Archive for April, 2012

GARDEN ART
April 27, 2012

You’d have to see my jungle/house/barn- my land- to understand my delightful delve into the garden art.

It’s an art form I made up, I think. It isn’t gardening, I have a brown thumb, almost anything I plant goes belly up. But jungle plants and weeds and green living things that thrive and flourish on their own take to my jungle/house/barn and land like it was the mother breast  on which they were suckled..

Guys at NTBG have told me my Elephant Ears are probably the largest on Kauai. One guy, sitting in my ‘jungle’ room, said he felt as though he were in a Honduran rain forest. Years ago I took some pictures and my husband said it looked like a house buried in the jungle. He should see it now. Outside wants inside and about fourteen vacuum cleaners have bit the dust since he saw it last. Brooms, rakes, and garden shears-.big garden shears-keep the rooms, galleries, and hallways open for passage. My kitchen is a green house. My bathroom, open air. And the room nsxt to my bedroom, which started life as an aviary, is now home to a Banyan hung thick with Spanish Moss. Every room in my house is open to air and flourishing skylights.

I love the African Tuiip- flame of the forest, fountain tree delight- that many on Kauai consider a pest. It does proliferate and very soon a dense grove of these lovely creatures blind the eye if you’re driving past one. The road to Lihue, this year, is thick with them. When my land is strewn with these brilliant orange blossoms I’m smitten. Captivated, raptured, enchanted, bewitched  and seduced. Walking through them, watching them lift and fall in a glorious technicolor dance as I pass is heaven on earth. I haul them in. I grab a swinging Turk’s Head and sip the nectar. On my small slice of paradise on paradise isle I am very rich in leaves and blossoms falling from the sky-or at least from  trees that touch the sky. They cover the ground like Mowgli’s  security blanket and drift into the house like welcome guests. When they don’t drift I gather them in shopping bags, haul them in, too, and toss them about. They reign under the eaves along the hundred-foot long covered-walk and subtly infiltrate the red-tiled passage.

On rainy days I love to wander through my jungle finding treasures. Rotting branches with wild impatiens thriving in their bellies come home to roost. Bits of mold and mildewed bark that peeled from trees grace a cage of wild song birds who fly in and out. Arced along the drippy edge fragrant Sanseveria and Night blooming Jasmine  liven up the air. A ring necked dove splashes in a bird bath. A mossy green St. Francis-at least sixty years old- stands watch while a shy Kwan Yin with her back turned-her jaw was broken in a fall years ago-bestows her blessing on mere mortals who dare trespass the road.

I call this garden art and it’s there to cheer the heart and please the eye. I share it with you.

IF THEY LOSE THE BOOK
April 25, 2012

I think it’s time we addressed the forbidden subject. The good Book. The Bible. The Christian fundamentalist quotes the Book-that’s the Old and the New Testament- constantly. It’s the word of God. He wrote it. He is it. Without it they have nothing. Lose the book and you lose the God.

Now Jesus Christ, if there was such a person, is another kettle of fish. Kurt Vonnegut-one of my favorite non believers – seated here beside me at the bar,  said, “If Christ hadn’t delivered the Sermon on the Mount, with the message of mercy and pity, I wouldn’t want to be a human being. I’d just as soon be a rattlesnake.”

I nodded, “He’s another of my favorite human being.” We drank to that. “I really liked him. Didn’t much like his mother. Constantine hauled her ass off to heaven on my birthday.”

He nodded. “August 15th,” he took a swig.  “The Assumption. Not certain of the year. Never bought the story.  Got diddled by a God? Doubt it…”

“The Jehovah’s don’t have a problem with that. According to  Rutherford he was the son of god but not god. Still stuck with big daddy, tho.”  I pondered and took a bite of cheese and crackers.

‘…yep,” Kurt went on. “They’re stuck with that. Stuff came gushing outta him.”

“If my assumption, not hers, is correct. You gotta buy the whole deal. No book. No God.”

“… you got salsa? I feel armless without  salsa on my cracker. ”

I nodded. “Careful. It’s hot as hell.”

“No book. No god. No hell…”

“..won’t miss it.”

“They can fart balderdash about whether he’s real or not. Deal is who’s he belong to?”

