Wednesday, July 31, 1991

Kathleen Carr 7/18/91

Kathleen Carr: "Inward spiritual, outward optical"

THE WISDOM OF THE ANGELS—Carr's photo "Eleven Monarch Butterflies: Big Sur, California.'

KATHLEEN CARR: "I learned you could use photography as a vehicle for metaphor."


It was an idea whose time had finally come," says Kathleen Thormod Carr of To Honor the Earth: Reflections on Living in Harmony with Nature, the Graton artist's photographic environmental essay of nature—the spirits of the natural world. The 110-page book, with 57 color photographs and accompanying text by Findhorn co-founder Dorothy Maclean, is the result of 15 years worth of nature photos Carr took during her travels around the world from 1972 to 1979. The book features close-up views
of pIant, and vast landscapes—the elements at work—photographs of Scotland, Indonesia, Peru, Greece, Norway, Mexico, Alaska and California. Also included are more recent shots of Sonoma County, where Carr has made her home for the past three years.

According to Carr, To Honor the Earth (HarperSanFrancisco) explores the central relationship we have with the living earth. "The realization of our interconnectedness with all life becomes particularly crucial at this time when the entirety of the web of life on this planet is threatened. These communications awaken the awareness in us that nature has intelligence and a spiritual dimension we can all share," says Carr, a free-lance and fine-art photographer, whose work has appeared in numerous periodicals among them Esquire, Yoga Journal, Psychology Today, New Age Journal, and Cosmopolitan.

Her photos have also been published in several books, including An Open Life: Joseph Campbell in Conversation with Michael Toms, and The Upstart Spring: Esalen, and the American Awakening. She has exhibited work in both the United States and Scotland. Her "Stone and Pool" was one of 2OO prints selected out of 13,000 submissions to be published in 10,000 Eyes, a 150-year retrospective of photography by the American Society of Magazine Photographers (forthcoming). Carr is a member of the ASMP and has two businesses: Carr Classics Card Company, and EARTHLIGHT Nature Images Company.

The eminent mythologist Joseph Campbell, whom Carr first met at the, Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, described Carr's photos as opening "to the beauty of the natural world by way of an inward spiritual, as well as outward optical, awakening of the mind's interest." To Honor the Earth explores some important questions: What is our responsibility in maintaining a balanced ecology? What does proper stewardship of the earth entail? What can we, as individuals, do to cooperate with nature?

In his introduction to the book, New Age philosopher David Spangler reminds us of what we've forgotten. "It reaffirms the existence of the community of nature, of which we are a part, a community of mind and spint as much as of ecology. Also, it shows us that we do have a power of consciousness, of outreach and communion, that can connect us with that community."

Carr, who received her B.F.A. in photography from Ohio University in 1970, said there are two primary influences in her work: One was studying privately with fine-arts photographer Minor White in Massachusetts. "I learned you can use photography as a vehicle for spiritual work." Interested in the idea of photography as a metaphor, she found she could express many levels of awareness and realization through her work.

The second influence was Findhorn itself—an experimental community in northeastern Scotland that made global headlines in the early '70s when vegetables of enormous size and vigor were grown in nothing but sand dunes. "What began as an experiment to see how well humans could co-create with the spirit kingdoms in growing vegetables and flowers became a show-place of spiritual law in action," wrote P.M.H. Atwater in Runes.

In 1975, Carr collaborated with Dorothy Maclean on The Findhorn Garden, a pioneering work of cooperation with the spirits of the natural world, which attracted international attention. They also produced Faces of Findhorn and The Findhorn Family Cookbook. Maclean, who divides her time between Seattle and Toronto, is a lecturer and author of several books, including To Hear the Angels Sing. and leads workshops throughout the world on interspecies communications.

Carr says that when she got to Findhorn in the early '70s, her job was to photograph nature to do a slide show; the focus was on nature and the spiritual essence of all forms. "I'd always been drawn to nature, I felt connectedness with it. Through photography I began to look more closely at nature. I started to feel the essence.... I am fascinated by the energy I sense within the forms I am photographing. Using a variety of techniques, I attempt to express this presence more tangibly. When I take the time to really see, I am filled with wonder at the mystery and perfection in nature and in people. I photograph to communicate these feelings ... to reconnect to the beauty and inner radiance in everything."

When Findhorn Garden came out in 1975, Carr received "a lot of feedback" from readers who said how the book changed their lives. "I realized I wanted to dedicate some of my photographic expression to work that would have a transformational effect on people's consciousness and awareness about the earth and caring for nature."

When Carr was selecting the text and slides for the manuscript of To Honor the Earth, she had an idea of the types of photos she wanted to use. "The messages came from the photos themselves." said Carr, who also designed the book layout. The book is divided into four chapters. The first chapter is designed to introduce people to the concept of intelligence behind nature—likc British biologist James Lovelock who coined the idea of Gaia, the earth as a single living entity.

When I questioned Carr about that chapter's title, "The Wisdom of Angcls," she hastened to explain, "The word 'angel" is not accurate," referring me back to the book's preface. "What Dorothy Maclean experienced at Findhorn was a force field with no form, shape or color. She used the word 'dcva.' Sanskrit for 'shining one," the word 'angel" is too loaded.

Carr referred to the experience of "devas" as more akin to plant biologist Rupert Sheldrake's "morphogenic force fields." These M-fields direct the shape, development. and basic behavior of all living species and systems, functioning as invisible blueprints. or connecting memories.

Chapter 2 deals with the elements, moving into matter. Said Carr, "When we move into our center, we are connected to everything on a spiritual level. This chapter is to remind us what we already know. How can we stop war if we don't have peace within us?" Going back to the self to affect inner change affects outer change.

Chapter 3 is on the, call of the trees—the only urgent series of messages Maclean received from the am dates back 25 years. "Trees are like the skin of the earth. If more than one third of the skin dies, the being dies." The fourth and final chapter focuses on cooperation—to present the idea of cooperating directly with nature in order to clean up some of our messes.

So far, the book has been well received and sold over 6000 copies in the fust month of release. Carr has given over 30 lectures and workshops in Hawaii and the Bay Area since April 21, many with Dorothy Maclean. She said every event has been filled to capticity—standing room only. Carr said the choice of gift/ coffee table formal for the book was deliberate because they wanted to reach a wider audience; they wanted people to be drawn into the photography—then to read the text.

The photographs featured in To Honor the Earth are not necessarily indicative of Carr's work as a fine art photographer. When I questioned heron some of the clichéd images used in the book, Carr agreed. "I personally felt divided—I consider this my 'service work,' caring for the earth, and I wanted to use my photography to inspire and touch people's hearts—to reach a wider audience." She said the style of a photo (what sells) can be in conflict with how she sees herself as a growing artist. She exclaimed, "My repertoire is more broad-based: I do black and white photography, nudes, abstracts...I had to make a choice."

The multiple-exposure shots of a rowan tree in Scotland and maples in Sonoma, with their experimental format, demonstrate a new direction in Carr's work. "I've communicated an energy, aliveness. a juiciness of nature—which is not present in most nature photography," she says, referring to a tight closeup of a sensuous folded poppy bud.

Making the book was not an easy prospect for Carr, who, in the middle of production, discovered she had cancer and was forced to take time to heal herself. It too became a metaphor. "The balance of taking care of myself and fulfilling rcsponsibilities and commitments became a major challenge. My focus had to shift to taking care of myself, To take the time to go inside; any act from that place has more power. If we want to create balance in the world, first we need to create it within."

Carr's work is on exhibit at the Q Gallery, 140 Stony Point Road, Santa Rosa. through July 3l. Some of her work will also be on view at the East West Cafe in downtown Sebastopol throughout August.


Sunday, July 21, 1991

Journal entry, 7/21/91, on the last flight home

7/21/91 on the flight home, I watched Robin Williams in Awakenings. The L dopamine story weaving of  catatonic events. When I opened the airplane windowshade I discovered that it was nightfall. I fell asleep, it was as if… Robert De Niro was fantastic as Leonard Low, the first encephalitis patient to awaken. I remember reading about the cases in the early 70s. And I was sobbing throughout the movie. It’s based upon real cases. Oliver Sacks was the technical consultant. I’m a big fan of anything by Oliver Sacks.

We are banking over San Francisco and I have lost nearly 5 hours on this flight home, leaving at 2 PM only to arrive 4 1/2 hours later, at 10 PM, San Francisco time. I opened my window to see the half moon in the sky, crepuscular, no distinction between sky and earth. Clouds becoming one, the transition of two elements.

On the other side of the plane it is deep sunset. Jupiter is visible on the edge of night. Above the declination line between light and darkness where the stars shine, the Big Dipper points the way north. North by northeast, where the darkness decisions upon us all. The bell curve of the edge of the earth throws its shadow against the universe, having harmonized with a moonshadow during the eclipse. We are all part of the universe. Periodic table is an absolute order, even within the chaos.

