Friday, November 28, 2014

It began on a day much like today ... a day a duck could love

"It was a day a duck could love. For that matter the week was a duck's paradise. Dressed for the season in my long skirt, paisley wool shawl, and tea cozy hat with the red hibiscus over my left ear my feet splashed in puddles. The sensible shoes--black leather lace-ups-- answered the silly duck talk coming from the edges, "It makes no never-mind to me. For though I have no oily feathers to shed the rain, my sensible shoes are always game." I'm sure the ducks got even sillier as I twirled at the end of every city block. But by then they were out of earshot."
Above me the rain today is splattering fat and abundant. The announcer on our local radio station said, "I could take a moment to tell you about the weather but if you look outside you can see it's RAINING, and will be raining until it doesn't rain anymore. And then it will either start snowing and stay that way for the next many days hear in the Great NorthRain." Aieyah.

When I wrote the medicine story, The Safety Pin Café a tale of remedy born in the imagination, it was the art of writing that turned a soggy attitude and sodden set of lungs into the bridge between. It's that place that accepts some of the reality and blows it into a bigger picture, turning skin and toes into the webbed feet of silly ducks who transport themselves through water and birth their babies on the solidity of earth. They are comfortable with both fluidity and solidity. On the radio behind me I listen to 'Aloha Friday' and the music of Hawaii. It transports, I become more fluent.

"I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding."
John O'Donohue
"Fluent" from Connemara Blues
December draws to conclusion in three days. The Safety Pin Café has unfolded and I continue to be surprised with it. My feet are wrapped in cotton socks, my head is covered with a favorite tea-cozy like hat, and I suspect the ducks, wherever they be, are getting sillier as I twirl weird words onto the cyber-cloud of words.
For a taste of more Weird Words check this out.
If you have not yet read the original medicine story The Safety Pin Café, it's only a click away.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Kamishibai: Japanese Paper Theatre

I was making dinner chopping onions, a thumb-sized glove of garlic and the stalks of red and yellow chard. Rice bubbled and steamed until I lifted the lid to let the angry rice sounds out. Just to be sure all the angry part of the rice went somewhere else I opened the window. Whoosh. Most cooks can multi-task, in a busy kitchen its a must. But, the skill of an excellent cook is to never lose track of one dish at the expense of the other two you might also be tending. Something like that happened today.

I'm not sure how it happened but I found KAMISHIBAI somewhere between steaming rice and chopping mushrooms. It's really quite a wonderful accidental meeting. Do you know kamishibai?

Now I do too and I love it.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

New Moon means potent

Small, efficient, elegant and moveable

"Although more modern fasteners like velcro have been introduced in the 20th century, the safety pin remains an everyday necessity throughout the world.
Its simplicity, elegance and household presence made it not only an item of utility, but also of culture and tradition. In some places in India, for example, safety pins and sewing needles are kept for generations and passed from mother to daughter. In the Ukraine it is still a practice today to pin safety pins to the inside of a child’s clothing, to ward off evil spirits. In many European countries, finding a safety pin is good luck, and a portent of good fortune." - A Visual History of the Safety Pin
Today the moon is NEW in Sagittarius. All potent. What began as a story, and a message from my Ma grows with the qualities of a safety pin. To affirm its potency to grow. Here's one of my latest favorite poster of the common magic.

Can you think of other forms of magic that are small, efficient, elegant and moveable? Tell me in the comments.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Unifying Walk Performance

Julie Genser of Planet Thrive wrote " On Sunday, November 9th at 11am CST, a group of students from Trevor Martin’s Social Practice performance art class in Chicago were joined by friends and individuals from the Environmental Illness (EI) community for the simultaneous drinking of tea.
For part two of the performance, there will be a unifying walk in Chicago this Monday, November 17th at 4:30 CST based on the locations of all the tea participants from Sunday. There were about 35 people we know of who enjoyed tea together that day! ... " The entire post is here.