“Why’s he always a he? If  a lady wrote the book…”

“…terror to wake up one morning and find your high school sweetie wrote it…”

“…would he still be a he? Would he still hate women?”

“…Good stuff.” He took another glug.

“…friend brought it. Costs 125 buck a bottle.”

We were sloshing. “Which one’s him?”

“… the tenor in the room next door. Gun slinger. He’ll pass out pretty quick. Or get thrown out. Or knocked out. Or come in and try to drain the bottle.”

“So it goes. Do Be Do Be Do. Sometimes I have the disease. Alcohol.”

The telephone rang.

“That too.”

“Maybe it’s him.”

“Ask him over. Sounds like the party’s gettin’ rough. What’s that they’re singin’?”

“A friend of mine wrote it. ‘Humping the thumpers.’ Give those guys a itch and their dirty minds take over,” and away I went.

The gun slinger was as shnoozoled as Kurt and me, but polite. He could be charming. I asked the Mick to join us. He shook his head. The humpers were humping. The thumpers thumping. The guy on the drum was beating the canvas.

“In a mood to debate?”

“Always in a mood to..” he hiccupped, “…debate.”

“Lost your book?”

“Nope. Got it. Right here.” he waved his arm.

“You’re really snookered,” I giggled “That’s not a book that’s a catcher’s mitt.”

THE CARROT SONG
April 23, 2012

This goes along with the theory that we are all products of our past. My relationship with animals has been long and very special. I have vivid memories of my first pets, a black dog named Lady and a cat named Helen. Helen loved to curl up in a glass light fixture on the ceiling and once I dropped her in the flour bin. Remember flour bins? My mother’s face when a floured white animal jumped out of the container  when she opened it is one I’ll never forget.

My father raised exotic poultry, I was not allowed to play with these. He kept them in big beautiful cages which always fascinated a wide-eyed kid. These were not song birds. They crowed and clucked and peeped. Once my father cut the head off a rooster  and warm red blood spurted. I watched it run around with its head chopped off and thought it an interesting phenomenon. I can’t remember his name but, roasted, he made a tasty dish.

As a young adult with four little kids visiting my father’s farm was always an interesting experience for me and the kids. He raised exotic birds, African Greys, peafowl, macaws and, once, a pair of turkeys named Arabella and Rudolph. Arabella was always an invited guest who joined us on his spacious deck in the evenings after dinner.  She would lie under my mother’s chaise and purr like a cat. Rudolph ended up on a savoury platter  one  Thanksgiving. He had a habit of always attacking my mother. She wasn’t much bigger than he was so we decided  love not hate motivated him.  Either way my poor mother couldn’t stroll the garden without carrying a stick and checking behind every tall bush.

One day she put down the law. “Either he goes. Or I go,” she said and I think she had Arabella on her side. Neither the kids nor I could watch that head chop and at the dinner table the kids pled in snuffy voices, “Please pass some more Rudolph.”  He dressed out at 22 pounds. Best tasting turkey I ever ate.

My father also had a cat who ‘raised’ mice. She kept them in a feed bin in the storage house. Fat and healthy little critters, she would select one, pick it up like a mother cat picks up a fragile kitten, take one in the grass,  play with it ,and then put it back. It seemed a happy arrangement.

The most interesting animals, I always thought, were the  American Show Shetlands. They lived in the Pony House. My oldest daughter drove them in Fine Harness in  many Honolulu Horse Shows. Flash the Grand National Champion stud lived to be 41, a ripe old age. He had a good life. He’s buried here with my Leopard Appaloosa, Beauregard,  which get us finally to the Carrot Song part of this animal digression.

My father taught me never to chase boys or horses. I didn’t have to worry about the boys, boys chased me. But he taught me the carrot song. “Who wants a carrot? Who wants a carrot?” Which I sang in a low sexy, whispery voice. No matter how far away, they heard me.

They always came. It never failed.

THE GADFLY ON KAUAI
April 20, 2012

We don’t have gadflies on Kauai. Not the flying insect kind. It gets so complicated. I have a horse,  Ari. He is famous. He campaigned for a beautiful lady friend in the last election.He is never  bothered by flies. I won’t put up with them, neither will he, but we can’t take all the credit.  I think the chickens play a role in this. They eat them. Just like they eat centipedes and coquis and long  squiggly brown earth worms. That’s why their eggs are so delicious and nutritious.

