I love to honor my children, especially as we all get older. My two oldest daughters have birthdays this month, so I wanted to wish them both a very happy birthday. They were born two years and three days apart. This opening picture was made on Easter, 1958.
They love to visit me here in Hawaii, especially when they can cruise around in their mom’s blue Miata.
Showing off their new Hawaiian bags for flying.
And the most recent picture of their Christmas tamales. They get their white hair from me! Or did I get mine from them?
Mahalo for being two of the most wonderful daughters a mother could ever have. I look forward to your visit in November!
Happy Birthday!! I love you more than you’ll ever know!
A hui hou!
P. S. I’ll honor my two sons in another post soon.
Those of you who have been following this blog since its first post may wonder why I’m reposting some of the old ones. I’m in the middle of selling my home and buying another, so while my time is taken up with house-hunting, I probably won’t be creating many original posts.
If you are new to my blog, then I hope you enjoy these posts and recommend me to your friends.
I first made this recipe back in June of 1964. How do I know? I always date my cookbook recipes the first time I try it and give the family rating. This one rated very high with everyone!
How do recipes become our own? After so many years, we tend to add, subtract, or substitute from the original. Who knows at what point they become ours and not something from a cookbook?
I adapted this one from an old cookbook I had featuring recipes from Luchow’s German restaurant in New York, first published in 1952. You can see the splattered pages. The real name of the recipe is something more sophisticated, but my kids named it “orange sauerkraut” because of the color it turns out to be.
Even people who don’t think they like sauerkraut seem to love this recipe, probably because the sour cream softens the sharp tang of the kraut. Try it yourself and see what you think!
2 pounds of lean beef cut into small 1-inch squares
4 tablespoons of butter (I substitute olive oil)
2 cups sliced onions
1 clove garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste, although sauerkraut usually has enough salt
1 15-oz. can tomatoes
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons chopped caraway seeds
2 cups sauerkraut
Sauté beef in butter or olive oil until lightly browned.
Add onions and cook 5 minutes.
Add garlic, salt, pepper, and tomatoes, plus enough water to barely cover the mixture.
Cook slowly until meat is almost done and the sauce reduced, usually about 30-45 minutes. Stir frequently.
When sauce is cooked down, add sour cream, paprika, and caraway seeds. Simmer ½ hour longer.
Mix in sauerkraut and cook until everything is heated to the right temperature.
Makes a wonderful family meal served with steamed red potatoes, or traditional German style with mashed potatoes.
I can’t remember exactly when I first became interested in the beautiful Japanese art of bonsai. It was probably in the 1960s, when I traveled to Japan on four different occasions. On one of those trips, I climbed Mt. Fuji with friends, an exciting story for another time.
At the hotel where we stayed the night before our climb, I was quite taken with their bonsai garden. Many of the trees there were over 100 years old with an incredible history. I vowed then to learn how to create these for myself. I brought home many of the “bon” or trays in which to plant the trees. They have survived many moves since that time.
Before I go any further, I want to make sure you know how to pronounce the word “bonsai.” I’ve heard it called everything, including “banzai,” which is the suicide attack word used by the Japanese during World War II. The correct pronunciation is a softer sound of “bone-sigh.”
On one of my favorite sites, you can discuss issues with other bonsai enthusiasts, order supplies, buy bonsai books and tools, learn new techniques, and so much more.
The American Bonsai Society, Inc. was founded in 1967, around the same time I visited the bonsai gardens in Japan. Their official site has many beautiful pictures of bonsai.
I think you can tell from these pictures and from the websites I’ve listed that bonsai is the art of miniaturizing a tree or group of trees. Land is so precious in Japan that often the only way a person can experience nature or go into a forest is to kneel silently before a “grove” of bonsai trees in a tray. In this way, we can simply let ourselves melt into the tiny landscape and imagine walking among the trees, or be drawn into sitting at the base of an old tree. It’s difficult for me to describe this type of meditation, but it is a very effective way to put yourself into a peaceful setting, if only temporarily.
