Sunday, April 11, 2021

You rescue me, I rescue you

The Safety Pin Cafe was the original name of this blog inspired by a medicine story of the same name. Years later-- now -- this blog grows a tail to its name, and along with it a new story is being written. One chapter at a time, The Safety Pin Cafe Spoon, Spice & Herb Shop, is being inspired by our first grandchild. This boy and the creations of bread and bakery goodies coming from his family kitchen inspire the growing of this story. Myth and memoir pin themselves into story.

Like learning to 'oli chant in the Hawaii language and lifeway tradition (which Pete and are doing as I write this!),  I put together the meaning of our real life to raise my vibration with all of life. This blog and story begun with a safety pin is a way for me to share what can be learned, at any age, at an advancing tutu age, and share using the technology of this blog page. 

It's awesome, surprising, and life-affirming!

I share the process of imagining worlds here one chapter at a time ... enjoy, feel the meaning, get confused? There might be some of that. Don't be afraid. Ask about it. Slip out of your every day head, leave your skin and taste a spoonful of story.


There are words in Hawaiian throughout this chapter and story. In most cases the meaning of the words is explained through the dialogue or narrative; you'll be able to flow with it. At the end of the storytelling I will gather a definition of terms, but if you are curious? Consult an online Hawaiian dictionary or just leave me a comment with your question, I'm pretty good about checking both the comments and my email.

Life is a fiesta!

The Introduction and Chapter One "Samuel & Favorites" is here.


Chapter Two "You rescue me, I rescue you"

"Farmers' markets are a great place to collect gossip. Even with everyone masked and distanced, you can't hide your soul," Mamo Black carried the youngest of her children in a bundle wrapped up and around her shoulders tied in a knot below her belly. She was talking to the twins Kepa and Kalei who loved eavesdropping. Agile and fluid, the two did not look at all alike. Kalei was an ink black haired, kukui nut brown-eyed boy, and his twin had hair like molten Pele and eyes like lightning. 

"Why would a person want to hide their soul Mama? Is it something to keep secret?" Kepa could no more keep a secret than stop breathing, unless she was diving. Then, it was a matter of testing and she was known to go for ninety seconds before surfacing. 

"Honey, people, adults mostly, forget the connections we make ... with everything," the baby was squirming and wanted to eat. The table of baked goodies was nearly full with rounds of sour dough breads, long thin baquettes, and nets filled with fist-sized steamed buns. "You and Kalei can set-up camp under the table while I feed Nani. Don't get too niele, yet. People are just getting used to being in big crowds again. So, tune it down." She made a gesture with her right-hand dialing down her ear.

"Got you Mama." That's the thing about Samuel's family he loved best. The things that were important to his Mama and Dad weren't easily 'seen' but felt. So to talk about the soul and masks in the same breath made sense to the Blacks. In the everyday everyday, 'school' was everywhere.

Samuel was in charge of sales. He was good at math, but even better at selling. Though the big temple bell that was used to signal the start of every Wednesday afternoon market had not yet GONGED, people were circling, sighting the freshest looking fruit, the greenest leaves of bok choy, the most generous bags of poi and the best prices. The regulars knew him, many called him Kamuela.

"Eh, da bread smells ono." That was one of his neighbors, Mr. Santos. "I smelled um this morning but had to wait. So this better be good," He winked and Samuel knew the old man would buy a bag of the buns shaped like manapua, and two rounds of the rosemary and ulu bread. "Your regular, Uncle?" Samuel was already filling the denim bag, and had his bread knife ready to slice a thick hunk to toast and butter for the small brown man shaped like a tea pot. 

"You got my numba, Kamuela. Your daddy coming today?" While the smell of rosemary and ulu filled the stall and beckoned along the airways above the Windward Marketplace, Samuel nodded. "Later but. He had to work." Samuel fingers mimicked being at a keyboard.

"They cannot let him go, right?" 

Mamo Black chimed in, now the baby was fast asleep satisfied and full. "Part-time part-time is stretching to the end of the year."

