Saturday, December 24, 2011

To my online friends

If you've been following this blog, or following my posts on Facebook, you don't need another summary of the year.  You know it has been long, and busy, with some highs and some lows.  You know that I sometimes struggle to focus on the positives.    Most of the time I am successful.

Some of you have had more than your share of difficulties this year.   Several of you have lost a  beloved life partner, a parent or grandparent.  Some of you have children whose ideas of sharing the holidays is different from yours.  Some of you are hard hit by the state of the economy.  Some of you are away from home, from the familiar, from those you love.  It's a hard time of year to be alone.  An yes, it is all too possible to be alone in a crowd.

Some of you are celebrating -- new paths, new perspectives, new views, new relationships.

Some of you celebrate other winter holidays at this darkest time of the year.  Significantly, all those seasonal holidays speak of the contrast between the present darkness and the promise of light to come.  My personal choice is the Christian version of this darkness/light celebration, the season of Advent culimating in Christmas, the celebration of Christ's birth.   Intellectually, we know shepherds are not in the fields of the Middle East in December.  But the Advent Wreath, like the Menorah, begins with a single candle, only to glow with its brightest promise of hope and  light at the end of the season, in the very darkest days of winter.  The sun rising on the day of the Winter Solstice finds the keystone in circles of standing stones like Stonehenge or Calanish.   Light will follow, literally and figuratively.  Whatever our belief, the promise is  there. 

Keep your faith.
Look to the light.
Merry Christmas!
Don't forget to pray.......

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

When the current version of the Episcopal hymnal was about to be published, our Bishop called all lay leaders to his annual Labor Day Weekend conference -- Friday dinner through Sunday lunch.  We moaned every year about giving up the entire holiday weekend, but always came away enriched with lessons that would stick in our minds and hearts.  That year the workshop leader was a member of the Commission which selected what would be included in and what would be omitted from the new hymnal. 

Dr. Mealy pointed out that most renditions of this particular hymn omit the 3rd verse -- and called it to our attention.  This is NOT a pretty little piece of musical fluff.   It is a dramatic challenge to our Christian faith, a call to action, a piece of protest music.  My politically liberal soul can still see this mild little man in that rural mountain chapel, reading these words in his powerful voice, then over the next hour leading us through the two hymn tunes and suggesting how each melody sets a different mood, carries the message in a different way.  "Use all the verses." he told us.  "Always."

Here are verses 3 and 4.   Read it as poetry.  Then sing it, aloud or in your mind.  What do you hear?

           Yet with the woes of sin and strife the world has suffered long,
           beneath the heavenly hymn have rolled two thousand years of wrong;
           and warring humankind hears not the tidings which they bring. 
          O hush the noise and cease your strife and hear the angels sing!

          For lo! the days are hastening on, by prophets seen of old,
          when with the ever-circling years shall come the time foretold
          when peace shall over all the earth its ancient splendors fling
          and all the world give back the song which now the angels sing.
                                                                    [Edmund Hamilton Sears (1810-1876)]

Hush the noise.  Cease the strife.  Hear the song of the angels.  Give back the song....

May your Christmas be blessed. 
* * * * *

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Back to Writing

No, my world is not falling apart, although for the past 2 weeks I haven't been very confident of that.

My mother caught a bug, then had the audacity to share it.  SHE went immediately onto an antibiotic and promptly recovered.  Not being 97 years old or sharing her risk factors, I didn't get the antibiotic.  Short version:  5 days into the second week of near-immobility, I picked up remaining antibiotics from my mom's prescription.  Life has improved dramatically.

Then there's the absent computer.  It didn't die, just went off to be copied.  Now it is back at home, along with a new sibling,  The sibling is going to make life lots harder for a while, but just may turn out to be a joy in the long run.  I've been considering a larger monitor (20" or greater) for several months.  Looked at the HP all-in-one units, but ended up with the iMac version.

To understand the magnitude of this decision, consider that I learned to use a computer some 36 years ago, in the days when the word processor of choice, developed at Stanford University, was called Wilbur.  Wilbur had a brother, Orville.  As in the WRITE brothers .....   Wilbur ran on a stand-alone device that sat behind my desk and adjacent to the IBM Selectric typewriter.  We sent off multiple reels of 1" magnetic tape at the end of each business day, all the way from California to Missouri or Oklahoma where they were stored for safe-keeping.   It was the industrial standard for secure backups.  Upstairs in our building they were still using data entry keypunch operations -- in a state-of-the-art scientific research facility. 

Four years later, with a different employer, with the encouragement of an in-house engineer, the two of us brought desktop computers to our remote worksite.  The PCs came along a couple of years later.  About that same time, we spent a few months with an Apple Macintosh resident in a spare bedroom at home.  But the Mac returned to its own home, and I have been a dedicated PC user ever since.  Even stood between the IT folk and the line supervisors at work, helping supervisors learn to use the computers they were REQUIRED to use in their revised job assignments, leaving the IT folk free to do more complex IT tasks.  I don't claim to be a techie, but am quite comfortable troubleshooting and maintaining at least my own PC software.

This iMac is as different animal altogether.  I love the 21.5" monitor.  I love the color quality and imaging I'm seeing, even in the first few hours of ownership. I am looking forward to mastering the stylus tablet that we purchased in lieu of the Mac touchpad.  The graphics stuff that comes with this unit is amazing.  But -- it took several hours  to discover the equivalent of "My Computer".  The mouse works differently.  What happened to all those "right click" tasks?  My friend who said, "You're going to miss the things you control yourself in Windows, but cannot control in the Apple world," was correct.  That may change ..... 

The ads tell you that it is simple to run Windows on a new Mac system.  What they don't tell you is that getting from here to there (adding a Windows component to your Mac system) is NOT supported by Apple.  If I can do it on Apple, I'm perfectly happy to; if I cannot, I'd appreciate some help with the set-up side of that transition.  Apple says, "It's not our product, we don't support it."  Microsoft says, "Switching to a competitor?  Not our problem."  So there's a learning curve here that is going to bring some frustration until I build the techie knowledge essential to  running my Windows-based genealogy software on my new, flashy iMac.  Cannot switch to a Mac-compatible product; there is just no equivalent in the genealogical community.  Even Family Tree Maker, which has a Mac version, lacks much of the advanced capability provided by The Master Genealogist. 

Remember that little graphic of the two buzzards on a tree limb, one saying to the other, "Patience my ..., I'm gonna' kill somebody!"?  Pray that I can get beyond that response to focus on finding answers!   Meanwhile, give thanks for new toys and new things to learn.

