Archive for the ‘Old Hawaii’ Category

Sacred Dog
April 20, 2016

American Indians called the horse  ‘sacred dog’ and acquired him  in the mid-1500s when De Soto and Coronado brought it to our shores. The Indians took to the animal like brilliance takes to  rainbows. The horsemen of the plains were considered by many in the American cavalry,”The finest light horse cavalry in the world.” They were never defeated in combat.

The Horse Culture on the plains  lived with their animals, and like the riders in the Spanish School in Vienna today,  came to call them ‘friends’. They lived with their horses. They knew them with their heart.

Lives of the nomadic Plains tribe, especially the Comanches,  were revolutionized by the horse and they became  skilled thieves perfecting the art of  rustling.  They were the best of horsemen and we treated them badly. In 1874 thousands of animals, considered by the southern Commanche to be their best, were senselessly slaughtered.  Ari often reminded me. Horses have a different sense of history and time. All of them recall what earth was like when the world was young and no grunting four-spinning upstarts jammed the roads and fouled the air.

I ‘d tell Ari stories like a silly human–dates and names and stuff like that–and he’d look me in the eye the way a good horse does–and  snort,  reminding me his roots on our home planet went back 40 to 60 million years. His earliest  ancestor, little eohippus, the Dawn Horse showed up a lot earlier in the game than we did. “How long you been around skinny two legs?”

He had me there.

He loved  me to tell him stories.

An incurable romantic,  he loved  fiction best.   Hidalgo, the mustang,  and Frank Hopkins who raced him’cross the Ocean of Fire were his favorites. When Ari was recovering from  surgery,  I constructed a paddock at my end of the barn and rigged  a projector and white sheet sharing the Disney movie with him. He watched it over and over.  For a horse who’d been free as a  feral hen, to be corralled in a 20×20 foot  area for three months–the recovery was long–was an ordeal. I  had to relieve his boredom. Mine, too.

I mean, how many organic carrots can we munch?   He  loved  dearly cornflake butter crunch cookies.

For over forty years I’ve lived with  a horse like the Indian lived with his.  He was a friend.  My best.  He slept in the bedroom next to mine.  I couldn’t ask for a sweeter neighbor. I met him first on Oahu in 1993. We looked each other in the eye and immediately bonded.  Born on Kauai in  1987, he was 29 years old.

The night he died, peacefully in his sleep, he said, “What you skinny two legs need  is another Seabiscuit.” He loved that film best.

His death left a hole in my heart the size of Diamond Head Crater, and a chunk out of my life the magnitude of Mount Kalihi.

But this he gave me: the joy of having known him.

 

 

 

 

 

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MILK AND MONEY
March 7, 2016

Why so many of us object to a milk factory  in Poipu…

…“Factory farm pollution turns drinking water – a basic substance we need to survive – into a silent killer,” said Elisabeth Holmes, staff attorney at the Center for Food Safety. “These industrial operations pollute our air and water under the guise of agriculture….  lawsuits will help  safeguard public health and the environment.”

“Congress gave citizens the right to act to protect themselves when  regulatory agencies fail to do so,” said an  attorney in court on the mainland. “Citizens have no option but to act when their families’ health is at stake.”

“Unlawful dumping of manure at industrial dairies hurts the environment, the community, and our food supply,” said Jessica Culpepper, staff attorney at Public Justice. “When these same factories do not report their toxic air emissions, the public is endangered and left in the dark and we are standing up on behalf of those harmed to change that.”

“Fast Food, Fat Profits highlights what is arguably one of the most disturbing health trends of the 21st century – the fact that today’s generation may be the first to live a shorter lifespan than their parents, and this is a direct result of too much cheap (nutrient-deficient and toxin-laden) food. Avoiding processed food requires a change in mindset, which is not always an easy task. It CAN be done, however. Rather than looking at processed foods as a convenience that tastes good or saves money, try thinking of it as:

Extra calories that harm your body
A toxic concoction of foreign chemicals and artificial flavors that will lead to disease
A waste of money
Likely to lead to increased health care bills for you and your family.”

Do you eat to fill your belly? Or do you eat to nourish your body?

Do you understand the relationship between ingesting nourishing food and good health?