"Then we can have our full-time baker and you folks gonna move to the new shop?" It was hard to keep secrets in the small town Mamo had known all her life. She stalled thinking about the complications involved with the new shop. 

"Fingers crossed, Uncle." That was safe and not a lie. There was nothing wrong with crossing your fingers and asking for help with a dream still catching stardust and fertile dirt. 

"Okay." Jeffery Santos nodded, letting the subject ride for now. "Whew, that bread smells delicious!" The toasted slice was just hot, very lightly brown and ready for a of spread Samuel's Butter, a mix that included black sesame seeds today. 

"On the house, Mr. Santos!" Kepa shouted from the curtain tent. The man laughed at the formality remembering that so many of his former students at the community college would tease him with the "Mr." thing when he got too serious about formulas and chemistry. Kepa -- a grandmother in a kid's skin --never stopped amazing Jeffery Santos. Kepa knew their neighbor was the best of customers and also knew Mr. Santos had a big family who loved bread! Where Samuel had a nose for sorting smells, it was Kepa who heard everything. The GONG sounded just as Kepa crawled from the muslin table curtains dyed in the big rusty enamel pot in the Black's backyard. A muted yellow from freshly ground olena, turmeric stamped with a pattern of ash-colored triangles decorated the hem. Customers had begun to line up in front of the Safety Pin Cafe's corner stall. 

"Wash your hands Kepa," Mamo Black kept two thermoses filled with very hot water for washing hands and a dispenser of unscented coconut oil soap. The twins were the kokua, the helpers who bagged breads and toasted the thick sour dough slices. Rubber gloves small enough for the young hands were necessary at this stage of virus on the brain times. Kepa pulled a pair onto her washed and dried hands. Everybody had their masks in place.

"Uncle," the girl said handing her neighbor the slice, larger than his palm. "Heard you folks going have a big pa'ina for graduation. Don't forget the baquettes." Kepa flashed a smile that could toast a dozen slices without thinking. Her mother was busy talking with customers, answering questions about the breads, taking orders and multi-tasking while never missing a beat. "Kepa," she shot the ehu-haired one a look that reminded her about the nosey-niele thing, and mouthed "Tune it down." But she knew Kepa wouldn't, couldn't and really ... who would want to squash all that light!

Setting up camp under the table was really code for stashing the latest variety of bread Samuel and Company (the tag everyone used to describe the Black Kids) stored for the final hour of market sales. It was a quirky idea the whole family had come up with. 

"In case some customers, like you Dad, cannot come early to the market. Why don't we put some bread out last minute?" That was Samuel's thought. 

"But the regulars who come early? What about them?" Kalei, born a full five minutes earlier than his sister liked being early. 

"I like the idea of rescue me ... the two jobs and more daddy types," the baker was listening to all the chatter about market and bread. But mostly he loved hearing how his kids paid attention to the people who were their neighbors and other folks who they knew as customers. 

"Yea," Kepa said. "You rescue me, I rescue you." 

So on that Wednesday market day, the bundle of bread surprises were "Last minute bagels." The child-sized experimental batch of four dozen lumps of dough with puka, holes, in them sold for $1 a piece or three for $2.50. A jar of Sam's Butter to go along cost $4.00 for a half-pint. The combo was a great package, a five dollar bill spent well, and gave customers a taste of the Safety Pin Cafe's signature sense of "a spoonful of spice and herbs at a safety pin price." 

Samuel felt his fingers itch and his heart twitched. It was his Tutu ... checking in. The pricing on the bagels was Samuel's idea though hisTutu did make a suggestion: "Make enough to share and enough money to make one more. My Tutu would have told me that one, Samuel." He set the "Last minute bagels" out in a calabash lined with two big napkins made from the same 'olena dyed muslin as their camp curtains. He stopped for a couple minutes freeing his hands up and pressed his thumbs onto the moons of his ring fingers. "To flow Tutu." 

A sharp whistle caught Samuel's attention. "E, Imagination. You saved some for me ... right?" It was Iliahi, and he was not alone.