If you can imagine this pot filled with a miniature grove, then you have the ability to create one of your own. The Wikipedia site on bonsai has many beautiful pictures of not only groves and forests, but of other styles that can be produced.
There are a variety of ways to begin a bonsai. What I talk about here is one of the methods I was taught in the 70s at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
The roots of a bonsai are trimmed and secured to a pot or bon with a wire threaded through a wire mesh and tied around a twig underneath. This is one of my pots from an old bonsai that didn’t live. As you can see, there are many sizes and shapes for the trays, or pots.
Once the plant is secured in the pot, soil is pressed around the base and roots. Try to find bits of moss, carefully lift it up and transfer it to the top of the soil. This helps to keep the soil from washing away, as well as helping to create an illusion of age.
Then the process begins of trimming the tree itself to a size and shape you desire. This is not to be done in a hurry. The entire process is quite meditative and I can get completely lost in it all.
There are many ways to proceed. One trick in getting the gnarled effect right away is to buy an aging root bound plant from a nursery, like a Juniper that is no longer really any good for planting in your yard. I love the ones that seem to be growing around a rock. The roots have been secured in such a way that the tree appears to be sitting on top.
When I start talking about bonsai, I don’t know where to stop. There is so much to say. All I can suggest is that you get a book from the library to start out, find a nice flat tray, get a plant and just try your hand.
Before COVID hit our island, there was an annual show put on by the Big Island Bonsai Association, but I couldn’t find anything that says whether it continues.
I promise you that it’s extremely addicting. Once you start, you may never be able to stop. Why would you want to??
My family loved to backpack in the high Sierras. One year, after a refreshing afternoon rain, my youngest child, about seven at the time, looked down at his feet and picked up something shiny. It was a perfectly formed arrowhead of black obsidian. Evidently the rain had washed it out from an ancient hiding place. What a treasure the rain revealed!
In Hawai`i, we have the saying “no rain, no rainbows.” Too often we concentrate on the rain and neglect an openness to the treasures afterward.
What riches or inner resources have you discovered after the rains in your life?
Is there anyone among us doesn’t remember singing along and feeling proud of our countryside? It was an era of protesting the educational system, the government, the war, the “establishment” in general, and anything else we could protest, but we loved our land – the unique geography that makes up these United States.
If they ever want to change our National Anthem to something more sing-able, I cast my vote for “This Land Is Your Land.”
It was explained to me about the second-growth redwoods. As you can see here, there is a cluster of trees around a bare piece of ground. The original old redwood was either logged out over 150 years ago or could have been hit by lightning. These new “baby trees” sprouted up around where the mother tree had been.
The first photo at the top of this post gives another perspective on a grove of second-growth trees. These magnificent trees may be relatively young, but they still take my breath away – and make me proud that they are a part of my country.
The tops of the trees just seem to reach toward the sky for an eternity!
There is a lot about California I miss. What I do not miss is the traffic, which has gotten worse since I left. I’ve become too accustomed to a more casual lifestyle. Still, I intend to keep visiting whenever I get the chance.
Today, we could write more verses to add to this song that would include our island state of Hawai`i (where I now live) or our northernmost state of Alaska (where I have lived in the past). All fifty states are worth going to see! If you have never been to California, it’s worth braving the crowds and traffic to see a special part of our incredible country.
Today’s post is one of the fables in Feral Fables. In the book, you’ll find suggestions for reflection at the end of the fable. Photo taken at Kalopa State Park, Hawai`i Island.
The Purple Chrysanthemum
Chores never cease, never subside. Menacing dark corners tower above and below her, dusty and dank. Driven here, thrust there, the woman frantically toils in vain. In every quarter of the luxurious home she unearths wads of shabby rags, inside bureau and closets, beneath tables and beds, over shelves and bookcases.
There is no seclusion here. It is no longer her home. Aliens invade, then abandon her in chaos. Serenity is shattered in the assault.