Don't forget to pray!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Clocks change.  Except in Arizona and Hawaii.
In those parts of the world where there is real winter, leaves are changing -- or have changed and fallen.
In Honolulu, the solar clothes dryer is once more unpredictable, with rains lurking in the valleys.  It's important to get the laundry in as soon as it is dry rather than when it is convenient.

Writing and research are taking a back seat to the crafty things involved in holiday giving, and in baking for our church Holiday Sale next weekend.

Very large funeral today for a dear lady and quilter who was active in 3 of the 4 Royal Societies, Daughters of Hawaii, and a bunch more organizations.  It took a good 30 minutes for each of the Royal Societies to honor Auntie Rose, preceded by another 20 minutes of eulogies.  All that before the traditional Episcopal Requiem Mass.  She was a  vibrant lady, even at the very end of her life when I met her.  Here's an article from 2009 that focuses on her exuberant style, as well as a much longer montage of photos posted at YouTube.  Auntie Rose was definitely one of a kind.

Had lunch a week ago with a former co-worker and his wife.  So very nice to see them again -- hard to realize that it has been as long as it has.  She -- the wife -- lived here for a number of years, but has also lived in CA for a long time.  We did a very local thing and had lunch at the cafe at the Honolulu Academy of Arts.  It was enough of a treat that we even tempted my mother to join us.  She was pleased to be included.

My walking partners are in travel mode.  R is due home this month after 2 months in Chicago.  B is just back from a week in Hong Kong, and is currently on a weekend junket to Las Vegas.  Building air miles, she says, in  preparation for her husband's retirement.

Give thanks for friends, both new and old, and the opportunity to share time together.
Don't forget to pray!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A New World

The new world is the California State Prison System.  I've learned a lot about it in the last 24 hours.  A lot more than I ever thought I would need to know.

I finally tracked down a long-time friend whom I lost track of when I moved to Hawaii, she changed jobs, and then moved.  Now I find her a widow (younger than I was when Ray passed) and a guest of the State of California in one of their women's facilities.

What have I learned about prisons?  C., who wore shorts when we walked but otherwise refused to wear slacks, now wears denims on a daily basis. I guess I knew that, but now it is more real. She will have little use for the vocational training offered through the prison system. They give basic stuff like earning a GED some vocational education.   She is a professional, qualified by training and experience to teach in at least two areas of their curriculum.

Inmates cannot receive a package unless it comes from a vendor approved by the California Dept of Corrections & Rehabilitation.  That's a short list.  Except for books.  Any book vendor who routinely sells by mail order is automatically approved.  Covers are removed from all hardback books before they are given to the inmate.  If the book falls apart, they have to give you cording or a rubber band to hold it together, but otherwise, tough -------.  The books may not include maps of any area within 10 miles of her present location.  Or instructions to build bombs, or ways to escape from prison.

Several different styles of earphones are for sale on the approved vendor sites.  Does that mean that inmates can listen to an iPod or similar device?  Are they restricted to music, or can they listen to audiobooks, too?  Can they download them from the Internet, I wonder?  Something to ask, later.

All incoming and outgoing mail is read by (designated?) prison staff.  C. can receive a blank envelope that you buy from the post office with a pre-printed stamp, or blank envelopes and a sheet of stamps.  She cannot receive an envelope onto which I have placed a stamp from the post office.  Even mail from her attorney (always confidential) is opened (face down), and each page shaken to assure there is not contraband included.

Books may not contain pornography.  I suspect that anything described as "explicit" on a romance novels qualifies as porn under the CDCR definition, which is pretty narrow.  I'm pretty sure "Shawshank Redemption" by Stephen King would not be deemed acceptable since it talks about a successful prison escape.  So I wonder about other popular authors like James Patterson and JA Jance, Julia Spencer-Fleming and Nora Roberts, John Gresham or Kathy Reichs.

I am shaken by C's imprisonment, and her crime.  It is non-violent, but a 2nd offense.  The victim was a friend who trusted and respected her.

Pray for those in prisons around the world.  Pray for C.
Hug your partner, a friend, a child or grandchild.
Give thanks for your own personal freedom.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Generation Passes

 Another aunt passed away this week.  Janet Lind Reese was my father's youngest sister.  I haven't seen her in years, only once since my grandmother -- her mother -- passed in 1982.  But we have corresponded, and she shared some of her family memories with me.  With her passing, a whole generation in that family is gone.  With the exception of my mother, all the spouses are gone as well.

They were a family of five children, sons and daughters of immigrant parents who came to America from Scotland via Portsmouth, England.  My grandfather, William Lind, came about 1901.  In 1910 he wrote Janie (later called Jeanie) Montgomery, who had been only 15 when they met in England the night before he left for America, and asked her to come to America to be his wife.  She accepted.

There were five children.  The boys were William James (Oct 1911-Feb 1993), named for his grandfathers William Lind and James Montgomery; John Montgomery (Dec 1913-Oct 2010), named for his eldest maternal uncle; and Irvine Thomas (Oct 1917 - May 1991), named Irvine like the city in Ayrshire, Scotland  and Thomas for Jeanie's favorite brother Thomas Montgomery.   Here they are posed as if they were at the beach.  This photo was taken about 1920.

Gracie (May 1915 - June 1919) was named for her father and her paternal grandmother.  She looked remarkably like her mother.  Gracie died of diptheria before the family moved from Berkeley.

Janet Sylvia (Sep 1925 - Sep 2011), a full 8 years younger than the youngest of her brothers, must have been a surprise for her parents.  She was named Janet for her maternal grandmother.

Willie Lind died in 1948.  Jeanie Montgomery Lind followed in 1982.  This is the last known photograph of my grandmother with all of their children and 3 of the 4 spouses.  It was taken at the Reese home in California.  Janet and her husband Art Reese are on the left; my father, John, is behind his mother; Bill and Phyllis are next, with Tom and Dorothy on the right.  

We who are left miss them all.  

Give thanks for the family members who are still around you.  
Let them know you care.  Keep in touch.  Share the stories.  
Don't forget to pray.....

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Catching Up

Five days after my last post, my aunt D passed away.  She was a breast cancer survivor, but succumbed to colon cancer.  It would  be interesting to know if the cancer in her colon was metastatic breast cancer that settled in her colon, or if it was a true colon cancer.  I didn't realize that cancer could metastasize that way until a friend was told that the tumor in his liver was lung cancer, not liver cancer.

M, meanwhile, is doing well.  Her cancer was staged at 2, and she's waiting for results of yet another test, this one to determine if (statistically) she is, after all, a candidate for some sort of targeted chemotherapy.

