Thursday, July 7, 2016

Notes from the writer's desk

Dear Readers,

I hope you are enjoying the unfolding story of Beatrix Blunt as much as I am. As with all the other medicine stories I have written this one began with a physical symptom, an expression of the reality of living with the illness MCS. This condition/illness is a many faceted expression of being in no small way what Earth feels every day and night of her life. Multiple Chemical Sensitivities is an inconvenient illness because it makes others uncomfortable dealing with the symptoms that don't stay the same, and could ask them to make changes that would inconvenience them -- change their habits, stop a convenient behavior, stop polluting, or consuming. Multiple Chemical Sensitivities is inconvenient to those of us who live with the illness for as with all illness the pace at which we have been used to being human is changed, usually dramatically; and the solutions are not easy to find nor stable. How inconvenient.

I began writing Beatrix Blunt after being inspired by a piece of writing that I read in our local (Seattle) online 'magazine' the SLOG. The writing and the issue is one I knew, and experience: Forests Burning. Like the character Beatrix Blunt I use oxygen to breathe when forests burn, or my neighbors burn their fires inside their chimneys or in piles outside. Rather than recount my initial motive and fuel for writing, I leave you this link to read Charles Mudede's SLOG post to get a feel of it, if you choose. That was the spark. But what has come from that initial source has led to the twelve-installments of the story thus far. Ending with "Leavings" and the conundrum facing the three characters: the young intern Alexa E., Leslie Mills former Miss Hawaii, 1974 and Beatrix Blunt blogger and journalist on the verge of retirement from public life. The trio has been visited by a ghost, and the ghost brought music and flowers. Now what?

"There are threads and themes of story written into the bones ..."

The stars and circumstances in life today are conspiring with me. I believe it is time to take this story and grow it into a novel. There are threads and themes of story written into the bones of these twelve-installments that beckon, shout more like it, for the meat of the larger version. So with the blessings of those stars, the Ancestors, and my guardians who know what story needs to be told, I tell you this medicine story will grow behind the scenes as a novel. Below the astrology of a two year forecast looks to me like a good time to engage in 'vigorous activity and self-assertion.' There is history and story to tell on many levels, and in doing it well, there could be art to remedy the inconvenience of greed, consumption and oppression. 

Below are the astrological markers that are inspiring me to use the energy I do have to write Beatrix's story. I hope you will read and re-read the installments written, and be curious about the bigger story. The "Inspiration" link on the sidebar of this blog include many of the hipu'u the knots of potential in this big net of themes. 1 While I investigate and string one with the other, you may find something in the links that is interesting, curious, confusing in your personal wayfinding. If you are spurred to, leave a comment here for discussion. That would be interesting.

I cannot predict the path of this unfolding decision, but feel energized to pursue it with vigor and write a story fueled by outrage, and delivered with reverence for life, and an application of ho'omana to suit my original design. 2

Keep track of Beatrix and the story begun here, by coming back from time to time.Writing a novel is a whole other level of storytelling, there are things to learn about this version of the craft, and reaching out to people who can help me do that will another experience for a ripening elder. Uranus is known for his influence in revolution. May I be primed and ready to take my place in it.


"Uranus trine Mars: Stepping outBeginning of June 2016 until beginning of February 2018: This influence represents an opportunity for vigorous activity and self-assertion. Even if you are naturally a somewhat shy and retiring person, this influence will enable you to make your mark on the world around you. Others will stand up and take notice when they see that you are able to break out of your old habits and ways of acting. You will show new sides of yourself and attempt to do things that you wouldn't usually try. Quite likely you will succeed. It is not that you couldn't have done these things before but that you didn't believe you could.You may choose to work at new activities with others, but only if they allow you to be yourself. You are not in the mood to compromise, because you do not see any need to, and you are probably right. At the same time you don't feel any particular need to make other people go along with you either. You are quite content to go your own way and work by yourself. You will set out to accomplish tasks and begin new projects of your own that are expressions of who and what you are.Under this influence you may become interested in other people's freedom, because you understand from your own efforts that it may be difficult for them to gain their freedom. For this reason you may become involved in organizations that work for the rights of others and help them to become liberated in some way. You will help those who are engaged in the same kinds of fights that you have had to wage in your life.If you feel that you have never had the opportunity to show everyone who you are and that you have been limited by other people or by circumstances beyond your control, this influence gives you the opportunity to take control of your own life and make it what you want.

