Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I have a hard time saying which is my favorite Hawaiian island, but after this trip, I'm thinkin' Oahu. There's just so much there that I'm interested in. I traveled with my hula sister Sibyl, to visit with our other hula friend Judy. Judy graciously let us stay in her Kailua studio for the first part of the trip. For the second part, we found a package deal that included 6 nights at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. I have been studying hula for 16 years now, and this was a custom opportunity to soak up the places and culture related to our study. When you are a hula student, you are also a student of the Hawaiian language, music, chant, history, mythology, crafts, food, people, spirit, and of course places. We jointly made our long list of things we wanted to see, and hit the ground running. We were able to do almost all of the things we intended, and a lot, lot more.

The day we arrived, we drove straight up to Kamehameha School (after a quick stop for leis in Chinatown), and were able to watch our long-time friends Led Kaapana and Dennis Kamakahi be inducted into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame. The other inductees that day, including Kumu Hula Maiki Aiu Lake, are, unfortunately deceased. We were honored to be witness to this prestigious event, and we were very happy for Led & Dennis.

We were able to get in 4 great hikes, go to the Bishop Museum, attend a lecture by a photographer at the Hawaii State Art museum who has been doing portraits of kumu hula for 30 years, saw turtles, rode the waves of Waikiki on a canoe, ate shave ice, laulau, spam musubi and malasadas! Always, we saved time at the end of the day for music. It was like a dream come true to see legends Eddie Kamae, Led Kaapana, Mike Kaawa, Bobby Ingano, Weldon Kekauoha, Analu Aina, Paul Kim, Ocean Kaowile, Dennis Kamakahi, Na Palapalai ... just to name a few. You can see musicians of this caliper any day of the week on Oahu - for free; less parking and whatever you drop in the tip jar. We were like kids in a candy store. Although I never got up the nerve to get up and dance, we were lucky enough to attend two hula classes taught by Nalani Keale, and learned the hula "Ku`u Milimili". We also learned a chant from one of Mapuana Da Silva's students. It is called "Oli Mahalo" and speaks of gratefulness and thanks.

Even though this was a very fulfilling trip, there is so much more to Oahu that I have yet to experience, and I can't wait to be able to go back.

Here are a few photos of some of the highlights of the trip - if you care to see more, I have an album up here

Friday, October 23, 2009

A walk down memory lane

Yesterday Dave & I went down to Marin for our annual meeting with our Fidelity guy. Since I had my camera with me, I thought it might be fun to drive around and take photos of all the places I used to live.

2 Chestnut St., Ross

Hard to believe I actually lived in this magnificent house. I was 10, Linda 14, and Glen 3 when we moved in here with my mom when my parents first divorced. Moving from Lake County to here was quite the culture shock. People in this town have money. Lots of old money. We were probably the only renters in Ross. My mom sub-rented out the bottom floor to two female college students. Our bedrooms were on the 3rd floor. Glen called it the "upstairs/downstairs house" for obvious reasons. In fact, he took a bad spill down those stone steps one time. I remember the livingroom had dark red carpet and a white fireplace, and it had a stone shower downstairs. Living in Ross was a treasure. We had lots of mossy forests to explore.

The little one-car garage is torn out and being rebuilt

830 Meadowsweet Dr., Corte Madera

This is the property that holds the most family memories of my childhood. This was my grandparents' house - my mom's parents'. On the property was their house, and a number of one-story apartments - 6, I think - that my grandparents rented out. It was during a time when my parents were divorced that my mom and my brother lived in one of the little apartments, and my sister and I, both in our teens, were each given a bedroom in my grandparents' house, a couple hundred yards away from Mom's. So not only do we have the memories of living there, but over the years, almost all of our family Thanksgivings and Christmases were there. This is where I got to know my cousins, my aunts, uncles, in-laws, etc etc. This is where my grandmother taught me to cook, to paint, and to polish silver. And where, at the dining table, my grandfather scolded us for eating peas with a spoon, and taught us to use bread as a "pusher." Most impressionable years indeed. The memories are still flooding in.

Remarkably, just as I started to shoot a picture of the front of the house, the garage door opens up, and in pulls a white BMW. It's Kathy, of Kathy & Kurt - the couple who bought the property from my grandparents, over 30 years ago! Although I don't recognize her, she recognizes me, and most graciously insists we come in. As I walk in the front door, I am overwhelmed with memories. I try to hold it together as Kathy cheerfully shows us all they have done to the house. What used to be the deck is now an additional room, the knotty pine bedrooms are painted and wallpapered, there's a new bathroom in the space between the kitchen and my grandparents' bedroom. Things are remodeled, and gone is the mid-century decor; replaced by busy victorian/wine country chic. But the house is still the same. The refrigerator, stove and sink are still in the same place. You still hear the freeway. The fireplace is still there, and I almost cried when I saw that the original bathroom still has the red and pink tile. At least for now. Kathy tells us they plan to redo that bathroom, too. I walk past my old bedroom and remember my first earthquake. It was at night, and when I felt it, I thought someone was under my bed.

I don't know how to describe the feeling of being there again, but seeing the house again was a little like seeing my parents again - like re-winding time. It was hard to see all the changes, but somehow soothing to know that at least it is still here; that it's not going away. And made me miss my parents, my grandparents, my aunt, and my uncle, and all the other family members who used to be there for family gatherings.

It was really very nice to be welcomed in by Kathy and Kurt, and share some memories with them, since they knew my family before they bought the property.

The house is now visible from the street, as the enormous Blue Spruce is gone, and the tall hedge has been replaced by a fence.

That's the kitchen window on the left. The little side porch is gone. There's one of Grampy's sheds in the background. I don't remember it having windows. It looks so cute with the flower boxes & curtains on it.

The front door
From the driveway
Some of the apartments; my mom's in the back
They added a balcony outside Linda's room - see the entrance to the basement? Kathy says she never goes down there! We were down there all the time! (It was a little scary)

This is the livingroom. Where the big tables were set up for all those Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners. Quite different decor now!

The kitchen has been remodeled, but the sink, fridge and stove are all in the same place.

Another shot of the apartments. Mr. Keeny's place on the left. Palm tree still there!

This is mom's apartment, which was 4 doors down from my grandparents' house.

Here's the apartment Linda had when she was older. So cute! Didn't get to go inside.

Here's Kathy & Kurt, the owners. It was nice talking to them, because they knew my family so well. Guess what Kurt was doing? Painting! We were ALWAYS painting those apartments!

San Anselmo

This is my great-grandmother's house on Mariposa Ave. in San Anselmo. Nana was my dad's grandmother. She's the one who gave us the player piano. I lived here for a couple of months.