Feral Fables

“For centuries, women and men have sought guidance and counsel to help them in processes of change, healing, and transformation.”

That is the first sentence in the introduction to my book, Feral Fables. How many of us have checked the I Ching, or Animal Medicine cards, or the Tarot to see what they have to say to us? Not only is it fun, but it also can be enlightening in some strange and inexplicable way.  

We are spoken to through many avenues. Insights may come like lightning bolts or in a still, small voice. A friend says something that strikes us as relevant to a question we’ve pondered. We hear a conversation that brings sudden understanding to a problem. A dream reveals an answer to a situation. We read a story that becomes more significant each time we read it.

Such is the nature of these fables. This is the sort of book you can have on your cell phone or iPad that you can tuck in your purse or briefcase and so it will be handy at all times. At odd moments, you can pick a fable at random to see what meaning it can bring to your life. Whether you are female or male, youth or elder, there will be something of value in each brief fable.

What is a fable anyway? The dictionary describes it as “a fictitious story meant to teach a moral lesson.” I believe it is more than just a moral lesson. I prefer to say that it shows us “Truth” greater than “truth.” I wrote these to use as I worked with psychology clients who were looking for that Truth in their lives. You can do the same for yourself.

I plan to publish it as hard copy before long, but in the meantime, I suggest that you read it as an e-book. You can get your copy of Feral Fables by clicking on this link.

You can read these fables with the intention of finding clarity on some issue in your life, or maybe the serendipity will surprise you when you read them just for fun. In either case, please let me know your reaction to these wild tales.

Aloha!

“Wine and Words”

If you haven’t checked out Kona Stories, give yourself a treat and stop by. There is much more than books to be found as you cruise through, and comfy chairs where you can relax.

Kona Stories was begun five years ago by Brenda Eng and Joy Vogelgesang. They recently moved from Mango Court to the Keauhou Shopping Center. Be sure to check out their web site for the many events going on there.

For me, one of the highlights offered by the shop is the monthly “Wine and Words.” This happens at 6:00 pm the first Tuesday of each month, when various local authors are invited to read excerpts from a book they have written. As you wait to listen, you can visit with friends, browse the shelves and enjoy a glass of wine (or water) along with a few pupus.

Last week I attended with several friends to listen to Nancee Cline, who teaches English at our West Campus of Hawaii Community College. There was standing room only as Nancee read from her book, Queen Emma’s Church in Kealakekua: Crossroads of Culture. She began by saying it was so much more than simply a history of the church. Her book is rich with anecdotes, interviews, and more.

After the reading, people lined up to visit with Nancee and buy an autographed copy.

I didn’t get a chance to cruise through the shop as much as I would like because it was way too crowded. That won’t be the last time I stop by, however. I want to return for a visit with the store’s mascot!

Congratulations, Nancee! We’re proud of your accomplishments.

A hui hou!

Cats!


Katrina relaxing

As a child, I only had one pet, a dog I named “Sugar.” This was in the days of WW II food rationing, and sugar was hard to get, just as the dog (when he would get under the house) was “hard to get.” After a few days, my parents decided we didn’t need any pets at all – and the dog was sent away.

Since I have became an adult, it seems like I’ve always had a cat, along with miscellaneous dogs. Deep down, I know I’m mostly a “cat person,” although I do love the dogs I’ve had in my life.

My dear friend and colleague has a beautiful Birman who reigns supreme. She is so covered with fluff that I often wonder if there is any actual body underneath the fur.

A close up shot of “Darlin’ Miss.”

Last week, I attended a “Wine and Words” evening at Kona Stories in the Keauhou Shopping Center. Once a month, various local authors read excerpts from their books, visit with those of us there and share in the pupus. Naturally, I was drawn to this beautiful gray, also enjoying the social event. It looks like this beauty had her/his share of crackers, cheese, and wine.

Many of you know my beloved Kaimana who lived with me for many years before he became too ill. He is buried beneath an ohia tree on my property.

Later that same year, I was given Katrina, a feisty little kitten who is finally becoming a lady. I took several pictures of her playing (and hiding) in the garden, but she kept moving around so much that it was difficult to get a clear picture. I probably should have taken a video, but check out this brief slideshow.

Watch for another post on one of the authors (Nancee Cline) and her book from the “Wine and Words” event I attended.

A hui hou!

Watch Out For Garden Gnomes!

