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."

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