I spent the day at an Aging-In-Place seminar.  It was interesting and enlightening.  Thank you, B, for the invitation and the company.  It was a good day on many levels.

At the Aging-in-Place: Choices presentation, I realized that my experiences are common.  Families that can form a care-giving community fare better than primary caregivers who have no strong support group behind or alongside them.  The very elderly are very resistant to change, and don't really want help.  Family caregivers need to change the language they use to make changes more palatable.  We need to evaluate our needs carefully -- do we need a companion who had do anything that doesn't involve physically touching the client, someone who can help with bathing and dressing, someone to manage meds, or someone to give injections or provide wound care?  Do we need someone in the morning, or someone in the afternoon and evening?  Do we need routine assistance on a regular schedule, or do we need respite care?  Do we need someone to come to our home, or  do we need to move our residence?

The second session we attended looked at the characteristics of normal aging.  Interestingly, our spacial perception and ability to judge distances is about the first skill that begins to fade.  Explains why, as seniors, we have to take a whole new range of precautions when we drive an automobile.  Reading is the last skill to fade. That's nice for those of us who are readers -- as long as we can still see well enough to read!  Our bones shrink -- including our jawbones.  Our kidney function fades, as do our taste bunds and our ability to feel thirsty.  No wonder seniors dehydrate to quickly!

The session titled "Tips for Caregivers" was really a sales pitch for a privately operated social services agency.  The useful piece that they did offer was a test to measure your stress level as a caregiver.  My own stress level?  Real.  Moderate.  Far from no stress, but not yet approaching burnout.  Again, it was clear that my stressors are far from unusual, and that I have friends who have greater problems than do I.

Meanwhile, I'm watching the continuing MSN broadcasts on Hurricane Irene.  Prayers are winging toward my friends along the eastern seaboard.  I know it is unlikely they will be spending time on the computer reading this entry or emails and letting the rest of us know how they are doing, but some time in the next few days they will learn that I was/am concerned for their welfare.

Give thanks for all the caregivers in your neighborhood, in the US and in the world.
Pray for all those impacted by Hurricane Irene.
Don't forget to pray for your own needs.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Give thanks ....

Two friends have had surgery this summer because of practically non-existent circulation into their legs and feet.

I've written about R before.  He is 80, had surgery in early summer involving a variety of magical things that medicine can go these days to correct circulation blockages in the extremities.  Now he is learning to live with a built-in defibrillator.  He has other heart issues, but he is living independently in his own home with regular visits from the Visiting Nurse, the Physical Therapist and the Occupational Therapist.

Another friend, G, had a similar surgery on Monday.  He is 20 years younger than R.  He has had other surgeries over the last 12 or so years for circulatory issues.  This time he waited just a bit too long.  In addition to the steps taken to improve his circulation, he lost seven toes and probably 20% of one foot.  His recovery will be long and hard.  His wife says they can take only one day at a time, and are thankful for each day.

On the other hand, there is M.  After a mammogram in late July, followed almost immediately by an MRI and biopsy, she had a lumpectomy last week.  Her cancer was confined to a single tumor which had not spread even to the walls of the lymph node where it was growing.  Cancer has not been detected anywhere else in her body, even with all the fancy diagnostic tools now available.  Her cancer is of a type that normally responds well to hormone therapy, a treatment technique that was so new when Ray was in treatment that you almost never heard or read about it.  M is already back at work.  Except for hormones and some "insurance" radiation therapy, her treatment is done.

And D, an elderly aunt who is in the end stage of colon cancer.  This photo shows D with my father in Nov 2007.  D's granddaughter writes that her life expectancy is now weeks, perhaps days.  Long-dead family and friends have been visiting her in her dreams for the last decade or so, something she finds supportive.   D is too weak to sit up to read, too weak even to hold a letter.  She has turned to prayer for peace of mind.  

Four people, four very different outcomes for four life-threatening conditions.   Send them positive energy in whatever form you use.

Give thanks for at least one person who makes a difference in your life.

Don't forget to pray ....

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Fighting Homelessness, 250 Meals at a Time

My church partners with an organization called the Institute for Human Services, commonly known as IHS.  If you know it was started by an Episcopal priest, and know a little of Christian symbols, you will recognize the significance of the name.

On the first Friday of each month, a few of our faithful gather to produce enough Shepherd's Pie to serve 200-250 people.  It's always the same menu.  It's a tradition.  Holy Nativity makes Shepherd's Pie.

Paul and his wife Jane are the current cheerleaders for this project.

Paul, who looks terribly competent in this kitchen, says he doesn't cook at home.  He can only cook for 200.

Virginia makes cole slaw.   

Margie makes Ambrosia, with some help from Denise to manage the collander.  

This month, we had some help from four Punahou students earning community service hours.  Denise mentors them, we appreciate their help, and they have fun as they make a difference.  This is what community service is all about.

Jasmine and Maya sliced bananas to add to the ambrosia.  

Devin and Jasmine started by mixing up gallons of dehydrated potatoes.
Then they moved to mixing the meat.

Once the meat is cooked, everyone helps layers of vegetables, mashed potato, and cheese.  

In just over an hour, the finished trays head out the door and are on their way to IHS shelters.  

Give thanks for those who give their time.
Don't forget to pray!  

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Lesson in Technology

Once upon a time, when you spent $70 on a piece of something that plugs into the wall (like a lamp or a radio or an electric blanket), you expected it to last for a day or two.  More literally, more than just a day or two.  Even more than just a year or two.

Yes, Technies in the readership, you may now laugh.  ROFLYAO.  But one among you might have suggested a possible solution to my computer issues some time ago.

Ever since the current computer arrived, I've been complaining that it was only marginally acceptable in connecting to the Internet.  It arrived with a new virus protector, Kaspersky.  Kaspersky introduced itself by locking out one of my favorite California genealogy websites, one I use daily when I am working with California families.  Kaspersky said the site had a virus.  The website vendor said they had lots of false virus reports from Kaspersky users.  Funny, my fellow researchers were not getting virus reports.  I over-rode Kaspersky, and had no further "virus" problems, at least from that website.

Despite the protests of  Daniel, my very expensive computer service provider that he had never had a problem with Kaspersky being too sensitive or causing other connectivity problems, my brain linked new computer, new virus protector, and slow connection speeds.  Besides, I had been given very little reason to trust Daniel's ability to troubleshoot computer problems or to "think outside the box".

Then our museum in Groveland ordered -- at my suggestion -- a software package that magically transforms our database into a webpage, and a companion web hosting service that, with a single click of a button, posts that webpage to the Internet.  I was charged with doing the posting.  Couldn't post; the computer kept timing out.  