Uranus sextile Uranus: The other way around
Beginning of July 2016 until beginning of March 2018: Now, at the age of around seventy, you experience a time when you can gain great insights into your relationship with the larger world, but the emphasis is different. Instead of learning about the outside world and your place in it, you are likely to focus on what you have got from your life. You will reflect on your encounter with the outside world and what your personal values mean in it. Throughout much of your life you may have been so concerned with making your business, professional and social life work out as you wanted that you haven't paid enough attention to your inner life and needs. Insights gained at this time will cause you to reevaluate your goals and give your personal needs a higher priority. You are no longer bound by the obligations that prevented you from doing this before. Now you are free to explore your own inner world and come to a better understanding of who you are and how your life has fitted your needs." - Excerpt from Robert Hand's 'Short Report Forecast' (mine) from Astrodienst

1 Hipu'u. Knot, bond, fastening; to tie a knot. This reference relates particularly to the knots used to make nets. In this video presentation with Kalei Nu'uhiwa about Haumea, the connection is elegantly Hawaiian. Click here to watch and listen to a lesson in the meaning of knots and potential.

2 Ho'omana. to place in authority, empower, authorize. This definition is a simple one that alludes to the the greater story that is power, mana, unfolding over time. Click here to watch and listen to a young woman, Puni Jackson, speak about ho'omana with all its implications.

3 Aloha. This word is perhaps the most used of 'olelo Hawaii, Hawaiian language. A word used through the world, and in many contexts. I leave this footnote here as a way to acknowledge a request I received recently. Someone in our community sought me as a resource, and wanted my help with the translation of a chant she loved. Through that experience I was given a refresher course in Aloha, and was led to this video with kumu Pilahi Paki. Click to learn about this teacher, and the background to the writing of her definition of Aloha, and the Aloha Chant.

Monday, July 4, 2016


"Honey girl, the letter stay pa'a to the lid," Moon Amona's presence faded like the old folk remedy for iodine-deficiency. An inappropriate metaphor, but a bitter truth that will make sense before the whole is told. "The laukahi ready for make medicine. You da medicine." Before Beatrix could get to him, Moon was gone. The swirling wind circled. The dogs howled. Leslie wept. Alexa exhaled audibly.

Mary Blunt's letter was wrapped in faded pink butcher paper, the kind so common during Bea's childhood. A length of twine held the pink paper in place just as her Uncle had said. The contents of the letter from Beatrix's grandmother was new information. The version of history she'd been told was not altogether different from what they all heard today, but, bits of it had been left out. Yes, she'd known about the regular monthly arrival of crackers. The fact she was hanai had always been part of her knowing. And yes, she knew Uncle Moon made sure she knew her true name, Beatrix Blunt, grand-daughter to Mary Blunt, and daughter to Mary Elizabeth Blunt, learned over time the meaning of her sacred name -- Moemoe-laukahi.

Today, in her Salish home it was the subtle yet powerful implications about her grandmother's mana that sent the chicken skin up her spine. Bea looked to Leslie for the tank of oxygen, and sat back in the old koa rocker, drawing in a slow stream of air. The three leis were strung, the fragrance heady. Leslie's face was a river of tears, Beatrix left her grandmother's letter wrapped as the oxygen relaxed her lungs. Tic, Tac and Toe congregated at Bea's knees, and waited for Crook. The dogs wanted out, they had business to attend to.

