturday, December 3, 2016

LEON RUSSELL

Thanks for the music, the medicine, the memories.

"Leon Russell died on Nov. 13, 2016 in Nashville at the age of 74. His wife said that he passed away in his sleep," Russell's website wrote. "The Master Of Space And Time was a legendary musician and songwriter originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma who performed his gospel-infused southern boogie piano rock, blues, and country music for over 50 years." - Rolling Stones

Leon Russell and Elton John Documentary "Union" ... 'when you love somebody ...' -Elton John

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Transforming the English Language

Robin Wall Kimmerer "Mapping a New Geography of Hope"

I'm awake when I should be finishing a night of restorative sleep. My practice of self-care is changing so among the remedies for maintaining balance I've started taking a small prescriptive remedy three times (instead of twice) in a twenty four hour period. For awhile, my body needs this increase dosage. Twenty-four hours divided by three means I take this small prescriptive medication every eight hours. Any way I do the math this requires waking up at that deliciously deep hour when dreams and rest are working their medicine. There's a conflict going on here.

So rather than fight with myself and the disruption, I left the cozy futon and my bed mate who is also part of this new normal because he is my caregiver who wakes me at that late night hour with the pill and a glass of water. When I can't get back to sleep, and say, "I'm up." He says"Okay, I'll finish reading that book then." "I'll bring it back for you," I told him as I dressed in the dark for the walk across the forest to the Quonset where he'd left the book about a contemporary mythic adventure with seasonal change. Summerlong by Peter S. Beagle. 

My New Moon wishes still wet with the making I long for the company of care, the voice of caring, the presence of reassurance, and find it. Like those phone calls to dear pals, I type in a name and find this video with Robin Wall Kimmerer one of my heroines. Her words string stories that soothe me just right with language that braids no less sweet than the sweet grass of her beloved Sky Woman. I exhale deeply, shoulders drop and my eyes are drooping, I yawn with sleepiness now that I have heard her, seen her.

A safety pin's worth of medicine this one. I inhale the message to remember to remember and laugh from all the best of places within me at the thought of transforming the English Language. Now that's something to look for in a new normal, a new remedy. 

Good Night Moon. Good Night Me.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

New Moon in Sagittarius

Hover on the image above for a wonderful quote about wishes.
“If you are a dreamer come in
If you are a dreamer a wisher a liar
A hoper a pray-er a magic-bean-buyer
If you are a pretender come sit by my fire
For we have some flax golden tales to spin

Come in! 

Come in!” 
(Shel Silverstein, one of my favorite writers, and drawers, and fun word-makers who delighted me when I was a young mother with a young son just beginning. Link on his name above to visit his website where Shel continues to shine the light.) 

 "Comfort to the Corns" J.Gillway Wellcome via Wikimedia 

Mahina the Moon conjoins Ka La the Sun in the sector of the heavens astrologically named Sagittarius. The sky above us here on the south end of Whidbey Island is heavy with the flannel of dense clouds. I don't know exactly where that sector is, but, I pay attention to the cycle of Mahina's journey around Earth and note: She begins again.


Astrologer Elsa P. writes,"The new moon in Sagittarius takes place early in the morning on November 29th. This is a day full of potential. Potential does not manifest itself..."

The New Moon is a time when all beings including humans begin again. The many tools and practices we humans use to mark or note new beginnings is different for each of us. Maybe a group of us practice similar methods including not practicing or noticing at all.

I was talking with two friends yesterday. The first chat was early in the morning and this conversation wove in and out of the history we have over more than twenty years. We have grown children and she has grandchildren. At one point in our lives we have worked together conspiring and collaborating on issues of equity and culture. Now we are cronies, in the sense we are old(er) women who watch our children replicate or continue legacies surprising us, inspiring us, troubling us.

At one point during that chat I said, "I was writing in my little book by hand. I'm not writing as much on the computer." My friend was quick, "Why is that?" I told her the set up for our computer was jamming my body up. I complained about how it was tough to accommodate two people who are more than a foot different in height. Again she was quick, "You can't not write. If you ask people for help, put it out there they might could help you."

That's the thing. That's the wish for my New Moon, my wish for potential to manifest itself. In another of ElsaElsa's blog posts I left this comment for Satori about the New Moon in Sagittarius:

"New Moon will sit on my natal Jupiter conjoining natal Venus[11th House]. I’m hoping for good luck in friendships that make a difference in positively grand ways. That Sag conjunction tries Natal Pluto in the 7th House of relationships. A few really good friends is solidarity!"
Later in the day, when the short hours of daylight were spent I sat in the vardo beside the Radiant Heater. Quiet and reflective after a full day of this and that's I thought of another friend I was missing. I dialed her number. We were both glad to be speaking with the real deal person and not leaving a message to be gathered up at some point. We spoke of things of depth and meaning, and shared the hearty laughter that I have come to appreciate most about this friend. Unlike my morning chat this one was a connection with a pal who is living a very solitary life though she is the first to admit she wishes for the opposite.