Gave up on Daniel.  Traded out the modem with my cable service provider.  Small difference.  Talked to tech support people at my ISP and with my cable provider -- two different sets of support folk.  Got lots of suggestions, including, "It might be your router."  Hey, the thing was only 3 years old, why would it be dead already?

NETGEAR® N300 Wireless-N RouterYesterday I trudged back up to the mall and asked the nice young man at Radio Shack about the life expectancy of a wireless router.  He smiled.  "One to one-and-a-half years," he replied.  We looked at routers, and he recommended one.

"Do you need it right now?" he asked.  "This model goes on sale all the time.  If you can wait a little, you will save $20." He didn't come out and say this would be on sale the next day, but sure enough ....

The new router makes all the difference.  I'm feeling smug.  Still not a techie, but feeling confident that it's worth trying to resolve problems on my own.  Without Daniel's contract price, I can just by a new computer if I cannot fix the problem myself.  That IS something I learned from Daniel.

Give thanks each time you can find a positive lesson is dismal experience.  Look for those positives.  Don't forget to pray!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Mall Walking

I'd been wishing for a walking partner to be my motivation to actually get out the door and walk.  So I was thrilled when R called and asked, "Want to walk?"

R prefers to walk indoors.  It's flat.  It's air conditioned.  You don't need an umbrella.  She suggested we walk at the local mall.

I'd heard about how lots of seniors all over the country get their exercise by walking in a nearby mall.  No mall space in Groveland, so it hasn't been an option.  It was a surprise to find out how it works.

Our mall opens early.  Not sure how early, but certainly by 7 a.m. when Long's opens their doors, and definitely by 8 a.m. when the Apple Store begins holding workshops and the exercise classes begin.  On Friday, Saturday and Monday, senior exercisers radiate out from the central court where their leader, Starbucks, Jamba Juice, and Cinnabon reign supreme.  I was intrigued that the leader gives each movement its Chinese name, then describes the movement in English.  There are Baby-and-Me exercisers on the circular carpet area in front of the theaters, near the sushi bar.  There's a hospice support group that meets monthly near California Pizza Kitchen, and assorted small work or study groups gathered in the quiet corners.  There are the knitters and crocheters, and those who come to socialize.  And there are the walkers.  There are fast walkers and slow walkers, walkers with canes and walkers with walkers.  There are the serious exercise walkers, the therapeutic walkers and the social walkers.  The vast majority are seniors.

It takes us about 8 minutes to walk the entire perimeter of the mall.  We walk for an hour.  We no longer have to sit down 40 minutes into our walk.  We've grown from two of us to three (all high school classmates), and sometimes four.  We smell the cookies baking at The Cookie Corner, and watch the pretzels rise at the Pretzelmaker's shop.  We cannot stop and shop -- most of the shops do not open until after we leave.

One of these days, I will remember to ask a security guard what the distance is around the perimeter.  Then we'll know how far we walk.  

Give thanks for friends -- and especially friends who keep you motivated!
Don't forget to pray ....

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Other Reunion

After months planning my own 50th-year-from-graduation reunion, and our celebratory weekend last month, this weekend it was my mother's turn.

Mother graduated from Kamehameha School for Girls in Honolulu in 1931.  That's 80 years ago.  That's before the Kapalama campus was opened.  In her day, the Girls Campus took up most of the makai (towards the ocean) block of King Street between Kalihi St. and Waiakamilo, across the street from the present-day Farrington High School.  She went to Kamehameha in 1925 as a 7th grader and boarding student.  It was a small, close-knit class.  Most remained lifetime friends.  Now there are only two from the class left:  Janet (Hopkins) Richards  in San Diego, and Helen (Yonge) Lind in Honolulu.  They are the oldest surviving graduates of Kamehameha Schools.  

See my brother's post, "Last Woman Standing?" 12 June 2011 for a short video of our mother talking about her experiences as a student at Kamehameha.  

The present-day campus is lovely and large.  It crawls up a high ridge in Kalihi Valley.  On a clear day, the view must be spectacular.  Yesterday, the campus was shrouded in rain clouds.  The Hawaiians say that when it rains, the gods are sending their blessings.  There were a lot of blessings given yesterday -- it poured most of the afternoon.  

I begged, pleaded for, finally demanded, accommodation from the Alumni Office to make it possible for my mother to enjoy the event.  They were quick to agree that we could have a reserved parking spot so she  didn't have far to walk to get where she needed to be.  Only after I asked did they agree that she could be shuttled up to the luau site in a Security Cart.  But they were hard-headed about pictures.  Even though they did not begin food service until 5:30 p.m., there was no way they could move her class photo from 2:30 p.m.  We finally had to call the Alumni office and opt out of the photo.  She simply does not have the stamina to arrive in time for a 2:30 photograph and then hang around until the program is over some time after 7 p.m.  

Enter the host class, Class of 1992.  If you are a 1992 graduate, if you know a 1992 graduate of Kamehameha Schools, if you know someone who knows someone -- let them know they did a masterful job.  The event was beautifully planned and executed.  But what made it special was their attitude.  They couldn't have been more gracious, more accommodating, more caring when dealing with their most senior surviving graduate.  Someone called my mother last Monday morning.  "We want you to have a photo taken," she said.  "Can you come at 4:30?"  Yes, she could do that.  

We arrived at the campus main entrance.  "I'm supposed to tell you we have reserved parking, and you would have someone show us where that is."  The guard waved us up the hill.  "Just follow the road to the top.  Someone will show you when you get there."   OK.  I'd never been on this campus before.  Gotta' trust.

Next guard, 1/2 mile or so up the road:  "Go up there, turn left, and pull in just before the tent."  
Found the tent.  By now it was really raining.  "Just park anywhere in there.  We'll come with the cart to take you up to the tent.   Oh, you need to take pictures?  I don't know if I can get the cart up there, but will do the best I can."  So I left my mother to the solicitous '92-er and trekked off on foot to find the photo venue.  There, a lovely young woman who identified herself as Kanani assured me that the electric cart could get to the front door of the photo room, they were expecting THE Class of '31 graduate, and that she would be next after the current class.  It didn't end up exactly that way, but did work out in a way that pleased my mother, and she did have her picture taken.  Along the way Kanani said, "If she cares enough to come, we'll do what ever we can to make her happy."  

The entire time we were on campus, Mother never went more than a few steps in her walker.  From the photo venue to her table in the tent over Konia Field, from her table back to the car, in the pouring rain, where ever she went she was transported in a little cart, usually with one or two men grinning broadly, listening attentively, treating her as if she were their own grandmother.  Someone brought her a coke while waiting for dinner.  The meals were all served by '92-ers.  They were still serving some of the younger classes when the first of the garbage collection crew appeared with their 30-gal bags.  "Pau? Let me take that for you."  