How much green pasture  does a  healthy grazing milk cow need?  A general rule of thumb for grown cows is about 2 animals per five acres.”

Factor in the stench–cow poo is not perfume–which is  wafted in the wind. So, if you live close to this  ill-conceived and badly maintained and managed milk factory–2ooo cows on five hundred acres which produces a nasty liquid for profit not for nourishment– a  gas mask when the wind blows wrong might come in handy.

Now factor in flies. Flies are unpleasant. Under the best of circumstances. They are not the healthiest of neighbors and they, too, are wind-borne. Think of them as tiny living drones that carry disease and discomfort.  You’d complain if a neighbor’s yard was so filthy it grew flies on an open garbage dump. In this instance a caring  Health Department would involve itself. Sadly, however, we cannot know what it’d do for milk factory  flies on Kauai.

Most likely it’d decide they were good flies…

…which, unlike feral cats,  crowing roosters, and barking dogs, should not be diminished, destroyed, or defamed.

Fast profits? Just say ‘no’.

 

 

MAKE KAUAI GREAT AGAIN
February 28, 2016

…again?

Doesn’t this imply  once it was great and now it’s not?

If  so, then wouldn’t it  be true, only one who lived on Kauai during its great period could respond? I mean,  what changed? To go from greatness to not so great must mean something changed.

My husband and I sailed to Kauai in 1969. We tied up at the sea wall in Nawilili, just around the corner, as it were, from one of the hottest hot spot saloons on the island. The first person we met was Walter Brian–Head of the Water Department–we’d known  him on Oahu–and my husband was headed towards a job as Engineering Department Head of McBryde Sugar.

Sugar was King.  Actually, managers of sugar plantations were Kings. Department Heads and their wives were Lords and Ladies. There was an inside joke:  haolis lived in the haoli camps;  field hands lived in Japanese camps, Filipino camps,  Portuguese camps. But– by our time– racism was floundering. There were lots of  shanties.  Warm. Dry. It was a feudal state,  but McBryde was  benevolent.  Mules–Brownie, Blackie and Caliban– wore saddles filled with seed cane to replant at planting season. It was a great life, for most of us. Bill loved the men he worked with, they loved him. Bobby Pfeifer was President, Ceo, and  Chairman of the Board of Alexander and Baldwin of which McBryde was a totally owned subsidiary.  There couldn’t have been a better man at the helm.

Cane was a dollar crop. Grown to maturity for almost two years.  Burned to harvest. Cane fires flared in  splendor in the still winds of early morning sky. Then milled and shipped to California to be refined and packaged and sent back home.  Alexander and Baldwin is Matson, remember?  Those guys didn’t go to school to carry their lunch. Sugar kept their ships full going out and full coming back.

This glorious field of long tall grass worked with grace and beauty to keep our air fresh. The air on Kauai,  clean and invigorating,  filled our lungs with the essence of life. Of health. Breathing is the most important thing we do on this planet.  Breath bad air, breath illness and misery and death.

I see more cars–spewing stink and CO2 and sporting angry drivers–driving to Lihue  then there were on the island when we arrived. Today, on Kauai, there are places where you should wear a little white mask to keep your lungs working.

We’d little crime. Few homeless.  Few unemployed.  We weren’t rich, but, for the most part, we were happy. Put a dollar sign on that.

Recently someone suggested we contact young Mark Zukerberg–philanthropist– to get us back on track.

May I humbly suggest we contact Ted Turner? He’s a philanthropist. He owns over two million acres of land. “The sad thing about destroying the environment is that we’re going to take the rest of life with us…” I think Bobby and Bill would have loved him. I do.

 

 

 

 

TRANSPORT, BUSES, SUCH A BORE
February 22, 2016

 

When I first arrived on Kauai some forty years ago, Kauai was a feudal state. The plantation managers were the kings and their department heads were  lords and ladies. Field workers lived simply, but, for the most part, peacefully together. Outside this circle were the big land holders, small business and services, schools and hospitals, a few quaint island style hotels and a rich rash of city and county workers. It was a benevolent state. All of us, at our different levels, lived in peace with each other and the extraordinary beauty of the island and its surroundings. I think of the great and glorious fields of waving green cane,  a cash crop, which contributed to clean fresh air and extraordinary beauty.

