I’ve been suffering from PMS: Parked Motorcycle Syndrome. With a record-breaking amount of snow on the ground, Boise has not been “bike-friendly” since November, and Jon and I both have been itching to get back on two wheels.
We’re finally having a thaw this week, and we’ve been watching the snow recede with ONE question in mind: when can we safely bring out the bike?! I’m actually optimistic that we might get to celebrate our anniversary (lucky 13th) with a RIDE. On that note, here’s today’s list: T-shirt sayings, the Biker Edition…
Four wheels move the body. Two wheels move the soul.
You never see a motorcycle parked outside a psychiatrist’s office.
Traveling in a car is like watching a film. Riding a motorcycle is like starring in it.
Bikers have more fun than people.
Biker hair, don’t care.
Some do drugs, some pop bottles; we solve our problems with wide open throttles.
Forget glass slippers. This princess wears motorcycle boots.
When life throws you a curve, lean into it.
Matching all your gear to your bike? You’re not a biker. You, Sir, are a Power Ranger.
Bikers don’t go gray. We turn chrome.
Therapy is expensive. Wind is cheap.
If money can’t buy happiness, explain motorcycles.
It’s fairly telling that my most “recent” post here dates from almost two years ago. It’s even more telling that I haven’t FELT like writing for two years. (That should be a red flag for a person like me, right?) And the real irony is that there was plenty to be writing ABOUT in those two years, which have played out like a soap opera on the screen of my life… (To borrow the analogy from Fozzie Bear at the left, when suds get in your open mouth, your shower-song becomes a soap opera. I’ve been humming along as if everything were fine, when really I’ve been chewing shampoo!)
But after two years of twists & turns (or twisted turns) I found myself singing in the shower for real the other morning—which is a GOOD sign for me. Even though this particular rendition of “What a Beautiful Morning” took place in the uncurtained shower of a psych ward.
Clinical Depression isn’t new to me (or to this blog), but thanks to my little vacation psych-stint, my medical chart has a whole new line-up of initials added. B.P.A.D… P.T.S.D… O.C.D…B.P.D…. Bipolar Affective Disorder. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder. Borderline Personality Disorder. With all those disorders getting applied to me, I think an out-of-order sign is in order for my forehead!
Joking aside, I’m grateful. For each of those sets of initials, there’s now a treatment plan in effect. And with a new sense of perspective and self-awareness, I’m actually dealing with [cringe!] my emotions regarding events of the last couple years. I’m not good at emotions, but I’m tackling them.
In a blog that has previously served as a pretty comprehensive Journal of my Journey, I feel I should fill in that two-year gap with at least a “Cliffs Notes” catch-up before I start writing about THE NOW… No doubt I’ll be treating a lot of this in greater detail at some point, but for now, for those who wonder what the heck has happened… Continue reading “Singing in the Shower”→
Once Upon a Time… Kana & Keoni owned a Hawai’ian barbecue restaurant.
For more than a year, Kana Girl’s Hawai’ian BBQ held UrbanSpoon’s #1 spot for “Best BBQ restaurant” in the Treasure Valley (home to one-third of Idaho’s population)…. And we had a kick-ass time of it, building a unique atmosphere with our combined knowledge of Hawai’ian culture and Keoni’s cooking—the authentic family recipes he learned from his Tutu Pa (grandfather) when he was a small kid. The word our guests most often used to describe Keoni’s food (a little ironic in view of our own alcoholic/addict backgrounds) was: ADDICTIVE. We were closed Sundays & Mondays, which meant we’d have an onslaught of regular customers every Tuesday, jonesing for a “fix” because they’d had to go two days without his food. No joke.
When we first opened the restaurant, we hadn’t realized what an abundant number of Hawai’ians and Pacific Islanders lived in this area, but word quickly spread among the “Local” community (“Local” being a word Hawai’ians use to refer to other Islanders, regardless of their current location) and we quickly had a flood of folks looking to test us to see if Keoni’s food were the “real thing.” He passed the authenticity test, hands down—his “plate lunch” (a to-go container with sticky rice, mac salad, and favorite Island entrees) is precisely what the Local folks remember from back home. Word-of-Mouth served us well; most months we didn’t spend a dime on advertising—but business was booming.