Mother said several times, almost wistfully, "All these people, and I don't see anyone I know."  This is a relatively new problem for her.  She's always been able to connect with someone in a crowd.  Despite its growth and influx of residents, Honolulu is still, socially, a very small town.  As the only person from your class in attendance, it was inevitable that there would not be many seated at her table.  But someone was there -- Mikihala, class of '36, who was Mother's little sister when Miki entered Kamehameha.  Classes of '41 and '46 were at the table behind us.  Then the school president, Mike Chun, stopped to greet her.  "You worked for the Rentons?" she asked.  "My daughter-in-law is a Renton.  And aren't you related to the Mossmans?"  Yes, his wife is a Mossman.  She a granddaughter of a friend of Mother's.  It wasn't such a group of strangers after all.  

Give thanks for those who practice the Hawaiian custom of honoring our elders, our kupuna.   Give thanks for those from Kamehameha Schools Class of '92 who yesterday treated an aged stranger with such care and consideration. 
Don't forget to pray!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sophie learns to drive

Before sharing Sophie and her new skill, check out my brother's post for yesterday, June 6, 2011.  Read about the Waikiki Surf Club honoring our father with a Members Only commerative t-shirt.  That's!

Meanwhile ... yesterday was a busy day.  It needed to be.  It was Ray's birthday.  There were lots of ways to remember him....

One was a picnic at the neighborhood beach park with a school chum who moved from Hawaii to Washington, DC where she settled and raised her family.  She's in Hawaii this week with her entire family -- her husband, their two adult children, their spouses, and the lone grandchild, Sophie. Sophie is 3.

After lunch the "middle generation" was off to climb Diamond Head.
There was some concern about Sophie,
who was not expected to appreciate being left behind.  

Mom played with her and her sand toys for a couple of minutes, then disappeared.  Dad moved in and played with the sand toys for a few minutes more.  Tutu -- Sophie's own Tutu -- took over from dad.   When Sophie looked around and couldn't find mom or dad, Tutu explained that they were changing their clothes.  Sophie had some juice and chips, then decided a walk on the beach might be fun.  It was!  

Sophie met Chicha, a Japanese speaker.  Sophie isn't.
There are few language barriers between 3-year-olds
who point, smile, frown, and gesture their way into friendships.
They played in the sand, swam in the ocean,
then learned about Hawii's beach showers.
Great for washing away sand and salty water.
There's no time to miss Mom and Dad
when  you have a friend.

Then Sophie discovered Chicha's toy.  
Chicha hasn't learned to drive yet. 
Sophie mastered the art quickly.  
Shift.  Step on the gas.  Steer.  Well, almost steer.  

Up the hill.

Watch out for the obstacle at the top!  

Fast is good.  

Is someone enjoying herself?

The tears came only when it was time to put away the car
and say good-bye to Chicha.  They lasted about 2 seconds.  

Make a friend.
Be a friend.
Give thanks for a friend. 
Don't forget to pray!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Manoa Heritage Center

Despite the weekend thunder storms and rain, a group from Daughters of Hawaii visited the Manoa Heritage Center on Saturday.   As its name implies, the Heritage Center preserves the history of Manoa Valley.   The site is on property belonging to members of the Cooke family.  The first Cookes in Hawaii were missionaries and educators.  Later generations went into banking, business, education and philanthropy.  

The first part of the morning was a tour of The Big House, Kualii, built 1911-1912 and now on the US National Registry of Historic Places.  Kualii, with its wonderful art collection, is like an extension of the Honolulu Academy of Arts. 

This small section of the living room is typical, 
displaying paintings by some of Hawaii's best known artists.  

Sam and some of the Daughters in the library, filled with books, maps, drawings, and more paintings.

In the dining room, two of a set of etchings depicting Honolulu in 1852.  
In poor condition when the Cookes obtained them, 
the images were sent to Bath, England for restoration.  

While most other rooms in this house reflect other cultures, 
this room cries out "Hawaii!"  
If it were in my house, it would be my sewing room!  
All those windows open to the great outdoors,
and the light is wonderful.
So are the koa chairs in child and adult sizes.  

Outdoors,  we met Ena.

This part of Manoa valley, she told us, sits atop an old lava flow,
giving it a commanding view of the entire valley 
from  the ocean (yes, there is an ocean down there), 

to the ridge at the back of the valley.  

The stone wall in the photo above defines the sacred area, heiau.
The only one of eight built in this valley to survive (after some restoration),
this heiau is estimated to be at least 1000 years old,
possibly pre-dating Polynesian presence in Hawaii.
The heiau is said to have been built by the Menehune, 
Hawaii's equivalent of the Irish Leprechaun.  
Some believe they were the indigenous race found here when the Polynesians arrived.  

Hawaiian dry stone walls, Ena told us, 
are uniquely designed to withstand earth movement. 
The larger stones form an exterior frame which is then filled with smaller stones.
When the earth quakes, the small stones slip into empty spaces, 
locking the larger stones into place.  

The gardens, like our islands, are filled with endemic plants.
This white hibiscus is one of them.

We gave thanks for the sunny weather during our tour.
Give thanks for something beautiful in your life. 
Don't forget to pray!  

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Hugs for Bobbie

Bobbie is one of those high school classmates I re-connected with at our recent reunion.

We were not particularly close in high school, but I wasn't particularly close to most of my classmates while in high school.  My social life, such as it was, seemed to center on church activities and with the few classmates who lived at this end of the island.

Maybe we're both just a little shy about stepping into new social scenes.  I count doing things with people I didn't know particularly well then and haven't seen in all those years as "new social scenes".

Bobbie signed on for our reunion quite close to the weekend.  Because of circumstances which were not her fault and totally out of her control, those of us who were counting noses and seats on buses didn't get the word until May Day.

The memory books were due at the printer that week.  Bobbie wasn't responding to emails.  Adding another head to the meal count wasn't a problem.  Getting a biography and photograph was.

I am not a telephone fan ... at least not someone who picks up a telephone and goes exploring.  Call someone I know?  Maybe.  Call someone I don't know?  OK, as long as I have business to conduct.  Cold calling a classmate to ask for bio information?  No way.  Well, almost no way.  If I'm backed into a corner.  Was.  Turns out she has an email account, but no computer. She'd looked at the snail mail announcement, then put it in one of those safe places you usually find about 6 months after the event.