Virtual Space has taken on such a different sort of meaning, words do that over time. I was sorting through a box of stuff -- paper, old pictures-- lots of dust metaphoric and literal began to fly around and before I knew it I have kicked open one of those psychic doors where times past linger, or linker. Linker being a word that bridges as in 'link here to linger.' There were memories that are best let go off, but they don't need to be orphaned out because in effect those memories are/were part of me or once were like guests at my home. I'm drifting with this paragraph, but only slightly. Here we go with the connection. Virtual Space, and the Unifying Walk Performance allows people from around and across the Earth to come together in a unified act from wherever they are. On Sunday, November 9th and then again yesterday, November 18th I joined in the simultaneous drinking of tea --a virtual tea party-- and walk originating in Chicago to acknowledge Environmental Illness; I am one of 'them.' Unable to walk the route 'in person' I joined nonetheless and took the walk at 2:30 PT along the west-facing shore of Sunlight Beach, on Whidbey Island.

The tall bones of The Tree People stretched along the sandy shore

Marks and evidence of many feet told me I was not alone on this journey ...

Across the slough Bird Tribes went about their day, walking, floating, sunning, eating, talking

The tide was at its shift from ebb to flow, the ripples and the currents making sounds and patterns in my soul

And Crow led. I kept a respectful distance. He would have it no other way.

Pohaku li'i (small stones) walked too

In the distance Tahoma rose from the horizon, the air dirty from days and nights of cold, car exhaust and wood fires.
He is large, Tahoma

Heron moved not an inch as all the Others walked. Blending into the shore-scape my camera's lens makes me a virtual companion

Water ripples a gentle line

I rest my stick and sit

before turning to see the sky change with moving clouds that have come wood smoke travels in my direction ...

The Starlings watch... joining the Others, I am one of them, one of all. Unified

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Safety Pin Cafe in Winter

Winter is the season for dreams and story. The longer hours of darkness are fertile ground for seeding dreams, and stories come to affect our imagination. We envision a space built so the Sensitives can safely gather, and, offer The Safety Pin Café as shared space for multiple purposes as well. With that acknowledgement of Winter's Gift for dreaming, Pete and I have been conspiring to create a story that leads to The Safety Pin Café in Winter ... We share it here, as a new born. This is a precious and freshly birthed story. Treat it with love and care and The Safety Pin Café will grow into something of generosity, a place to cultivate wisdom and spirit; it will be in good tilth in good heart.

To me the word "Tilth" is a one-word haiku.
It's said that every word carries with it all of its meanings. Tilth is an Old English word that comes from the same root as the verb "to till." In the dictionary it is defined as "the structure and quality of cultivated soil." In an older meaning the word "tilth" was used to describe the cultivation of wisdom and the spirit.
A soil—or a person—in good tilth was said to be "in good heart." 
-A Brief History of Tilth
By Mark Musick

The Vardo for Two
Five years ago (2010) my husband Pete Little and I found the South Whidbey Island community. Our former life was being rebuilt; we had to dig deeper for people, place and values to thrive in spite of a medical diagnosis with one basic 'cure': "avoid almost everything!" That's a bit of a stretch but not much of one. The short story is I was diagnosed with MCS Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, or Environmental Illness in 2007, pesticides, chemicals and common products of the everyday 21st century are the primary sources of harsh and often debilitating reactions. My immune system was unable to cope, or restore health. A house or public spaces? For years those were "no-can-dos". In 2008 we learned what materials were less toxic and lessened the body's burden brought on by exposures; we experimented and tested how to build a tiny movable space to live in and regain wellness. Then began the journey to become part of a community.

In the summer of 2010 we found a place in the woods of Langley to park our Vardo for Two. Life began to re-fresh knowing we had a home. That same summer we found the South Whidbey Tilth and Farmers' Market. At first, it was the companionship and laid-back atmosphere that made us feel at home. Then, we discovered Tilth's history as a place unsprayed with pesticides for three decades. Our shoulders relaxed, my immune system calmed for the first time in three years, we began to root, volunteer, share what we have learned about fragrance-free and chemical free practices and become part of the community. 