The two of us ran the place by ourselves–the original “Mom & Pop” approach—so we had the pleasure of getting to know our many Regulars, and after a while we couldn’t go anywhere in town without being pounced on and identified as “the Hawai’ian BBQ people.” No doubt it’s the closest we’ll ever come to experiencing “celebrity” status. (Keoni follows the Hawai’ian custom of addressing everyone as “Bruddah” or “Sistah”–a personable habit that came in handy in the occasional encounter when we were unable to put names to the faces of people who obviously recognized US…)
It led to some interesting social dynamics at times… During our first week of business a gentleman came in the front door and I greeted him with “Howzit“–the Island version of “Hey, how’s it going?” He literally stopped dead in his tracks and repeated the word with a question mark. He looked “Local” to me, but I expanded with an explanation: “Howzit–How’s it going?” He looked askance at my haole (white!) self and retorted, “I know Howzit. How do you know Howzit?” I explained that I went to school on the Big Island, and that I’m married to a Hawai’ian (the cook)—and once he tasted (or should I say tested) his first Plate Lunch order, he was hooked. In fact, he and his wife became some of our closest friends in the years that followed.
And then there were my Friday-morning rounds to the Asian markets in town… We made our fries from the taro root (the Hawai’ian staple from which they make poi)–but taro is understandably difficult to come by in Idaho. All the Asian markets got their produce shipments on Friday mornings, which meant that every Friday the markets would be swamped with lovely ladies who came up to my shoulder… And every Friday I made the rounds of all those markets, buying up their taro root. I’m not sure what the Chinese words would be for “tattooed white lady who buys the taro,” but chances are that I’d recognize the phrase if I ever heard it again… The taro fries were a hit—and we noticed that although people occasionally asked if we had poi, very few people actually asked for it. Let’s just say that poi is an acquired taste.
Whenever Keoni had a few minutes of down-time in the kitchen, he’d wend his way through the dining room (I called it his “Charm Walk”) speaking Hawai’ian Pidgin with the Local folks and “talking story” with other diners. (Pidgin is a recognized language in the Islands, so Keoni was considered a Bilingual Officer when he worked in the prisons there…) He also sang in the kitchen all day long–he’s got a gorgeous tenor voice and knows all the classic Hawai’ian songs by heart… His Tutu Pa was a musician, and taught Keoni to sing as well as to cook–and also to blend the things he’s passionate about.
Our restaurant was the kind of place where diners (who didn’t know each other) would chat among tables, where people would bring ukeleles and indulge in an impromptu kanikapila (“jam session”) when they finished eating, where a couple might get up and dance in the middle of the floor to one of Keoni’s solos, where regular customers would drop in to say Aloha and give us a hug even when they weren’t there to eat, where people brought in all kinds of Hawai’ian mementos until our decor was a wonderfully collaborative clutter, where we could get to know people’s regular requests and personalize their orders (that’s also how we ended up with Vegetarian and Gluten-Free menus), where people could slow down from the hectic pace of their lives and enjoy a mini-vacation in our “ISLAND TIME zone” (as the sign above the door proclaimed)… We liked to think of it as an embassy of sorts—a few hundred square feet of Hawai’ian soil in the middle of Idaho.
We loved being able to work together—we were happy to go to work together every morning, and we were happy to go home together every evening. We were only half joking when we’d say that Keoni was afraid of the cash register and I was afraid of the smoker—but together we made a Most Excellent Team. And Keoni liked to boast that he got “paid in kisses and tattoos.” Whenever a diner told me I should give the cook a raise, I’d lay a big ol’ smooch on him!
We regularly ran up against sexist stereotypes when dealing with salespeople and the like; very few people made their first approach with the idea that I might be the “businessperson” of the operation. One salesman came in while Keoni was out picking up supplies, and insisted on sitting and waiting until my husband returned, rather than talking to me. When Keoni came back half an hour later, you can imagine the guy’s chagrin when Keoni told him, “You’ll have to talk to Kana Girl about that. She’s the owner—I just cook.” Needless to say, this guy had already lost any chance of making a sale. Other people would ask me if they could talk to the owner (never mind my apron with “Kana” across the front, and the “Kana Girl’s” name across the front door)—and one fellow went so far as to ask me if I knew who the owner was. (Surely it couldn’t be the tattooed chick in the miniskirt!)