Sunday, March 14, 2021


  The spacebarandkeysothebottomrowareworn  ... frombeing hit ... timeafter  time.

Rain is falling and the keys still stick, less often.

So much to say but maybe not until we replace the old. This one can be reconditioned. Probably.


Thursday, March 11, 2021

The Safety Pin Cafe Spoon, Spice & Herb Shop


The Safety Pin Cafe began as a story, a magical medicine story about a cafe for faceless runaways. A very tiny fairy woman and silver-haired raven, who knew his way around tea and cinnamon toast, made space for the lost, lonely and those unsure of who they'd become. Woven with fantasy on a day a duck could love (it was wet!) and told "with slant" that story saved an old woman's life by creating a world she could thrive in. That was nearly nine years ago. 


Story has a way of growing in the ravines of tree trunks, catching a ride on the winds that blow dandelion fluff or gusts that end up circling Earth like my ancestors who always considered the ocean one big 'continent.' Telling itself, the original stories grow legs and love situations bred from imagination. What appears finished, but is not, is testament to story's resiliency.  When logic,habit and all the best of plans lead to a circle revisited, but stale and oppressive, it is story that punctures unpredictable holes while also holding us together ... like safety pins impermanent yet commonly enough.

This time a mo'o --a grandchild-- adds just the dash of spice, language that includes trade wind, a spoonful of something to make a new story worth telling. An herb sprouted through a crack in spring time on an island ... 



The mundane and messy work of real life is necessary. It is where the beauty rises. For ocean people like my ancestors, who believe the coral polyp is our beginning I dedicate this story to Carter Lanakila, my grand-son who grows on my home island; and to the radical and wonderful BIPOC  (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) in my neighborhood, on this island. People, I have waited  a long time to know and be with you. How glad I am to have persisted to see, and know you all.

And, to Ma, Helen Mokihana Calizar, on your 103rd birthday. I'm glad for the safety pins, the flashlight and the everything. I love you, Ma xoxo

He puko'a kani 'aina ... it does take time for coral reef to become an island.


Chapter One

Samuel  and favorites

Samuel's nose twitched, nostrils flaring like sails. "Bread!"

"No way. What bread?" That'd be Iliahi, jabbering disbeliever.

"You got stuck nose, and no imagination, Ahi," Samuel teased. Still dripping with ocean, Iliahi gave Samuel a raspberry then blew the snot from his nose. "Yeah, well maybe I got stuck nose, but you ... you have too much imagination."

"There's never enough imagination. Imagination makes dreams possible." Squinting at the diver with squirming he'e making undulating shapes of the old flour sack Samuel spread his arms wide, and wider to punctuate.

Iliahi Clark raised the bag with his morning's catch and his goggles with his left hand, signing the cross with his right-hand. "Imagination  and dreams, cannot eat."  He lifted  the octopus to his lips smacked appreciatively, and shoved the bag into Samuel's belly. 

"Shoulda kept that to myself," Samuel said, but smiled to think of his grandmother who imagined impossibles all the time.

"I gotta go. School," Iliahi was Samuel's age, and it was a school day for him. Samuel and his twin sisters were home-schoolers. The beach was school. The lanky diver boy was a head taller than Samuel and glowed like sunrise with skin the color of  iliahi.Sandalwood. He shook a head of blond hair that stuck to his shoulders. Every morning, before sunrise the boys met at the same spot along the Windward shore. To be on the sandy shore and cool ocean while still dark took a lot of trust on their parents' part. Well, Iliahi was hanai, adopted in the traditional meaning and raised by his aunty along with a younger brother and a cousin. And Iliahi knew Aunty cast her mana, her protection over her boy, and nobody would mess with that woman, or her people.

"Later, Sam.Going to the market?" 

"Yeah. I'll be there."

"Me too, if I'm not pau with the yard work before you pau ... save me a slice of what ever your dad wiped up." Iliahi knew the  bread would be crunchy on the outside and smooth like all heck on the inside. His mouth watered as he reached to slap Samuel on the head. Samuel dodged his friend's outstretched palm, and caught his wrist. Kids didn't know to keep their hands off the po'o

"The head got important business to do, Samuel," his grandmother's voice clear as ocean. And this morning Samuel had a strange new feeling ... a kind of floating away. Then he felt his thoughts return to the moment. This moment. Have to remember to tell Ahi not to do that. Next time.

