Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Patch it with whimsy

"It is a good time to work toward your dreams, but allow room for whimsy. Whimsy sometimes requires extra time [f]or a rebuild. - Satori
whimsy, a noun
a whim. 
a thing that is fanciful or odd.

I'm doing a lot of mending. Maybe, it's the season. The rain and cold sends me inside and the need to be doing consolidates, ends up in my fingers. I'm grateful to be flexible yet with my fingertips and give thanks for the glasses that finally (after six months of off-gassing) perch on my bridgeless button nose with little ill-effect, and work. With concentration I can thread the needle. A warm grey and black-trimmed alpaca vest was handed down to Pete last winter. He has used it, putting it on to keep himself warm as he does his work on winter fix-it's and general putterings. The vest was wearing through. "I can mend that put some patches on it. Teach myself to darn." That was a summer statement. I figured I'd have time to get to it before the weather shouted loudly for a vest without holes to let winter too close to the bone. My sister-in-law and I were chatting on the phone yesterday. I told her about embroidering patches, doing mending. She thought maybe that was an uncommon thing, something the younger generation wasn't taught, and didn't do. "Maybe," I said, "but, isn't Richie doing some awesome design and sewing projects?" She said that's right. My nephew's wife has recently graduated with a degree in design (fabric and costume) and I've seen her crocheting, and Halloween costumes. Our phone conversation went on to remember that embroidering was something included in our home ec (home economics) classes. The basic tools for a 'home-maker.'   It's odd that certain labels go in and out of favor over time, over a lifetime. When I was a girl growing up, my mom and many of the neighborhood aunties were home-makers. The one woman slightly younger than the aunties who did have a career was seen as different ... they didn't judge that as wrong, but even as a girl I felt the difference. Jo was well-loved, and Ma did her ironing and baby-sat her kids. This was the '50's and early '60's the age of Feminism had not yet firmly set it's course. I did learn to sew, and got good at it. I embroidered, but like playing the ukulele, I learned and practiced only a few stitches (as I did with the ukulele chords) but can and do use the stitches frequently. Hand-stitching is comforting and practical. No need for a sewing machine, and I can do it anywhere.

I used a simple running stitch of wool crewel yarn for two large patches over many 'potholes' in the alpaca vest. Pete asked for a bit of design, he's not a straight line guy. I cut in a few dips. The patch is a remnant of cotton knit from the thrift store, washed (so it will not shrink when the vest is washed) and hung in the summer heat to rid it of any lingering laundry scents. 
One of the first warm clothes I bought when we began to safety pin our lives together, and dream up a new way of being, was a pair of L.L. Bean tights. Thick, stretchy and warm. I wore and wore those tights for seven years. Last winter I noticed the pouchy knees, and vanity stopped me from wearing them except as an out-of-sight layer of warmth for winter. There's something wonderful about favorite clothes that just kicks in my thrift-genes, the ones that say, "I can mend that." Add to those genes the ones that love whimsy and practical, common magic of mending finds a way to make something beautiful out of something you have long loved anyway!

I cut the baggy pouch from the knees into large eggs and fit the holes with a thick remnant of purple wide wale corduroy. I hand stitched two rows of running stitches to hold the corduroy in place, and then had the impulse to finish the hole off with a blanket or button-hole stich. The embroidery threads are thrift store 'grab-bag' purchases that I also air out for a time to free the lingering scents of whatever gets into them while in the shop.
One egg done, the other yet to be. Weather motivates me; I need those warm pants. Being a Capricorn Moon, my knees need to be warm. I love how whimsy does make herself known to me over and over again. "Patch Adams" comes to mind!