We were also both very happy about NOT having to work for anybody else. It was one of our favorite jokes, whenever anyone asked if we could make a substitution or fulfill a special request—Keoni would answer, “Well, I’ll have to check with Corporate…” Then he’d turn to me with the question: “So what do you think, Babe?” (We also joked that if I were “Corporate,” that made Keoni my “Corporate Man-date”…) We loved being able to do things the way WE thought they should be done, and we loved being able to involve our keikis (kids) in the family business.
Looking back now… Opening that restaurant when we did looks in retrospect like a totally harebrained idea. We were deep in a recession and eateries were closing left and right. Neither of us had ever owned a business, we’d only known each other for half a year, and only been Sober for that same half-year. Launching a restaurant just then was a crazy-ass thing to do. And we had a lot to learn! But all in all, it went beautifully. In fact, in some ways it was an advantage to be new to the restaurant business, because we weren’t hidebound by “The Way Things Are Done.” (Take the zero-dollar advertising budget, for example…) Although I also have to say that there were plenty of other things, learned along the way, that we would definitely handle differently if we ever had a “do-over.”
In the end, we threw our beautiful restaurant away. We didn’t lose it; we threw it away. After a year and a half of booming business, we drank again. In a mere matter of weeks, we threw away absolutely everything that was important to our Sober Selves. Custody of our kids, our restaurant, our house, our car, and almost our marriage. (People regularly ask us if we ever fight—a question usually accompanied by the observation that we clearly have a lot of fun together. The honest answer is that we don’t argue… when we’re Sober. When we drank, we didn’t even like each other.)
That was a little more than two years ago. If we could take back the hurt we caused to the people who love us—particularly our kids and our parents—we’d do it in a heartbeat. But at the same time… There are a lot of things about our journey of the last couple years that we wouldn’t want to trade. (In fact, that’s probably a whole post in its own right.) Bottom line, though: despite the financial struggles and various challenges of the last 27 months, we’re in a better place now than we’ve ever been—spiritually, emotionally, in terms of our Sobriety and our family relationships… in every way, actually, except financially.
And then… An unexpected blessing fell into our laps. Keoni had a retirement account from his career in Corrections; we’d been trying to avoid tapping into that resource, but we’d been falling behind on our rent, and he had a couple surgeries to get through (last week’s spine surgery, and another knee replacement coming up) before he could get back to working… So we finally decided we’d better go ahead and cash out his retirement. We thought it would be just enough to catch up on our rent and pay ahead a few months while we figured out “what next”… But when the check arrived, it turned out to be quite a lot more than we’d expected. In fact…
It turned out to be enough to re-open our restaurant. Seriously, how often in life do we actually get a “do-over”? Well, we just got handed one. To quote one of our favorite A.A. guys: “How cool is THAT?!”
Things have been falling into place the way only God’s plans do. (One of the things we’ve learned in Sobriety is that when we’re working too hard to try and make something happen, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate whether “our plan” is really the best thing to be doing. Not surprisingly, God’s ideas are better than ours.)
We found the perfect location almost immediately. It’s ideally situated from a business perspective, and it’s right next door to Elena Grace’s school and within walking distance of Christian’s junior high. There’s even a private space upstairs that we can use as a “family room” when the younger kids are there with us.
This time around we also have the advantage of some eager extra hands within the family. Our teenage son Kapena has already been working full-time between two jobs, and he can’t wait to quit those jobs to work with us. Even Christian is gung-ho about being part of the venture. And we have the chance this time to put into practice all the things we learned the “hard way” the last time around. I can’t even begin to describe how excited we are.