I thought I saw part of the Southern Cross, but I think it’s only visible in Hawaii during the winter months. But I have seen the Southern Cross shining over the Pacific as we descended the Nazca planes in Cusco on a similar summer eve.

We have not quite reach the apex of summer, and transitions, and many awakenings are about to unfold. Never have I felt so much at a crossroads, as now. Only this time there is a little anxiety or fear. I‘m cognizant of the events of change unfolding. Usually we go through cataclysmic change with only hindsight as our guide—unaware of the apex, or the agent of change until long after the fact. Recollection reflected in tranquility. Call it 20/20 hindsight vision if you must. I can see clearly now.

Journal entry, 7/21/91, our last day in Hawaii, Imelda Marcos

7/21/91, our last day in Hawaii, we ascend to the Valley of the Temples. To our left a small refrigerated tune is nestled among the pines at the top of the graveyard. Kathy points out the Philippine flag next to ours, saying, when Imelda comes to visit her husband, the place is filled with cars.

My friend can see her arrival entourage from her kitchen window. Imelda refuses to bury her husband in American soil. I asked who was paying for his above ground internment, air-conditioned at that. She said the people of the Philippines. Creepy to think of Imelda Marcos visiting her husband who is yet to be buried. In a refrigerated vault, he waits for the political climate to thaw so that he can be buried on native soil. And all I can think of is, does she have all her shoes stored in the vault too?

10,000 carp amass in the ponds of the Byodoin temple, the water is thick with their bodies. They make excited sucking noises as they anticipate food. The Japanese family is gathered in the temple, a replica of the Uji temple, built 900 years ago, to intern two loved ones on the altar in small brass boxes. I marvel how a human being can be reduced to such a small mass. The Abbitts prayer beads and two brass boxes at the foot of Buddha. I want to take a photo of his face in this house light, but it would be disrespectful.

We ring the bell, I love how the final notes resound through my body until my bones resonate too. 3 tons of brass homes a sound of deep calmness and peace. It is said to clean the mind of evil temptation. I believe it. I cannot think of anything else as I enter the temple.

On the roof, the phoenix waits to take the departed’s ashes. There is always spiritual hope. The carp align themselves until the shape of of water begins to swell, domelike. They symbolize order and perseverance. The Buddha of the western paradise watches over all of this. He is a 9‘2“ representation of Amida, a Buddha unique in all the world, the largest wooden Buddha carved in 900 years— 900 years is a long time.

Journal entry,/7/21/91 Rabbit Island, Oahu

Jp/7/21/91 Rabbitt Island I spent yesterday snorkeling off Waimanalo across from Rabbit Island and the fictional Robin Mx Masters estate from Magnum PI. Superb coral garden to the west, few fish though. I especially like the strange islands of coral that rose up circular like barrels in blue and green and yellow and white. The big Island still has the best snorkeling.

Kathie and I went to a beer tasting party in Kailua. Mostly military types. Kailua is that kind of town. People probably didn’t have a whole lot in common with us, I can’t remember their names but Kathie and I got to talk and hang out without David or Marilyn around. M. went for a drive and dinner again at Koko Head. She wouldn’t have had a good time at this party, guaranteed. Kathie and I suck back a few beers and ate great pupus, even pipipupus which is beef. To peepee is to go shishi. Tres chic. So you have to be careful.

We took off our swim pareaus, Hawaiian pronounce every letter, soaked in the jacuzzi. Most everybody was from the mainland at one time or another. There were a few Hawaiian boys in this haole madness. The hostess Joanne is small and dark. Joanne’s husband Buzz is in the National Guard, he’s a beefy blond tough guy with speech patterns to match. He seems sweet. A dollar on the billiard table builds the excitement inside.

Kathie and I sit under the eaves, fresh rain has fallen and cleared the afternoon mugginess  from the sky. Someone asks for a Moosehead. Buzz looks in the fridge saying, no moose heads in here, but plenty of beer.

Kathie explains Greek and Sicilian to someone and everybody think she is from the islands. I am tan enough that people aren’t sure if I live here or not. I went to the party in in order to see urban Hawaiian life. Most of the women were racially mixed, while we were white. Military is one of the biggest employers here. And it is colorblind. Kathy says local businesses were hurting when the military was involved in the war—especially the bars.

David works for the military, as do most of the people in this room. Not necessarily enlisted, but as civilians. David does carpentry maintenance and said he had to sign an agreement of non-disclosure—any information he saw or learned on the baselmstayed on the base. Clearance codes are like badges, he says, he doesn’t want to know what’s going on. Whenever something comes out into the paper, then he can discuss what is already public knowledge.

He had to sign an agreement that he wouldn’t disclose anything he learned for the next 50 years. The military is worried that the Russians might get those secrets. Ironic in that I just returned from Russia and I say to him, I’m probably on some list you know. David says during the Iraq war, dolphins were used to retrieve torpedoes. He said contrary to what people think, the Navy isn’t into killer dolphins. They’re too valuable an animal to use on a kamikaze style mission.

Glancing over the library shelves is always a good indicator of character. Both David and Kathie are avid readers. I find William Least Heat Moon. and Blue Highways is next to Larry McMurtry and the Adventures of Marco Polo. I’m too lazy to bend down and see the author. I figure the book is a classic, it’s been around for ages. Several of Isabel Allende’s books, Tolkien is de rígeur. And the Stephen J Gould trilogy. Coffee table books on The Beatles, Baez, the movie industry, Hawaiiana, London, and a fair amount of pulp fiction along with collector’s editions of Shakespeare, Little Men, and Call of the Wild, etc. 

I can’t write a portrait of a woman in a white room, my current passion, because this room is of paneled wood stained gray. I wonder if she’s happy here, or merely surviving life’s trials. They’ve both gotten plump from too much beer. No kids ever came along. She has a friend who started a Romanian child adoption agency. I wonder if she will pursue that avenue. I try to bring the subject up referring to myself saying that I have given up on having kids at this point because at 38 years old, I still haven’t found Mr. Right. but she doesn’t bite. The cats have become their children.

Friday, July 19, 1991

Journal entry, 7/19/91, Lanai, snorkeling in the Armchair

7/19/91 I grab few minutes under palm trees, a dock over a pond, I am on Lanai  Club  Lanai to be exact. A resort without walls. I am perversely feeding the carp and the mahi-maki. They’re stirring up the algae soup to a fine spirulina froth. This looks to be some sort of rough camp converted over to the tourist trade. I must admit if they can sell it, they will. For $21 more than it costs to ride the ferry, I rode a zodiac out to The Armchair. We snorkeled in the pinnacles, much better than Molokini. I’m just not cut out for these group activities, everyone packed in like sardines. I want to do so much more, experience everything longer than most people can find.

Sleepy afternoon in Lanai  I am not ready to go back to the Maui mainland. This is my last splurge before going back home. Snorkelmania a pristine dive spot for sure. Lanai is surrounded by a fringe reef and is quite shallow. And most of the 2,400 registered residents who live in Lanai City smack dab in the center of the crater. Lanai is a shield dome, or a dome volcano from the looks of it. It is arid except for the upper fringe. Hard to put a development in when there’s no water. 

The water here is brackish. Drinking water is shipped in. Maybe that’s why Mercer & Robertson of Lahaina in Boulder Colorado was able to purchase, or at least lease this land with established grounds in dwellings. Who lived here before? Three groups have this place to themselves from 4 PM to 9AM not a bad deal,. West Maui Mountains in the background. Molokai is shrouded with the clouds of shame, or perhaps grief. The world's tallest seacliffs contemplate the belly of the sea.

Lanai is farther west than Koho’olawe, another barren island planted with live ammo. Everything in Hawaii is transitory. The next time I come here, Club Lanai will either be gone, or evolved into something else. I’m having a hard time letting go of the Maui I once knew some eight years ago. Only Captain Cook on the big Island seems unchanged.

I am hanging out in defunct concession stand on an island surrounded by a moat of brackish water but the brilliant Bougainvillea is in bloom. Quietude and birds, mostly mynahbirds and finches or house sparrows. I’ve had enough of the sun. I wear my wetsuit jacket to protect myself from the sun more than from the cold. I’m probably the only single person here. It’s definitely a couples place or a family place. I am so sleepy, I have very little motivation to explore the rest of the island. then there’s the moat to consider. Perhaps I will doze a little while longer under the palm trees. Catch the last boat to Lahaina.

Thursday, July 18, 1991

Journal entry, 7/18/91 Molokini Crater, Makena beach

7/18/91 Yesterday we went to the Molokini beach, on a double-masted schooner, Lavengro, which is Gitano for lover of words. Aptly named. I waited for the words to come, but I was too excited being on the schooner. Pretty much anything with a mast and sails thrills me. And to be able to snorkel in such an extraordinary place, I had no words.