"How about a fresh cup of coffee," Alexa was reeling from the visit. "Caffeine". She wasn't sure what had happened in real time, the podcast connection? The three women weren't sure where in time they were. But a latte with whipped cream might help.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

We are the story

Dream's time is long and short/ thick and slender/ all together in a blender. Alexa had sorted the puakenikeni into two heaps, separating the already orange blossoms from those still cream and milk. She enjoyed having her hands busy, and automatically made up small ditties, rhymes and tunes. The dream time tune was catchy and loud enough for everyone to hear. The presence of The Others throbbed with Alexa's tune, Uncle Moon watched as Beatrix and Leslie hooked the lei needles with thread and began to string. Sweet stuff.

"Honolulu was one peachy town. Me and my truck was loaded and ready before da sun had chance puka through and cross da mountain. Koolaus, majestic and full watah. Always wet. I was one early bird, so being milk man was a match made in heaven." Moon paused when he saw Alexa waiting for him to pick up the third needle. He shook his head, then lifted it toward her. Stringing the leis would be the women's job, not so much because it was only wahine jobs, but more because in this dream needles weren't for the ghost. His wavy presence was already turning more translucent and he knew his kupuna were telling him 'Hurry up Moon."

"My customas came like family for me. Twenty-two houses I delivered milk. In dos days no such tig as get tip for your job. You know, I did my job and every week my customas got one bill, and every Friday I collect.  Mostly I saw about half of em in the morning. Da odah half was still sleeping," he laughed and clicked his teeth remembering, bobbing his head.

"But one family, only one. One old haole lady used to be a libarian downtown. She was always up when I walked up her back porch. And every day, EVERY DAY she had cup coffee and crackah for me. I never failed for spend time wit her. Nice lady. Lonely but. And when was time for me to give her her bill, she always had her money -- everybody paid cash in dos days. Plus she had a new book for me for read. Libary books. She said she still borrowed books, and we got to know each uddah pretty good."

Bea had heard this story many times, and knew it was time for her to ask, "Uncle Moon what kind of crackers did she have?"

"Oh, she was a champion crackah wahine. Sometimes was soda crackah with small slice cheese. Anotha day might be Jersey Cremes, my favorite with margarine spread on top. Crackahs good for dunking in hot coffee. Even when broke, the crackah taste ono."

Morning memories of her own childhood mornings swam through the dream time. Evaporated milk or small pitchers of cream top milk turned breakfast coffee into a ritual Bea would take with her to the grave. One of those blessings in the rough that lasted when life turned into a battering ram and you needed something to lean into. Beatrix stroked the wiry hair of the blonde comfort dog. The memory transferred, Crock turned to absorb the woman's memory. Coffee and cream would become one of those things between the blonde and Bea. Funny how that works.

"Here's da part I came for leave wit you, Honey Girl. Dis is how Peter Rabbit and Beatrix Moemoe-laukahi Blunt share in one big story. The Tale of Peter Rabbit was made by anudah Beatrix. You fullas know which one yah?" The lei makers nodded.

"Well one morning, I was having small kine trouble with my truck. Da old gal was coughing and chugging up Nu'uanu Avenue like she had hano ... asthma. So I pulled over and took a look at the engine. I was pretty good mechanic in dos days. My white clothes got little bit dirty, but da truck strarted up good. Spa'k plugs and loose wire. By the time I got to the old haole lady's place was almost ten o'clock. Pretty late for me. I got this funny kine feeling when I came up her driveway and pulled up the brake."

Alexa was used to listening to stories, and knew her place was to listen. But you couldn't resist, and before Moon moved on with the tale she asked, "Uncle, what kine funny feeling you got?"

"Was like wind lifting up from below the trees. But no more wind. Was the feeling of wind inside me. I could feel trees and wind inside me. And, my feet came real itchy. I had to hemo my shoes to rub."