We’re set to open April 13 (our lucky number 13!), giving the landlord time to do some remodeling and updating of the building, and giving us time to “remodel” the cook (those surgeries I mentioned). The restaurant website is still under construction, but I do have the menus posted: www.KanaGirlBBQ.com. And so… The next adventure begins! Stay tuned…
My hubby and I were having a thought-provoking conversation the other day, about the (sometimes) delicate balance between care-taking and independence. He knows me well enough to understand that I have a sort of fierce pride in the knowledge that I can take care of myself. In the year that I was single, I bought my own house, worked on my own landscaping, mowed my own lawn, kept the tires rotated and oil changed on my own car, made my own meals, managed my own bills, took my own vacations…
There’s a story that has pretty much become a family punch-line, about the afternoon when my son Christian (seven at the time) and I arrived at my car in the supermarket parking lot and realized a tire had gone flat; Christian’s reflexive response was to wail, “Oh no–we don’t have a man with us!” To which I replied (with a fair amount of heat, it must be admitted), “OH no—MOMMY can change a tire!” I did change the tire (refusing several offers of help, in fact–on fire to prove a point) and we went on our way.
Four years later, any conversation on the topic of what-moms-are-capable-of-doing is likely to be punctuated by Christian roaring “Mommy can change a tire!” (and then collapsing into giggles). Evidently I made my point…
All that to say… I’m a person who can get unreasonably prickly at any implication that I’m incapable of doing things for myself. Keoni and our sons joke that I’m “one of the guys,” and it’s true that I have a strong tendency toward some stereotypical guy-traits… I’ll refuse to go to the doctor until my chest-cold has turned into walking pneumonia, I can’t bear to ask directions when I’m lost, I’d rather spend hours trying to figure something out by myself than simply ask someone who knows, when I argue with someone I’m all about logic and dismissive of emotion… I always wanted to be the girl who took care of her own shit.
But you wouldn’t guess this if you watched our household for a few days, because I am spoiled now. Keoni argues the semantics and says I’m not spoiled, just “well taken care of“–but I suspect most folks would agree with my verbiage. He does all the grocery shopping, cooks three meals a day for the family (every day), brings me breakfast and coffee in bed (every day), does all my laundry (and returns it to my closet according to my own peculiar system of organization), is the sole master of both the vacuum cleaner and the lawn mower… I don’t even remember the last time I shaved my own legs. I am spoiled. And purring instead of prickling.
What happened to the prickly-and-independent Me? I can only guess (and this was the topic of our conversation the other morning) that it’s Keoni’s acknowledgement–celebration, even–of my capacity for independence that relaxed me into allowing and enjoying his care-taking. I don’t have anything to prove with him–he already believes in me.
He’s also enthusiastic about sharing knowledge with me–and for the first time in my adult life, I don’t feel threatened by being taught. I’m learning to handle a pistol. Today I learned how to change the oil on the car. Perhaps it’s the fact that he’s so clearly an intellectual equal that makes this so easy. It might sound counterintuitive, but I was more fierce-and-prickly about these things when I was an admittedly “dominant” partner—in my first marriage it was a joke between us (in friendlier days) that my Ex was the “chick” in the relationship, and I was the “guy.” Too much truth to it, unfortunately—it was not a relationship of equals, in too many ways, and I was always walking a fine line between “taking care of shit” and not making him feel threatened by me. Is it ass-backward that that was the time in my life when I was the most protective of my position as a-person-who-could-manage? Maybe… it’s because I didn’t have the luxury of lost-ness or “weakness.” If I didn’t step up, nobody would.
My first husband… didn’t have anything to teach me. In fact, he drove me kind of crazy with the things he couldn’t understand. His lack of a grasp of the basic (intuitive, I would have thought) principles of physics hampered activities ranging from home-improvement projects to sailing, I couldn’t talk about literature with him, and his response to being asked to read my writing was to get grumpy. His first year of teaching biology, I wrote his lesson-plans for him, and explained them every morning, and got into a shouting match with him on the Evolution unit when he wouldn’t treat the word “theory” in its scientific sense. Anything that he didn’t do, he made a point of belittling. My cross-country running wasn’t a real sport, my Master’s degree in creative writing wasn’t a real thesis, my stay-home-motherhood wasn’t a real job. (Though when I went back into the work-force and he was faced with summers at home, the kids went right into daycare. Hmm.) I was in a constant tug-of-war with myself between flaring up in defensive anger when my contributions were belittled, and “dumbing myself down” to appease his insecurities.
