Archive for the ‘a fable’ Category

IMAGINE THE FUTURE
November 16, 2016

IMAGINE THE FUTURE

Kauai lucked out in 2017. A great American, a philanthropist who chose to be anonymous, bought scads of land on the island to protect it from further development.
I was ten. My mother came to Kauai to teach kids in a public school, and we both fell in love with the place.
Although confronted with many problems—over population, traffic jams, foul air, polluted water, lots of homeless—its spirit, its people, its open spaces, its great beauty, left us with hope for a better future.
It didn’t take me long to adjust. My brown Latino skin felt right at home, and my mother told me about the wonderful diversity–race, religion–this small spot in the Pacific was blissed with. The purchase of so much land by some mysterious person cornered all the chatter. It seemed to be all anybody talked about.
What did it mean? What would happen?
The first thing that happened, a new real estate firm opened in the Grove and everyone held his breath. Turned out nothing was for sale, but all the land called Keka Agricultural Park was laid open for lease. Small and medium parcels were offered. Large sections for orchards: orange groves, citrus, avocado, papaya, mango, coffee—an interesting circle of sites to grow breadfruit cropped up. Adopt and care for a tree and a new recipe to go along with it and there will be a special stand to market this original Kauai treat. So diverse: Maui onions, tomatoes, organic soybeans, carrots, corn, you name it.
Plenty of land for free range chickens and green meadows for registered Jersey.
There were fresh ponds where tilapia flourished, kids could even swim there.
There was plenty of land for anthuriums and hibiscus and carnations and pikaki and plumeria. What my mom and I loved most was the more fragrant trees and flowers were planted near the towns, so people could enjoy a heady breath of scented air as they walked or worked.
All the roads inside this real come-to-life fairy tale Agricultural Park were well- packed dirt and, sometimes, red or black tire mulch. You walked in there, or rode, or motored about on golf carts.
Only those farmers who had to truck their produce in or out were allowed pickups.
Multi national flower and plant stands lined the road. Mexican, Hawaiian, Japanese and Filipino farmers built them and decorated them. It was a kind of United Nations Ag Park, the first of its kind.
Just being in this special place was delightful.
My mom loved to grow chili peppers, she remembered the wide variety of chili beans my grandparents grew on their little farm in Baja.
She managed to get a year lease, they were reasonable priced and a promise was made from the leasors that if you could make it go, a better deal could be worked out next time. Absolutely no dollar crops allowed.
The family who leased the small piece of land next to ours was from the Philippines and their stand was a nipa hut. They had a disc that played Bahay Kubu and I learned to sing along.
We taught them to sing De Colores. Before long our entire road was filled with music. Nobody tried to out blast the other. Mom decided to grow some flowers and maybe have a Kauai rooster–they’re the official island bird–and a couple of hens so we could share fresh laid eggs.
Kauai soon became the Hawaiian food basket. We fed the state. Sustainability, island wide, was the goal.
We suddenly became famous and another billionaire showed up. She wanted in on the act. She bought up all the automobile and car rental properties and shut them down. This lady bought her way into the Mayor’s office, got her cronies elected, and they passed a law about automobile ownership. Car owners were taxed off the wall and the money the rich automobile addicts contributed bought a transportation system, so clean, so sweet, so Kauaian tourists would come just to ride around in it.
This batch of lawmakers also passed a law that no more hotels could be built. Ever. That filled every existing hotel/motel to the fullest and every visitor who planned to stay more than a day had to have a reservation. That worked because visitors could only visit when a room was available. You had to stand in line, the whole world over, to book a room on Kauai.
Sometimes it got a little crowded in the Park, so visitors were asked to buy a ticket. Locals, of course, got in free. Lots of lucky guys, who stayed in private homes, had guest privileges, if their host wanted to treat them.
The super stupendous surprise was a solar city built tall with a every small foot print, at the foot of the cliffs–not much concrete here, at least on the ground–and visitors were often struck with an extraordinary shock: they didn’t even see this high rise city until they walked through the front door.
Lots of locals often didn’t even know it was there.
Health Spas, renowned world wide, also sprang up. If you wanted to get healthy spend a week or two in a spa on Kauai. Amazing how many tourists were sick and needed healing. Very expensive for out- of- staters, locals got a kamaaina rate. We rarely sold them, that was bad, but you know how some people are.
A local spiritual group created an Hawaiian Lourdes. A special bill had to be passed to find a way to limit attendance. On opening day all the public transportation and golf carts, even some pickups, had to be commandered. One historian said it was like a Dunkirk without the danger, guns, and huns.
It grew up to be a farmer’s joke, “Where was your pickup when the hoards flocked to Lourdes?”
Answer, “Every pickup on Kauai was at Lourdes.”
We’re the healthiest happiest people in the world. And we intend to stay that way.