I think of Iniki.  Troubled times, and how we all came together…visitors, too, some of them…as a family and worked towards restoration. I think these times are gone.

Today the island is a third world country. Treated with much indifference and malignancies by the rich.  The powerful.  The greedy.  The military  And a most fragile industry, the tourist industry. Today we are a hard hit, rapidly disappearing middle class, with a steadily increasing number of unhappy islanders.

How dare I  express this?

Because it’s true.  We live at  the end of a long line of destructive influences. Some people, mostly newcomers, question why we didn’t protest over-development. We did! But the big land holders, the rich and the greedy and their bought off political cronies, held all the cards. Look at the mess they’ve created on the highways.  None of us can afford the million dollar  needed to build more roads.

All of us on this island, rich and poor, brown, black, yellow and white, young and old will be catastrophically impacted by this ignored insult left unanswered. This monstrosity is always in the headlines.

We all have to transport ourselves to somewhere. Some people must commute.  And you can’t even write that  expense off your taxes. Buy a car, buy some gas, some oil, tires, batteries–whatever–go broke in the process.  Working people  have to get to jobs so they can pay for the commute. They have no choice. The rush to work, the rush home, causing road jams that just won’t quit.  We have constant, disgusting, frustrating  traffic jams. Bumper to bumper fore and aft. Any hour. Any day.  Coming or going.  Where or why. To satellites overhead we must look like ants on a senseless journey to and fro.

Add to that visitors who fly in and  rent a car. Off to their destination. Off to see the sights.  Which they can’t see, they’re driving so fast. Or grumped miserably in a lump of exhaust that takes the breath away.

Then we have locals who love their cars, trucks–four-wheeled noise makers–like Americans, a few years, back loved their horses. “I’ll die before I’ll let you take these reins from my hand.”

Horses were prettier, but history repeats itself. Such a bother. Such a bore.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

THE PROVINCES
November 7, 2015

I’m the lady from the provinces. In truth,  I’m  an expatriate at heart.  At 36 I’d spent as much time out of the country as I had  in the country and Kauai was about as far out as you could get without a Passport.

It was a feudal state. Sugar was King. Sugar, that historically  infamous dollar crop, held  sway.  Those glorious fields, that glorious crop, that  long green, dancing- in- the- wind grass that worked  two long years keeping our air the freshest,  the healthiest in the world. (Maybe that’s why so many of us who lived  those years ripened so well. and don’t forget it gave us sugar, molasses, and rum.) It’s beautiful yellow tasseles stopped traffic as did  their spectacular death in red/gold flames  in the quiet winds of early morning. An occasional plume of gray throat- itching smoke belched by, but we  forgave it.

There were hundreds  of miles of bridle paths,  maintained just for me and my entourage–one horse, two ponies running  free– and so many dogs I’ve lost count. We often  encountered a cane truck or a helicopter and our jaunts always crossed with  the field hands who greeted us with soft  smiles and friendly  greetings, “Good morning, Mrs. Bill Dux,” they’d call and  I’d smile  back. They were as much a part of this enchanting landscape as the cane itself. The cane mules, during planting season, brayed  love  to my  leopard–Beauregard the gaudy Appaloosa–who pranced by, head up, tail high.

Truly, I could not imagine a more delightful way to begin a day. To face the coming hours  of work and play and who- knows- what-all else lay ahead.

Just as sugar was King,  so were the managers. The department heads were lords and ladies of the manor. I was not much into the social life, women in America are much different from women who–excepting those in the military or Embassy sphere who were always the same– lived in a cosmopolitan community abroad.

On Kauai we lived on the water. Kept our beloved Warpath at anchor in front of the house, my horses in the red barn across the way. Somehow Bill and I managed to combine the horsey and  sailing set. Sailing these water–Bill and me–was too vast another world to describe briefly, but at night, beneath a sparkle strewn sky  and moon wide wonder–no phones, no worldly distractions–was an experience that kept our feet planted firmly on solid ground when they had to be. We lost Warpath during Ewa and Flash, Beau, and Billy are buried here. Bill’s ashes scattered.

Today it’s a third world. Gated  million dollar ghettos. The poor. The homeless. Cane is a  memory lost in concrete- coated  madness.  I see more cars driving to Lihue than there were on the Island 46 years ago. We’ve traffic jams–engine to BBQ hatchback– expelling so much CO2 it’s a wonder any of us survive.