Today, in contrast, when I was struggling to loosen the nut on the oil pan, I could freely comment that I needed either some more muscle or some more torque. (Since we didn’t have a wrench with a longer handle, Keoni lent me the muscle, and then I got right back under the car.) I spent fourteen years editing myself at home rather than saying what I knew. Maybe that’s why I was wired to be so desperate to show “I know!“–and so loathe to admit when I didn’t.
I did nothing but stunt myself with that, and I’m joyful now to be growing again, and learning. Joyful to be with someone who has things to teach me, and who is open to new things from me as well. And joyful that MOMMY can change the oil… now.
The last time Mother’s Day was on the thirteenth (my lucky number!) was the year 2001–my first Mother’s Day as a Mommy. It was also the day we baptized my son Christian, wearing the same christening-gown I’d worn twenty-six years earlier. My parents have shared it with many family friends in the intervening years, and my mother had embroidered each child’s name and baptism-date into the lining–beginning with mine, and with Christian’s as the newest addition.
On the first Mother’s Day I spent with my daughter in the world, she was in Neonatal Intensive Care and I had a sore throat–which meant I couldn’t take my germs in to see her on Mother’s Day. Already stressed and stretched to my limits by two months of shuttling between my NICU-baby and my child-at-home, being shut out of the NICU on Mother’s Day felt like the proverbial back-breaking straw. Except you can’t let your back break when you’re Mom; you keep going anyway. I honestly believed that would be my roughest Mother’s Day ever.
Last year, however, Mother’s Day found us just six months out from our devastating alcoholic relapse, with NO visitation of our kids, and legal action filed by my Ex trying to terminate my parental rights. And although Christian told my Mom on Mother’s Day that he wanted to call me, my Ex wouldn’t put the kids on the phone, claiming they didn’t want to talk to me anymore. THAT, God willing, was the roughest Mother’s Day I ever hope to see.
In contrast to that (or even taken entirely on its own!) today was absolutely beautiful, in every sense. We had three of our seven kids with us (we have joint custody again of the younger two, and full custody of our teenager), I opened cards with hearts and owls on them, and Christian told me contentedly that “HOME is where my MOM is!” Today I am absolutely overwhelmed with gratitude and joy.
I’ve been gifted with a kick-ass mom of my own (more on that topic tomorrow)–and despite my screw-ups in life, I still get to be Mommy to mine. Truly, I’m blessed!
Actually, I’m writing today about my mom-in-law and my dad-in-law, but “Fairy Godfather” just has a wrong ring on several levels… I’m getting ahead of myself, though. This is a story about the tool of my trade–the laptop–and a miraculous magical rescue.
Since I took to writing full-time, I’ve spent anywhere from ten to twenty hours a day with my fingers on the keyboard of an ancient PC laptop. It’s a cheap one I bought years ago, just basic functions even when it was new, and if computer-years run like dog-years, this thing is older than I am for all practical purposes. And it was beginning to show its age. Some of the keys would take a few taps before I’d get the corresponding letter to show up on the screen, the “click” button on the tracking pad only worked about three quarters of the time, a virus had wiped out all the .exe functions and made it almost impossible to open new documents or the internet browser, it regularly overheated and ate the files I was working on, the battery was shot (so it had to be plugged in to function) and the electric cord was getting too loose to hold. I’d have to wiggle it around to find the “sweet spot” and then jam it against my leg while I worked to keep it in place. We tried duct tape, but the machine was clearly limping along on its last legs.
So I’d been nursing it along and praying it would hold out until we could afford a replacement. My hubby Keoni is back to work after his December knee replacement, but he has the second knee scheduled for April, so we’ll have another couple months of living on just what I make at the laptop–no room in the budget for a computer until after that. And Keoni was very insistent that we’d be choosing a good computer when the time came. “This IS your office,” he reminded me. I’d been thinking of making the switch to Mac–knowing there would be a steep learning curve, but also knowing the Mac would be great for website creation and editing my photography, and not susceptible to wipe-out by virus… And compatible with my iPad, which I “live in” when I’m not on the computer. So we’d been doing a little “window shopping” on Amazon, picking out the computer we’d get… later.