What happened next was the domain of myth and the gifts of manawanui.. It was a Monday. Instead of their usual morning coffee and crackers ritual, Moon Amona found a basket woven of lauhala at the back porch. A quilt of patchwork cotton was stitched into a lining of yellow flannel. The blanket was snugly enfolding a small curly headed baby with chocolate eyes as round as beach stones. The right thumb found a home in the small mouth. Tucked into the side of the quilt was a small First Edition copy of Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Peter Rabbit. A letter addressed to "Milk Man Moon" extended from the edge of the pages.

This is what the letter said.

"My dear Milk Man Moon,

This girl is my grand-daughter, my mo'o. Her mother, my daughter is lele. She died in childbirth. My daughter, you never met, but she was the beat of my heart and when she died, I lost my reason to keep going. You know about mechanics, so I will leave my explanation at that.

The other paper in this envelope will give you everything you need to hanai this girl without any problems from the haole world. Have no fear about this, Moon. She is well protected, and you are the perfect papa for her.

I have left my milk money in a separate envelope, it's in my empty bottle on the back porch. Don't be afraid of my spirit, me and my ohana will be forever your Aumakua. Please, don't knock or open the back door. Stay outside. Your place is with the girl. Her name is Beatrix Blunt. Her sacred name you will add when the name comes to you in dreams.

Sorry about the truck, and coffee.

Mahalo nui loa a pau. The puakenikeni is for your wife.

Your friend forever,

Mary Blunt

P.S. There is a blue and white tin of crackers, under the baby. I will keep you supplied trust me on that dear Milk Man Moon.

Now what?

Footnotes to come ... 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


The decision to retire from online life had been long in coming. "What a ride!" Standing at the sink of soapy water, Beatrix looked at her reflection in the steamed up window and continued the conversation she was having with herself. "Just hit the publish key, and there it was. Words and pixels out and about making trouble, stirring up the dirt of potential, causing people to think. I love it." The large stainless sinks had always been like playing in a sandbox, except wet. Beatrix washed the last of the salmon colored Fiesta Ware plates and slipped it into the hot rinse water.

"What do you love?" Leslie had a mouth full of toothpaste. And the question came out more like, "Whaovuwuv?

"You, I vuwwu," Bea teased.

"Well, yeah. That is the correct answer." Even with toothpaste in her mouth and hair bundled to one side of her head not long from sleeping against pillows, Leslie Mills' beauty-contest winning looks remained stunning. The former Miss Hawaii 1974 was a green-eyed hapa-haole  surfer with a talent for music, and a heart for political activism. 1 To win the prize, she filled a swimsuit admirably, accompanied herself on piano to an original mele she wrote for the occasion describing the walking trails and streams of Kuli'ou'ou Valley. 2  Layered messages of reverence and mystery blew in and between; the skillful use of kaona. 3 Hidden meanings in plain view. Gay and lesbian weren't household descriptions then, but, mahu was.4 All three of those in personal destinations and sexuality could have been cause for a lot of trouble in her personal and family life, but a larger giant was awakening in the Hawaiian Islands. Kanaloa called from his place, the place was Kahoolawe 5 

Leslie Mills was among the first waves of Hawaiians who occupied Kahoolawe beginning in 1976, awakening that sleeping giant of colonized haole-mindedness. The activism of the Protect Kahoolawe Ohana (POK) was Leslie's initiation. Her spirit, nestled and vibrant in her beauty and physical strength found an exit point. Her music and her kuleana of applying kaona would trade one prize for another. 6 In 1980, Beatrix Blunt arrived on a Hawaiian Airlines DC-10 in Wailuku on the island of Maui. She was freelancing with her camera and notebooks. The article she would eventually write, submit and successfully publish was called "No Expiration Date Culture's Thousand(s) Year Old Shelf-life." 7  It would appear first in The Sun Magazine. Beatrix's relationship and respect for the magazine's editor would be among among her most treasured connections. It was that article and photo-journalistic style that laid the way for Beatrix's commitment to grassroots storytelling through words and images. And, of course, 1980 would be the year both Beatrix and Leslie count as their first year together.