Some people call this progress.

What do you call it?

 

 

WILD HURRICANES I HAVE KNOWN
June 2, 2015

I’ve weathered four.  My husband and I escaped the ravages of Typhoon Jean, dodging caribou and ballistic teak logs the size of a Kauai bus shooting by us in a Philippine Airline jet taking off from a beach in Aparri, a primitive village in the province of Cagayan, Luzon-one bar, one outdoor movie, one hotel- on the banks of the South China Sea.  Aparri survived. Today it’s a first class municipality.

We made the fastest flight- ever- back to Manila that day. Jean was the biggest typhoon of the season.

A typhoon is a hurricane that swirls and whirls and rips around in another neighborhood.

The Aparri memory is a cute storyI tell often.

But hurricanes are not cute. No one can ever say ‘been there, done that’ or ‘seen one seen ’em all’ . Platitudes don’t apply. Each storm’s different. They’ve personalities all their own, and always a very human side.

In 1970 we were in Mississippi a year after Hurricane Camille demolished Gulfport and were amazed at the mess. A tug boat still  balanced  on its keel in the middle of a forest. It looked as though it’d just been planted. Along millionaire’s row, all a two story mansion had to show for itself were water pipes standing upright indicating bathrooms on a vanished second floor.

Hurricane Iwa-November 22, 1982-sent our beloved boat, Warpath in Kukuiula Harbor, over the top of a swimming pool and broke her back. She was headed for safe port in the red barn across the street.  We’d built the barn for $900.00. All by myself I tar- papered the roof. Not a corner  lifted. On Kauai’s millionaire’s row, it looked as though a war had gone through.

I’d spent a terrifying night in the barn with my horses in the lava rock house up the Alexander Dam Road. All I was was the howl of that wind

Bill-who was needed at the power plant in Wainiha- and I, coming home that  night, had a most incredible surprise in store for us.. On the north shore at Tahiti Nui, Louise Marston  prepared-on the beach-a Thanksgiving dinner to end all Thanksgiving dinners-the works-to those who could find their way to her open door. A generous, marvelous, wonderful woman, I miss her. We sat at a savory table with locals, hippies, surfers, tourists from everywhere, survivors, and indulged. I’ve never felt so thankful. I didn’t say grace but I thought it.

Back home, we’d just put the roof on our new house. Not a shingle lifted.

September 6, 1992, Iniki- the strongest storm to hit Hawaii-barreled through. I was alone. I spent the night here.  Three horses locked in stalls. Me and the dogs and cats hunkered down in my old Buick. I had carrots for the horses, nibbles for the dog and cats, and a bottle of wine for me. Before the night was over, the horses were eating dog food while the dogs and cats munched carrots. I didn’t share the wine.

My experienced advice during hurricane season? Be prepared.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ironies, Complexities and Contradictions
November 29, 2014

Hawaiian history. Did we ‘steal’ Hawaii from the Hawaiians? You betcha.

But remember, the indigenous Hawaiian had no concept of private ownership of land. The King owned it all. The people were to live productively-fish, farm, fight and die- peacefully on the land. Take care they  didn’t step in the King’s shadow.

The first white men to arrive, with billowing sails- and TB, venereal disease, measles, mosquitoes, nails, smallpox and other civilized gifts-were Englishmen. Captain James Cook-no ‘e’-and his horny crew. Cook got eaten. Long pig.

Russians popped in.  Popped out. Then come the American missionaries with their book and outdoor walk- around night gowns. Nudity was a sin. Sex was a sin. Everything was a sin. The Hawaiians say, “When the missionaries arrived, they had the Bibles and we had the land. Now we got the Bibles and they got the land.” Religion reared its ugly head. Most of those early missionary women had a terrible case of the ugugs.

Don’t forget the whalers. Fun and games when they came ashore. Hottest spot was Lahaina. Wow wow wow and whoopity do. Then commerce. Sugar. Queen Emma- a compassionate, sensible woman- looks around and sees that the pale faces controlled all the land. So she issued a decree-the Great Mahele-sign a paper, peasant, and your small piece of paradise-your kuliana- belong to you and you can ‘sell’ that piece of paper for a few bucks or a bottle of beer to any one who can then kick you off your land.