The westward sail in late afternoon with the wind pushing us ever forward, was well worth the trip, alone. I was in hog heaven. Everyone here, including the crew, is from somewhere else. Crew member, Charlene, who kept us in libations, is from Oregon, but most of us are native Californians. Nick, the first mate, who originally hailed from Flagstaff Arizona, now lives in South Point on the big Island. I tell him I was just there a few days ago. We bond over that shared moment. He says he lives on the makai side.

Nick said that Maui is 100,000 strong and that the population is expected to double for 1995. Almost every destination resort we passed on the way to Makena Beach is under construction. Big Island, where Nick is from, has 100,000 people but it’s six times bigger than Maui. I haven’t been here since 1983 and I am going into shock. Lahaina is a zoo. Wall-to-wall, no, shared-wall condos all up the Ka’anapali coast. The building boom is on.

Then, when we got to the crater, a half-moon, a steep volcanic cinder cone in the middle of nowhere, we dove along the inner arms of the crater wall. I don’t know how far down it drops, but even in the afternoon light, it was an extraordinary sight. However, snorkeling is never good in the afternoon because the ocean is not calm. We had to be careful that we weren’t thrust up against the sides of the volcano wall as everything was razor sharp.

A six-month pregnant woman who snorkeled with us, said there’s a baby boom going on in Oregon. The crew person, Charlene, said she just got two phone calls, one friend had a baby last night, and another is pregnant. It must be something in the air.

We talked about the Big Island, Nick says Kealakekua means pathway of the gods. I point out an old Hawaiian trail going up into the West Maui Mountains. Somewhere in those high caves, the aili’i are buried, Nick says, the one in charge of placing the bones in the cave was lowered down on a rope, then the rope was cut so no one would know exactly where the chief’s mana was hidden. Sacrifice.

One dolphin swims over from portside to see us off, but didn’t stay long. I was disappointed by the snorkeling in Molokini. Charlene says that during World War II, the military also bombed Molokini.  Perhaps that explains some of the barrenness of the crater floor. A hoop, what once was a barrel? A moray eel undulates lazily across the wasteland. Another displays his tonsils as I was washed over him by a wave. The water is unusually rough, and we are bobbing about like corks or apples. I stay out the longest, but no one, not even me, wants to go out for another dive.

On the way home, a line breaks on the mainsail, so we pull in the jib and the mainsail, then raise the foresail. Heaving seas drenches us every two or three swells. I wear my windsurfing jacket all the way back into port. This area of beach near Ma’alea has the fastest waves in the world. Freight train waves, says Charlene. I believe it. Those waves rip along the seawall with avelocity that would make Amtrak seems slow as a snail.

The sea was so rough, truth be known, I was glad to get out of the water when the dive was over. I was chilled to the bone. We had plenty of time to meet our shipmates on the way back. Besides, it was happy hour and the mai tais were as free as the wind and the waves. Nothing like a barefoot sunset cruise. When we landed, the dock felt like it was pitching as violently as the sea. As I walked to shore it felt like my knees were hitting my chin, I was bone-tired but happy.

Did I say Lavengro means lover of words, she says, it’s from a Tom Robbins novel. I buy a T-shirt how can I not resist with the literary name like that? It’s right up my alley. Melville jumped ship here. It’s a literary hot spot here. speaking of hot, I can’t believe Jack London wrote To Build a Fire on the beach at Waikiki, that place of swamps. 

The craziness of Lahaina is far from here. Lanai is by the pale blue shadow against an even paler  backdrop of sky. They’re burning sugarcane again in the fields, even this far out to sea, Molokini is nearly one league from the land. That’s 10 miles of burnt cane smoke drifting by the wind like seaweed. The indigo of the sea is more intense than lapis, and it is interrupted by lacy whitecaps.

This morning was one of those rare, clear ones that jackknifed across the sky like a can opener, revealing the silvery brightness of dawn. We could see into the hanging valley, where Charlene said there are the remains of a huge settlement. But smallpox and King Kamehameha, decimated the settlement. No one calls him a traitor. They say that the rivers ran red for days after after the battle, so many bodies piled up in the rivers, that the water stopped flowing.Then, the onslaught. And now the tourists come in droves to witness what is gone.

The cliffs of Molokai jab at the sky. Hard to believe that Haleakala was actually cloudless. Beneath the shadow of the peaks, it’s dusted green, where the rainshadow begins. Yesterday I was above the clouds on the rim of the house of the sun where Maui once roped one of the legs of the sun to slow it down so that his mother could continue her work on the tapa cloth. A tapa cloth tells a story, it’s a kind of writing. No wonder a woman’s work is never done, with men lassoing the sun to stop it in its tracks.

Today, we went down to Makena Beach, where most of the locals go. The Hawaiian surfer dude sitting in the crotch of the tree watches the sea. It’s been a long time since I’ve been here. Nearly a decade, a lot has changed. The Hawaiian is oblivious to the boogie boarders and tourists. He’s watching the outside waves. Suddenly the surfer stands, looks intently out to sea, adjust his net in the crotch of the tree, it’s like a huge jellyfish. Guess he’s planning on catching some dinner too.

The Hawaiian waxes his board, puts on his booties and fins. A butterfly surfs on the offshore breeze and is shoved back by the force. False alarm. He hand-signals to a friend waiting on the crest of a wave, who leashes the board to his ankle, reads the surf. Another outside wave swallows the surfers. Another and another. The Hawaiian in the blue trunks runs towards the sea, is airborne, but now the sea is calm. He is waiting for the big one. It is a fine art judging the waves like that. Waiting for the right wave takes patience. Boogie borders turn unexpected somersaults, a salute to summer?

A covey of surfers collects around the Hawaiian. From this angle, the water makes his hair black again. He is no longer the father of all of those children, but a boy riding the waves again, long before the infestation of resorts spread its malignant splendor along these once pristine shores.

Koho’olawe’s red mane under the tail of a cloud, is momentarily quiet. Last December, President Bush gave the former military target date back to the state of Hawaii. Over 1/4 of Hawaii belongs to the military. It is hard to fathom. For decades they bombed the shit out of the island, that once supported rare and endemic species, I remember listening to the adults rob of constant morning when I was here last living in Haiku near Paiaea. Koho’olawe’s sacrifice, now a red wasteland where nothing will grow. It bleeds into the reflections of clouds.

More starpines and ironwood trees wear yellow bows—yellow ribbons everywhere—even in Hana which is at the end of the earth as far as Maui is concerned. Bring them home. Hana folks like their seclusion. After the sugarcane refinery went belly up, they had to rely upon their own resources. Not a café or eatery to be seen in 57 miles down the one-way road.

The Hawaiian is back up in his tree. His progeny greets the next wave. It turns out he is a lifeguard sitting in a koa tree. The Hawaiian is going out into the surf with his net cradled in both arms. The son has built a fire on the beach. Slowly he wades out through the lava rocks like a cat in tall grass waiting for the right moment.

I remember watching the fisherman of Mexico, descendants of African slaves, casting nets from the shore in a much similar fashion. Being out on the water again reminded me of the Galapagos where we were 10 days at sea. We fight for the flat spot in front of the boat. The helm is the steadiest spot. The sea was the same indigo, fathomless depths. Such an impossible blue. Ultramarine. Literally.

Two enormous bombers fly low over the crater, ominously, a slow predatory crawl through the air. They circle back towards Koho’olawe like homing pigeons. Force of habit, I guess. The military presence is not forgotten here. Some things die hard. No matter that the endangered Hawaiian tern nests on Molokini, we’re not allowed to land on the crater rim, or face of $5000 fine. That’s fine by me, there is literally no place to even stand on the crater rim. The bombers circle again, perhaps the blood of ancient Koho’olawe attracts them.

The Hawaiian boy gathers up more wood for the fire. He says this is the first time I saw them there, they better not bomb this island.

Wednesday, July 17, 1991

Journal entry, 7/17/91, the road to Hana, Haleakala

7/17/91 yesterday we went to Hana, Hana means the end. But the road itself continues 11 more torturous miles to the seven pools of the seven virgins. I took a photo of a young girl crouched at the lower lip of the last pool, called the Virgin.

It is a long ride back from Hana, each canyon, the foliage more spectacular than the last. Bamboo forests, Ohia, silvery and glistening in the mist. Rain shadow, This area gets 400 inches a year and keeps the green blaze verdant. We gaze out to a rocky settlement, where George Howell’s uncle who was the island doctor lived.

I went out to the 16 mile marker from Paia where WS Merwin lives, remembering the road down the ridge to the sea. I found a stalk of tuberose that someone had left. A new grave at the top of the Pali, only clue, a rusted chain and a heart-shaped metal Hawaii dog license. Someone’s beloved pet overlooks the ancient Hawaiian harbor that WS Merwin has protected for so long.