Samuel stalled his friend's exit, "You drying the he'e, even steven." Samuel used his hands to mimick a scale. He and his family loved the chewy tentacles eaten like long-lasting candy." 

"Nope, Aunty making squid luau, with he'e but." That was even better thought Samuel.

"Imagina-tion! See you." 

The sky was already lightening. One of Samuel's favorite times of the day. Like caterpillar breaking out of the cocoons. Was new. A new day, a new way. Drawing in a  deep breath he smelled the bread again.

"Prickly and sweet." Samuel said to himself. The dog gave Samuel a half-interested sniff. He heard the comment, but focused on the breeze coming off shore. The tide was low and the smell of rotting seaweed and small crabs trapped in the mash of green and purple enticed the low-riding, shiny black mutt. 

A poi dog sorta, Grog was mixed breed with one white ear, and one black which was notched into fringe. Rough-times tattoo's what dogs called the injuries they survived when they roamed alone and without a pack. The salty water triggered memories of those times. A small moan threatened to escape from his proud chest; he willed it down. 

Temptations--rotten crab meat and limu-- were hard to resist, but the dog knew they had only a little time before sunrise, and the run down the beach had been fun. 'Next time,' thought Grog.

Samuel at four could sort smell because he was trained to know the difference between something that was not quite right, and something that was way the hell wrong. 

"Don't go telling your mother I told you that." His grandmother was joking, mostly. "She worries I'll turn you hyper-sensitive and ..." Her thoughts trailed. Samuel picked up the dropped words.

"Don't tell Mom, you taught me to know that smell." Samuel pointed in the direction of the neighbor's dryer, and finished... "that smell, is way the hell wrong." They both knew it was the 'way the hell' part that wrinkled his mother's otherwise flawless smooth face. The two friends giggled at the thought, and shot a wink to seal the secret.  The wink shimmied mid-flow turning to stardust. Samuel could not be sure things like that happened to other boys his age. "It makes no never mind, honey," his Tutu read his mind as a matter of nature, like knowing the tides.

Samuel's grandmother -- his Tutu -- was his most favorite person. A person he wished would be with him every day, all the time. While she was with him, Samuel and his Tutu had great moments. Samuel, like most young children had a broad mind -- he was curious about everything --and had even broader heart. He had lots of room for people he loved. He also paid attention. The strange floating feeling rippled through him; tossed his heart.

He missed his Tutu. Samuel felt his heart squeeze in his chest thinking about her. He reached for his baby finger, something his grandmother had taught him. "Just a gentle jump," she'd say to him. "Anytime. Anywhere." A couple minutes was all it took for Samuel's heart to release the ache. He could almost hear his grandmother assuring him with her laughing eyes magnified in the old round wire framed glasses. He could hear her, "I'll be back." Of course she'd be back!

The smell of fresh-baked bread got stronger. The loaves were out of the oven. Samuel at eight almost twelve (his birthday was coming up) knew his dad would like it if he was there for breakfast, his mom would be getting the van ready for market, the twins were probably covered with more flour than was in the big rounds of bread scored with swirls and slit like ripe mangoes; and the baby would be wanting more milk.

It was farmers' market day, whatever bread his dad baked today would sell by the slice with a special blend of 'butter': a spoon full of liliko'i jam unsweetened, a pinch of spice -- sometimes chili powder, other times a pinch of black pepper, or black sesame seeds and finally 'swimming' herbs snipped weeks ago and packed in honey. That magical mouth-watering blend was a family secret: the exact proportions varied depending upon the ingredients. But what mattered most was how Samuel's Butter (for it was his nose that metered what was just right) led to the full spread of the family business: The Safety Pin Cafe Spoon, Spice & Herb Shop.