This post began with inspiration from one of my favorite astrologers, Satori. She wrote about the present astrology of a Capricorn Moon in her (the moon's) alignment with other heavenly bodies. Her post "Building Dreams" was something I read before going to sleep last night. It surely fed my dreams along with events from my everyday: a conversation with my sister-in-law and wife of my brother who passed in May. I think of her, of him, my family, Hawaii. I remember. The energy of the heavens affects me ... I am a dreamer, always have been. We watched a movie as we do most nights, and this one was called Like Stars on Earth. A Hindu/Indian movie about a boy who did not fit into the traditional schools, the story pressed old buttons for me. I thought of something my brother used to say about himself when as kids he would get a report card. He used to call himself, "the smartest of the dumbest." Oh my god! What influence a teacher and schools can have on us. That was a very long time ago. The memory remains as fresh as when I first heard David say it. The movie depicts an exceptionally brilliant eight or nine year old on the edge of falling into the crack of lost children. A temporary teacher spots the patterns of dyslexia and pulls the boy, and his family, into a different reality.
I was sent to tears as I watched. And then, the movie wove its way into my dreams and the dream stitched the mending of patches together. As dreams are the soul's wishes playing out as potential, I woke and recorded my dreams. I re-read Satori's astrology for the day and wrote a comment to thank her for her style. I love her style!
I promised to send my sister-in-law some photos of the mending and embroidering I'm doing. Maybe this post will satisfy that promise, and add a story to the inventory of the Calizar Family Catalog. One last thought as I wrap this up. About Whimsy. When I was at the edge of my corporate teaching career, you might recognize the edge-dweller's clues: after more than twenty years in human resources training and development the bug of whimsy and delight took a bite out of me. Clown college came to town, and I signed up. Two friends joined me and from that adventure the first clown character a goofy fun loving white-face with polka dot tights showed up. Her name was Whimsy. She did truly open a long-lasting rebuilt engine that continues to fuel me with joy when I find myself far too serious for my own good.
To patches, and whimsy: hip, hip hurray!
P.S. this one's for Lynette and Les, too.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Food: What's a cafe without it!

I'm just fiddling with this (soon to be a new Page). There aren't any pictures to the recipes, yet, but the ingredients and the back story are interesting to start. If you're adventurous and the meal sounds good ... go for it. My cooking as is this recipe are not exact in their measurements or methods. That's half the fun of cooking in my kitchen. In the next little while (over the winter) this page will grow. Enjoy, experiment, have fun. And if there's a recipe that you love cooking and would like to share it in The Safety Pin Café please, email me.

Meatball Soup that reminds me of Kaimuki (the old Mongolian Bar-B-Q)

This recipe is just the sort of food I love to cook. The inspiration starts with a fond memory of having eaten something that feeds the soul and the belly. The basic ingredients allow for creative expansion or change depending upon what's in the kitchen, or in season. This recipe for Meatball Soup began with my regular visits to a favorite (no longer there) restaurant in Kaimuki on the island of O'ahu. I was born in this town, and though I grew up a few miles and a couple valleys away my aloha for Kaimuki remains a loyal one. When Pete and I lived on O'ahu (off and on from 1997-2007) the Mongolian Bar-B-Q was one of my not so secret delights. A place I would take myself for a meal that would not disappoint, served by a waitress (and the wife of the cook) who made me feel right at home; and where I could see photographs of Mongolia and feel my Mongolian roots. Mongolian roots I cannot trace in genealogy, but feel none the less thanks to my great-grandfather Chong Amona.

I make a version of this dish when I need the heat of Hawaii, and the warmth of a ginger-based soup. This one includes a hearty and beautiful red winter squash.

For the meatballs

1 lb (give or take) fresh ground turkey or chicken
1-2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh Hawaiian [if you've got it] ginger (suit your own preference for the root; chop a lot and save the rest for something later)*
2 Tablespoons finely chopped garlic
shake a layer of Gomasio (seasoned sesame seed with sea salt and seaweed from EDEN)
sprinkle of Italian herbs
1/4 cup of round onion finely chopped

Mix well in a deep bowl. Use your hands (washed very clean prior) to mix. You'll know when everything's mixed because it feels 'even.'

Set aside for 5 - 10 minutes. Then roll the turkey mixture into meatballs. Your choice of size. I like them a little bigger than quarter size (diameter) but not quite silver dollar size.

Heat your favorite soup pot and add olive oil to coat the bottom, swirl the oil to cover.