1. Fragrance-free and chemical-free bathrooms (May 2011)
We started volunteering at Tilth in 2011, setting up and cleaning up after the Sunday Farmers' Market. That summer we asked about implementing a fragrance and chemical-free cleaning regime in the two Tilth Campus bathrooms. Pete and I cleaned the bathrooms for the next couple of summers. Vinegar, baking soda and unscented hand soap were the only 'product' used and a sign describing the process was posted in the bathrooms. It was the first step. The process and the standard remain in place today and unscented dish soap is now used in the kitchen at Tilth as well.
2. The Safety Pin Café ( 2013, 2014)
I am a storyteller. In a former life I was a teacher, columnist, human resources trainer, community builder and Hawaiian culture educator. After I began ill with MCS I needed to find ways to restore my life and contribute differently. Combining my love of story and writing with the practices of my Hawaiian culture I wrote a mythic tale inspired by our life in South Whidbey. I published the tale in regular installments via my blog, and then shared a two-hour interactive presentation and live performance bringing the virtual doors of The Safety Pin Café down to Earth. The theme of the stories: common magic found on the borders of the everyday. I used Drewslist to publicize the first fragrance-free Safety Pin Café storytelling event in October, 2013. We had great fun, a wonderful crowd and contributed 10% of the donations we received to the South Whidbey Tilth.

In September and October 2014 we pitched the tents for The Safety Pin Café again, for Story Sunday. These Sundays were filled with traditional First Peoples' stories of respect for the Elements -- Akua, the Gods; the lessons began with chants and respect for the people who came before, and love of the sacred places within us and on this island Earth. Through the voice (chant) all who gathered learned to remember: ask permission before assuming you know. The community was very generous with their donations. More than $250 dollars was raised at these storytelling events and all proceeds benefited the Good Cheer Food Bank. A percentage of the donations were also shared with the Tilth.
"Your full-hearted sharing brings music and light into One's inner stream of being!  It is easy to envision peace from that space because it is the place of infinite possibility and where One's needs fall into place with the Spirit's journey.  Thank you for bringing the stories gilded with light, sparkle, and music that hold the attention of even the youngest in a crowd, yet nourish and refresh the old and weary with their wisdom and give the "movers" something to set their inner compasses by.  You and Pete are true jewels in this community!  I'm sorry that I was not there for your sharing from the beginning!  Next time I surely will get out earlier!" - Kathleen Martin
The stories I share from The Safety Pin Café reflect the living philosophy and art of our life.  I call it our safety pin life: small, efficient, elegant, detachable. In many ways it is magic made manifest, making something wonderful out of chaos and challenge. We pin things together with a lot of help from seen and unseen beings and accept that nothing lasts forever.
3. Our Vision Now: Create a removable* Fragrance-free Zone and winter home for The Safety Pin Café

Removable: The walls for The Safety Pin Café would be designed so each wall/panel could be installed after the Farmers' Market ends in October, and removed prior to the first market Sunday the following May. The size of the walls/panels are designed so they can be stored in protected areas on the South Whidbey Tilth during the Sunday market season.
One of the challenges people who live with "Invisible Disabilities" such as Multiple Chemical Sensitivities face is the prevailing attitude that "You don't look sick." I don't use a wheel-chair or walk with visible 'disability' so understanding and accommodations are based on asking for what I need. Unless I am wearing one of my masks to filter chemicals or fragrances most people would never know what difficulty I face being:
  1. around wood smoke
  2. in a café that was just cleaned with bleach
  3. next to a woman who has just shampooed with something fragranced
  4. at a party where people have used scented dryer sheets to dry their clothes
  5. in a building just remodeled
  6. or, in a moldy building/room/house
  7. the list goes on ...