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When I was sent a copy of How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack: Defend Yourself When the Lawn Warriors Strike (And They Will)
by Chuck Sambuchino to review, I had no idea what to expect. This witty and humorous little book can be read in just a few minutes, or you can take your time and truly contemplate what to do around your own home to prevent a Garden Gnome attack!

After reading this book, I am positive that there are many places around my own acre where these gnomes are lurking, multiplying and planning an attack. In fact, now that I think about it, I imagine it’s only my external motion-activated lights that have kept me safe so far. Also, I am convinced that gnomes are the reason I don’t find as many eggs in the nesting boxes as I did last year.

This will be one of those books your guests will pick up out of curiosity because of the title, then not hang around for tea because they want to rush home to fortify their property against the gnomes. They are as bad as rabbits in procreating (the gnomes, that is, not your guests)!

The book makes a terrific gift item because this is the war we should be fighting! In addition, if you order the book through my website now, you’ll be helping to support my fight against these critters.

Now if someone would just write a book about surviving the eminent attack by those pink flamingos!

A hui hou!

Living on the Earth

This is an article I posted over two years ago on an old blog before I became “lavalily.com,” but there are some great books discussed here. I thought some of my new gardening friends might spot a book they want to read.

Since I wrote this article, my beloved Kaimana has been put to rest, but I have a delightful Katrina. She started out like a hurricane, but her storm has subsided and now she’s merely playful and mischievous.

I hope you enjoy looking through the books I’ve discussed below!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I can’t remember a time when I was not in love with books. Even before I could read well, my parents made regular trips to the little libraries in whichever town we lived in at the time. I spent many hours looking through the books in my grandfather’s library. They were on a huge revolving stand, and although they were much too deep for me at the time, I would take them out and thumb through the pages.

Kaimana thinks he can read some of my books, too, but I think he just likes the smell of paper.

The first books I actually remember being able to read myself were the Raggedy Ann and Andy books. Then came the Bobbsey Twins, Elsie Dinsmore, Heidi, Nancy Drew – and I was hooked. Whether for personal pleasure or academic reading, my library grew from there. I still have books for math, French, Spanish and literature from my high school years!

But books travel to places unknown, and over the years I’ve lost books because of floods, being stomped on by horses, through two divorces, loaning them to people I’ve forgotten, and numerous moves from state to state.

When I moved from Ali`i Drive to Ocean View, I gave over a thousand books to the Friends Of The Libraries, Kona, plus four grocery bags full of books on gardening to Kona Outdoor Circle. I still have over a thousand books here in my home, plus at least that many in a storage unit in California. This next shot shows part of my attempt to sort out which ones to keep and which to give away.

It was in the early 70s when I read a book that changed the way I lived my life. I was re-structuring my life as a single woman, and although I didn’t embrace everything in the book, it did start me moving toward a more “natural” way of living. It’s one book I’ve kept over the years, and my copy is a bit tattered. I was surprised to find it can still be purchased.

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I had three years of Ornamental Horticulture classes at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo under my belt, and I’d always had an interest in gardening. From that point on, I couldn’t get my fill of reading about ways to garden and provide sustenance for myself. If you’ve been reading these posts on a regular basis, you know that I also lived on a 37′ sailboat for 5 years. My gardening slowed considerably during that time, but my interest in gardening never waned. In fact, I grew cherry tomatoes in hanging pots and kept a pot of aloe vera on hand for sunburned passengers.

When I lived in Tucson on the edge of the Sonoran Desert, I found a wonderful book that provided me with ways to use the “Fruits of the Desert.” Many of the author’s recipes and information on those fruits can be extended to some of our own produce. The cover is beautiful, and I’m sorry that Amazon doesn’t have an image of it to show you.

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One book I forgot I had until just recently, is Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape Naturally, by Robert Kourik. It’s a large and rather detailed book, but full of good information for the gardener who is serious about planning an edible garden.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=lujotast-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=1856230260&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

If you are interested in an adult version of a picture book and dream book, pick up a copy of In a Mexican Garden. I drool over the photos in that book! I would label this book and others like it as “garden porn.”

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=lujotast-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=0811841308&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

This should keep you busy for a while, and I will be telling you about more off-the-beaten-track garden books in the future.

In the sidebar of this blog, I have listed books I use on a regular basis for my gardening ideas. If you are interested in buying one of those or ones I mention in this post, please order through this site. It will help support my purchase of more gardening books. Please note that I receive a small commission from Amazon to help support “Lava to Lilikoi.”