When the oil is hot, drop the meatballs in. Check to see the meatballs don't stick, use a spoon to scoop at the bottoms and flip them around to brown evenly. Add more oil is needed.

For the broth

While the meatballs are browning ...

Chop a good size clove of garlic finely.
Chop up 1/2 an onion into medium chunks.

When the meatballs are browned ...

Add onion and garlic.
Stir and listen for the sizzle. Look to see they brown, but don't burn.

Wash and cut 1/2 of a green cabbage into thin slices that you chop into quarters. I used regular green cabbage. The original soup was made with Napa or Chinese Cabbage.
Add the cabbage and stir to brown with onion and garlic.

The meatballs, onions and garlic will have made a nice layer of broth (not burnt) in your soup pot. Add the cabbage and cover all of it with water (enough to cover everything plus about 2 inches)
Sprinkle another tablespoon of Italian herbs.
Bring to a simmer with the lid on.

3-4 cups of winter squash
Wash and seed a good fresh winter squash. We used Red Kiri. They are delicious and the orange color will delight your eyes before it makes your mouth and belly happy.
Chop the squash into chunks. Wrap the rest of the squash and refrigerator for another meal. In this size the squash can be quickly steamed and ready to eat or add to other recipes. Remove the lid on your soup and add the squash, skin and all. It's important to wash the squash and keep the skin. The vitamins and the flavor are enchanced skins on.
Replace the lid and let simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender and begins to melt into the soup.

Remember that extra ginger from way earlier? While your soup is cooking. Pour olive oil over the remaining finely chopped ginger (or chop more, you won't be disappointed with more ginger). Let the ginger soak up the oil while the soup cooks. If you have it chop up about 1/4 cup of fresh cilantro and add to the ginger-oil mixture. Set aside.


When ready to serve, drizzle or pour coconut milk into each bowl of soup. Like mixing cream into coffee, swirl the coconut milk into the soup.

Serve the ginger cilantro -olive oil as a condiment, or have a little for everyone (a personal dish) and dip the meatballs into it as sauce.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

House Memory

To us, our house was not unsentient matter -- it had a heart, and a soul, and eyes to see us with; and approvals and solicitudes and deep sympathies; it was of us, and we were in its confidence, and lived in its grace and in the peace of its benediction.
Mark Twain
"Do you reflect on your life?" The interviewer was very young, perhaps she was twenty-six, and perhaps that was not so very young. As I remember it now I said, "No I don't. With the life still left to me I mostly live it. Maybe a long time ago I did reflect, and consider ... and plan." My house was listening as it did to everything that went on inside its walls and under its roof. That was when I lived in my Mother's house. When I was a woman returned to live in my Mother's house.
The rainy season begins. Pete tracks the weather as he tracks many things. He is a counter and for that I must be very grateful; someone has to keep track of such things.
The change in season has me awake early. Though the light of dawn comes later I still want for the awakening. I lay on my edge of the futon my near-sightedness unimportant. What I see is more clear in the darkness.
"We will have to be more creative now." That comment got an ironic giggle from me. Pete caught the drift. When is it we are not being creative? He was referring to the changes that come from living in tiny spaces when the rain turns things damp and cold and dark. He is right though. When there is more dark, it's the cave-dwellers' sensibilities that appreciate the grace and life Twain writes of in "our house."
This is the year of traveling my personal Route 66. It will continue to be so for another little while. Come the middle of November the route changes and unlike the answer I purported gave the interviewer, I reflect on my life a lot. 
I showed up at the garden where Pete has been helping to build a hoop house those growing environments we used to call 'Green Houses.' This one is house size. Size being relative, to me and Pete the 40 feet length of clear plastic sided growing space is large. Living things will be seeded, transplanted and grow in the hoop house. The least of which will be plants. The greater of them will be the children who go to school on this same land. A woman who dreams big dreams dreamt this up. She is very good at fleshing out dreams.
The rain has slowed, but the drops are singularly heavy. The wind is not so much. I remember rain on a roof that had many spaces in it. Pots and pans saved us the inconvenience of stepping in puddles when we got out of bed. Now that I think of it, how lucky the spaces weren't above our bed.
The warm late October temperatures don't need much heat from the electric space heaters. Not like the glass wall heaters in the Gulch that rumbled as they heated my knees at the breakfast bar. Crackled when their veins went cold crumbling like chunky ice. Did they replace the glass I wonder? Does the old heat-a-lator still pump warm into the big room? Does the old place remember us, wonder where we've gone?
The Pineapple Express is riding the Global Jet Stream heading our way. The plump rain is coming from Hawaii-nei carrying with it the turnings, the huli, the movement. Roofs feel the drumming of rain. The walls buck or waltz as the case may be. No walls are the same are they? The sleeping girl, the man with a lunch can filled with hot beef stew. The kitchen remembers the smell of coffee stirred with canned milk and likes the memory of Saloon Pilot Crackers covered with margarine smashed into the hot morning brew.
The writer man got it right. Houses live. They have long memories.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Stories were told, the wind, clouds and ancestors came