This is the place that Will Staple took me to, where the deep music of the surf boulders rang a cacophony of bells beneath the waves. There is a leanto on the beach. Hawaiians still use this place, it has the magic still. Wild orchids tumble off the edge of a cliff, the blue surprise of tropical sea against the darkness of lava. In the mango forest there is an ancient Hawaiian village buried under dense jungle foliage. We explored it as we gathered mangoes. The gardens are still growing taro plant.

On the way to Hana I swam at a waterfall pool which was the perfect temperature, the water from the cloud forests of Haleakalā, mirrors the green harmony of the forest. And then a man named Michael who dove from the cliff 20 feet or more above me, led me to a hole behind the waterfall. I had to step in and down 2 1/2 feet and then lean back up into the hole until I was behind the waterfall. The hole, small and dark, was filled with all my unknown childhood closet monsters.

Maui the Mischievous, fished these islands up from the sea. Haleakala, house of the sun where Maui stood to share the sun and slow its passage across the sky so lies his mother, Hana could work the tapa cloth. Haleakala peeks out once, on the way home. where the peninsula juts out into the sea.

When the fog lifted, revealing the eye of the Iao Needle, small white bird circled, giving a sense of scale to the West Maui mountains. I gathered fallen plumeria blossoms and tossed them into the rivers. Whitewater, Kea, as soon as the fog had lifted, the rains began, but paradise is like that, only revealing a fraction of her bounty. To stare into that terrible beauty of Medusa turned men into stone. Her hair fell into the sea. This is how the coral came to be.

There are living stones wrapped in ti leaves at every site I stop that. I take photos, and I touch the stones for good luck. They are warm, like sleeping cats. Everywhere stray cats and warm stones. I carry olivine stones from South Point with me to Haleakalā. Is it is not from the volcano? I hope that Pele will understand my need for green stones. I share them with the children. We write poetry, adding to the deeper mystery of stone.

They say the stone speak guttural low whispers. Certainly they’ve taught the rivers here how to speak. Somewhere above me is Pu’u Kukui, it rises up some 5788 feet Pu’uhonua, place or sanctuary of kukuis, oil for the bodies of the fallen Hawaiian warriors who fell, blocking the streams. Candlenut trees to oil the bodies of the ali’i, the royalty, whose bones still sleep in these mountains.

Some blue sky at last. Finally the voices are upon me and I feel the stirrings of a poem asking for speech. I am an imperfect receiver. Sometimes they come and I cannot hear them, but I am mouthpiece, I savor the words in my mind, rolling them like small warm stones against the sea, polishing them until I can build a structure of language, of thought, a dwelling for the tired heart to speak to seek solace, or refuge.

On White Hill Pu’ukea I created a circle, dropping the Oliveine crystals in the four directions beginning in the north, without thinking, it seems natural. Looking out over the crater I see Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, the long mountain, I can even make out Cook’s Bay, Keylakekua. I think of Oleg and Eddie in turn.

Last time I was here I rode up the mountain with Will Staple and Gary Snyder in the very same truck I was injured in. Sitting beside Gary Snyder was a trying experience as he tends not to relate well to women. However, his presence, the cold, is magnetic, powerful.

Sitting zazen next to him in the Maui zendo, I lost recollection of time—45 minutes, maybe an hour of my life disappeared. He drew me in along with him, on the powerful riptide of Satori. We dropped Gary off at Halemau’u trail, and we hike down into the crater via the Sliding Sands trail. Sword plant was in bloom and all the cinders you could fix on in one crater, a lunar landscape—lava like the crest of a standing George Howell,wave.

Tuesday, July 16, 1991

Journal entry, 7/16/91 Kaanapali, Maui

7/16/1991 Maui Park Motel is quite nice, huge rooms with full kitchen. Windy but clear, the west Maui mountains are shrouded in fog, as ever. Lahaina was a shock, it is now a fast paced pick up town, what Waikiki used to be like. It’s very commercial. At 8 AM people are already at the pool drinking.

Yesterday’s flight from Kona was rough, and when I saw Kealakekua Bay from the air I burst into tears. At this point, Oleg is boarding a plane to Moscow. I tried to call him last night but he was out. We had talked a few days before and had said our goodbyes. I had trouble hanging up. The reason why I said I’d call again was to lessen the sorrow of parting. He says he knows that we will meet again, under what circumstances, or where, he’s not certain.

His cousin Vlad wanted to know all about me. And I said oh no, what did you tell him? Oleg replied, well, I didn’t tell him you were penguin. I am sad that he’s leaving, but there was no space in my life for him. I was ready for it to be over. I’m sure I will miss him lots when I return home to an empty house.

Meanwhile I was distracted by other things including Eddie, who is so obviously the wrong man no matter how much I am attracted to him. And also I’m tired of that married men syndrome not that he’s married, but he is preoccupied. I was surprised the attraction was even there even after five years, was it all in my head? What was I attracted to? Classic codependency symptoms? At least I recognized it for what it was  this time around. Also, the fact that he’s smoked dope for 20 years is a bit scary.

Last night I dreamed I was in high school. My neighbors were there. Alastair Ingram was playing on the sax. Piles and piles of dope everywhere, was it a cleaning school? I snitched a bud to give to George and Alastair but there was no need because more and more of it was available.

The night before, I dreamt a scorpion had stung me in my right palm. I was looking for someone to take the stinger out but no one would do it. Time was a wasting and the poison with soon take affect and I need an antidote. When no one was available I had to ride it out. I knew I wouldn’t die but the joy...

Telephone ringing. I kept thinking about Oleg, and when it rang, sure enough it was Oleg on the other end of the line. I had the day wrong. He leaves tomorrow. He said, I wish you well in your life, happiness, etc. I realized that he had never once thanked me, perhaps it never dawned upon him. Different culture?

Natasha, Vlad’s wife said, please come to New York to visit. Vlad’s mother, Inna said hello—another family member. I remember looking at Oleg at Inna’s house in Cherkassy, thinking he was like my husband. This was long before we were lovers and that intuition was correct though I didn’t know it at the time. The whole time Oleg was staying with me, he was saying, in my country we don’t do this we don’t do that. And now that he’s in New York he hears himself saying in California we don’t do this, we don’t do that. He’s afraid that when he returns home he’ll say in the States we don’t do this or that, and everybody will hate it. I said you probably will. Ad nauseam.

10 AM I have been up for two hours and I’m annoyed when Marilyn, who’s been up an hour, needs an additional 45 minutes to get ready. True, she sat outside giving me privacy when I talk to Oleg, but we have so little time here, and I want to get on the road, so to speak.

Down at the pool, I swim a couple of laps, some hot tub to cool off, pardon the paradox, or is it oxymoron. A man enters the spa wearing a cap, nice legs tan body but I don’t even want to make eye contact. I don’t know how old he is, and I imagine variations of Meeting Mr. Right, especially after hanging up the phone with Oleg who wishes me well and happiness, and luck in finding the right man.

This all makes me so sad because the right man doesn’t exist. We are all imperfect beings. Most are willing to accept those flaws, and adjust—only I can’t seem to find that niche and I am lonely for love. Probably the best thing about our relationship was the sex, the loving.

I was surprised at how much Eddie, and John Simon were alike. Just remembered another dream I had told John Simon something about the hot tub. I can’t remember the dream. But the real man in the hot tub just a strange twisting dance to remove some thing from his shoe. His ass is too tan for him to be a tourist. He’s very tight like Jim Byrd, another violence waiting to be born.

As I approach my 40th decade, I am quicker to sum up the body types, comparing them to past boyfriends, mistakes I wanted to right, but say that would be to deny all the good, the new nihilism. I tend to lump all the pain into one category that equals mistake.

Serial monogamy is a more clinical term. But I’m getting tired of all this yet another lover syndrome, new tricks and quirks to get used to, it gets so old quickly. At this point I prefer and on again off again relationship with the same man so I wouldn’t have to keep learning the new quirks. Perhaps I’m jaded but I’m envious of those who have working relationships.

It wasn’t quite there with Oleg, too many problems in the way. We could overcome some of them, perhaps. But then his children remain insufferably with Nadia, and for their sake he’ll have to go back home to live with it. The hell. Because there is nothing else he can do.

We only have so many options we are capable of comprehending. His viewpoint is much smaller than mine, his worldview as well, though he is a quick study. As I keep saying, I have mixed feelings about his leaving. I don’t want to experience the sorrow or grief, I’m not even sure it’s there.

Why was I crying I left Kona, was I crying for all the starcrossed lovers along the way and those who cannot escape even themselves? Kealakekua Bay eases into the land. Eddie took us out to where Captain Cook met his unfortunate demise. Eddie says he was probably eaten on Napoopoo Beach, the Sandwich Islands indeed. With poi. Snorkeling at the Captain Cook monument was  fantastic.

In my hotel room is the rendition of Cook’s voyage with the Kealakekua Bay enlarged. so many constant reminders of Eddie in the big Island. Some quirk of fate, larger than family, has thrown us together. He is a puere, his mother says, a boy and a man’s body, the eternal Peter Pan syndrome.