But back to the  non-existent gadfly. Since it’s non-existent it doesn’t bite anyone.  It doesn’t bite  me. It doesn’t bite Boots. It doesn’t  bite the cats or  the kids, who, actually, are no longer kids.  The kids  grew up to be goats. They climb moist fragrant mossy green tree trunks and disappear into the jungle. And, though they’re black and white and have four legs, vanish into the shadows right before your eyes. They love  animal crackers.  In fact all my animals-me, too-love animal crackers.

I  coax the goats out of the a trees by singing, softly,  “Animal crackers in your soup, “and they fly joyfully out of the trees to land with a  thump at my feet.  if I call too loudly I’ll have Boots and Ari in my face looking for a handout. And Duke-the macaw, who ran away if you recall-screaming to remind me he wants some, too.

I also read-in my search for the critter- that  crickets are disappearing from Kauai. Some kind of nasty flier is responding to their mating call and doing them in, but not around here. My crickets sing their little hearts out all night long. I love the sound. It’s reassuring. When they stop cricketing the silence awakens me and I suspect something wicked this way comes. Sweet smelling feral piglets?

The song of the cricket is reassuring.  The silence of the cricket bodes danger. The silence of the crickets like the silence of the lamb? Precisely.

This whole thing got out of hand. It started out as a search in a different direction. It was supposed to be a piece about another kind of gadfly. A disruptive child. An annoying person. A pest. A philosopher. There.  I finally made it.  Socrates. That story’s got it all. Virtue. Truth. Wisdom. Happiness. Roosters. Hemlock and me.

Me! My favorite subject. Damn the crickets, centipedes, roosters, animals and crackers. Damn the torpedos. Full speed ahead.

I was recently called a mosquito. Mosquito!  You jest. If I’m gonna be an insect I’m gonna be the biggest, baddest, buggiest bug around.  A two-legged gadfly on Kauai.

And who should this two-legged gadfly bite in the butt?

Six-legged gadflies bite horses and cows and Plato said, “A gadfly stings the horse to action.”

A rwo-legged gadfly on Kauai  joyfully bites steer and horses’ asses. That’s its job.

Back to work.

BOOTS
April 16, 2012

Did you know all dogs are related to the gray wolf? Canis familiaris is a direct descendent of canis lupus. All dogs are domesticated wolves.

What’s interesting is that the transformation of wolves to dogs happened about 130,000 years ago, long before humans settled down. So, it seems, humans didn’t domesticate the wolf, the wolf outsmarted us. They are very successful free loader. They found a way to get us to take them in out of the cold. Feed and love them. I tell this to Boots everyday.

Boots is the new puppy. Properly named, she loves to chew on boots, socks and shoes. Her favorite toy is one of pair of new $60.00 boots she stole from a man working on my land. He’d taken them off to put on his work boots and she made off with them. I think she buried one. The other she plays with like a hunting dog plays with a chicken. Shake.  Toss. Chase. Drop. Start all over.

i am one who could never be happy without a zoo to tend. Back to ‘we are all the end product of our past’, my father raised me to love and take care of animals. I was happy in the barn with a pitchfork, my faithful pack of friendly dogs beside me in the stall. I still am. I’m happiest  in the barn with a pitch fork. Turn me loose with a vacuum cleaner in the house and watch the wicked old witch of the west emerge triumphant.

On a local Kauai note: I’m sure glad the oath takers, they who swear to god they will never read me, never read me. I’d never hear the end of that confession.

Boots came home from the Humane Society the day after my beloved Shepherd /Rottweiler, Brooks was buried in the garden with his bowl, his favorite toy and a stick he loved to chase. This is another trick my father taught me-he was an incredibly wise and good father-when a beloved dog dies replace him/her immediately.

Brooks was a him. Boots is a her.

She was the largest puppy up for adoption. Also the oldest. She’d been classified as Pitbull type but I think she’s probably more Boxer with maybe some Ridgeback somewhere in the hay stack. She has that wonderful energy. That joy. That bounce. The soft eyes. The great sense of humor.  She, as I constantly remind her,  is all the dogs the world has ever know rolled up in one.