In a frenzy, she searches for one spot, one haven of beauty where she may hide from the muck and gloom, sludge and shadow. She is imprisoned and enslaved by the moment, shaken and disenchanted by infinity.
Others chart her headway as she labors, then regresses. Despondently she presses onward, now advancing, now reversing in an endless non-dance. Joy pales as the obstacles flourish in neglect. Song is stilled, light fractured, until she spots an overlooked box, unobtrusively tucked away behind the bureau.
In dismay, she lifts the lid, supposing it to be filth-filled, or barren at best. A small packet sheathed in foil rests inside, dormant yet dazzling in its obscurity. From the crumpled edge of the opening there protrudes a long green stem, crowned with a large purple chrysanthemum, blossom of her soul. An abundance of petals, long and delicate, unite around a pollen-filled golden center.
Tears fall as she recalls the moment she clipped the bloom from its parent. Tenderly she had placed it into nourishing water where it could take root and grow. Now long forgotten, the chrysanthemum has flourished, alone and in the inky obscurity of the ragged box. Surely it was withered and dead by now, for many moons have passed. Other celebrations have come and gone, but the blossom remains.
She pauses, then meticulously peels back the foil covering. That which was dormant for so long has burgeoned with fragile and lacy roots. What once was a flower, cut off from its source, has sprouted in the dark, unattended and ignored.
Weeping, she holds the hardy segment of beauty in the palm of her hand. The tiny bit of life, buried in the pit of her soul, is resurrected and retrieved. The purple chrysanthemum will never perish. She will survive.
I have always been an Anglophile, with an interest in traditional English culture and the monarchy. My senior paper in high school focused on the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II, so I imagine that’s when my love affair of England actually began. It’s hard to believe that we are now celebrating her Platinum Jubilee. In college, I focused on English literature, and more specifically on the language of Shakespeare’s time. Even though it was basically “English,” it was like learning a completely new language. Knowing the meaning of the words changed my whole perspective and understanding when I watched his plays.When I did my geneology for membership in DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) I discovered that my “patriot” had come over on an early ship from England and settled in South Carolina. He fought under Francis Marion, known as the “Swampfox.” So I had a reason for being so interested in anything British.
I had a chance to visit Stratford-Upon-Avon in 2005 and loved it. I also visited the Globe Theatre in Bankside, London. I will intersperse a few pictures from beautiful Stratford, as I tell you about the Hawai`i Shakespeare Festival of 2022.
The season in Honolulu will perform three live, in-person shows for the first time since 2019. Check it out at hawaiishakes.org and sign up for their news. The shows are performed at The ARTS at Marks Garage, 1159 Nu`uanu Ave. on the corner of Nu`uanu and Pauahi, one block south of Beretania near the historic Hawaii Theatre.
I plan to fly over to Oahu from the Big Island (my island of Hawai`i) in August for their gender-reversal showing of The Taming of the Shrew, one of my favorites. It will be fun to see how they manage to portray a male Kate and a female Petruchio.
I went to many plays at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego when I lived there. Even if you don’t understand all of the language, you’ll love the drama. I suggest finding a synopsis of the story line so you’ll know what is happening.
I stayed at the White Swan Hotel, named for (I suppose) all the swans on the Avon.
One of the courses I always loved to teach was “Psychology and the Expressive Arts.” Not only do students learn how to use the expressive arts (writing, painting, clay, dance, music and more) in counseling clients, but also how to use the arts to re-discover the creativity within. An assignment I always gave was for them to write about one of the metaphors in their lives.
Metaphors are all around us, and I offered suggestions for my students to show them how to find metaphors in unexpected places.
One of my personal favorites is the metaphor of sailing. I’ve used it so many times in the past that it’s almost become a cliché, and yet it is a strong metaphor for me. Those of you who have been reading my posts fairly regularly will remember that I lived on my 37’ sloop for five years.