Out of the blue a few weeks ago, Keoni’s parents called us from Hawai’i to say they wanted to buy me a new computer, and which one would I like? I can’t remember the last time I’ve been so stunned. My in-laws aren’t Christmas-and-birthday people, but they occasionally step in–generously!–when they perceive a need.
Did I mention I was stunned? I stammered out the specs of the Macbook Pro I’d been looking at, and they called back that afternoon with the tracking number for shipping. I instantly became the impatient kid who can’t wait for Christmas! I knew I’d have my face pressed to the front window on delivery-day, waiting eagerly for the UPS truck to show up.
God has a sense of humor and timing–have you noticed that? Two days before the new computer was due to arrive, the old one breathed its last breath. No amount of computer-CPR could revive it again. I’ve used the iPad for back-up before (like the day that virus hit, when I had 8,000 words due before I could take the time to resuscitate the thing)–and I’ve been grateful to HAVE it as a back-up–but the iPad really isn’t designed for flipping between research websites and word-processing, and I can’t work nearly as efficiently… and I had another ten thousand words due that day. I don’t mind admitting I was pretty stressed.
Less than two hours later, the UPS truck pulled up. Thank you, God–and thank you, Mom & Dad in Hawai’i! As my mom-in-law said to me on the phone when I was stuttering my stunned and sincere thanks: “God works in mysterious ways, Kana. Today, this is how God is working.”
Wow. So I’ve been happily “moving in” to my new Mac–and relishing the fact that for the first time, all of my music library and photo library and software and apps and documents and calendar and to-do list and everything else are actually compatible across all my devices, synced up and available whether I’m on the laptop or the iPad or even my phone. Too slick for words–I’m loving it! My OCD-organizing-impulses are intensely satisfied by this tidiness.
I have to say (despite my familiarity with the iPad, which turns out not to afford much advantage in “learning” the laptop) that Mac was a Mystery to me! It was time to bust out the climbing-gear, because this was a STEEP learning curve. Even the most basic of functions–like scrolling or right-clicking–take a different action on the Mac. As I figured out how to do each individual thing, I was thinking–without exception–that the Mac approach makes better sense. Mac was definitely designed with usability in mind. At this point, it’s still just a matter of learning how to do everything. Everything. I consider myself pretty “techie” (I used to teach online and design online curriculum, I design websites on the side, and when we owned a restaurant, I handled all of our internet marketing myself) but I have zero formal education in technology. I’m simply stubborn enough to keep “playing” until I figure out how to make a computer do what I want it to do. So that’s what I’ve been up to–gleefully getting familiar with an all-new environment.
That’s a partial explanation for my absence from this space over the last few weeks (and I’d like to thank all of you who pinged me to say you missed the posts, and hoped everything was okay). There has actually been a lot going on–including a lot of writing work. (Last weekend: thirty thousand words in two days–and this from the girl who didn’t even manage to finish NaNWriMo…) I’ve been thinking the last few days of the “complaint” I often have when traveling: When you have the most stuff to write about, THAT’s exactly when you don’t have enough time to write any of it! True in regular life as well, as the last few weeks go to show..
But. I’m re-evaluating my writing-priorities, and what comes to light today is my previous insistence that writing in THIS space on a regular basis is what keeps writing FUN. I don’t want to get so “ground down” with writing-on-demand that I lose the joy-in-writing that made me want to do it full-time in the first place. So my pledge to myself is not to treat my own writing (here) as “lower priority” than the writing that comes with deadlines. To borrow from Hamlet‘s Polonius: “This above all: to thine own self be true.” I don’t think Polonius was referring to blogging, but that’s how his advice applies in my life today.
And I recognize on a daily basis how blessed I’ve been in the support of the people around me. I chat on IM daily with writers from our team, and a regular theme of those chats (including with our editor, and my boss) is spousal resistance to time-spent-writing. I’m thinking, in contrast, of Keoni nudging me to take the leap into writing full-time, even before we knew if I’d be able to make any money with it. “You’ve wanted to do this for years–you need to do it.” Period, end of discussion. It probably helps that I’m not away from him when I’m writing–my “office” is our bed, which we treat like a couch in the daytime, and he’ll stretch out beside me and read, or we stream Netflix movies while I write. I’m grateful every day for the supportiveness–and that extends also to his parents and the vote of confidence represented by the generous gift of this computer.
