Friday, May 23, 2008

Back in Groveland

I think it is good to be home. It’s strange – from home to home. But this is my own space, usable in any fashion I like whenever I like. I can watch movies or listen to the radio whenever and where ever I like. There is room to move around and spread things out – although I do need to part with some of the things that were spread out BEFORE I went to Hawaii!

It took three days to get here. Monday was flight day. Left 934 Kealaolu Avenue at 10 a.m., and zipped quickly through the check-in process thanks to something Hawaiian Airlines calls Drive-Through check-in. For those who might have occasion it use it, follow the airport signs for Hawaiian Airlines ARRIVALS. As you approach the terminal, stay in the RIGHT lane and continue straight ahead to the first stop sign. There will be a parking lot at the end of the building on your left (the terminal) and you will see a tent-like canopy area. Under the canopy agents will take your (bags), confirm that you have a boarding pass and seat assignment, and send you on your way. They take care of the agriculture inspection. They label your bags. They get them to the aircraft. They must get them there quickly, because mine were about the last bags to be Unloaded in San Francisco. You went your way through the various security checkpoints with ONLY your carry-on pieces.

Hanai daughter Nancy/Ruth met me in San Francisco. I almost didn’t see her. I was looking for the BIG white Ford pick-up – 5 passenger, long cab, diesel …. But diesel fuel is now significantly more expensive than gasoline, so she’s driving a more efficient, gas-fueled sedan. We talked until midnight, and I slept until 3 a.m. – then couldn’t fall back to sleep. Eventually we took Joseph to school, picked up Ruth’s walking partner, and went out to the track at Stanford University for a morning walk. Even without my walking shoes (left them in Hawaii, needed replacing, no room in suitcase!) and being grossly out of shape, managed to keep up with both of them.

Kimo picked me up on Tuesday afternoon and we drove to Manteca. The twins went of to soccer practice; Kimo, Lu, Brianna and I went to dinner. After everyone else went to bed, Lu and I talked – and talked – and talked … until 2 a.m. We cleared up a lot of misunderstandings and are better friends now.

Wednesday. Lu and I had another opportunity to visit after Kimo and the girls left for the day. I finally left about 10:30. After some obligatory stops in Modesto – Best Buy to deal with my fussy iTouch, the mall for new walking shoes, Costco for groceries, another grocery store for those things I was unwilling to buy in Costco quantities – I finally got home at 5 p.m. Exhausted.

Thursday. Change addresses at Pine Mountain Lake. Pick up the mail. Stop at the library/museum, meet a friends, prepare for the cemetery walk tomorrow, lunch with Rolene, purchase fabric for Sarah’s quilt …. By now it’s 4:30 p.m., another day gone. Where did it go?

Friday. 10:00. I’ve been at this machine since 5:30 a.m. The cell phone has apparently died – cut out in the middle of a phone call this morning, politely says “unable to charge” when plugged in. Oh, darn. Now what? Can’t just run to the mall a mile down the road – now it’s 60 miles down the road. Harumph. There must be a reason.

Look for that silver lining. Give thanks. Keep praying …..

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Aloha and Aloha

It is real and diagnosed. He may have been told a year ago, but either didn't understand or didn't want anyone to know. My father is in early stage dementia. It's not a surprise -- the behaviors are all there -- but it is somehow reassuring to have his doctor say it in so many words. It also alters how Mother deals with him, makes her more tolerant.

Yesterday was the memorial service for my cousin Michael McPherson who died in April at his home in Kamuela. This is the same cousin that I visited in February when on Hawaii with the Waughs from Chicago. It was a beautiful memorial, held at the Unity Church of Hawaii on the slopes of Diamond Head. The opening prayer was given in both English and Hawaiian by a cousin of another of the McPherson lines who also happened to be Taylor McPherson's 3rd grade teacher. Taylor is Michael's only biological niece, and his sole heir. The prayer was followed by brief sharings from some of Michael's close friends: a lifelong friend and surfing buddy, who last surfed with him at Kawaihae just a few weeks before he passed; three friends from his Univeristy of Hawaii - poet - novelist - editor days; and the local judge from Kamuela who described Michael as brilliant as a trial lawyer. "If you as a judge or an opposing attorney did not listen to every word Michael said, as he said it, then you were somehow behind him and in very serious trouble." That's high praise indeed. Each speaker touched on Michael's need to find resolution to conflict, and gave examples of how that drive shaped their own lives. Since his own growing up years were filled with conflict -- between his father and grandfather, between his parents, between himself and his father, likely within Michael himself -- I can see where that drive might have taken root. Also, conflict resolution is a very Hawaiian concept. It is called ho'oponopono, and is one of the fundamentals of Hawaiian medicine. Michael was very much in touch with his Hawaiian heritage.

The service ended with a hula danced by Taylor and one of her friends ... "Where I am there are rainbows ... " and a slide show of photographs of Michael growing up.

I had a very difficult time getting through the service. My tears were only in part for Michael. They were more for my own emptiness at Ray's passing, for going on without him. There is thanksgiving for the wonderful time we had, and regret that we did not have more time together. There is still a huge, empty hole. He and Michael are somewhere else now. They are healthy, active, laughing, caring ...

Look forward. Give thanks. Keep praying ........!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Being Mom

I've talked over and over again about families growing in many different ways. If we limit ourselves to our biological parents and children, we miss out on so much of the world's beauty! So this morning I made breakfast for my biological mom, then called and talked to another mom who worries about me just as much and has had a very strong influence on my adult life. Emails arrived from my (adopted) son and (hanai) daughter. Christie remains silent, didn't even call her grandmother. Jeff (another hanai son/grown up foster kid) called last week to share news about his daughter, and added, "Happy Mother's Day, I really miss you!"

