Two Kindred Spirits

Perhaps, for a time, our journeys will coincide, and our two kindred spirits will become as one...

Location: Maunawili Valley, O'ahu, Hawai'i, United States

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bodysurfing to Surfing

One of the purest pleasures for me is to feel the swell of an ocean wave surging under me, lifting me to her bosom, then sending me, giddy as a child, hurtling headlong to shore. I make a clean somersault, fins flipping through the air, darting back out to await the next swell.

Now, at 54, I am finally taking surfing lessons, and I can't get enough. Just another (long-awaited) way of refurbishing my soul in the life force of the ocean. There is a syncopation of heart beating to the rhythm of waves, the swish and swirl of earth's dance through space. Driving, delighting, divining as one with the all powerful.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Making Elderberry Jam

This is what elderberry looks like growing in the wilds of New England. I've been nurturing a lush thicket of it growing on my farm in Standish, Maine.

The berries are very tiny, sour, and should not be eaten straight from the bush. But they're very easy to gather, and once cleaned, make luscious pies, delicious jams and jellies, and homemade wine.

This is a nice example of unripe berries, varying from lime green slowly blushing to pink before finally ripening to deep purple.

To gather elderberries, simply take a basket or large bag with a pair of clippers.

Once the berries have been gathered, (leaving some behind for the birds), sit somewhere comfortable, and gently strip the berries from their branchlets into a strainer.

After rinsing, soak the berries in water in a large bowl for a short period of time. As you can see in this illustration, unripe berries will float to the top, in addition to any detritus you'll want to eliminate.

Before the cooking of the berries, wash your canning jars and lids in hot soapy water and rinse.

Fill a large canning pot half-full with water and bring to a simmer. To do this on my stove, I have to put the heat on high for the amount of water in the canner.

Almost all of the recipes I've seen to make Elderberry Jam suggest that 2 qts of fresh berries will yield about 6 half-pint jars of jam, but I've found that the yield is closer to 10 half-pint jars of that deep purple goodness.

To cook the berries add 6 cups of sugar and 1/4 cup white vinegar to 2 qts. of berries. Slowly bring to a boil, then cook on medium heat until thickened.

As you can see I needed to double the recipe for the 4qts. of berries I had collected. With the additional sugar, the mixture filled an 8qt. stock pot.

And in the interest of 'full disclosure', while waiting impatiently for the mixture to come to a full boil~DON'T start washing dishes, thinking how wonderful it's all beginning to smell, only to discover you've allowed it to boil over......hmmm.

Once the mixture is ready and the jars have been sterilized in the canning pot, ladle the mixture into the jars and cover with lids. (Follow the canning instructions included with the lids for modern canning.)

Gently submerge the jam jars below the slowly boiling water for five minutes.

The pint sized original canning jars with wire are given to close family members who generally return the prized jars for future "refills". The modern half-pints are given to dear friends and close colleagues over the holidays, with enough stored away for my yearly supply of elderberry jam. I know I have to make it last until next summer's berry picking and jam making session!


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Home to Hawai'i

This is Kailua Bay on the windward side of O'ahu in the Hawaiian Islands. I did most of my growing up here on these powdered white sands.

Leaving Kailua and moving to Maine ten years ago was something I needed to do at the time. And it was a good move.

The universe opened itself up, and Maine took me in, gave me a safe place to heal, an opportunity to stand back and reassess what I wanted, and where I belonged. This summer I finally returned home to Kailua, and I realized that I was home.

I got to spend time with dear friends who have spanned a lifetime. Two of these friends live on the Big Island, Kainoa and his wife, Tita. These are my brother Kainoa's feet.

Kainoa is a Hawaiian man of beauty, intelligence, spirit and quiet humility.
He is the most humble man I know.

These are my girly feet, as we sat on brother's lauhala mat. The three of us together again for one of our many adventures, eating bento in Kona at sunset, listening to some fabulous Hawaiian music as the honu (endangered Hawaiian green sea turtles) foraged among the seaweed a few feet away.

Surprisingly enough, I do have some iconic shots of my favorite places~not all foot shots, but for some reason it seemed fitting to begin journaling my travels with feet at rest. I was home.

I stayed with another dear friend on the Big Island, my hula sister, Melissa, her husband and two beautiful little girls. This is the view from the lanai of their home in O'okala. Her husband built this for her.

Like any land bordered by water, there are many exclusive properties in Hawai'i.

But Melissa and her loving family are more typical of the people of Hawai'i. They work hard, live simply, share what they have, nurture a deep spirituality, and their greatest possession is their steadfast love for one another.

This is the true definition of "paradise".

On their way home from work, Melissa's husband and friend hunted these two wild boar in sugarcane fields close by. In typical Big Island fashion, her husband busily gutted and skinned the two boar in their open carport as Melissa got dinner together inside. This task took less than an hour.

Early the next morning, the meat was cut,
and shared with family and

As I left my heartwarming visit with these dear friends to return back to O'ahu, I had a run-in with TSA
who confiscated a bag of prized Waipi'o poi I had in my one carry-on bag at Kona airport. REALLY???

I didn't realize poi was on the No Fly List. All the ethereal joy I had been feeling temporarily downgraded into complete disbelief.
Apparently the consistency of poi is 'suspect', BUT I could check it in......? Wouldn't that bag of 'suspect' poi still be dangerous?

So, I might as well share this aspect of my flying experiences since TSA's inception. I wear two Hawaiian bracelets, one of which no longer comes off my wrist. This is very common for women in Hawai'i. As a result, the TSA security beeper goes off when the bracelet walks through.

Because I'm female, my crotch and breasts are checked by a woman wearing latex gloves, who upon completion of this search, now scans those gloves under an infrared light, which apparently tests for gunpowder, bomb, or maybe C4, residue.

And when I question any of this, another TSA guard is called over, so I resolutely shut up for fear of appearing on some No Fly List, next to poi.

I question the validity of ANY policy that leaves me feeling violated, and deeply saddened that somehow I am perceived as a threat to my nation's security, simply because I wear a gold bracelet.

So, I did what most writers do when they're incensed by the absurdity of something, during the entire flight back to O'ahu I wrote a song entitled "Auwe, TSA Took My Poi Away Today". (Kona to Honolulu, some huhu.)

Back in Kailua, staying at M&M's beautiful home, I took my early morning walks on Kailua Beach, stopping to pick up coffee at Kalapawai Market. On the way back, I'd pick a single plumeria from a young tree and slip the fragrant pink and yellow blossom behind my right ear. By the time I'd return from my beach walk, Marlene would be up and about, so she and I would do an early morning stretch routine to Joanne Shenandoah's cd "Matriarch". Perfect!

This trip wasn't about visiting new places, but spending time with old friends.

The very best vacation of all.




To Be Continued. (Almost pau!)

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