Nina asks what have I done wrong as a parent? I’ve read about toxic parents—we gave him love, perhaps too much love. But she is overbearinglynopinionated, a strong Catholic woman, not unlike John Oliver Simon’s mother. John considers me an ex-wife, though we were never married. Oleg considers himself my husband, but he is already married. Something in me perhaps the Catholic, can’t escape the dilemma of multiple mates, yet if you look at most cultures, affairs continued in spite of the marriages. Even in Polynesia where love is freely given.

I’m becoming ka’aina, returning again and again to these islands. More love flows through me like the tides. I have no attachment to it. Eb and flow. To each his own. If Ed and Kim are happy, who am I to say anything? I can’t fix the world. I don’t mind talking about it to Nina but she is a venomous lady when riled, and anything I say will become a weapon in her hands so I am careful and keep stum. She is a lawyer after all.

Saturday, July 13, 1991

Journal entry, 7/13/91, on the way to the volcano

7/13/91, I never got a chance to write about the other day—on the way to the volcano, I got to explore South Point, the southernmost place in the United States. after disturbingly long drive down the side of the volcano with myriad switchbacks I reached land’s end. Black sand beach, an ancient Hawaiian settlement, a heiau, a blowhole, and a tunnel through lava cliffs to another underground tunnel that leads to the sea.

Two boys swam through it, but I didn’t as I was too scared, and I was utterly alone. A haole among the aina. The racial tension was palpable. I don’t stay long and continue on my way up to Volcano where I ran into Garrett Hongo who works in the bookstore gift shop, and we spent the afternoon talking of poetry.

I watched the frothy waves sing the new black sand into being at Kaimu Black Sand Beach in Kalapana. In 1990, when the volcano erupted, it covered the beach in lava and ash. Amazing to see erosion in action.

At the lava fields, we saw where the lava flows into the sea and the sides of Kilauea glowed red like embers from a forest fire. You could actually see the red glow of the caldera against the skyline at night. But the best of all, were the lava tubes, smooth pahoehoe that traveled underground and spilled into the sea.

A molten river of rock. Explosions of steam and lava better than fireworks and everyone food and odd as each spectacular flow lit the night sky. Grandmothers and babies witnessing the creation of new land along with the rest of us. We traveled one and a half miles over newly minted lava flows.

Today as I snorkeled in Ke’ea Bay, I had a new understanding of the formation of the land because I had seen it in the making. Like with the eclipse, there was no possible way to prepare oneself for the experience. You had to be there. 

At the Waikaloa Hilton, a fantasyland resort along the lines of Disney World with trams, boats, replete with false lagoons pools, hot tubs, both hot and cold water falls, dolphins…you name it. Everything was over the top. 

At the bar of Dona Tahiti’s restaurant, after a leisurely boat cruise, I eat pistachios. Opulence, extravagance, any latinate word will do—it is certainly gorgeous but I’m beginning to feel a little crazy. A blonde waitress from Moscow seats the couple next to me. She is prikrasnaya. I am thinking between languages.

Friday, July 12, 1991

Found art at Kihei Beach

In the bushes at Kihei beach, by the parked car, there is a half of a blue mannequin, just the lower half of him and he is hollow. I place a flame tree flower into the cavity of his body. It took me a long time to notice the babies in that tree, kewpie dolls, like the ones are used to play with. Part of me is disturbed by these images. Meanwhile the mynah birds squabble in the understory.

Journal entry, 7/12/91 another postcard from O

Journal entry, 7/12/91 I get another postcard from Oleg, he’s getting the publicity and the attention he craves, the importance of man, with a capital M. And no females need apply. I enjoy his wit, perhaps I can enjoy more later. The break was necessary. I am not missing the relationship as much as I thought I would. 

I’m troubled by E. I see so much wrong, and I can’t save myself, let alone, the others. I’m not in the revival ministry of broken hearts and codependency. What I need is a healthy relationship, no 40-year-old puere stuck at age 16, though brilliant, addictive, and not self-motivated, drifting through life. It’s so intense an experience to  really see and to not be fully cognizant is an oxymoron. He reminds me of an admixture of past boyfriends—so achingly familiar and dead wrong. I know why he lets K sleep in, it’s his only solitude. She is incredibly gracious, has all the hostess motions down pat, but it’s a carefully reconstructed world. Nina says she was an abused child and it fits. Developmentally, it’s as if she was arrested at the level of an adolescent child. 

Codependency requires that each partner maintain the net of illusion for the other. The ultimate addiction. Persuasive, and evasive, it requires a tremendous amount of upkeep to maintain the illusion.

I am troubled by a dream, I’m with Oleg and we’re in a tall building, perhaps a school, and what seems to be admiring students surrounding us. It’s a reception of sorts. Igor Zabudski is there, perhaps in New York and he wants to thank me personally for getting him the Mac. I know nothing about it, and I don’t want to meet him. I don’t very much like him, but Oleg shoves me into a room and Igor is literally shaking my hand, thanking me for all that I’ve done. Wet, clammy hands. Not until I’m awake, do I realize he was standing, no longer bound to his wheelchair. A dream miracle.

I remember another image about a young blonde girl in red. We interact but I don’t know the context, and I can’t remember the details. I wake up too early, and can’t get back to sleep. The volcano is beckoning. 

On the eve of the eclipse, I fell asleep too early. Marilyn was sitting on the edge of the bed, and I swear a presence, tall and green, came through the door. oh great, what ghost is this? I screamed, having no clue or warning. Maybe it was the food or stress. I’d had a lousy dinner at Hugo’s and was terribly annoyed with Marilyn for hurrying me through the city of refuge so she could prepare for a night on the town with Eddie and Kim—which was moved up from 5 PM to 4 PM, so I only got 30 minutes snorkel time in before she wanted to go home. 

We were going to go downtown and shop too, but she managed to fritter away 2 1/2 hours getting ready, and for what? Too many times I’ve been waiting for her while she meticulously groom herself, and we don’t accomplish what we set out to do—due to a lack of time. I get frustrated but that’s not the answer. 

As Luis Kong said, we need to set limits, in this case time, just like with Oleg, and adhere to them. Otherwise I become equally codependent. Slowly I’m learning, my friends, my family my loved ones, are my teachers. I feel I have a heightened understanding of those processes I’ve been blind to all my life. Whether or not I can progress is the real issue as recognition is only half the battle of self-awareness. Or should I articulate, self-actualization. 

There’s much I don’t like about others; it must be something I dislike within myself as well. With John, I came apart, and when I put myself back together., I kept some of the old pieces, but they didn’t fit well into the new puzzle and I didn’t know what to keep, or what to discard. It was almost as if I got dressed in the dark with no regard to the order of clothing, or direction. 

Today my nightgown is on inside out. I put it on in the dark. It is equally functional either way, it is still a nightgown, but inside out, it suggests a lack of social awareness or control. Exteriors, how others view us. I feel out of sorts, so much controls us. Reined in. When boundaries are crossed, threatened, or removed, we are out of control, and that is a dangerous sensation of course, and it also suggested artificial control that doesn’t emanate from within the core. A shaky foundation, a false structure, something to be examined closely.

Thursday, July 11, 1991



Moon bites
the   Sun's  lips.
A circle of darkness:
the umbra descends like a

tent across the barrier of clouds
as if companion light was trapped

deep in the arms of summer, remembering
the past as blue as dreams of fish wanting to

be water, becoming water.  The birds, just finished

with the morning song, begin a hurried evening chorus.

Dawn winds reverse directions. When Perseus threw Med-

usa's shining head into the sea, the algae turned to coral. We

look directly at the sun, and we are not turned to stone.  A chil-

led, primeval silence: stars surround the corona. It's a sun flowering

with serpents of light; a vast  e y e,  a hole opening into the universe.

But if the moon is moving away from the earth, total solar eclipses

are doomed to extinction.  Between the silhouetted moon's mount-

ains— solar flares, Bailey's beads, & the dazzling diamond ring.

The ocean winds & perplexed birds prepare once again for dawn.

A wild cheer is raised across the island for the prodigal sun.

We clap, cry & rejoice. A couple exchanges wedding vows.

The end of totality,  I break tapu by casting a common-
er's shadow in the City of Refuge, and leave my pik-

ake lei on the stone altar to appease the old gods
but the Ailii are asleep; the sea turtle glides,

a raptor over the sleeping coral. Ris-
ing tides pull at me,  a shim-
mering storm, wanting
to be  air, becom-
ing air.