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SAY MONEY, HONEY
April 1, 2016

Money.

Isn’t that a tidy little word? Pretty, really. It has class. Stands boldly but primly in black ink on a white page. Everybody talks about it. It’s never out of style. Five letters. Two syllables. Anybody can say it and it rhymes with honey as my lede proclaims.

But what is it? It’s a medium of exchange. It comes in different forms.  Different folks in different countries bandy it about in different fashions. In America we have  long green stuff with different faces on it. George Washington’s displayed on the one dollar bills, Benjamin Franklin’s on the hundred. I think Americans like to flash their Benjamins. Today the Washingtons, although hardly anybody  calls them that, are more useful in a bonfire than they are in a department store. Today they’re almost as useless as the penny. (Abraham Lincoln’s mug  is stamped there on some kind of round yellow metal coin that is useful as a weight. It can also be used in  plastic sandwich bags filled with water and clipped to the back of a chair at a picnic. Somehow this odd combo repels flies. Honest. Try it and see.)

I digress.

We also put the green stuff in banks, who jot numbers down on paper and send us monthly accounts as to how much money we loaded off on them so we can write numbers on pieces of paper called checks that we can exchange for whatever if our credit is good. These slips of paper sometimes bounce, which is a factual–but fascinating– feat  for a piece of paper to do and  disagreeably frowned upon by he who accepted the thing in exchange for the hamburger you ate.

A few of us still have a book called a savings account with numbers in it that tell us how much money we’ve stashed. Most of us prefer to see those numbers go up rather than down.  Unfortunately, quite often the banks go belly up and  a cipher, called a zero-as in it’s naught there any more– is rather disturbing. Arabs invented the cipher. They called it ‘sifr’ or ’empty’. Shepherds would send sixteen sheep out to graze and none–zilch, sifr, zero–would return. Maybe that’s what happens to savings accounts?

Confusing. Checks bounce and money saved grows legs and vanishes. Poooof. It’s enough to give you a headache.

I think Americans are addicted to money. We worship it. You get to be a really big time head honcho if you’ve got a bundle of the stuff and I’ve read that 1% of the people in the world–not all Americans– own half of it. Those of us at the bottom, that’s you and me, own 1%.

Weird.

And they, the 1%ers, need more. They always need more. What do they do with it?

How many yachts and Ferrari’s do they need, anyhow?

But, what really fries me, is the awe, the kowtowing, the knuckle undering  that gets plumped on those blokes.

“You mean, like Donald Trump?”

Say money, honey.

,

 

 

 

Dogs and Gods and Coexistance
December 9, 2015

I have a darling friend who has a darling car that sports a darling bumper sticker DOG IS MY COPILOT.

It makes so much sense. I mean you befriend and feed and house a puppy, who will grow up to be a  dog–loving and faithful– to help you safely navigate your way through modern-day life’s singular peculiarities.  ‘Specially if you’re driving a 2015 Toyota Prius Hatchback on Kauai.

Grown up and seated beside you in the bucket front seat,  with eyes searching the road as you travel, she’s happily  checking out the scene . It’s getting dark. The sun sets early.  You’re stuck in traffic. It’s a four  lane strip and a guy, in a  goofy big-wheeled rig that looks like its slumped through too many muddy cane fields to harvest too much illegal ganja, gives you the eye. The guy has  dingy greasy-blonde  hair.   He’s as fat and sloppy as his Kauai muddy  red-bottomed pick-up  and  snorting a joint and slurping a beer. Takes talent. Both hands are busy. Guess he’s steering with his knees. He likes your looks. He likes your car.  He doesn’t like your copilot who sticks her  shaggy wolf gray  head  out the window–which you’ve power rolled down allowing Verdi’s  Triumphal March from Aida  from your CD player to drown his heavy, harsh,  and savage  Home is Where the Hatred Is–and bares teeth that look long and sharp enough to do in at least one of those ridiculous over-size tires with the first bite. She has better taste then to bite this bugger in the butt.