One of the most dangerous things you can do with an animal is introduce it to a new environment. Boots had to learn how to live with and around a huge sacred dog-that’s what the Indians called the horse. This end bites. That end kicks and it’s not to safe to take shelter in the middle. She had to learn to play with the kids, they were all the same size. No nipping, no chasing, no stealing food. She learned from them how to climb trees.

She had to learn that the big bird with the long tail was not to be messed with either, and cats have claws.

She’s fast learner. And a joyful presence in my life.

THUMPERS AND THE SHIP OF REASON
April 15, 2012

The great sadness about the THUMPERS , to me at least, is that we should have to be bothered with them at all. This is the 21st Century for goodness’ sakes. I think our country is most riddled with this problem. As Sam Harris said in his Letters To A Christian Country- which we are not, by the way-all of us in our country can see and respond to the mess in the Mid East but we can’t see it here. It’s as though we have a blind spot.

Certainly, within all the religions in the world, variances occur. Diversification is the rule. Usually diversification is good. Diversified agriculture works best. Diversified ideas and thoughts, scientific theories, are always interesting. But, unfortunately, almost all religions, certainly the major ones, seem to have a terrible master monster-of their own making-at the tiller.  It orders its faithful crew -each and everyone one of them- to right the sails, set the course,  read the spinning compass, make weigh through the storm.

Okay. We’ve been there. We’ve done that and it gets boring having to say it over and over. It’s like the record got stuck and there doesn’t seem to be a way out of this mess that’s just about to sink us. The boat in this sea, the blindly faithful crew and  the innocent passengers-that’s us-are all going down with it.

If we get rid of the monster at the helm, will that help?

In diversified ag, we can mix oranges and grapefruit and lemons and maybe plant some veggies or herbs at their feet. Let free range chickens roam. But most sane ranchers and farmers don’t nuke the planet. In science, scientists can quibble and squabble over whose theory is the correct theory but they don’t  sink the ship of reason when they disagree.

The answer to that is easy.  Take command of the boat of fools.

Yeah?

How?

There’s only one ship in this vast sea of humanity and we’re all on it. If we want to continue the shipwreck metaphor we could say to the crew, “We don’t need sails or a tiller. This is the 21st Century. On  the bridge is a wheel and an engine and fancy modern gadgets that will see us safely into port. It happened while you weren’t looking. And there’s a helmsman-that’s us-ready to steer.

So get your silly asses off the bridge, mates, before you drown  us all and sink the ship.

I think, in modern cruise ship there are always more passengers than crew. So let’s mutiny. Every time the great invisible voice from the tiller screams an insane  command and the motley crew jerks on the wrong ropes and sets the poor boat listing, take command. The ship of reason rides again. Hey, there’s a metaphor.

It isn’t often passengers mutiny but it isn’t often passengers are better equipped to navigate than the existing crew and master. We need a captain. We’ve got many. We might sink anyway, but at least we’ve given it a try.

You with me, men?

THUMPERS
April 13, 2012

I don’t like to generalize, but I have said,  and I’ll say  again, “I’ve never met a THUMPER  I could stand.”But that’s okay.The feeling is mutual.

I want to make it clear though, I’m not just talking about Christian THUMPERS. Any old THUMPER will do. There are 21 major religions. Many thousands of gods. Originally there were 11 versions of the Bible. There are 20 versions of the Quran.  Now if we factor in Judge Rutherford’s Jehovah’s and Joseph Smith’s Latter Day Saints we’ve a lifetime of foolish studying to do and every one of these religions and gods are the one true god. The head honcho in the sky. The one way ticket to heaven and way too too many of them go door to door to door-through rain or sleet or blinding snow- to peddle their god. Their book.

Joseph Smith’s guys, I hear, are the thickest in this pot of stew. His pups runneth over. Well, they did practice polygamy. Still do.There’s a whole town full of polygamists just outside Salt Lake City. My experience with them in their own territory was delightful, by the way,  but they weren’t pushing. The ones I’ve met  locally are a little green. Maybe they don’t have enough wives.

Suffering from altitude sickness the second day in Sundance, bedridden, I ordered a bottle of wine with dinner. I buy that bottle for about eight bucks at Costco. At Sundance I paid 35 dollars for it. it tasted much better. Anyhow I asked the nice  room service kid to open the bottle for me. He hadn’t a clue. I taught him how. If the THUMPERS  were reading  this, they’d have a ball with that one. I’ve never met so many men with so many sexual hangups. I think when I called them ‘sexually repressed’ it struck a chord. But I digress.