1 Hapa-haole. Hapa. half. Haole. White person, American, Englishman, Caucasian... formerly any foreigner. Literally means half-foreign. In common translation it means "half-white" and in this case, it means Leslie Mills was born to an English-Hawaiian father, and a pure-Hawaiian mother.
2 Mele. Song of any kind, chant, poem.
3 Kaona. Hidden meaning in Hawaiian poetry; concealed reference, as to a person, thing, or place; words with a double meaning that might bring good or bad fortune.
Mahu. Homosexual, of either sex; hermaphrodite.   A note about pronunciation. Since the program used for this blog does not include diacritical accuracy, please know it is important to emphasize, or accentuate both the vowels in this word.
5 Kahoolawe.  The active link to the Protect Kahoolawe Ohana website is one of those doorways into the history of contemporary Hawaiian activism. The link will take you into "Moolelo Aina" a brief and succinct reflection on what Earth-connected means over the long era of time. This is one of those sweet evolutionary pathways that allow our Ancestors to live again, thanks to the open-mindedness of time defined spaciously. 
6 Kuleana. Right, title, property, portion, responsibility, jurisdiction, authority, interest, claim, ownership; reason, cause, function, justification,; small piece of property, as within an ahupua'a
"No Expiration Date Culture's Thousand(s) Year Old Shelf-life." The fictional title for this article is one of those things that happen with writers: there are so many inspirations or ideas, and perhaps, not enough time (who knows?) to write it down. I was recently inspired by this article from the magazine Maui No Ka Oi, 2012. "The Thousand-year old gift." The history and myth of the characters in Beatrix Blunt borrow from documented history, extrapolate from the definitions found in a dictionary, and string generously from my imagination. Mahalo to the author of the magazine article, and much aloha to the Hawaiian cultural practitioners interviewed in the article "The Thousand-year old gift."

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Peter and the Pua

Leslie Mills was a master of the whistle. Able to carry a melody with perfect pitch and intention her call deftly plied her partner from the contents and memories in the tin box. "Okay dear," the songbird's whistle found space for the now, and to the curious comfort dog who was still waiting for Moon Amona's answer she said, "Let's join the others."

Three lei needles nine-inches long with a hook on one end rather than an eye for thread laid diagonally in the box under a copy of Peter Rabbit. Bea took both the needles and the palm-sized book, replaced the bundle of letters and secured the lid. The deep drawer of the mahogany dresser was home to other tin boxes. One of them was a cylinder tin of faded red and gold paints with scenes from the circus. Animal Crackers. Vintage. Inside the tin, a'ole crackers and instead two large spools of crochet thread were stacked one on the other. Both spools were a thick cream color. Bea tapped the animal cracker lid in place and tucked the container into the crook of her elbow.

It took a bit of juggling to carry the blonde with everything else . "I'll walk," it only made sense to the dog. He was after all a comfort dog and all things considered, Crook saw what was important here. Wiggling from Bea's arm Crook jumped to the thick cotton throw rug crossed the short distance and nosed his way through the velvet curtain, waited as Bea closed the dresser drawer and pulled the blue cornflower door open.

"E pule kakou." Leslie Mills turned and invited Bea to sit, and made a point of acknowledging the visitors. With Bea and Crook among them now, Leslie looked to Alexa, Pule Ho'ulu'ulu?1

"'Ae, yes I know it," the young apprentice was seated cross-legged on the floor with a small pair of scissors. The wave of energy that was Moon Amona translucent but present without doubt created a warm spot in her palm. She knew the protocol, set the scissors down.

Na aumakua mai ka la hiki a ka la kau
Mai ka ho'oku'i a ka halawai ...

The pray welcoming the ancestors from all directions, asked for their protection and their wisdom. laid as the blanket of respect  and reverence the unseen were made seen, the old and the young strung their voices together.

Puakenikeni is a fragrance that is inimitable among the many blossoms of a tropical climate. In a Salish wood, the scent was disarming, not unpleasant yet definitely unexpected. In the company of 'uhane, and pule and the mound of flowers laid a path as circuitous as the old mountain road. No straight line here, Bea thought.