It started with a sky packed with sheep

Set-up was breezy

And then breezier

And finally it was Uktumi's turn to tell those 8 lies ... "Ah if only I were ----, then I would be happy!"
We raised another $100 for Good Cheer Food Bank. Mahalo nui loa a pau. Thanks to each and every one of you!

The generous neighbors and friends of South Whidbey contributed so much to a day of telling stories that hold life today.
And, you see how the clouds gave way to a bright, warm sky after all that chanting.


We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Playing with pie pans and a silver faced moon

"The Venus Mars sextile holds all weekend long. This is a great time to play and create bonds. Saturn sits between then, helping these bonds take hold ...The ideal is to have an adventure and enjoy. The object should not be to corral or tether; the bond is chemical, attractive, not restrictive. Enjoy each other (or yourself) and the bond will emerge. Act to attract. " - Satori

Pete and I are playing with the details and props to use tomorrow when we pitch our story tents. The wind, the weather is changeable as it can be. I have fresh-ground 'olena (turmeric)-garlic and olive oil brew working its medicinal magic in my inner ears. The 'olena is from Kalihi Valley on O'ahu grown and harvested by the young people who are 'caring for my grandmother.' The people and the place are called Ho'ouluAina. My cousin Kaliko and her friend harvested, Kaliko dehydrated and ground pungent yellow-orange root rendering me a triple-wrapped Ziploc roll of fragrant turmeric. I opened my Priority Mail EXPRESS parcel yesterday. Wow, what a smell. Earth. Spice. Yellow. In the chants and stories of Hawaii Haumea (Earth Mother also known as Papahamoku) and her husband Wakea make their home in Kalihi Valley. My blood grandmother Mokihana Daniels Amona lived, birthed and raised my mother Helen Mokihana in Kalihi Valley. In many meaningful ways I am tapping into the roots of my ancestors and wear the color of Haumea (yellow) in my ears. I need the caring Creatrix to help hear what I need to hear.

When I was a young woman just out of college, my first work was that of teacher. My first classroom was on the slope of Wilhelmina Rise in Ka'imuki. The old wooden building was held together by the thousands of termites who alternated eating the wood while holding it together. Sweet and young four year olds filled that first classroom. I was probably as sweet and young on the scale of womanhood, unseasoned as a teacher, but already practicing the craft of all teachers -- resourcefulness. That was 1970. I was twenty-three years old. Between then and now the classrooms have changed, and I have traveled with my net of resources. The nets have expanded with props to make a point, brighten a story and convince decision-makers of the value of play even in the serious agenda of profit-driven business.