"Dad's baking rosemary and ulu sour dough. I hope he made extra. Extra ulu." Samuel reached for the soft spot behind the dog's ears, and scratched. Grog let out a long low sound somewhere between a groan and a bark. Ulu was his favorite food of all time. Samuel loved the sweet baked breadfruit too.

The small but sturdy pack sewn from bright highly visible nylon held Grog's leash and the lightweight scooter Samuel's father built from aluminum scraps, two steel conduits, and old tracks (skate board wheels). Black electrical tape trimmed with orange high visibility tape on either end of the shorter of the two conduits made holding on easier. Samuel pulled the folded scooter from his pack, tugged on the two hinges until he heard that click and lock, extending the riding surface to its 18 inch length. A battery operated light welded to the neck of the scooter automatic switched on when Samuel gripped the handle bars. His father was practical, and safety-first kind of guy. The light was 'old-school' not lithium. Two double AA-batteries in a thin case made it work. 

The soft leather leash snapped easily into the ring in Grog's collar. Short legs and a belly just barely above ground, Grog had a powerful thick neck and shoulder muscles and thighs like a sumo wrestler. Smiling and serious (a necessary combination for adventure), stubby tail wagging, Grog flexed shoulders and backbone, and recalibrated for Samuel's additional weight.

Samuel wound the other end of the leash over the handle bars. "Ready for some breakfast?" The boy asked. The dog did not have to be asked a second time. Samuel adjusted the pack so he'd be visible in the early morning light. Grog gave Samuel a steely look, "You ready?" Samuel nodded and the race for ulu was on.

Just as he suspected, the van doors were open. Grog skid to a stop before hitting it, Samuel braced himself using his left foot for brakes on the grass that was still wet from kehau. The chocolate colored van with bright purple letters flowed on both sides of the delivery truck. The Safety Pin Cafe... spilled over the side where the doors opened to neatly stacked shelves. Spoon, Spice & Herb Shop covered the passenger-side of the specially designed van. 

Samuel's mother, was just finishing up. Seeing dog and boy still wind blown from their adventure, and Grog's paws and belly covered with evidence of wet beach Mamo Black closed the delivery truck door, turned with that look of wonder that would not dilute. She didn't play favorites with her four children. But it was hard not to love Samuel without overflowing. He mea iki. It was a small thing ... to love him so. It took no effort at all. 

Grog waited for Samuel to unleash him then rubbed up against Mamo. Mamo was Grog's most favorite person. They had grown up together, rescued together. She pulled her gloves off once the bread was stowed and crouched to hold Grog's face. 'My pack,' she crooned. 'You did good pal.' The girl who was now a grown woman with children was the only one who could turn him to soup.

Water. Grog needed a lot of it, and where was that promised extra ulu?


To be continued. I'd love to hear what your heart has to say about this first installment.

👂...💗 Mokihana

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

THE ADD-ON: Spoon, spice & herb shop UPDATED


catch a clue with the view of The Safety Pin Cafe Spoon, Spice & Herb Shop's new homepage

The Safety Pin Cafe began as a story, a magical medicine story about a cafe run by a very tiny fairy woman and an awesomely hunky silver-haired raven who knew his way around tea and cinnamon toast. Woven with fantasy and told "with slant" that story saved an old woman's life by creating a world she could thrive in. That was nearly nine years ago. 

The cafe has been a venue for storytelling and the spreading of safety pins both literal and metaphoric. The old woman and the silver-haired raven teamed up, made mischief, pitched tents to keep telling; and stretched the world of blog for all it was worth.

Now with the virus who has sat down beside us all and made itself very comfortable with our sometimes silly-ways, The Safety  Pin Cafe has added ... a Spoon, spice & herb Shop. To reach you on the internet, I'm taking the advice of long-time blogger and astrologer, Elsa Pannizon of ElsaElsa: I'm innovating.

UPDATED: 3/11/21

With the coming Pisces New Moon, The Safety Pin Cafe Spoon, Spice & Herb Shop will launch IN TIME FOR that New Moon, March 13, 2021 as a letter. I'll write a newsletter mailed to subscribers once a month on each New Moon.