Summers on Whidbey Island is the best of times. I can be out and about, am able to shop and frequent many (not all) local businesses and public facilities. My health, and immune system are better thanks to a new foundation of knowing my needs, limits, and having a network of support that respects us. Pete has spent the last five and a half years sharing his particular magic volunteering at Whidbey Institute's Garden, Good Cheer Garden and Food Bank, Bayview Hall and the South Whidbey Tilth; while also providing Home Health Care and fix-'ems for people. He has his roots in places he wants to be.

The challenges of being a storyteller (and her husband) with MCS change in winter. Wood-burning is difficult if not impossible for me to be around. As the cold and damp sets in businesses enclose their spaces; the fresh outdoor air does not circulate the smells and chemicals used to clean, sanitize and deodorize. People use scented laundry and personal care products. Added together that combination adds to the burden of being chemically sensitive. During the past seven years Pete and I have learned to build and create Fragrance and Chemical Free Zones to live and be in year-round. These havens are the essential factor in maintaining well-ness and recovering from chemical or fragrance exposures.

Our vision and wish is to
  • create a winter place for The Safety Pin Café,
  • a Fragrance and Chemical Free Zone,
  • and public space to share.

We introduce our vision to the South Whidbey Tilth Board and welcome the Board members' input, comments and questions.
the Pavilion as it is at the end of Farmers' Market Season, 2014
* In the Sketch of " " these are Panel #2 and Panel #3 (left to right)

The existing entrance to the Pavilion.
*In the Sketch this is the panel with a door; Panel # 4 facing the existing bathrooms at the Tilth

This is the view of the 'steps-side of the Pavilion.
*In the Sketch this is the panel with an opening window; Panel #1

This is an inside view of the Pavilion, showing both the space inside and the land, trees and space outside.

Here's a view from a table inside the pavilion. We want to be able to be sheltered, yet use material to let in as much natural light, and visibility to the land outside.
This is the recycled metal siding we'd like to use to side The Safety Pin Café in winter. These are at Island Recycling in Freeland. The red trim is similar to many of the red-painted building at the Tilth,  weathered copper/gray-green in the main. The paneling is old, off-gassed of any residual finishes and would need to be cleaned before installation. 

Pete and I drew up a sketch of "The Safety Pin Café's Winter Home at South Whidbey Tilth". This post and the sketches will be available at the Business Council Meeting of South Whidbey Tilth on November 20, 2014 and includes:
  •  Materials List (including measurements) for exterior and interior panels
  • Approximate costs to secure materials
  • Drawings of the entrance and window placements
  • Details for framing, attaching and supporting of panels
  • Details for insulating and flooring
We seed our dream for a winter home for The Safety Pin Café and a space to share with the South Whidbey Community.

E Ho Mai. E Ho Mai. E Ho Mai. (Click on the link to hear the chant and read its interpretation)

Stay tuned for updates to our dream project.

Thank you,
Mokihana and Pete

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Wana and Apple Pie: the poetry of genetics ... how does it happen?

Kapa Hawaiian bark cloth imprinted with the designs of Wana
wana. 1. A sea urchin 2. Sharp-pointed, as sea-urchin spines; jagged, sharp; spike. 3. A long spike or ray of light, as at dawn; to appear, as a ray of light. For example, wana 'ao. Wana kau lani. a streak in the heavens, as of light or cloud
I "hoopuhi", I distill. Images and 'olelo (Hawaiian words) combine with the everyday demonstrating again and again
my pre-disposition to love multiple meaning(s) and synchronicity.  Kaona means "multiple meaning" and is a poetic vehicle for layering or hiding meaning in verse, 'oli or mele. It is instinctual, and when nurtured it becomes the doorway to rich storytelling and enduring connectivity with life seen and unseen.

