Posted in Family

Hau’oli la Hanau! (35)

“Aunt Tadi” with my son Christian, 2003

Thirty-five years ago today, my mother employed her primary Superpower and made a person. A day or two later I was introduced to a lifetime companion and playmate and co-conspirator and friend: my sister Karin. (She guides people’s pronunciation with this clue: “You park a KAR-in the garage.”) I turned three just a few weeks before her arrival, and my game du jour was tagging people with their initials. My new sister’s “KD” became Kadi to the family—a name that stuck permanently.  (With the occasional variation, such as “Aunt Tadi” when my son Christian was little and couldn’t pronounce K.)

with my sister, 1994—a family trip to Maine

Kadi and her husband Scott visited from Seattle last weekend, and Keoni told me he was getting a kick out of watching the two of us, noting the facial expressions and mannerisms we have in common. It’s a funny thing, how amazingly alike we are, despite our very different lives. Even some of our random OCD eccentricities are a match, like our refusal to eat the last bite of a sandwich—the piece we’ve been holding while we ate the rest. Can that possibly be genetic? It certainly wasn’t something we learned together—we discovered the quirk-in-common as adults, when we met each other for lunch one day.

my sister’s high school graduation, 1996

I don’t see my sister in my mirror, but I see her all the time in my photos. We insisted for years that we didn’t look anything alike (despite being taken for twins with some regularity), but then I began to mistake pictures of her for pictures of myself… When she first moved to Boise after graduating from Law School, she reported getting hug-attacked in REI by a perfect stranger—someone who obviously knew me well enough to hug me, but still couldn’t tell that she wasn’t me. I have occasionally gotten responses like “Duh” and “No shit” when I point her out or introduce her as my sister. Apparently it’s obvious.

Our family traveled a lot when we were growing up, so we were often the only available playmates for each other. Happily, we got along pretty well together—barring the occasional scuffle or argument, we enjoyed like minds and tastes and imaginations most of the time. Our mother has said of our six-month trip through Europe that we fought the first day, and then it seemed to dawn on us both that we would only have each other for the next half-year… So we made up—and stayed made-up for the rest of the tour.

with my sister—when she was in Law School and I was a new stay-home mom

Our friendliness is, in itself, a testament to my sister’s amiable nature. It’s not easy being anyone’s younger sister. She has gone on, though, to distinguish herself in arenas of her own—clerking for a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, working as a Deputy Attorney General for the state of Idaho, and now with a prominent law firm in Seattle. We’re pleased with the idea that we both make our livings at writing—legal briefs in her case, and random oddities in mine…

We used to write plays together, and perform them for the captive audience of our parents and grandparents. We had to make creative allowances for the small size of our cast, which led to some memorable adaptations like “Snow White and the One Dwarf,” in which she played the princess and I played everyone else.

at a Black-Eyed Peas concert

Keoni introduced me to the idea of the ‘aumakua—the totem or guardian in Hawai’ian culture—and last summer it became clear to me that the Owl is mine. Owls were crossing my path, night and day, every time I was on the road with a writing assignment… When I wrote about the topic here, Kadi emailed me, expressing astonishment because she had developed a particular affinity for owls in the last year as well. I wasn’t expecting that, of course, but at the same time it didn’t surprise me. (I figure it’s our “Irish” coming out… Owls are totems in Celtic culture too.) Besides, we’ve always seemed to be on the same wavelength, even though our lives are outwardly so different.

Kadi & Scott’s visit last weekend

Speaking of Hawai’ian culture, Keoni has asked me to tell her “Hau’oli la hanau.” When we say it aloud (how OH-lee lah huh-NOW), people often respond by telling us their age, thinking we’ve asked them, “How old are you now?” But it actually means—from both of us—Happy Birthday!


I am... a writer, an explorer, a coffee-drinker, a recovering addict, a barefoot linguist, a book-dragon ("bookworm" doesn't cover it), a raconteur, a sailboat skipper, a research diver, a tattooed scholar, a pirate, a poet, a spiritual adventurer, a photographer, a few kinds-of-crazy, a joyful wife, a mom... a list-maker! :)

29 thoughts on “Hau’oli la Hanau! (35)

      1. You may be a bit ashamed of me, literally hang your head and shake it,……

        I have never read The Hobbit, Lord of The Ring, etc…

        I know. Don’t say it…. I will rectify this.

        But thanks for the wishes! :)


        1. I DO recommend “The Hobbit”—it’s full of humor and adventure. (I’ll add, though, that the Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of the very rare examples of a film being better than the book… I don’t say that often, but I heartily believe it to be true in this case. The film director did a marvelous job of staying true to the book, but telling the story better.)


          1. I will do it. The Hobbit first then. I still remember checking it out of the library years ago and NOT reading it. Though I don’t know why. The only other movie I enjoyed after reading the book was the Green Mile.


            1. I hope you enjoy it!

              “Hobbit” has been one of my nick-names for my son Christian, ever since his curly crop of hair first grew in… So of course when he heard there was a book about hobbits, he insisted on having it read to him… at age three! (That story here: “The Mom with the Dragon Tattoo“) He and I will be interested to hear what you think of it. :)


  1. I am so envious of the easy grace in which some sisters can enjoy each other’s company. My only sister is a toxic nightmare that I had to remove from my life as best I could. Never forget that your sister is the person who lived your history with you and ‘gets’ stuff that nobody else on earth ever will.


    1. I’m sorry to hear it—and I know what you mean. I’ve had to do the same with the other person I had considered as a sister—we were best friends from the age of two, but “toxic” grew into it in our adulthood… Painful, isn’t it, when you have such a history with someone?


  2. Isn’t it funny how our sibling’s lives can be so similar to our own, even if we’re years or even miles apart in our upbringing? I’m 8 years younger than my brother and by the time I was 10 he was off in college, yet our adult lives have mirrored each other. The cosmic forces are at it again!
    Happy Belated-Birthday to your sister!


  3. Gosh, I’m running into so many blogging pals whose birthdays are in September–and I’m in September, too. I love that the owl is your totem. I think that’s really special. :)


  4. It’s so cool that you and your sister have that connection even though your lives are so different. Some people would let that get in the way. I enjoyed reading about your relationship and her recent visit. I’m glad you shared it :)


    1. There have been some bumpy spots along the way—particularly during the worst of my drinking-days before I got Sober. But I’m blessed to have a very FORGIVING sister!


  5. I’m another one who shares a birthday with your sister – small world. What a wonderful connection you have with your sister, makes me smile (and want to keep working on mine with my sister). You just look SO happy together in the pictures that you shared. Sweet. :)


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