I've played and posted the content, and delivery and  after receiving personal messages from very  special people,  I'll send New Moon story or posts just as I have as a link sent through an email.

Much aloha,


Monday, July 27, 2020

Making adjustments and looking forward to the future

We're not sure what the adjustments to The Safety Pin Cafe might be. But I am excited to consider what the world will be like for my mo'opuna growing cozy while his tutus ask for guidance, let go of worn out whatevers, and keep saying our prayers.

If you arrive to find this post, come back later, or check out the stories and posts:

here, here, or here.

There is still so much good we could do together in the future. Take a look at the astrology to come in 2021: a Stellium in Taurus.  It's like a bulldozer, reminds me of my Dad, who was a bulldozing Capricorn.

Among the topics I'm churning over is this:

"The Gift Society" (which is not the non-profit grant world's sort of gift) not "The Gift Economy"(which at its base is about "profiting"): what's it like? whose doing it where?

Does human society need an 'economy'

The Safety Pin Cafe was written with an unconventional and interstitial theme woven throughout. Always open to make more room for innovation. I'm leaving this here to germinate.

Your thoughts and ideas are very welcome!

Pilina kakou,

Friday, March 27, 2020

Fasten Your Safety Pins

Hey hey!
There is still so much to say, and so many stories (with the same message) to tell, metaphors to draw word pictures and everyday experience to keep safety pinning us together. Think of it as take-out, savor them as one more slurp of a favorite taste or explore a subject you've been too cautious to dig into. We have the perfect opportunities to create the world where greed will not thrive! Come over to the new space to find stories, make stories to hold-life-together.

FASTEN YOUR SAFETY PINS is alive and thriving. Come join the conversation.
Can't wait to see you there,

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

2020 ... new decade new look same values; and a spotlight on youthful vibrance

I'm back at The Safety Pin Cafe to see dozens of unpublished comments from readers. My apologies, I did not know they were 'Awaiting Moderation'. I've been elsewhere imaging a future, writing tales to survive and thrive. Perhaps there are worthy components here to serve at tables yet to have been set. Perhaps the many years of our work as story teller, bridge builder, community members and blogger ripen in our elder years.

If you are a long time, or new reader, interested in The Safety Pin Cafe, leave us a message or comment to say so. What attracts you here? How can we serve your need? What are your needs?

As promised, we spotlight a website filled with youthful vibrance, respectful and contemporary indigenous medicine, empowerment
 Indigenous Goddess Gang
"Creating a space for sharing medicine through poetry, food & seed knowledge, herbalism, music and more. This is a space for reclaiming knowledge from an indigenous feminist lens. Each issue we will continue to grow and share the knowledge of our matriarchs and share that medicine. 
Indigenous Goddess Gang is a space intended for INDIGENOUS people. We've had our land taken from us, we've had our cultures taken from us,  we've had our languages taken from us. This is a step towards reclaiming our knowledge, identity and medicine.  This site is not intended for exploiting or appropriating.  Tread lightly and respectfully." - from the Home page of Indigenous Goddess Gang
I discovered Indigenous Goddess Gang about a year ago.There are articles and sharing from young indigenous feminists that open my eyes and mind; they humble and inspire me. E Ola Mau Indigenous Goddess Gang!

This quote from Indigenous Goddess Gang is breathing with life, I acknowledge their voices, not stealing but appreciating as a grandmother nodding at their gifts. And the photography that accompanies this piece? It speaks with thunderous power!

P r e p a r a t i o n

Issue 9

"In the heart of winter, we prepare for what blessings are to come. We take all of the knowledge, growth and insight we have received over the first year cycle with Indigenous Goddess Gang, and we hold these lessons close to us as medicine. We take time to reflect, to sharpen our skills, to rest, to love and be loved, to tell stories and to nurture our spirits and bodies. We are making ready for what is to come, we are in preparation for the gifts ahead. This issue celebrates the power of hibernation, reflection, grounding and preparation for what will come..."

Hauoli Makahiki Hou, Happy New Year,