My writing-mascot is the owl–I have a little guy (named Pue’o, the Hawai’ian word for owl) who perched on the old laptop’s screen while I wrote… In Hawai’ian culture, the ‘aumakua, or guardian spirit, is represented by an animal of the islands. My husband’s family is guarded by Mano, the shark, and he remembers learning about the ‘aumakua from his Tutu Pa (grandfather), Hawai’ian musician Kamuela Ka’anapu, who also taught him traditional cooking, and to combine his love of music with his love of cooking. (When Keoni is singing in our kitchen, I know that all’s well in my world!) Tutu Pa told him that whenever he saw a shark, “either something good or something bad will happen.” Kid-Keoni’s irreverent response (which earned him a cuff across the back of the head) was, “Well, Tutu Pa, that depends wheddah you IN da watah or OUT!”
Our son Kapena, who turned sixteen on Valentine’s Day, has been wanting a tattoo for a couple years, and we told him we’d sign for one when he reached legal age (sixteen with parental consent in Idaho), provided he went to our artist (whose art we love and whose judgment we trust), and that the tattoo itself be something meaningful to him. So this week he got his tattoo: the family ‘aumakua with our last name printed in the curve of its body. Our second daughter Anelahikialani and her wife Sarah were visiting from California this last week, and she and Kapena went in together to get matching ‘aumakua tattoos.
Hawai’ian families have ‘aumakua, and an individual can also have a personal ‘aumakua. You don’t choose one–it chooses you, and a person who pays attention might recognize the relationship. Last summer when I began writing for an Idaho travel magazine, I was seeing owls every time I was out on the road on assignment. Daytime, night time, it didn’t matter–owls were crossing my path every time I hit the road to write. I can take a hint–the owl is my ‘aumakua. And if I reach back to my own Irish roots, the owl is a common personal totem in Celtic culture as well, so that seems suitable. This is why my Twitter handle is @KanaOwl, and why the literary magazine I’m launching (more about that in an upcoming post) will be at ThirteenOwls.com, and why the protective cover Keoni ordered for the new laptop is adorned with an owl (in “my” colors, no less)..
Our ten-year-old Christian just registered for junior high, and as we watched Harry Potter the other night, he was lamenting the fact that “speaking Owl” isn’t among the available electives. He’s quite enamored of Harry’s owl, Hedwig, and whenever he’s in the house, you can guarantee that Pue’o will be somewhere on his person. (He doesn’t know it yet, but his birthday present in 10 days will be a full-size Hedwig look-alike made by the same company that created Pue’o…) He also points out that the owl on my Mac is an appropriate symbol for what I do, since owls in Harry Potter’s world carry written correspondence.
Christian and I agree that the UPS man was really a brown owl in disguise. And as for his delivery… well, even Harry Potter getting his Firebolt broom by owl-post was not more excited than I was when this Owl-Mac arrived.
To Mom & Dad in Hawai’i: THANK YOU for enabling this writer to keep writing so happily! And I hope you know that this isn’t the first time God has worked through you to provide a blessing in my life… I thank him every day for my biggest blessing: the man who married me. Thank you for “authoring” that gift as well… And my thanks again for providing me with such an awesome new “office!” If I haven’t needed a fairy godmother, it’s because God’s always got my back. And yes–as Mom says–he works through other people.
It’s probably a fittting follow-up to the other day’s Imbolc post that today I’m privileged to share the Sunshine Award! Perfect item for February, when we all (at least those of us in the northern hemisphere) might be in need of a little extra light… My humble thanks to Susan, of Susan Writes Precise, who shone the light in my direction, and graciously offered me the opportunity to spotlight some of the (many!) bloggers whose writing I enjoy..
