Archive for January, 2016

TURK’S CAP
January 11, 2016

Two roads lead to the national Tropical Botanical Garden’s main office, one of them is mine. At the top of the hill, from the office to the library, to the visitor’s center, is a view of a magnificent valley that descends to Lawai Bay.

Once upon a time, Queen Emma lived there and rode her horse there. Years ago, I used to sneak in on my leopard, Beauregard. I always got caught, but I seldom got scolded. John called me a ‘siren’–I think he meant the noisy kind.–and I responded, “John, if you walked about four  miles up hill and I walked about ten thousand feet up hill, we could fight over the back fence.”

I loved the old guy.

Anyway, along my brief stretch of land in a valley on the other side of the hill, old Hawaii, wild, natural, surrounded by cows and sheep and goats and horses, and gorgeous feral chickens, and birds that sing me to sleep and crow me awake, rain or shine,  grew a wondrous natural beauty, a Turk’s Cap. Malvaviscus penduliflorus.

So beautiful, people in cars, on foot, on bikes,  on horses–still–would stop blissfully  enthralled with wonder. Pictures were snapped. Some sent back, and I do want to thank those that sent them. Respectful requests for cuttings were cheerfully responded to.

Did you know the entire plant was edible? Herbal tea could be made and grocked  to  fullness. Snip off the green tip and suck a delicious  syrupy sweetness that put the delicious syrupy sweetness of the honeysuckle to shame.

A grim crew, an army of death and destruction, in county trucks armed with  many powerful expensive new weapons of life- denying machines, mowed it down. Butchered it. It wasn’t pruned, it wasn’t cut back, it was  hacked to death. It cost me one day, one worker, two, maybe three, handheld and powered tools, to prune it properly. All that remains are naked brown stems, reaching upward, hungering for their large green leaves, their brilliant red flowers, Turk’s Caps, sleeping hibiscus, Cardinal’s Hats, that bloomed throughout the year offering a vivid  eyeful of playful bobbing  jewels displayed against  a hedge, a tall, rich green- leafed backdrop, a curtain of life that never need open to an artificial set. An entire enactment of life. It loved to grow. it loved to please. It did no harm.

I plan to live to witness it’s return. Hope you do, too.

The war we have going on here–on Kauai, in the world–exists of  war trumpets instead of song birds. Ugly, noisy, stinking machines–the epitome of power and ugliness and sacrilege– consuming all in its wretched outreach.

Today, on my road, we stand  witness to a love for concrete, cars, credit cards and childish hi-tech toys. What, for goodness sake, is an iPad? I’ve managed, for 85 years, to have lived with out one.

My hope?  You’ll learn to live without one, too.

In 2016, drink a toast to life and living things.

 

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THE YEAR OF THE MONKEY
January 1, 2016

Everyone who knows me knows how much I love animals. They’ve played an important role in my life. Right from the gitgo. Cats and dogs and horses, exotic  birds and cougars,  pygmy bears and feisty lamas– who played monumental parts in my humorous book THE SCAM–and a precious  little Capuchin monkey, named Tonga, who lived in a  fancy red circus wagon, on wheels, in my mother’s kitchen.

This was not a caged lab animal.  Tonga  was a skinny, long-tailed  Elizabeth Taylor,  who was born in the Chinese Year of the Monkey.  Tonga was the star of the show. At least in my father’s petting zoo.

While  crunching buttered  popcorn and smacking her lips–they’re omnivores–she loved to watch television  I Love Lucy was her favorite. She’d lie on her tummy in her bed, tucked in with her favorite security blanket,  her chin resting in her hands , never taking her eyes off the screen.

Meticulously clean. She had a soft wash clothe and a mini tub filled with warm water–my mother kept it scented and she loved the  whiff of Shalimar my mother shared –and her little face often got a good scrubbing. Her hands, too. She had a cute sense of humor, but she could be a disaster on wheels when she chose. When angered, she’d bite.

I think of her fondly. And often.  Especially now–2016–for this is the Chinese Year of the Monkey. The Fire Monkey yet.  All you guys born in the Year of the Monkey take heed. And heart. You, like Tonga, are lively, versatile, witty and practical. Highly intelligent and talented. Active. You enjoy sports and sports are in. You like being the center of attention–narcissistic up the lagoon–nothing wrong with that. Tonga had a hand mirror into which she loved to gaze. Lovingly.

You’re mischievous.  Masters of the practical joke. Healthy. Creative and intelligent. Persuasive and well-organized.

The Fire part is a goody. Last time the monkey was in  the Fire sign was  in 1956, 60 years ago. The Fire Monkey is aggressive. Domineering. You  crave leadership. The leadership role is your bag. ‘Course you can be overbearing. I mean, you’re headed for the top and nobody better get in your way. What saves you are your people skills and you do love to nurture.

You also jump in where angels fear to tread   Be careful. You’re flamboyant and charming and friendly and have a large social circle and get along best with people born in the year of the Rat and the Dragon.

So it’s said.

As an atheist, I  love the creative, imaginative, make-believe side of human nature. I think it’s one of our most endearing traits. Along with animals, I grew up with the best writers of fantasy. Rudyard Kipling’s  Jungle Book was one of my favorites. A world without Mowgli and the Bandor-log would be dull.

Kids should be taught to love fantasy, but seek truth. Know the difference.Where to look for truth? In Science of, course.