Back to  door to door.  Holy macaroni, I’ve had to sweep them off the stoop with a broom.

Then, of course, we have- more muddled mangle  mess-they who have different interpretations of the books and the gods and what the gods said and taught and stuff. These THUMPERS  all have direct wires and when it’s all over and their head honcho is the true head honcho they’ll kill each other over the right translation.

Numbers.

Chapter and versus.

1, There are four Catholic ‘sects’.

2. Rough count, 22 demoniationistss-ooops that’s denominationists-sects to any of us who stand, in great perplexity, outside the fold. Within each of these sects are little THUMPERS with their own story to tell. if you think I have a headache, Imagine how god- if there is a god- must feel. Talk about a multi-personality disorder. Holy moly. No wonder the old’a guy’s bonkers.

Seriously for a moment, all religious wars are 666, but sectarian wars are even worse. Time Warner or the government ought to step and take control of that communication system.

…and it gets worse.

I’ve compared THUMPERS to door-to-door used vacuum cleaner salesmen and you know how hard it is to get rid of them. But these flakes! These guys are even more persistent. They never let go. I think they get brownie points for converts.

ROCKS AND ROSES ON KAUAI
April 11, 2012

Tonight in Hanapepe was all roses. I must admit I loved it. I do seem to be the kind of person you either like or you hate-for who knows what reasons-and while I often say I don’t know which role I prefer, in truth I do love  the roses. But I’m lucky, most of the rock throwers have lousy aim.

In Manila I was the brash young American everybody loved to love. I simply could do no wrong. When I returned to America-suburbia USA, at least for most of my years back on the home turf-I was the one ‘they’ loved to hate. One of the first things Bill said when he landed the job as Engineering Department Head at McBryde Sugar, was “…and I’m going to have to keep you on a plantation.” That was certainly prophetic and profound.

Kauai, which I immediately fell in love with, was my spot. I felt I’d been born to live here; but it was a feudal state. Benevolent. but the ‘high’ society  into which I’d been tossed was not my cup of tea. Plantation managers, at that time, were kings and department heads and their wives lords and ladies of the court with a much higher rank and station than the common ordinary working bloke. And field hands?  Well, my dear, like true aristocracy it was best to ignore their existence.  My egalitarian blood and up-bringing did not sit  well with that one. Besides, I rode my horse in those fields. I was out there with the field hands and felt quite comfortable with them. The mule handlers and I were on a first name bases.

The very first incident was one I could easily have avoided but stirred my sassy bone and tickled my tendency to tail tweak.

It was a call from the manager’s wife. Not a social call, more an order. A company party had been arranged  to welcome us into the elite fold. There was no human concern. No interest in my  adaptation. Just a curt, “We do not wear mini skirts…” and goodbye.

Okay, I’ll admit, the little hairs at the back of my neck began twitching. What was this? Was this a kid’s party? Should I bring a balloon? Anyway, I wasn’t defiant. I searched and found the perfect dress. Long in the hem. It dragged on the floor. But the neckline was low enough to make a baby cry. Okay, I’ll admit, it was a wrong move. But me? Make a wrong move? Never.

At any rate, this sealed my fate. I, obviously, did not belong.  Well, all newcomers were gifted with gorgeous red carnation leis. But not this night. I got them all. They covered up the view. I looked like I’d just won the Kentucky Derby. I took them off and passed them around to other newcomers.

This gracious gesture didn’t go over, either.

Until just a few months before Bill died, I was the one never invited to the party’s the ladies went to. but since I didn’t even know about them I wasn’t bother by them. Even  if I had known about them I’d not have been bothered by them.

LANDED PEASANT ON KAUAI
April 11, 2012

In the last episode we left our heroine-that’s me-at odds with the entire plantation family,  but not unhappily so. I, like Carlos Castenada, had found my spot.  We were still living in the yellow company house on Kukuiula Harbor and our boat, Warpath,  bobbed happily in the cear blue waters at our feet. Three horses lived in luxury across the street and mile after mile of well-tended  private bridle paths-otherwise known as haul cane roads-were ours to enjoy.