I moved off my sailboat to the Phoenix area when I was assigned to be a pastor there. About six months into that appointment, one of the men in the church came to me and said, “This is the first Sunday you haven’t mentioned sailing.” He went ahead to say that he wasn’t tired of it, but that it emphasized the fact of how many ways sailing was a rich metaphor for our lives.
We have all seen many sailing metaphors illustrated on posters or key chains and the like. I am reminded of the sailing metaphor in particular and that is the way we have to maneuver the boat in order to get to our destination.
You know that a sailboat cannot go directly into the wind without stalling. The sailor must tack back and forth, sailing just off the wind, yet never losing sight of the goal.
The same thing is true of life. When we are not able to sail directly toward our goal without getting stalled, we don’t need to let that stop us. We can veer off course a little as long as we keep in mind where we ultimately want to go.
This has been true for me so many times – with education, career, home, relationships. How easy it would have been to give up, rather than to let the wind carry me in a different direction! I may have tacked back and forth many times in life, but I’ve ended up where I was ultimately headed.
One of the activities I love most about writing fiction is working on characterization. By the time I finish, I know everything there is to know about the people in my stories.
I know their sun signs, where they were born, and when. I know how they look and how they move. If they have quirks, I know about those, too. Eventually, I might have several single-spaced pages of information about each one of them and how they are all related.
By knowing as much about them as I can create, I know how they would react in the event of a crisis, what makes them laugh or cry, even to the type of food they eat.
In Shadowy Tales, I know that Pastor Fran relies on preparing a quick grilled cheese with some heated up soup because she would never think about cooking a full-on dinner. She is too busy and has been single too long to think much about preparing food. But she does love Chinese take-out, and she drinks lots of tea or coffee.
I also know that she drives a red Miata and that she does yoga, but you never see that in her story. Just knowing that about her gives her a certain personality. Who knows? It might come in handy in another story sometime.
If you are thinking about writing but you aren’t sure where to begin, try inventing a character and write out everything you can think about that person. Suddenly you begin to get ideas of the kind of story you want to write.
After you have written characterizations for a bunch of people, throw them all together and see what happens! Trust me – they’ll begin to act in ways you never dreamed of. And your story begins to take place. I’d rather play with characterization than watch TV or go to a movie!
If you have read Shadowy Tales, what else do you know about Pastor Fran – or any of the other characters?
“Shadowy Tales” is a heart pounding thriller that emphasizes the danger of cultural division and social intolerance through a truly compelling mystery. This is the story of a protestant minister, Frances Anna Keeton, newly appointed by her bishop to a church in the conservative south. Arriving from a liberal environment in California, she faces immense turmoil. Frances realized she was entering into a difficult situation. But she never would imagine the danger, harm, and secrets that lie ahead.
A new casino is being considered on land currently owned by members of the local Choctaw tribe who are active members of Fran’s church. The clout behind this proposal is exerting pressure on Fran to support the local gaming establishment rather than actively oppose it.
Fran is terrorized repeatedly, but she doesn’t know if it’s because she is a woman pastor or if it is to intimidate her into supporting the new casino. When Kevin, her organist and friend, is kidnaped, a search begins. A carved arrowhead is left at her door for no apparent reason. A phone message instructs Fran to present the arrowhead as a signal that she is ready to submit herself as ransom for Kevin or forfeit Kevin’s life. Telling no one, she hunts for an unidentified person who would know the sinister meaning of the arrowhead.
The phrase “heart pounding” was not my phrase but what the publisher used. I doubt if the book is seriously heart pounding, but a simple mystery story that I had fun writing.
There is a sequel coming, hopefully before Christmas, with the title of Washboard Tales, stories that Pastor Fran heard from women in the community, the same way women had always told stories over the washboard. Not all of the “tales” have a happy ending.
Because most of the people are the same in both books and twisted together , I hope you look for it and consider adding it to your library. I think it will be better than Shadowy Tales, but only you will know.