Bobbie was determined she wasn't going to put anyone out on her behalf.  I was equally determined to have something on her page in our memory book.  To not have her in our list of people who didn't care enough to respond.  It was, after all, important that everyone who attended be included in the memory book.  It was part of the job.

I called.  We talked.  She brought me a photo.  The memory book got printed.  Bobbie was included.  She had a wonderful time at the reunion.

Bobbie, too, is a caretaker.  She's doing it alone, without siblings to support her.  Her mother has memory issues, which I've not had to face with my own mother.  She gets a week of respite each month when her mother "takes a vacation" in a full care facility.  But she is tired.  Understandably so.  She is experiencing some of the same uncharacteristic (for us) behaviors that I'm experiencing.  She blames them on being tired.  I call them depression.  Whatever the cause, it's comforting to know that someone else in similar circumstances is dealing with -- or not dealing with -- similar issues.

Bobbie stopped to see me today at the Queen Emma Summer Palace.  She brought an assortment of consumable gifts -- and a small journal.  "Journaling is important, you know." she told me.  She's right.  We talked.  I showed her how to find our reunion photos on Shutterfly.  We talked some more.   We decided to have lunch some day, and to do the Honolulu Zoo with cameras.  We looked at some of the flowers on the Queen Emma Summer Palace grounds.  We talked more.

I suspect we will become a mini-support group, and friends.

Give thanks for friends, friends you can help, friends who can help you.
Don't forget to pray ....  

Monday, May 23, 2011

Fifty Years Past

Fifty years and a couple of weeks ago, 50+ seniors from University High School, Honolulu, Hawaii
walked into Andrews Amphitheater at the University of Hawaii.   We left as graduates,
the newest members of the then very small group of alumni.  

Fifty of us survive.  
Thirty something of us gathered this weekend in Honolulu. 
For some of us, it was the first time in 50 years we had seen most of our classmates.  

We had a wonderful time eating, remembering,
eating more, visiting,
eating still more ...
and digging up even more memories.  

Here are the men -- or at least the ones we could corral  for this photo.
Front row:  Worldster Lee, Alwin Tokuhama, and Rauyl Nakayama.  
Back row:  Lloyd Sueda, Hyrum Wayne Smith, Jim Young, and Frank Satogata.  
Of this group, 4 are educators of one variety or another, 5 are businessmen, 4 are artists.*
Two are retired, the rest are thinking about retirement.
Multi-talented folk, our men.  

And the ladies -- more compliant about gathering for the camera. 
Front row:  Linda (Darling) Lloyd, Regina (Chun) Ting, Lani (Ka'aua) Bruss,
Karen (Knudsen) Gleason
, and yours truly.
Back row:  Maile (Crooker) Carter, Frances (Miyaguchi) Saito, Sandy (Jaber) Yamamoto,
Gail (McElrath) Long, Lucille (Lum) Massicot, Barbara (Ahuna) Wakatake,
Diane (Takamune) Anderson
, and Barbara Oyama.  

Of the ladies, 8 have degrees in education, but all 13 have been educators.
Five have worked in business.  Twelve have raised at least one child.*  
Between us, we have a bunch of grandchildren.
We relax with books, paint brushes, cameras, 
music, sports, needlework, and our friends.  
We are at least as talented as the men!  

We're already talking about gathering in southern Utah in 2013.  

*I can hear my classmates asking, puzzled, "Now how did she get those totals?"
**Photos courtesy of  Jim Young

I'm reminded of an old Girl Scout song:  
 Make new friends, but keep the old.  
One is silver and the other gold. 
Give thanks for old friendships renewed and refreshed. 
Don't forget to pray!  

Sunday, May 22, 2011


What would you think, seeing this guy trundling unattended downs a sidewalk in your town at the beginning of the business day?

Would you feel differently if the sidewalk was alongside the police station?

Yup, trundling along, totally unattended, this little guy took up about half the sidewalk, and stood perhaps 2-2.5' tall.  The sidewalk next to police headquarters in Honolulu.  That "head" up top turning slowing this way and that, clearly observing where he was going.  I wished there was a place to stop and take a picture, but alas, nothing was available.  At least not at 8:15 in the morning.

I immediately thought of this fellow, star of the 1990's film, Short Circuit, which pops up on weekend or late night television every so often.  His name is Number Five, one of five robots belonging to the US military.  While out on demonstration one day with his four companion prototype robots, Number Five escapes into the real world.  His two most repeated lines?  "Number Five is alive!"  and, always with great urgency, "Need input, need input!"

Number 5 is at least 5' tall.  He moves and speaks independently.  He has a quirky sense of humor, as any "live" robot would.

The other day I asked a police officer friend what it was I had seen.

Bill grinned.  "I've never seen it," he said, "but the HPD Bomb Squad has a robot.  They must have been practicing remote robot control."  The more I described what I had seen, the more assured Bill became.  "Must be the bomb squad robot."

My Honolulu "buddy" may not be as large or as independent as Number Five, but he really is a robot, and he really is a member of the Honolulu Police Department.

Wonder if there's a robot out there which can successfully track down perpetrators in personal property thefts, from a vehicle or a private home?  My brother's Ka'a'awa community could certainly use one these day -- or at least until the burgular in their midst is caught.  (Browse for more about the recent rash of Ka'a'awa burglaries.)

Give thanks for police officers all over the world who take to heart the motto, "to serve and protect".

Don't forget to pray.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Still Fighting

My friend decided he wasn't ready to die.  Again.

The vascular surgery, difficult though it was, apparently met its goal.  There is feeling where there was none only 2 weeks ago.

He has successfully transition from IV to oral medications.  That pleased his doctors, who were not sure the transition would be easy.

He has resumed physical and occupational therapy -- at the walk-from-the-bed-to-the-hallway level.  Each day he is able to do more, walk farther.

He must make some decisions about where to go when he leaves the hospital.  Is assisted living more appropriate than in-home nursing care?  What are the ramifications of living with a family member?  Will he ever again be able to live alone in his home of 35 years?  In which city would he like to live?

Big decisions.  But he is alive to make them.

Give thanks for each small step toward my friend's recovery.
Don't forget to pray....

Sunday, May 1, 2011

... one more time ....

About a week after Ray's passing, I called a relative in another state, someone I barely knew.  He had been widowed just days over a year previously.  "How do I do this?" I asked him.

He took it upon himself to help me through, calling me every evening and talking ... and talking ... and talking, sometimes for hours.  It was as therapeutic for him as it was for me.  We have spoken almost daily since that first call.