I drove my gorgeous Grand National Champion black American Show Shetlad stud, Flash’s Fanfare Sensation,  up and down the Spouting Horn Road-an unexpected  tourist attraction- dodging stinky, noisy tour buses, and I waggled my fingers and arm signaled  them to slow down. Always made the bus driver mad.  A Rotary friend-John Dillon- years later said, “The first time I saw you you were  driving a damn horse right up the middle of the road.” I corrected him, “I know how to drive a horse. I was in my lane stopping traffic.”

Five days a week I was out in those field with the field hands- where I belonged- happy as a mynah bird signing in a tree and doing the Queen’s horses  and god one day better. On  Saturday and Sunday Beauregard rested. He was a Union horse.

McBryde had leased us an acre of land, which we fenced , and Bill and I built the little red  barn. It had a tar paper roof which I installed all by myself. The entire structure cost us $600.oo. After Ewa demolished millionaire row and broke poor little Warpath’s back, it was the only  structure left standing. Not even a corner of the tar paper was lifted. But, by that time,  our horses were not there. We’d been moved to the lava rock mansion up the Alexander Dam Road.

Much plantation family crashing and banging had  occurred during this passage of time. The managers wife had decided she wanted to live in the yellow house on the bay and we moved-our decision- to what Bill called a three story cold water walk up down the road  and put  all our possessions in storage. All the animals, dogs, cats and horses, roughed it out in the barn. This clever maneuver on our part played a major role  in the purchase of the land on which I live some 30 yeas later.

Over 30 years ago it had drifted through the gossip channels that I was unhappy on Kauai and lobbying to  move. This, as most of the  rambles through the brambles about me, was far from the truth. But the manager, afraid he’d lose one of his most valuable men, subdivided all they owned in this valley and sold us a piece.

The barn we built here cost a lot more money,  and we built it ourselves.I designed it and, expert roofer that I’d become, roofed it. Mile after mile of roof. Today, when I see roofers on the roof, I want to stop and offer them a glass of water. Terrible job. I cried everyday and wore an old white floppy hat so people wouldn’t know who it was up there weeping.

Bill said, “Everybody on this island knows who’s under that hat, ” and I think everybody on the island drove by to catch a glimpse.

.

PACK RAT PARADISE. IDIOMS
April 11, 2012

PACK RAT PARADISE, IDIOMS

by

Kimo Rosen

When asked my ancestry I say Asian. Both sets of my grandparents are from Russia and since Russia takes up one-third the land mass of Asia, I am Asian.

Forty six years into this life and finally I find out I am ASIAN.

Japanese like new things, therefore they throw out a lot of STUFF. Garbage night is my favorite night in Japan. Every two weeks they collect the non-burnable trash. People throw everything away, TV’s, CD players, fans, rice cookers, toasters, tape and CD collections. Nintendo players, washing machines, everything. I have picked all the above out of the trash the locals look at me funny, but so be it! This is pack Rat Paradise…

I finally have time off after a rigorous two-month marathon of teaching. They have a national holiday called Golden Week, although ir’s only four days long, two of which are on Saturday and sunday.They call it a week?

The United States of America is truly the most glorious country in the world. Upon my return to America I will get on my hands and knees and kiss the ground.

Being in Japan Teaching English has made me hit the books. Japan has turned me into a bookworm. Japan truly is another planet, but since I made my bed I must lie in it. I am learning the ropes, since I am in the public eye.

Sometimes I go bananas however most of the time I feel like a million bucks in seventh heaven. I am dying to turn over a new leaf and possibly tie the knot, however since I like to make it easy many women would freak out. Once in a blue moon I would like to vanish in thin air while someone rolls out the red carpet and wines and dines me.

Currently I have a sweet tooth and munching some Japanese pastries since I work out and pump iron I do not feel guilty…work is challenging and many times I am dumbfounded trying to learn the ropes of society. However I work so long and hard that I sleep like a log every night.

What really take the cake is thinking English makes sense. Today I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and I proceeded to tell my boss to quit beating around the bush and give me a helping hand and that he should have a heart of gold and follow in his father’s footsteps…get the picture?

P.S. currently it’s raining cats and dogs…

P.S.S. I just killed the pastries and they were out of sight.

G-d Bless america. the Red, White and Blue…..

Until we meet again, J.R. (E.T. Sensei) (Simon)