I enjoyed hearing her latest experiences of being in a small Eastern Washington town not far from the Canadian border. We have known each other for a few years and came together when she sat on a bench to listen to stories at The Safety Pin Cafe one sunny afternoon. It was language she was drawn to, the one I cling to even though it is not fluent to my tongue, yet rooted to my soul. Over the years since she first sat on that bench it has been the holoku the dresses or phases of the moon which seem to tie us together when either or both of us are untethered.

Counting on the moon is a meaningful practice when you're untethered. That sole heavenly body assigned to accompany our Earthly Home holds space for the emotions that are all shades of dark and light. Today she starts again in very close proximity to the brilliance of the Sun. Our eyes don't see her. But she sees us. My friend was glad to be reminded of that and I was glad, too.

Today we begin again. What are you wishing for?


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Mahalo nui.


We take a few minutes today to pause and give thanks for the many blessings that make this life robust and worth living. In the comfort and shelter of our vardo and Quonset hut we give thanks for roofs that keep us dry, heaters to warm us, blankets and a bed for cozy sleep and restorative comfort, electricity to pulse currents to a cooktop for a hot meal, boil a kettle for tea and make it possible to stand beneath a hot shower at the end of the day. The skies open up with the seasonal deluge of rains and though we mutter about the inconvenience as we walk fifty paces under the roofless spaces between bedroom and kitchen it is the Elements – the rain and clean air and the solidity of a forest floor, that connects us to what is most Earth-bound. Without that water we are nothing, without clean air our lungs shivel like the last of Alder's leaves, and without the solid footing of Earth's surface we are rootless.






As my shoes dry and warm between treks in and out of sheltered spaces, I send greetings of thanks while the Wild Rice from Sister Margaret in Minneapolis simmered with onions to become dressing with turkey and butternut squash dinner.

The rain continues and the winds add to the day. We are grateful for life, and for the Elements, the Ravens, Crows, and smaller Feathered Ones who skitter and plow up the parking lot gravel looking for nibbles shaken from Hemlock and Doug Fir just for them it seems. And to our family and friends and readers we are most grateful for the connections. Take care of one another.

Mahalo nui. Thank you very much.

Monday, November 21, 2016

"Old, entrenched agreements"

The Virgo Moon squares Juno in Sagittarius, then opposes Neptune across the Moon’s nodal axis – Moon on the north node, Neptune on the south. The veil has lifted. Old, entrenched agreements face challenge in the gut. Feel the impact of new details regarding a new direction. What feels healthy? Pay attention to that. Don’t bother churning over what doesn’t feel right. Concentrate on what does.- from this week's astrological forecast by Satori
 I woke from another big dream this morning.  The time on Pete's cellphone read 2:30AM. "Old, entrenched agreements face challenge in the gut"  that's part of what's going on for me without doubt. After a wonderful birthday celebration with safety pins and good friends the challenges of life on the planet collectively and personally are churning things up.

What agreements have we signed or not signed; how informed am I about the direction of this country, community, neighborhood?

In the past week the protest and gathering of activists at Standing Rock has the attention of many in our community. Fund raisers and consciousness raising galvanize here in the Pacific Northwest. The communities of color, and the people with blood, and the communities of white seem to be in agreement: drilling under the river on the rez is NOT the direction. Supporting and standing in solidarity with the people of North Dakota and the Tribal Nations of America will be an education for all of us. The nitty gritty down and dirty where do we sleep when we get to Standing Rock is a small part of the lesson; but it is a pragmatic one. Do you have an RV or a truck big enough to sleep in? Welcome to the land of paradox. Takes oil or diesel to run that rig don't it.

It may be waking up to the reality that life is complex, or made more complex when I forget that there is more to living with the needs and the relationships with humans; that in fact there are other beings who live on this planet and they have voices less often heard or attended to. But that's our loss, and theirs. There was a time when all beings understood and spoke the same language.

I started this post much earlier today, it's mid afternoon and most of the words I thought would need to be put down aren't really what need to be said. Instead, I've been revisiting a story I wrote earlier this year. It's one of the medicine stories written when a human condition needed remedy beyond a prescription.
A Native Fern, its title was plucked from the pages of the Hawaiian Dictionary on a morning when something other than loss was greater. The word is maku'e.
Sophie Lei Maku'e is a wife and grandmother living life suitable to her family name, maku'e. If you are new to these medicine stories, they are written in doses, homeopathic remedies for healing soul and heart(h) in gentle stanzas influenced by daily life and messages that cross the borders where separation is mutable, and subject to artistic tampering.
Perhaps you are in need of a remedy beyond a prescription. Try this one, a dose at a time, or one after another.
This is the maku'e fern a Hawaiian native fern with long narrow undivided fronds and the inspiration for the story about an aging grandmother who is losing her memory but finding something more valuable in the process.