You pull ahead.  He falls behind.  You wave and roll up your power window.

The point is: if God were seated in the bucket seat your buddy in the dirty rig couldn’t see Him–why is He always a He– I seriously doubt your most fervent prayers would save the day. Or the night. Or you or your Prius or even Verdi.

Don’t you just love The Triumphal March?

The domestic dog has the distinction of being the only known animal to be domesticated by humans prior to the advent of agriculture.  Dogs are not only man’s best friend,  but also his oldest one. Though the precise origin of dogs was a mystery in Darwin’s day, Darwin drew on them as an example of artificial selection that would be familiar to his readers, since the practice of shaping breeds over time was familiar to his audience.

Every dog today–mastiff or mini, pointy nosed or baby- faced, long-haired or short, floppy ears or perked, is related to the wolf and new breeds are still cropping up. Don’t you just love it? The mini-husky is the latest new breed of artificially selected dog worked up by an Alaskan native from 1970-1988 before it became a breed of its own. It has been considered an official breed by the UKC since 1997.

Everybody needs this kind of coexistence. ‘Specially if you drive a Prius on Kauai.

May dog be with you in 2016.

 

LET’S TALK TURKEY
November 23, 2015

Hi, my name’s Arabella. I’m six years old and very beautiful. My two legs are long and slender, my eyes are bright, I can purr like a cat. And I have the sweetest disposition in the world.  So I’m told.

It’s easy to have a sweet disposition if you live in a loving family. Which I do. So many of us. So different. As different as the night sky from the day sky, the highest mountain from the deepest sea. We share. We care. We enjoy each other’s company. We talk a lot, each in a different way, but we’ve learned to understand each other.

Sometimes, when it’s raining, we sit hunched in a bunch and watch water–drops of water big and small, fast and slow–drip and drizzle and  fall from the sky like it was never going to end. Occasionally a flash of brilliance bursts with a startle and the sound that follows curves the air.  Overhead a cloudy wet  gray blanket smothers us tight,  and we think what it would be like if we never saw blue again. Dreary, I think, but I think most of us could adapt. We’ve been at it for a long long time. Adapting. Learning to live with the elements. Evolving from this to that. Changing.

We are the stuff stars are made of. You, too.

Eventually the sun  comes out. Warm and welcome.  Long legged trees grow longer taller. Green and gold and purple mountains in the distance  grow high before our eyes. And clouds. All that blankety blank gray stuff has morphed into delightfully soft puffy and fluffy stuff that soars and sways and wanders away. Disappears sometimes. Sky high. Free. I think it likes it up there. And the earth around us smells so fresh and clean we soak it in like the fragrance of  flowers blooming.  It’s just had a bath. It’s happy.  Birds sing and call to each other. And it never ends. Until the next rains come. Which they always do.

Just like you, me and my family love to eat. We all love cookies. Sometimes they come in a box, sometimes they emerge from an oven in a pan. Everyone’s happy when his belly is full.

The oldest member  of our family is a human. Just like you. He’s tall. Not too tall. Slender. Long legged. Beautiful, just like me. He talks to us a lot, that’s how we learn so much. We understand every word he say, sometimes we pay no heed, but he doesn’t understand us. So strange. I think he thinks we can’t think. Sad, kind’a. But I’ll bet he knows we love him. Love is beyond words.

We’ve all been around much longer than he. I’m a turkey and my roots go back 65 million years. I’m  a saurischian dinosaur, like Apatosaurus, Tyrannosaurus Rex, and Velociraptor. He’s only been around for 200,000 years. We’ve learned so much. We wish he had, too. I’ll be here next year. Happy Thanksgiving.