An excerpt from a post I wrote (2012) on my other blog Makua O'o entitled "To distill ... hoopuhi ... to extract the essence"--
... "..Madeline's bare wrist stretched from the long wool sleeves revealing a subtle yet definite pattern of ink -- tatau. The design began a thumb's length from the narrowest measure at the wrist. Four lines of peaked black ink circled and met in a pattern that was without doubt the wana ... sea urchin. Puff collected the details of her journey much the same way she assembled and remembered the flavors of a recipe she wanted to repeat. The look and taste of this moment. She sipped the bitter-sweet tea then asked, "Can I help with the pies? ... The evening passed in comfortable enterprise and easy conversation, the exceptional circumstances for Puff's arrival melded as did the cinnamon with sugar over the sliced Pippins. There would be time for storytellers soon enough. The unspoken mana of non-intrusiveness, not being maha'oe warmed the cottage as much as the heat from the hearth and good stove. Culture is visceral, the women felt it and respected what was..."
This is an excerpt from the mytic fiction and journey of time travel that is fascinating me as I weave the many tendrils and knotted cords of life as I see it.  The link to that entire post is hereMy husband and I were having a conversation early this morning, "I read your stuff," he said.  I was still waking up but it's always fun to hear what he has to say about my writing.  His insight inspires me to write, and what he feels once the writing is on the page incites more.  This morning's conversation stretched in many directions during the minutes we shared in the vardo and as is common there are other stories tickling at me because of this exchange.  But in the main Pete's sense of the story with this segment was the desire to know more about these characters who make pie together though they are virtual strangers.  The hospitality to strangers, a universal theme stirred memories of visits to the Wisconsin farm where he easily remembered the excitement of company coming.  Whipped into a frenzy with excitement, the innocence of that time came to be with him as he read.  

From there to here ....

November 5, 2014
Dear Aunty Lily,

I am sitting in a tall and comfortable chair made from Oak. The seat is a pretty upholstered one, in a pattern I think you'd like. The chair is pulled in front of a very large computer screen, and that screen and I a parked in front of a wall of windows looking out on a Fall sky. The clouds are stripes of gray and white ... mostly white. No sheep in the sky today, none of those clouds that you taught me to notice when I was a girl in rubber slippers. The trees out that window are maples and this is the season when the trees let go of the fan shaped leaves leaving behind the spiky limbs, spears like many forks or very tall wana.

I am writing from the library in Langley where I live now. The sound of little voices and the voices of their parents (mostly mommies) fill in the space of my right ear. Sometimes I come here to do things I can't do from the computer at home. Sometimes I come here just to take a break from hanging out at home. Sometimes I come here after shopping for tangerines and chicken drum sticks that will be snacks and dinner later. Writing to you know I combine the best of what life offers me now, just a couple weeks before my next birthday. I think about the many delighting and surprising gifts you gave to me in the course of a day. I remember that when my ordinary day were lived away from Kuli'ou'ou Valley I wrote to you and described what it was like to live in Christmas tree land. You wrote back and said, "You are a good writer." I believed you. I didn't know writing would become the story waiting for me. My kuleana.

I am grateful to the way you helped me see connection between what is with what could be. What was our valley times together nearly sixty years ago is as 'no more' as most Main Streets in any town across O'ahu or America, in general. Still the marks left in me and my imagination remain or maybe have become brighter as I age. I see different through these tri-focal lenses not because I have finally off-gassed the plastic lenses and metal frames. I see differently because there were bright lights, rays of light and loving examples, You, to encourage the light within me yet to be discovered. How fortunate, for me to have had you next door.

I am a writer because I keep writing. The stories that come are partly the ones waiting for me to hear them. Other stories are sparked by an ordinary anything's parallel magic just-over-there. I am writing to you, my Aunty Lily because I was trying to piece together, pinning one thing with another. You would love seeing that maple tree shake itself of the golden leaves. You would notice how the clouds look wet, and I would wonder whether you might be driving now ... if in fact you decided to reincarnate, and find another human life in a place different than Kuliou'ou. Just wondering, just remembering, just spending the time making imaginary apple pie. Delicious with every step. Delicious with every bite.

I love you,