1992 Chaminade Literary Review

this isn't going to work on Blogger, shape will be lost

Journal entry, 7/11/91 Kihei Beach

7/11/91 Kihei Beach requires a quick plunge and though I am beyond tired, my breath is taken away by the beauty and the depth of the water. I am still irate with both Kim and Marilyn, as their daily ablutions preparing for an event sometimes takes longer than the event itself. Such vanity. whereas I just want to get on with it, I don’t care how I look.  I stop in at Ed and Nina’s at Toad Hall and vent my frustration. I am disturbed by the relationship, it seems unhealthy, but illusion is powerful magic—as long as it sustains them they will continue to thrive, and I hope they do. I have no desire to offer advice, or rescue anyone, though his mother would dearly love it. I have been gone all day. They will all think that I have drowned.

Journal entry, 7/11/91, total eclipse of the sun

7/11/91, total eclipse of the sun. I actually saw the solar flare of the sun’s corona with the naked eye, red verging on magenta. And I could see the surface of the moon. Totality lasted four minutes but it felt both timeless, and only one second long before the diamond ring burst forth. On the beach a couple was getting married.

We sat within the sea wall arms of the place of refuge and offered our very consciousness to the sun and moon. But we didn’t see the moon’s shadow descend, due to the light cloud cover. We were lucky, as the coast was socked in with fog earlier in the morning. It actually parted just as the eclipse began. It was as if we had made a bargain with the gods of weather.

Everything was bathed under a strange glowing light similar to candlelight. No sooner had the birds chattered and sung their songs to make the sun rise, they had to prepare again for the descent of darkness. As soon as they did that, they had to sing their morning song once again to make the sun rise. It seems they were confused as to which song to sing, and when. It was a very busy morning for the birds.  

I swam in the pool with my massive night-blooming cereus blossom, the size of my face, wearing a plumeria lei, visor and shades, I must have been a sight. I swam with the sleeping fish, mostly yellow tang, and manini, as the eclipse descended. 

The city of refuge was a perfect place to view the eclipse, there was a scattering of people. As totality descended you could hear everyone gasp, let go their breath, and a spontaneous cheer erupted as the diamond ring broke free. You could actually see the edge of the moon, the silhouette of the mountains and the craters. No metaphor about it. Nothing could prepare us for the actual experience, nothing.

Photographs don’t even come close to capturing it. It’s utterly magical, a strange glow, an umbra, followed by the penumbra. The air had gotten noticeably colder, and the wind stopped blowing, and the sea grew calm. Then the air reversed directions, and the sea rose. Never have I seen such obvious cause and effect, such sheer power, the forces of gravity at work. You could actually see the direction of the solar wind radiating out from the corona. 

I think we had clearer weather here than at the main viewing place, which was packed as a penguin rookery. The couple getting married embraced, a group hug followed. It seemed that the sun took forever to come out from behind the moon. 

We stood on the pahoehoe, or female, or ropey lava with our backs to the sea, it was mirror-calm, a glassine pond, without a ripple. I didn’t need a snorkel to see the fish. There was a timelessness to the event, we felt bound to each other and wedded to time itself—suspended animation. No problem in understanding why primitive folks freaked out when there was an eclipse. It was a sublime event, a real harmonic convergence.

We went home, had toast with Cabernet Sauvignon jelly, and mimosas made from Eddie’s own tangelos and Napa Mummchampagne. We watched the televised event again. Eddie had pre-recorded it, but the cameras did not capture even half of what we witnessed or experience. However, it was wonderful to be able to replay the clips on the TV. They showed shots from the Maunakea Observatory. 

And to think we had clearer skies than the designated eclipse viewing spots on the northern Kona Coast. It’s a somehow fitting that we watched in the very place, Honaunau Bay, where Captain Cook met his untimely end in the Sandwich Islands. If only he had made it to this side of the bay, to the city of refuge, the ali’i would have had to given him refuge, and he would’ve lived to tell the tale, instead of becoming the main course. Instead, he wound up in someone’s stew pot. 

I gave my night blooming cereus blossoms, dream-white with lemon yellow stamens, so like ostrich feathers quivering at the site slightest breeze—as a gift to the sea.

Later on in the afternoon, I came back to snorkel in this same pool, there are two perfectly round lava pools here, the one I’m sitting in front of now, is a reflecting pool, higher than the sea. We sat between the two pools, a spot Ed had picked out. Those 6 AM scouting parties paid off, we had the best seats in the house. 

I also later snorkeled in Honaunau Bay, entering it from the lava flow in front of the heiau. It was as magnificent as I had remembered, the most outrageous coral gardens on earth. I saw myriad unicorn fish, and a lot of fish I have never seen before. I braved swimming outside of the reef and was startled to see a strange creature in the canyon in front of me. I swam with the sea turtles for nearly a half an hour. 

A couple I had met earlier, played tag with this creature, he said he tried to hitch a ride but the turtle’s shell was slippery. We swam out around the point where the bay drops off 30 feet and we found an even larger spotted turtle.

Unicorn fish, orange and black and blue and white scribbled file fish, an orange trumpet fish, surgeonfish, Moorish idols, threadfin and long-nosed butterflyfish, ornate wrasses, several types of parrotfish, Achilles’ tang, sargent majors, blue jacks, anglerfish, purple surgeons, Picassofish, or humuhumu triggerfish, angelfish, damselfish... I spotted at least 50 species and some that I can’t even find in my fish books and I’m not including the gobies, the lizard fish, the tetras, the neons, and all the other aquatic fish we’re familiar with. mudskippers, a turkey fish, I forgot about the grunts, the coris, and the blennies and sculpins.

The Hawaiian kids that I swim with earlier, thrashed about in the lava pool, once a sacred fishing pond of the royalty. A boy takes off his snorkel and turns it into a conch horn. The sound reverberates up the mountains. My day is now complete. I leave my lei at the heiau altar. Yesterday’s ti leaf and coral intact. There are many more leis, offerings to the older gods as well as to the gods of science. 

It’s beginning to rain as it does each afternoon. And I am thankful to be alive on such a day as this.

Tuesday, July 9, 1991

Journal entry, 7/9/91, City of Refuge, Big Island

7/9/91, Big Island At least I am consistent as to when I wake up. 7:30 AM and my biorhythm is kicking me out of bed and to the curb. Meanwhile, Marilyn snores deeply. I like the stillness of the house. Yesterday we stopped up by to see Ed and Nina’s Victorian house that they built from scratch, called Toad Hall, a monstrosity that has them asking why did I build this house? Ed loves it. He says the only way he can stay retired is to be here in Hawaii working on the house. He was a labor lawyer. The good fight.

Soon it will be the seventh hour of the 11th day of the seventh month, the belief in the promise of sanctuary: pu’uhonua. And a total eclipse of the sun. Big juju.

In the City of Refuge, I find promise of sanctuary. Oleg writes that Texas is like the southern Ukraine and how he misses me. Yesterday the air was gray with volcanic ash. Returning to the sanctuary, I am reminded again of what I thought I wanted so desperately was like volcanic ash. How I desperately plunged into the sea in order to overcome the vestiges of another man—was it five years ago? Was it Geoff ? How they all break my heart, but this time it’s not my heart that’s broken, oddly enough. Just the residual flotsam and jetsam of another relationship ended. Can you ever separate the two?

In Pu’uohounua a honaunau, the City, or rather Place of Refuge, you were not even allowed to cast your shadow on the outer wall if you were a commoner. I’ve done much more than that, I’ve swum pass the mouth of the tiny harbor where the kapu God warns of eminent death to all who approach. Kumulipo, the creation chant at the altar of the high chief. I leave a coral rock wrapped up in a ti leaf.  This place, keone’ele, is called the Royal Landing. The ki’i god marks the channel of Honaunau Bay.

It is said the heiao still holds the bones of 23 chiefs. Mana is spiritual power. And lele is a raised platform. People came here to be absorbed by the kahuna pule. In the game of Konane, a Hawaiian cross between checkers and chess, the object of the game is to make the last move. Sort of like getting the last word in edgewise during a heated argument. Yesterday, the volcano was active.

Kapu breakers included those who escaped the fury of battle. The fragrant pandanus, the screwpine, the walking tree, neither palm nor pine, stands tall on its roots, the tree of life, the nui coconut’s leaves clatter, a staccato, and the ohia, the first tree to grow on new lava, greet us. Both ends of the wall reach for the sea, it is both a barrier and a link, separating the royalty from the commoners. 

But it joined people together in the belief that there was hope for life in that place set apart by the wall, the pu’uhonua, But the heiao, not the wall, gave sanctuary. Mana, or spiritual power was thought to have remained in the bones of chiefs. But King Kamehameha II abolished the old religion in 1811. Still, people believe. Offerings of poi, rice, fish, leis.

Instinctively I entered the sanctuary from the south, from the seawall and approached the correct heiao where the sanctuary is given, wrapping a ti leaf around the coral rock and offering it to the right altar—because it felt right. I feel like I’ve passed the test. 

Hours later, when I read the guidebook, I discovered that I had done everything in the right sequence. I didn’t think of it, it just happened that way. Am I a noncombatant in a time of battle, a defeated warrior or a kapu breaker? 