Tomorrow my tall white-haired partner will help me tell stories. One of the stories will involve the full silver-face of Mahealani the Full Moon. We will need to call on the audience, and the elements to join in to make the story real. We will invite the ancestors, and invite as well the willingness to imagine. Pete and I have rooted ourselves in the community of South Whidbey and have bonded with people who come to sit under the tent. We like to play even though some serious moments make people say, "I would never have imagined ...!" Between us we have one hundred-and-thirty years of experience being resourceful. We rattle the pie tin that once held a Granny Smith Apple pie, snip a postcard of a glass faced shining moon, use a dowel off of a drying rack to hold up a mask, and cut lengths of net used to keep the robins (unsuccessfully) out of the blueberries to replicate a once-greedy man's attempt at hording.

It's a grand and fully-lived life when two old dears of 130 between them can be tickled by the silver face of a pie-pan moon and look forward to telling stories that hold life together. Thank you Grandmother!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Net and the Red Hat

He puko 'a kani 'aina
A coral reef that grows into an island.
A person beginning in a small way gains steadily
until s(he) becomes firmly established.
- 'Olelo No'eau
When I was a girl in Kuli'ou'ou Valley Tata made net like this one. I was not a fisher, but I was the daughter of a fisherman's son and Tata was my dad's very good friend. They'd smoke -- Camels for Dad and toscani Filipino style rope tobacco for Tata--and drink Primo beer. Tata spoke thick pidgin that was hard for me to understand without really trying hard. Those were the days before Dad lost his hearing (a side-effect of work on heavy equipment without ear-protection). The two men had their place in back of the Pacheco house that gradually grew bigger -- the house not their backyard place. The memories are foggy now, but I believe I can still see the vines of Tata's vegetables and can almost pull a scene where daddy and Tata squatted or sat on what? Tin can turned upside-down maybe. Nothing fancy, probably not even a chair.

When I was a girl in Kuli'ou'ou my favorite thing to do was to listen and watch storytellers. Tata and Dad were two of those early storytellers whose bodies and faces as well as their words were weaving for me a net, or hei that was without doubt ensnaring me with the small steady gains required in the initiation and long term journey of a storyteller. My sister-in-law wrote an email, for which I am long overdue in replying. Perhaps, this post will be one way to answer her question "Who were your role models" for telling the stories and the style of story I tell.

When I was a girl in Kuli'ou'ou my avenues for expression were few as I reflect on the ways I tapped into the gifts my 'aumakua (ancestors and guardians) seeded in me. I was a quiet, shy girl. But. I was born with star-patterns embedded with fire and the desire to be front and center. Unlike the woman, and teacher who often fuels my fire now, Pualani Kanakao'le Kanahele, I hid the fire and would wait for decades before taking center stage. But. I was watching and listening. My ears, the ones I was born with are large like those of my ancestors on both sides of my lineage. Big, and large of lobe little would miss my radar. Slowly and in halves and quarters I noticed. I noticed how the two men sitting under the vines and nets in the Kawekiu Way backyard told something, sipped on the Primo, watched the other, or looked out into space as if there were others listening in. The pause the empty space seemed as important as the words. I tucked that awareness somewhere in my little girl's closet of special things to know. My personal hei was growing, slow to medium just like Nature. While my mouth was not talking it seems my hei was ensnaring a tasty story about one thing, while another bit of a story from somewhere else -- with seemingly unrelated connection -- was tempting a knot of potential.