On Wednesday he had some very difficult, very delicate vascular surgery.  On Saturday he had what appeared to be several heart attacks, but which his doctors describe as one long heart attack.  He is in Cardiac ICU in a major hospital in a major US city.  His children and their spouses are with him.  Many others are with him in spirit.  Now he has personally placed a Do Not Resuscitate order.  If there is another attack, he will not be revived.

When he goes onward, my mother will be the last of her generation, the oldest member of her maternal line.  That must be a lonely place.

Give thanks for our kupuna (our elders) and the gifts they give us.
Don't forget to pray....

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Puppy School

Our neighbor sends her Labradoodle (dog, poodle/labrador cross) to school.  Gracie is not a puppy.

Gracie's teacher is loosing both her teaching venues this month.  She's looking for new ones.  Gracie's mom showed her our back yard.  Yard with enough room for a badminton court or a volleyball court.  We've had both out there at one time or another.  As well as an archery range

Watch for puppy pix after 7 May, when the first class will be held.  One hour for the little guys, 2 to 6 months.  Followed by a second hour for older dogs who have successfully completed Basic Puppy and are working on something called The Levels.

I'm a cat person, and I'm looking forward to having the little critters here.  My mother? She can't wait.

"When are the puppies coming?" she asked this afternoon.

Give thanks for little things that please ... as the mere thought of puppies is pleasing my mother.
Don't forget to pray.  

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Feed the Birds

My friends M and S feed the birds.  Daily.  Their favorites are the pair of Kentucky cardinals who regularly visit in their yard.  Mr. Cardinal is particularly friendly.

He knows when it is feeding time, and comes to the appropriate window to remind M or S when they are late.  "Appropriate" is a window where he can actually see one or another of them.

If he cannot find them in a window, he comes looking.  Into the roofed and partially screened patio.  Into the house.  Into the dining room.  Into the kitchen.  When he finds a person, he peeps a bit, then sings his melodious song.  S says, "Its as if he were saying thank you for feeding him and his mate."

One Sunday morning not long ago, S was enjoying coffee and the newspaper in bed.  She heard the cardinal's song, and thought to herself, "He's really close by.  Must be in the trees outside my window."  She went on reading.

Not much later, she felt something on her feet.  Something light-weight.  Something moving.  I'd immediately think gecko or cockroach.  Once would have thought kitten.

Peering around her newspaper, S found --- Mr Cardinal.  He'd come in through the open window in another room to remind her that the feeder was still empty.  He sang to her before she got out of bed to usher him back to the open window and the newly-filled feeder.

Smart bird.  Trusting bird.  

Give thanks for those wild creatures who brighten our lives!
Don't forget to pray.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011 the Small World Department ....

  • I am an addicted genealogist.
  • I have lived for many years in a rural corner of central California.  A very small corner.  
  • I was born and raised in Hawaii.
While doing some genealogical research on a family that is unknown in our California community today, but which is represented by several graves in one of our two local cemeteries (not the family plot pictured here, but same cemetery)...

then found a family tree posted on the Internet including the family.  Exploring, I wandered to the anchor person on the tree ...

and found someone who was born in Hawaii.  
Curious, I burrowed a little deeper.  Lived in Waialua.  Surname Woodd.  Daughter Jennie was 7 years old in 1920.   Bells ring.  Loudly.  

My mother lived in Waialua for a year when she was about 8 years old.  Her best friend that year was Jennie Woodd.  Same Jennie Woodd?  Yes!

Jennie's grandfather was linked by marriage to a daughter of the family buried in the California Gold Country.   

I have another distant and very loose link to the community in California which I have come to love.  
The world get smaller every day.

Give thanks for friends and acquaintances who form the network within which we live and move.  
Give thanks for the bonds drawing us together. 
Don't forget to pray!  

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Using that Solar Dryer

My mother doesn't like machines.  Not a microwave.  Not a dishwasher.  Not a mechanical clothes drier.  I suspect that if mechanical washing machines had been invented post WWII, she would still be using a laundry tub and washboard.  At least once every 6 months she reminds me, "Using the clothesline saves electricity.  It is environmentally friendly."

In California's Central Valley and the surrounding foothills, where once the spring rains end there is seldom  precipitation until the autumn rains begin, the Solar Dryer is easy to use.  Find a spot, string a clothesline, find some clothespins, and hang the laundry.  Wait.  In single digit (or less than 20%) humidity, everything dries quickly, with or without wind.

In those environments where it rains more often, effective use of the solar drier is a bit trickier.  Check the weather forecast.  Check the sky.  Clear,  cloudy or partly cloudy?  Sunshine?  Check the trees.  Is there a breeze?  Marginal?  How badly do you need clean laundry?

It's been one of those days.  Start early, especially if you'll run more than a single load.  Wash.  Hang.  Wash another load.  Hang again.  Wash the next load.  By now, most of the first load should be dry -- unless it was heavy things like levis and heavy-weight knits.  Remove the dry things to make room for the newly washed items.  Keep one eye on the sky.  Will those gray rainclouds drift over YOUR yard?   What is nearly dry?  Will it fit on the little line under the shed roof at the laundry tubs?  What is dry enough to bring inside?

Laundry on a rainy day doesn't happen.  Nor does an emergency load of an evening.  If you live in snow country, you know that frozen laundry thaws to wet laundry.  Plan ahead, plan to be at home to babysit the clothesline on the next sunny day.  Or marginal breezy day.

Clotheslines are good for other things, too.  Displaying quilts -- temporarily.  Drying old fashioned photographic prints.  A mount for Spanish Moss, that silvery-gray air plant that is loved by some florists, but seen by arborists as a parasite akin to mistletoe.  A support for a plastic shower curtain liner while treating for mildew.

Give thanks for sunny days when you need to use that solar dryer.
Don't forget to pray!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I'd forgotten about the USGS earthquake monitoring websites.  Used to check them daily.  Have gotten out of the habit while in Hawaii.  If the last Japanese earthquake piqued your curiosity, consider looking here and here.  Red lines are the fault zones.  Colored squares are measurable earth movement.  Mostly they are real earthquakes.  Occasionally they are construction blasting.  Geysers apparently generate measurable movement, too.

Give thanks for our ability to adapt to and co-exist with the geological and meterological events that occur frequently in our own back yards.
Pray for those in Japan and elsewhere who are now dealing with the effects of the 11 Mar Japanese quake.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Please Visit the Elephants!

My friend and former co-worker, D, visited the elephants who live one county north of her family's home near Jamestown, Tuolumne Co., California.  The preserve has been around for a number of years and has always been on my "Someday I'll get there" list.  Just haven't made it yet.  

Here's the organization's website for an overview of their work.