I’ve been here twice now, given a second chance at life. What secret laws have I broken now? Seeking a new life here? What have I done? And I offended the guards, will the lava flow? Will the tidal waves ravage the coast, will the sun fall from the sky? When I leave this place, will all be forgiven?

Monday, July 8, 1991

Journal entry, 7/8/91 at cousin Eddie’s compound, Big Island

7/8/91 My cousin Eddie’s parents arrived from Orange County, and we all went out to dinner at the Terrace in Kona. I found out that they took a Russian language correspondence course in the 1950s—during the height of the red scare. Pretty amazing. Not everybody supported McCarthy. Ranger tells me that there is a Russian fort in the Hawaiian islands, just like in Sonoma County.

I tell them the story how my best friend Stephanie‘s mother who spoke Russian as a child, worked for the UN as a translator, and was blacklisted during the McCarthy era for speaking Russian. Probably one reason why I was fascinated by Russia and wound up going there to see it for myself. Of course my aunt Jane, Big Ed’s cousin is rabidly anti-communist.

Ed, Senior, my second cousin Eddie’s father, is also known as Ranger. I never did get the story why he was named after the Lone Ranger, plays swing jazz oboe with an Elderholstel group. But I prefer it to Big Ed, his other moniker. But he is a big rangey cool drink of water.

Big Ed picked up the dinner tab saying, it’s nice to have family here. Having been raised by the same family (my grandmother, his aunt), was taught to always order the cheapest thing on the menu and so I did. Luckily I love mahi-mahi and it was so good at $9.75, the other meals range from $15-$22 looked great, but I am suspicious of shellfish in the tropics. It seems odd order to order cold-water species in the tropics.

I woke up early with the dawn. Easy to do in the tropics. I took a long 2 1/2 hour nap yesterday afternoon, I could’ve slept in longer, but the temptation of a quiet house, my notebook, and defining the beauty of the morning in a tropical garden proved to be too tempting. I do need quality alone time. And I keep thinking of London, his thousand words a day, his short stories are not long, only 3000 words. Something I must do, or surely I will regret it.

Writing is not a joy, but I necessity. Too long I’ve been under the dominion, or is it a distraction of others, nine months of Oleg, and now Maryilyn. It’s no one‘s fault, I just can’t seem to sit down and write if I’m distracted.

I’m sitting outside on mossy concrete watching an enormous land snail slide across lava rocks. He has an elegant spiral streamlined back as if he were aerodynamically sound, but the mollusk crawls, well, at a snail’s pace.

The mango tree is ringed with fallen fruit, a crashing of leaves small clouds of fruit flies rising up to greet a new addition to their already veritable kingdom. There are more varieties of fruit flies in Hawaii than anywhere else in the world. The Hawaiian version of Galapagos finches but not so interesting to watch.

On Eddie’s photo wall, two postcards from me from the Galapagos where I write how much it reminds me of Hawaii. The temptation to re-read them is too great, so much has happened to me since I sent those cards three summers ago. How was I to know that John and I would break up so painfully? It’s been almost 6 years now since I have known John—three years in, and three years out.

I feel torn, seeing Eddie with Kim. Obviously they stuck it out after all. He and I share a similar attitude towards life, but he’s able to maintain a relationship, while I clearly, cannot. Certainly, I was unhappy with Oleg in my space, unhappy with many things in the relationship which spanned two years and included two countries. 

Nine months of living together in my small cabin helps to explain the probable outcome. Would it have been any easier if we’d had more money, and a larger living space? I suspect the living conditions merely exacerbated what was inevitable. In contrast, having two living spaces with John merely prolonged the inevitable—damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

But did I come all the way to Hawaii to obsess about a man when I could just as well have done it at home?

Sometimes I feel like it’s so American to stumble blindly through life, only after the fact, do I come to the conclusion that after piecing together pieces of a puzzle, the a-ha that follows. But I’m suspicious of the puzzle itself. What if it’s a structure I’ve invented in order to give meaning to something? Chaos is a random type of order. 

JournalI need to be careful of those too-ordered hedges in the garden but aesthetics always calls for improving upon what is sculpted by nature. Sometimes things grow wild and out-of-control on the leeward side of a tree. The dogs are barking, they are Hawaiian poi dog strays that Kim has been feeding on the beach. She is an enigma to me. Eddie, I feel I know without knowing him, because he is very much like me and we are twin-cousins, born a year and a day apart.

But I am even suspicious of that model. Always question the current model of the universe. It is only as big or small as our concept of it, whether it be a dragon swallowing the sun, or moonshadow. Keeping alive the mystery is also a part of the writer’s job. Unfortunately swatting mosquitoes is too. Kim is up. I need to find another place to write. Am I ready to to chat. No. A gecko chuckles, sarcastic little bugger. Mynah bird squabble in the mango trees, the heavy odor of papayas,

My ankles and thighs itch until I’m driven indoors. The desire for solitude won’t overcome the blood lust of mosquitoes.

It’s funny how location triggers associations, memory inexorable intertwined with surroundings. We bring with us the sum total of our lives. We can’t escape who we are, what we remember—we are like those snails carrying with us the house of memory on our backs, streamlined shells capable of withstanding hurricanes, or great speed, but we never quite get up to speed, or expose ourselves to the elements in order to truly test the arrowdynamic design of our psyches.

The odor of tuberose and orchid stumbles into the verandah with the heavy ease of tropical air. I can’t stop looking at the gardens, so many textures and designs, I don’t know whether to paint or write. But I don’t have any paints. So that solves that. Words it is then.

Marilyn’s awake, I’ve moved to the front porch. And I have a new set of cats for an audience. There are eight, each with their own personality and special habitats. They are small strays watching us with real interest. There is an intelligence behind their animals stare— like that of lemurs and squirrel monkeys.

Eddie comes in with armloads of papayas—mostly green ones. He said, if you let them ripen completely on the tree they’re not so sweet. Same with bananas—some green improves the flavor. Maybe it’s something to do with stored sugars—a reversal of corn which is sweetest after you pick it. Those carbohydrates, can you trust them?

Sunday, July 7, 1991

Journal entry, 7/7/91 Big Island, Hawaii, eclipse madness

7/7/91 I’ve been in Hawaii a week and I have no real writing to speak up. On the Big Island, at my cousin Ed’s place, I feel at home at last. I fall asleep for a few-hour nap after lunch. Island salmon grilled in the yard. Divine. Maybe it was the rum punch at noon.

Later, we went down the hill to Kona and sat in a bar overlooking the bay, the open air is redolent with moisture, an incoming storm. Rain, and eclipse countdown. I try not to get too excited, it might be overcast. I admire ripe mangoes against green miniature suns, and listen to the Japanese doves cooing, their quiet call has become a signature backdrop sound of the islands.

At Ed’s place in Napoopoo, we are miles above the sea. It’s been five years since I’ve been to Ed’s place, and everything seems so familiar, as if I had never left. The geckos chirping, trying to lay their eggs on the ceiling again. We can’t explain the properties of gravity to them. Little eggshells on the coffee table. I read that Jack London wrote 1000 words a day. How did he ever do it here? I’m positively narcoleptic.

Evidence of eclipse frenzy everywhere. From Tshirts to designer cookies. The camera crews arrive on our same flight, looking as disoriented as us. Do you to a late airport shuttle pick up, we barely caught our flights at all. All Aloha air flights were booked solid and they added 60% more flights said my cousin Ed, landing and taking off every 10 minutes. It’s a zoo here. The buzz in the air is palpable. Eclipse madness.

Saturday, July 6, 1991

Journal entry, 7/6/91 Tantalus Dr., Waimea Falls Park

7/6/91 Yesterday’s drive up Mount Tantalus was well worth the wait. Spectacular views of Honolulu, Pearl Harbor, and Waikiki below us. Diamondhead was breathtaking. We are in a rain forest. Lianas, passion vine, yellow ginger and philodendron bedecked the understory of koa trees and tamarinds. Other trees that I know not the names of, hale mua, aumakua, guardian spirit. Bananas were ones forbidden to women, they were kapu, the hale pe’a, the menstrual but. Hale noa, a place of kapu. We are all kapu here. Hale is earth, haole is strangers, invaders. Waikiki is the gathering place. Aina is land, Ka’a aina, natives. The old ones. Aloha means both hello and goodbye.

Friday, July 5, 1991

Journal entry, 7/5/91, Pearl Harbor, Hanamua Bay

7/5/91 Early this morning we snorkeled in Hanamua Bay, in order to recover from the Fourth of July. Waikiki was jammed. Fireworks like I’ve never seen, so many people all in one place. The sunset was a maroon fire. Fireworks against the backdrop were spectacular, if short lived.