When I was a girl in Kuli'ou'ou wisdom in many places was feeling for the potential within me ... yet to be-ness is what potential is all about. In the universe that was coming to be from my ancestors, from the stars, the sun, the moon and the shadows the venue for sharing synchronicity was laying its nets on the inside. I would need ripening and life would do that over time, season in season out, through sacrifices, successes and cycles of re-birth. I have carried a small wool felt beret with me since I was a little girl growing up in Kuli'ou'ou. It was a gift from my father. A red wool beret may seem a strange thing for a girl in the tropical temperatures. Perhaps. It was a gift though, and it has meant a lot to me to remain one of the few possessions I count among my inventory at 66, and after so many unraveled tales. Last weekend I took my little red wood beret to the Farmers' Market wanting to seek out the potential for 'growing' the felt hat to fit me today. I felt myself shy again, like that little girl who was given the hat so many many years ago. With one woman who did have a felt hat I loved a lot, but it was too small for me, she said "Maybe you could wet it and then stretch the edges, adding another bit of felt to make it larger." She ended with an escape clause, "But I am not a milliner maybe you should talk with Wendy. She knows a lot about wool, and felt. Go to YouTube and see what other people have done. " I thanked the first woman, and went about the market with my small red wool beret. I found myself at my friend Jody's stand where she sells flowers and tomatoes and sometimes onions. I told my story of my red hat and she said, "My friend here knows about felt, she might some ideas." Her friend had been listening to my exploring tale and was eager to touch and get some ideas in the mix. "Perhaps you could snip the edges and add a triangle (or two) to make it fit your head." Sew it on? Maybe. "That's what I would do said the second lady." A third woman who spins wools and thread was quietly shaking her head to nick the idea of making the hat any larger. She was quietly convinced the hat was set. No way to make it larger. I chatted on about other things, and went on to finally see my chance to chat with Wendy who knows a lot about wool and fibers. "Oh you're the lady asking about the hat," she said. I said it was true. I am she. Taking the red wool felt beret in her old and well-worn hands she pulled at the hat and flipped the grosgrain ribbon that has held its edges true. "No, this is the size of the hat." I was disappointed to hear her say that. "Is it too late to pass it along to a grand-child?" Wendy asked. I told her I was told not to wait for one of those.

When I was a girl in Kuli'ou'ou valley my father bought me a red wool hat. A beret. I don't remember when or if I ever wore the red wool hat when I was a girl. It seems like such a 'front and center' thing to do. Red! My father named me after his favorite screen diva, movie star Yvonne De Carlo. In her day she took front and center stage with red lips tempting, curves unhidden. I have been wanting to wear the red wool felt hat to tell the stories that have grown in the girl from Kuli'ou'ou Valley. I wonder what Daddy would say if I pitched my tent, took the mic and began telling stories in The Safety Pin Café with that red wool felt beret perched on my head like a cherry on a sundae? Maybe he'd say, "I've been waiting to see you in that hat. What a peachy tomato." If that's what he'd say, I think I owe him the pleasure. It might also be a case of being unable to wear that hat because among other things I am sensitive or allergic to the wool. If it turns out that way ... I'll leave this story in the cybernetic hei, the internet, and send it off with my father's name on it. With that knot of potential unleashed another story will have grown over time. And that is good!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

It's a Lunar Eclipse (October 8, 2014), a Red Moon and Spider Season

Soon, Mahina, the moon will be red. She will also be in the sky in the sign of Aries. Fire. Blood moon.

Later, when Mahina has waned, and then begins again to fatten, I will tell the story of a Trickster Spider. His name is Iktumi. Link here to read what story I have told to link the Fire Red Moon with the Trickster Spider, Iktumi.

It is Spider Season. Pay attention!


Friday, October 3, 2014

Hana Hou (once more) Story Sunday for Makahiki, October 19, 2014

Storyteller Mokihana Calizar throws her net and pitches her tent once more to
tell more stories that hold life together.

This time, stories about Makahiki the Hawaiian Season of Peace will fill the air. Come to chant, listen and be involved. The audience will be taught one new chant to create sacred space, and practice the chant E HO MAI taught last year and repeated many times during September's Story Story Sunday event. Three stories 'create the net': one about 'Iole The Rat, a Hawaiian mo'olelo will rattle your preconceptions about the often maligned creature; another story from the Lakota Nation about 'Iktumi the trickster spider will question what is important in your life; and the third story from Hawaii taught in September is about the girl Pelehonuamea's initiation and her role as fire-maker. If there is time Mokihana will invite the audience to tell the story of The Safety Pin Café the original medicine that gave birth to this place where stories that hold life together are told.

If you were under the tent of The Safety Pin Café in September,
bring your AUNAKI with you
to help tell the story of Lono and Pele

Sunday, October 19, 2014
11:30 AM - 1:30 PM
South Whidbey Tilth Farmers' Market
please come free of perfumes, scented product, and essential oils
Dress warmly as this might just be a time only a duck could love