A personal touch, years later- the 1980s-my husband and I buy our land from Alexander and Baldwin. Where they got it, nobody knows. Or tells, anyway. We bought it. Worked for the money, used it to buy a piece of paper that says ‘we own it’. I ain’t given’ it back to no Hawaiians. I gave it to NTBG. John Allerton gets in the act.

Christian missionaries and American business men have a sacred economic system.  Greedy business.  Form a group, plea with Washington to become a territory-be sure you read Mark Twain. Call out the Marines. Haul Emma’s ass off to home detention.   Commerce reigns.  Tourism. Development. Suburban sprawl. Money. Money. Money, honey.Religion. Capitalism. Holy shit.

Then comes the  American military  in force. Big brass US Navy muckity mucks. So racist they make Ferguson look like a luau. Pearl Harbor was a big deal. Excellent Naval Base. Best in the Pacific. The Massey case was a scandalous yellow journalism news blast all over the country. Hearst had a field day. There goes tourism. Matson squeals. Help. Shirley Temple sails the Lurline.  Kind’a cleans up the act. Good for business.

Then come the Japanese and Pearl Harbor. Please note, they only bombed the bases. Made a mess. Martial law. Americans  put back to work-the Great Depression goes bye bye- and the rich get richer building war ships. Kaiser builds a gated community.

If I were an Hawaiian, I’d make ‘them’ clean the place up before I took it back.

 

 

 

 

Peace with the Elements
March 21, 2014

Peace is a word that always attracts my attention. It’s one syllable and has a sweet feminine sound. In fact in Spanish, paz, has a feminine gender. It’s a girl’s name. Paz.

Elements? Well we think of rain and wind and snow and sun and —eeek—hurricanes and tornados and tsunamis and earthquakes and volcanoes. How in the world are we to be at peace with that?

What choice do we have? We’re human. We live on an incredibly beautiful planet, on a superfluously  beautiful island in the middle of a vast ocean which  often kicks up its heels in a fashion long to be remembered if we’re  caught in a little boat in the middle of one of its tantrums. Did you know the Hawaiian channel, Alenuihaha–‘Ale as in jolly, nui as in phooey, ha-ha as in crutch’ as some modern-day sailor’s dubbed it– means,  in Hawaiian,  ‘very large trough like waves’.

Those of us who’ve sailed these channels know what that’s like. It’s rarely a peaceful experience. Anything but. But we hunker down. Fight our way through. What’s interesting is the Greeks had a god of the sea, Poseidon–I mean wouldn’t it be a god?–who also reigned over earthquakes and horses. How did horses got in the act?

Hawaiians have a god of the sea, too, Kanaloa, who ‘is symbolized by the squid and the octopus’. Figures.

But the Hawaiians also have a goddess of the sea–whew, at last–her name is Namaka and she’s the daughter of Pele. She has a guardian dog named Moela and is chiefess of the Menehune people. I like it that the Hawaiian guys have goddesses. They make it balance.

Pele, of course, was goddess of fire, lightening, wind and volcanoes. She’s passionate and capricious and volatile and some say she finally settled down and made her home in Kiluea. She also has a little white dog who sends messages to her people.  She fought with her sister, Namaka.

Round and round and round we go and where it stops nobody knows.

I love the stories–they should be told over and over– but they’re a long long way from the way us mere mortals have to deal with the elements. Like rain. It comes.  It goes. It comes.  It stays. It keeps our garden green. But the best us modern guys  have is  Mother Nature. And  whose side is she on, boys? The earth’s side, of course. The planet’s side. Our home.

Well, Mother Nature is life-giving and nourishing. She has a close relationship with fertility, abundance and Gaia who also lives in Kilauea. Wonder if she’s listed in the phone book? Found it. I’ll give her a buzz. “Gaia,” I speak with great respect, “will you make it stop? I’m drenched. My grown up puppy’s drenched.  My horse is drenched. My Macaw is ruffle drenched. My roof is leaking.”

“Sweetie,” she replied  sweetly, “have a bowl of soup. Better yet, write a book. Be at peace with the elements.”

Guess that’ll have to do.