Later in the afternoon we head out to Pearl Harbor, we’re waiting for the tour boat. I never thought I’d come to this place, but I am desperate for some alone time to write. I am semi-brooding, incubating material, but there’s so little time to write. I’m trying not to get frustrated with time issues.

Traveling with someone is always a compromise. I feel like I’m being railroaded. For example, the day we rented the car, I wanted to go back and get my camera since we were going around the island. But she didn’t want to. Yesterday, after Hanamua Bay, I wanted to stop at the blow hole, since I had a camera on me. She didn’t want to. I still haven’t had my Waikiki shopping fix because Marilyn didn’t want to go. Anyway other than that, it’s going well, in spite of it all.

I found a lei while waiting for the tour to the USS Arizona. A World War II survivor describes how the ship burned for 2 1/2 days, and there are 105 unmarked graves. A few years ago, I refused to go to the memorial because I am so anti-war. Now, I am ready to visit this place, though I dislike anything that commemorates war. It’s my job as a writer to record everything both good and bad.

Pikaki and magenta carnations on my lei, the heady scent of the islands. There are few Japanese tourists visiting Pearl Harbor. Marilyn says it is similar to the Germans not visiting Auschwitz. Yesterday’s headlines, revolution in Slovenia. It was quiet for so long, revolution and war erupting in the eastern bloc countries. What will come of it other than more senseless death?

The World War II survivor rolls off a litany of ships damaged during the war, beginning with the ships named after states. They are always she. The USS Missouri, Mighty Mo. My namesake. Then he adds those Ships named after cities, mythical creatures, and extinct Indian tribes: Phoenix, Oglala. They say you can still see the fuel rising to the surface from the USS Arizona even after all these years. Rainbows on the water. God’s promise of peace.

Yesterday, while I was snorkeling on the outer reef, a large moray eel followed me, swimming unafraid in the open water. I had to keep reminding myself that he was only opening and closing his jaws like that in order to force oxygen into his gills. But it was alarming to see all those teeth up close. Fish have altered their behavior due to so much hand-feeding. One young parrot fish nipped my finger. Peas make them hyper aggressive, a naturalist says. All that sugar.

Finally they’re trying to save Hanamua Bay, now that they know that the coral is really dead. Too much human love, people standing on the coral reef, not understanding that it is a living entity. And sunscreen leaves oil slicks on the surface of the water. The bay is dying. I am appalled by its demise. Requiem for a bay.

Still, on the outside reef, I saw many more fish, a school of manini grazing on the reef. As the surging waves tumbled above us, the fish tumbled and turned, their mouths attached to the reef like stems of golden leaves in a windy sea. Something about the coming fall, golden birch trees—manini means leaves Hawaiian, I once read somewhere.

I am haunted by the thought of all those men entombed beneath the bay, their bones like bleached coral. Japanese doves circle at my feet. This place of pearls. What was it like before the military destroyed this shallow bay? A tiny Japanese girl chases the doves, shrieking in proverbial delight. Did the dying men even have time to scream I wonder? I want to cry, disliking these tears of pity, of sorrow, and distrusting the sentiment behind it.

My body is approaching 40, and I am uneasy with my reflective surface, feeling the loss of a mate, I’m lonely, having little to show for my life except for obscure deeds done. Bone tired, I no longer know how to slow down, even now. Death approaches in sleep, occluding the day.

The beauty of tropical fish, rare birds of the sea, as they swarm around me, is almost timeless. I am mesmerized, and never want to return to land. A man who pointed out a fish to me earlier underwater, recognizes me at the Save Hanamua Bay table. Smiles in recognition. It must be because I am the only one diving in a T-shirt and purple leggings. No sunburn here. I like his smile, but his face is indistinguishable from the others.

The other night walking along the beach at sunset, another dark-haired man smiled at me. I smiled back, smiling only because he smiled at me. It was expected of me to smile back. I acknowledge you without having to speak. Nothing else was implied. No pick up motions. I get so hostile when this happens, not that it does much anymore I thought to myself—then I was busy correcting that statement. Never did happen much to begin with—not because I’m old, or ugly, but because I make myself unavailable to most people. It’s a self protection mechanism.

I feel particularly unflattering right now. I could lose a few pounds but MarIlyn likes to eat all of her meals—like Oleg—and my will is weak. I need more control over my diet, I need more exercise, but my calves hurt from the Waikiki shuffle. I fell asleep at noon yesterday. I never fall asleep during the day. I am continually tired. The tropics drains it out of you. Mynah birds, twice the size of sparrows, and redheaded cardinals at my feet like Christmas ornaments.

The World War II veteran drones on, his voice drops an octave as he tells a story of a Japanese man who came here, with tears in his eyes, saying, I am so sorry this happened. Auschwitz is ensconced in a white glass bottom boat over the USS Arizona, and it’s name is Pearl Harbor. The only pearls left are the teeth of the dead. Even the palm trees wear yellow ribbons. We are all weeping for the dead. On the memorial wall I find my last name in black and wonder if we were related.

Overweight American women sprout sequins flags on their ample bosoms. I am an anti-sentimental American. An Asian kid wears a shirt saying, Proud to be American, is indistinguishable from the Japanese tourists swarming in indiscriminate formations, like pulsing flocks of starlings into the sky. It is all group mind.

At Hanamua Bay I was surrounded by Japanese tourists who have little sense of American body space. I do something considered to be rude. I push back. My ticket says number 17, with a message, Aloha. Take pride in America. Can I take pride without liking the hyperbole associated with patriotism?

The guide tells us, At 7:55 AM on December 7th, 1941, the USS Arizona sank in less than nine minutes—on a Sunday morning. What prayers were offered up?

Wednesday, July 3, 1991

Journal entry, 7/3/93, Oahu

Journal entry, 7/3/93, Oahu when Perseus threw Medusa‘s head into the sea the snakes turned algae into stone and coral. A sign of good luck. Rapture of the deep. At the iron gate on the old Pali Road, a Styrofoam cross and a faded red shirt, small black squares like raisins tied to the tip of An ohia tree. I throw píkake blossoms, someone’s abandoned lei. Hordes of Japanese tourists doing everything en masse, like the random choreography of starlings. Someone’s remembered suicide, the Pali winds didn’t blow him back up, like in the legend. No reprieve. But even though today there is no wind, wind blowing floral offerings to the gods of the sky. A suicide remembered. Tomorrow is the Fourth of July. And patriotism makes me nervous. Oleg found our graveyards strange. Red flowers equal death on all the graves. A mynahbird pecks at a fallen mango. I’m feeling sorrow for the parting of lovers, the suicide of the heart. The rain is falling like tears—all the clichés to haunt us. Oleg says the sky is the color of his heart turned to stone. The lover’s gaze, an unseasonable summer rain.

Sunset beach—a squall to the west, rain over the ocean, pink from the volcano, Sunset, the golden path of the sun. False calligraphy of clouds. Turtle Bay was murky but along the road a Chinese man driving a tractor was followed by a cloud of egrets. A white frenzy of wings writing the air with the feast of feathers.

This sunset promises to be a good one, rosiated hue. It was hard to relate to the penguins and the flamingos sharing the same pond at the Waikiki Hilton. Mind boggling.
Turtle Bay is Mormon territory. White-skinned women who have never seen the sun draped in pahoehoe shawls. The men, with their sharp angulations, look like aa, which is fittingly, male lava.

In the place where I buy my second pareau  the owner discusses Japanese buying habits— just as a busload stopped and bought $3000 worth of clothing. Less Japanese here now. The natives are grumbling, but building racial tension is stanched by the flow of money. We all have our got let’s. Party boat coming in packed like sardines.

Marilyn walks along the beach in a red toga matching the sky. The squall deepens into purple and becomes opaque, falls into the secret of the night.

Tuesday, July 2, 1991

Journal entry, 7/2/91, Oahu, Hawaii

7/2/91 Oahu, Hawaii feeling a little grumpy because our room, Marilyn’s and mine, in the Hawaiian Monarch, with its advertised corner window and water view—is a minute corner of the Alawai Canal. It has no lanai either. Psychologically I need a lanai to step outside the prison of room. Earlier, I fell asleep beneath a palm tree at the Hilton Fish Pond and I am red enough to prove it. I woke up this morning with a headache and I was doubly grumpy. Such a dramatic change in surroundings. Life has left me feeling discombobulated. I am more tired than I realized. Bone tired. A deep exhaustion factor. Hopefully the Islands will soon work their magic. Waikiki has gotten even more so Waikiki on steroids, but the guides blitzcreig us with color and chaos, they offer little by way of bargains. Definitely a more expensive town from when I was last year four years ago. Of course, I stayed with Kathie the last time in Haiku, and so avoided the whole tourist mess. This is Marilyns first time here. So we’ll be touristing somewhat. More Japanese and European here than ever, though, Waikiki, which means the gathering place, has always catered to a cultural admixture of folks and everything is either bi/trilingual. The selling of a dream in tongues.