But first things first: this award comes with a mini-interview, so I have some questions to answer before we go forward…
Favorite Color: Anyone who has seen my closet–a solid mass of turquoise & teal–could answer this question (probably while laughing at me)…
Favorite Animal: Is it inappropriate to list “children” in this category?… I’d be in trouble with our Personal Animals if I didn’t name them here, so I’ll say Suzy-Cat and my son’s Invisible (NOT Imaginary) Dragon. And I have to mention the Owl, who has swooped onto my radar in the last year or so and taken up a post as my totem. If I reach back to my Irish roots, the owl is a common Celtic totem–and it’s a common ‘aumakua in my Hawai’ian husband’s culture as well, so the little guy who perches on my laptop is Pue’o (the Hawai’ian word for Owl).
Favorite Non-Alcoholic Drink? COFFEE!
FaceBook or Twitter: Twitter. My FaceBook account is still standing–and my Twitter and the blog both post to it–but I don’t go there very often. I was going to say that my Twitter handle (@KanaOwl) makes me a hooter instead of a tweeter, but that doesn’t sound quite right…
Favorite Number? Thirteen! A number for resurrection and enlightenment–and my wedding anniversary.
Favorite Day of the Week: I don’t know–what day IS it, anyway? I work seven days a week, but I don’t go anywhere to do it, so I’m wonderfully unaware of what the calendar says these days…
My Passion: Singular? I only get to list one? Nah, I’m a rule-breaker… I’m passionate about my Husband. (He says it’s because he’s a fruit… As in Hawai’ian Passion Fruit…) About Mommyhood. About Words. About Travel. About People’s Stories.
Getting or Giving Presents: Well, let’s be honest here–BOTH. I do love unwrapping one of those hefty rectangular packages that I know is a book… And of course there are those awesome presents with kid-fingerprints all over them and kid-names signed on them… But there’s also the fun of picking out just the right thing for someone, and being all excited and not being able to keep the secret and giving them the present before we actually get to the holiday because I can’t contain myself. (But that last part is probably just me…)
Favorite Pattern: Interesting question… Gotta go with Celtic knotwork.
Favorite Flower: Plumeria. (Tucked behind a left ear because I’m married.)
Okay, that was fun–but it’s time to pass along some Sunshine. Without further ado, I’m happy to share with you some blogs worth reading:
CreatingReciprocity–Today’s post is titled “Once Upon a Time, a Unicorn Fell Off a BunkBed”.. You know you want to read this.
MotherVenting–Today’s post (in its entirety), which made me grin–and made me wonder when I missed the unicorn memo: “Vacancy. There’s a vacancy available. Here, in my heart. Wanted: a worthy occupant. Salary: biscuits, gin, filth, and use of unicorn. Must come with own beard. Benedict Cumberbatch an advantage. Apply within.”
Reinventing the Event Horizon–“Notes From the Edge” by Kathy & her partner Sara, including the wonderfully titled recent post, “Don’t Run, You’ll Make Dust (A Grandmother’s Warning)”… (no unicorns, but there is a yellow rhinoceros to be found here…)
E-mails to God–Irreverent and down-to-earth… “On the Seventh Day, He Went to Costco”…
BethParkerArt–“Art That Makes You Wiggle Your Butt!” Truly, Beth’s colorful pieces never fail to make me smile. With apologies to Beth for swiping it off her site, here’s one of my favorites…
Slightly More Than Necessary–written by Leslie Hobson, a self-described “escapee from the world of advertising,” and today featuring an inspiring tribute to her mother, who passed away just this week. “I am crying now not for the loss of her, but for the gift of her, throughout every day of my life.” Beautiful from start to finish–and Leslie, you’re in our prayers today.
How the Cookie Crumbles–“An irreverent look at life after sixty-five,” by a blogger who writes under the handle “Let’s CUT the Crap!”
Guapola–“The Asylum Within the Asylum–and Music!” A little of everything, and always entertaining…
Becoming Cliche–Single-handedly responsible for several cumulative gallons of coffee snorted through my nose when I get the giggles with my morning reading…
The Urban Misanthropist–a love story with Librumia, who married him in red tennis shoes, and an introduction to their “Ellie in the Belly” (whom we would be honored to babysit after her arrival–with humble thanks for the thought!–if only we didn’t live so far away)…
To each of you Sunshine Award recipients, we hope you’ll entertain us by answering those questions and bestowing some sunshine on the next generation of awardees. Thanks for keeping me in smiles & sunshine!