D spends half her life with her father and step-mother on the family ranch in California.  Then she climbs in her mini-motorhome and treks cross-country to Austin, Texas to spend time with her daughter and granddaughter.  Except that I could never happily drive the distances involved, it is an enviable life style.

Dream big!
Give thanks for those who care.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Baby Gecko

I was waiting in the car for my mother.  
A little gecko, not much more than an inch long, landed on the windshield.  
I grabbed the camera.   

Ooops!  Auto focus found the wrong target.

Right subject, wrong focus.

There he is!  

Watching me....  

Give thanks for small things. 
Don't forget to pray.  

Friday, March 11, 2011


The TV was off.  Mother was in bed.  I was working on a genealogy research project.  Sounded like the neighbors had turned on their heating/cooling system, with a higher-pitched whine behind it.  Took me a bit to figure out it was the civil defense sirens.

On went the TV.  News of an 8.9 Mega earthquake in Japan generating a huge tidal wave.  These days we use the Japanese term, tsunami.  Video from Japan is horrendous.  It's difficult to grasp the enormity of of the catastrophe.  

Hawaii was in the direct path of the most significant wave energy.  The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center predicted surges of up to 2 meters in our islands.   Most what we have heard since 10 p.m. last night has focused on local concerns -- the need for evacuation, where to go, the difference between evacuation shelters and holding areas (no shelters, just holding areas for now), understanding the new inundation maps that define who must evacuate and who can stay put.  We are warned that while the impact would be greatest on the north- and west-facing shores, the wave energy would wrap around each island, potentially causing significant water levels everywhere.

Our own neighborhood faces southeast and is protected by a substantial reef.  The beach is just over 2 blocks away.  My mother has never evacuated.  The house has never even been seriously threatened.  I remember occasions when my father was anxious, had us kids all excited and wanting to evacuate, but Mother stood firm.  We didn't go.

The new inundation maps put us 1/2 block inside the inundation zone.

Remembered my experience with forest fire evacuations.  Officials can tell you to go, but they cannot  drag you out of your own home.  You stay at your own peril.  Once out, they CAN refuse to let you back in until the danger is past.  Those were the days I was driving an official car that could go anywhere, even into the fire zone.

Did wake my mother and ask her if she wanted to evacuate or stay put.  I had visions of this 96-year-old person, tired and confused, barely able to hear or understand what was happening, trying to get comfortable on a bench in a school cafeteria or a folding metal chair in the recreation room of the neighborhood park, or in her walker-with-a-seat.  For at least another 7 hours.  No place to sleep or even lie down, no hot coffee.  No friends I know well enough to call and ask, "Can we come camp at your house until this is over?"  I was willing to argue with the police if Mother wanted to stay put.  We stayed.  I prayed.

The first surges came as predicted, just after 3 a.m..  At Waikiki and at Diamond Head, where TV cameras were monitoring, the surges were small but readily visible.  Flow up, cover the beach, ebb out, repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.  The ebb and flow was still happening at 7 a.m.

Most boat owners in Waikiki took their boats to sea where they could more safely ride the surges.  (California boat owners apparently don't know this trick.)  At one small boat harbor, the floating docks broke apart.  The boats attached to them smashed into buildings and other boats.  Damage was worse on Maui and in Kona, where the surges came up onto land, flooded buildings, causing structural damage.  Still haven't heard from Oahu's North Shore, from the Lahaina side of Maui, or from Hilo, the most tsunami-vulnerable city in the State.  Three major airports are closed, but Honolulu Airport is opened.  County officials on each island are out assessing the damage.

Meanwhile, we are warm, dry, fed, and safe.  We have water and power.  I'm going to take a nap.

Give thanks for the relatively minimal damage through most of the Pacific.  Do what you can for those who are most heavily impacted.
Don't forget to pray.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Good Book

Let it be clearly understood that I am an insatiable reader.  My best friends are books, or in books.  I will read almost anything.  These days, I multi-task, performing mindless chores like ironing or weeding or housekeeping while listening to an audio-book.  

I have a friend who is not satisfied with simply telling me about books he's read. Every so often an unexpected box arrives from Amazon.  It's a book from G, one he decided it is important for me to read. 

The most recent arrival is entitled "Fifty Miles from Tomorrow" by  William L. Iggiagruk Hensley.  It's cover photo shows 3 men, 3 boats, 3 American flags.  The scene is stereotypically Alaskan, the men are stereotypically Eskimo.  It looks cold, desolate. 

"You should appreciate this."  my friend said via e-mail.  

Hensley and I are about the same age.  He grew up in Alaska, I grew up in Hawaii.  He grew up on the fringes of civilization, I grew up in a city.  He was raised in a very traditional native family, one that in Hawaii we would call hanai.  I was raised in a bi-cultural home where one parent had no respect for my traditional roots, the other 2 generations removed from her native heritage.  Nevertheless, you'd think Hensley's and my life experiences would be roughly similar.  

Hensley grew up with dirt floors, one-room houses, kerosene lamps, few educational opportunities.  My mother grew up in the country with kerosene lamps and outhouses as a way of life.  I grew up in an affluent neighborhood, in a comfortable but not necessarily affluent home, had lots of educational opportunities.  That's not as unusual in Hawaii as it might be elsewhere.  By the 1880's, Hawaii was the most literate nation in the world.  An independent nation where every citizen was encouraged to read, write, and vote.  

Hensley was sent away to school, removed from all influence of his own culture, forced to speak English, punished when he lapsed back into his own tongue even occasionally and with his native schoolmates.  I am reminded of the Indian Schools of the Lower 48  one, two, even three generations ahead of Hensley and me.   In my mother's era, at a school now known for preserving Hawaiian culture, students were not allowed to speak Hawaiian or dance hula.  They were not taught Hawaiian history.  But my mother is of the generation of Hensley's parents.  

Hensley became an activist for the rights of the Native Alaskans.  His first focus was on retaining native rights to their traditional land).  He did not fight the battle alone, never claims to, but is credited with giving it a voice and a heart.  

I am reminded of my grandmother's response when, literally on her deathbed, she was told that statehood papers had been signed and Hawaii was officially the 50th of the United States.  "First they took my flag, then they took my queen.   Now they have taken my land."  

Hensley realized that while land ownership and control was important, there was a larger battle to be won.  
 “It wasn’t enough to claim our lands,” he writes. “We had to claim our ways of thinking, acting, and living.”   

It is a lesson native peoples across North America, across the planet, are learning.  It is a truth we  are struggling to retain.   It is what makes us who we are.  

Give thanks for all of those who step into the political arena to defend the beliefs, lifestyle and values of native peoples. 

Don't forget to pray.