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.