'Amama ua noa.

Like the proverbial fish and loaves of the haole bible, Puakenikeni kept coming from the Tupperware.Leslie and Alexa sorted and snipped the blossoms leaving an inch-long stem, the lei would be thick and strung tight. Bea settled into the rocker and pulled lengths of crochet thread. "From shoulder to finger tip," the instruction taught as a girl remained. A lei-seller's legacy bubbled up for her. Bea doubled the thread length and knotted it leaving a generous tail for tying off when the lei was strung. She prepared three strands, one for each of the needles. The copy of Peter Rabbit fell from her lap with a quiet thud.

"Eh the rascal bunny. Still curious aftah all dis time."

"Tell us the story Uncle Moon. How did you and Peter Rabbit meet for the first time?"

Before Uncle Moon's story, a little more about Leslie.

1 Pule Ho'u'ulu is a traditional 'oli and prayer that welcomes the Ancestors, the akua, and the personal gods of those who chant, and asks for their protection, wisdom and insight. I first learned this chant from Kalei Nu'uhiwa. It is Kalei who furthers my depth of study and kilo practices surrounding Mahina, the Moon and the Hawaiian Moon Calendar. This link (click it) will take you to a video presentation that begins with this chant. The entire video presentation is a precious lesson in creating sacred space. If you don't have time to listen and watch it now, promise yourself you'll come back. You won't be sorry, promise.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Moon the milkman

His route included the neighborhoods of Honolulu, more specifically, the places of Kapalama and the deeply forested roads of Nu'uanu at the base of what is now called Old Pali Road. Moon Amona delivered milk from door to door during the years when local island dairies produced millions of gallons of cow's milk a day. He was twenty years old when he got his first truck, thirty-three when he and his wife hanai the girl Beatrix, named for the creator of Peter Rabbit and sixty-two when Beatrix Moe-moelaukahi returned to Aupuni Street to bury him

If it weren't for the milk route in old Nu'uanu Valley Moon Amona might never have read the little book written about a mischievous rabbit. But. As with any good story, Moon Amona was destined. In so many ways, the young milk man and son of a clarinet player in the breakaway loyalist band Bana Lahui Hawaii was fated for discoveries that would unfold slowly, oh so very slowly.
Hover over the photograph for a description 

"Did you know what an activist Beatrix Potter was, Uncle Moon? And how long she was willing to wait for justice."  By now the music of voices from the living room had quieted. Laughter replaced the melodies, and it was Leslie who whistled. She was calling for the lei needles. Crook had resumed his lap position in the soft folds of Beatrix's linen jumper. The blonde seemed to be keen and attentive to the overlapping stories. He waited for Uncle Moon to answer.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

In the Tin

Tin is a malleableductile and highly crystalline silvery-white metal. When a bar of tin is bent, a crackling sound known as the tin cry can be heard due to the twinning of the crystals.- Wikipedia


 June 11, 1950

My dear Beatrix Laukahi-moemoe,

You are asleep, but you and I know you hear the glide and scratch of my pen as I write. Lying in wait, your 'ike grows. Low to the ground you will develop in time. This letter I write, we will read together again and again. It's a small letter but then you are small, too. One letter at a time you and me will learn about the magic of putting ink onto paper. It's magic, and it's your talent, writing. Your papa, your Moon the milkman will leave you notes like this one once a year, on your birthday. It is our special way of twinning making pa'a two things. 

This is the first note, and your first milk bottle. When we are pau reading each of your notes, they will go into my favorite tin box. As you grow bigger, the tin box will fill with notes and we will eat the crackers that came in the box. Ono stuff my dear, crackers and writing. My Tutu always told me patience is something no man can take from you. So this is how you and me learn about patience. I write, we read. I write, we read. Then you learn to write, we read. Ho'omana.

Happy Birthday baby girl. Hauoli la hanau
Your Moon )

More about Moon Amona