We had visitors! WE had visitors -- the came to see me as well as my parents! "They" are John and Tweetie Lind. They are cousins on my father's side. John's grandfather and mine were first cousins, making us 3rd cousins. But who'se counting? They live in Kipahulu on the island of Maui, and came to Oahu to visit some of their children, deal with some business, and to attend some special events. To understand John and Tweetie, you have to understand where they live.
Those who visit Groveland complain about "the grade", that 2-mile (or 5 mile, depending on the road) climb from Moccasin to Priest Station -- with its 1800' elevation gain. You say it's enough to keep you away from Groveland altogether. Now stretch that road out to 52 miles and delete the elevation gain. Add 13 bridges -- then add 42 more, but make these just one lane wide. Instead of traveling along a canyon, you are traveling along the flank of a dormant volcano that rises more than 10,000 from sea level to crest. So ... on one side of the 2-lane road is mountain. But on the other side you look straight down to the ocean. Or a mountain stream. Or across into a waterfall. Don't be in a hurry. It takes AT LEAST 2 hours to drive to Hana from the airport at Kahului.

Hana is cattle country. There is a store. Maybe even two stores! Perhaps you've heard about Hasegawa General Store. It gets perishables -- milk, bread, veggies and meat -- twice a week. Tuesday afternoon is a bad time to run out of milk or bread. There's a luxury hotel, the Hotel Hana Maui. It's been up-scale since long before the term was coined. There are a couple of motels now, really more like condos for rent. Better bring your groceries from Kahului or Wailuku. Or stay at one of the B&B's. There's a tiny but interesting museum, locally run. And a beach park on the bay, where you can go to fish and canoe (bring your own) or have a picnic. Ray ate one of his most memoriable meals there -- at a gathering of the Lind 'ohana to meet the Lind cousins from the City. Hana town is built in tiers, just as you would expect a town built on a hillside. Behind the hotel, across the street from the church, the cattle graze on a hillside. It's the side of that same volcano, Haleakala, that you drove part-way around to get here.

Kipahulu is a community more than a town. Charles Lindberg chose to be buried here. You know that you're in Kipahulu when you get to the stables. As in rent-horse-go-riding stables. If you get to the National Park, you've gone too far.

Now visit This is John and Tweetie's baby. It's living history, cultural awareness, and historic preservation/restoration all at the same time. But John and Tweetie are like small farmers anywhere. They are real people who do what they love, and they love what they do. No airs, no pretense here. They are Hawaiian to the core, and will share with you if you care to listen. I'm proud to claim kinship.

Give thanks -- for mothers, for people like John and Tweetie who help preserve traditional ways. Look for the good. Keep praying .....!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Packing up -- again

As I write, I am taking a break from the dreaded chore of packing up. It's a task that I genuinely H-A-T-E, witness how much I put off before leaving California. So now I am heading back, at least for awhile, and am having nightmares going through a mere 7 month accumulation with limited space to accumulate. Some I can leave. More NEEDS to go back. As my cousin Andrea said when she moved back to Scotland last year, it's amazing how much you accumulate is such a short time.

A couple of years ago Mother announced that she was going to have the dining room chairs refinished. It would cost about $160/chair to strip and refinish the wood, then another $50/chair for new upholstery on the seats. Then she thought about buying 6 Martin-McArthur chairs (they are a local manufacturer of fine wood furnishings), but discovered to her horror that she would pay more than $200/chair even at Martin-McArthur sale prices. Daddy had a fit and said he would refinish the chairs. She bought some stain and some polyurethane finish, but he never did the work. Oh, he scrubbed them down with soap and water, but that wasn't what she was looking for. Some time after my birthday she finally allowed me to start the stripping and refinishing. I had been trying for some time, but met with all sorts of excuses. Now we have three chairs finished, one drying in preparation for a final coat of stain, one drying after its first stain, and one more to strip. It is the stripping process that takes time. I'm spending 2.5 or more hours per chair. But she and daddy are both pleased with the results. That's good.

Now that I am about to leave, I am discovering all sorts of places/organizations that I should have visited months ago. Joined the Quilt Guild, and purchased a kit to make a pretty appliqued top at home which I will bring back to quilt next winter. Or maybe I will have it quilted in California. Depends on how I feel. Re-discovered Ben Franklin -- which used to be a "5 and dime" store and is now a craft store. Need to find the needlework shop on King St. across from McKinley High School, for needlepoint and cross stitch. Found another, similar, shop, but am not particularly pleased with their selection or service. Am very spoiled by the shops in California and Nevada that sell you fabric, then as a courtesy give you a new needle and surge the edges of your fabric for you before you leave the store. In other words, no more prep work when you get home. Still have to get to the highly touted Bhutan exhibit at the Art Academy.

Am tempted to visit the Humane Society to see what kitties they have available for adoption, but know better. The adoption fee is the same as in Tuolumne Co., where for your $60 you get an animal and a $15 coupon towards spay/neuter. Here your $60 buys you a spayed/neutered animal already microchipped (I paid $30 for that service last year) and a free vet check to confirm you have received a healthy animal. Also, animals that originate in Hawaii don't have to do the extensive bloodwork required of an animals from communities where there is rabies.

So -- onward. Tomorrow I do my before-leaving-Hawaii doctoring bit. Had to find a GYN here when I needed the follow-up mammogram last fall, and turns out I liked both him and the Women's Health Center at The Queen's Hospital. So -- since all my mammogram data is currently here, I will continue to have my routine checks in Honolulu. The rest of my medical care can stay in California, at least until my doctor retires.

For now, keep looking for the positives. Give thanks. Don't forget to pray!