Is this an addiction that I want to cure? I think it’s too late!

The Magic of A Book

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There is one book I have read over and over ever since its first publishing date in 1959, and that is The Magic of Thinking Big (Paperback) by Dr. David Swartz. No other book has had quite the impact on my life as this one.

In the early months of 1973, when I was a newly single woman and mother of four, I needed something to keep me from going over the edge. As I started absorbing the messages in this book, I found a few short key phrases from each chapter that struck a deep personal note.

Then I wrote those out with a felt marker in big lettering on a piece of paper that I taped to the dashboard of my car. No matter where I went, those words were right there in front of me. Only when I felt the message had penetrated, would I put up words and phrases from the next chapter.

I cannot begin to tell you how deeply those phrases stuck with me, even to this day. In spite of my degrees in theology and psychology, I find it too easy to forget how to apply what I know to my own life. This book helps me do that.

My original copy is held together with rubber bands, and the pages are torn, smudged, tear-streaked, and almost unreadable. This past year, I finally bought a new copy. I suspect I’ll end up buying yet another copy before my life is over.

There have been over 4 million copies sold at this point, so I’m not the only person to find direction in The Magic of Thinking Big. I can almost guarantee that you will find something in this ageless book by Dr. Swartz that will improve your life, even if you don’t think you need it.

I haven’t told you which phrases I used to strengthen my life. In reading, you’ll discover the ones that apply to you alone.

Note: As an Amazon affiliate, I am obligated to tell you that if you click on the book and order it from my website, I will receive a few cents from your purchase, but please don’t let that stop you. You owe it to yourself to read this book.

Mahalo!

Aloha!
Feral Fables, my newly published e-book, will be available for a special promotional price of $2.99 until August 1, 2010. Go here to to buy or sample Feral Fables. Use the promotional code “SL25S” (not case sensitive) at checkout.
Mahalo! (Thank you!)

Biblioholism?

The subtitle of my blog is “homesteading, food, travel, and philosophy from the side of a volcano in rural Hawai`i.” If you read this blog even semi-regularly, you’ll notice that I have evolved from simply writing a saga about gardening on my acre of lumpy lava to offering you recipes of good food, and occasionally venturing into travel and other philosophical meanderings.

You may have noticed that I have added a post in the early part of each week that concentrates more on the “philosophical” aspect of my life. With each post I write, whether about gardening or food or travel, my thoughts always seem to drift toward how a book would fit in.

As a substance abuse counselor, I know that a behavior is considered an addiction if it interferes with your life and creates a problem. This leads me to wonder if I have a true “addiction,” like some people have an addiction with substances (legal or illegal) and behaviors (legal or illegal). If not an addiction, it is certainly a “dependency.” Anyone interested in a 12-step program for bookaholics?

I started checking the internet to see if there was such a word as biblioholism or if a group existed for bookaholics. Try looking up either of those words and you’ll see how many sites address this very thing. One site I found gives reader comments that complete the statement “You know you’re a bookaholic when…” All of the comments there are true of me, and my favorite is “…when you select your handbags based on whether they are big enough to fit a book.”

No matter where I go, I have a book in my purse. You just never know when you’ll have a couple minutes to read a paragraph or two while you wait for someone to show up, or for your car to be serviced, for instance. And sometimes I carry a book with the sole intent of going somewhere only to read. I have a different book sitting next to each of my reading places, and I go back to read some of my favorites many times.

Another site gives an excellent definition of “biblioholism” that describes me exactly (and probably you, too). “Biblio” means “book,” so this site states that biblioholism is “the habitual longing to purchase, read, store, admire and consume books in excess.”

The only feature of biblioholism that definition doesn’t mention is writing. I do an obsessive amount of that, as well, but I never bother to market what I write. (And that’s another whole problem I need to address at some point.) I write in several genres, usually with several in various stages of completion at a time.

Yes, I also read and write e-books, but nothing will ever replace the feel of paper as I turn each page. When I am forced to part with books, it’s as if I’m killing my children! Rather than give away the thousands of books I have, I simply have more bookshelves built.

Does being a biblioholic disrupt or interfere with my life, or cause a problem? Only when I have to move all these books!

Mahalo for joining me on this segment of my journey!

Aloha!
Feral Fables, my newly published e-book, will be available for a special promotional price of $2.99 until August 1, 2010. Go here to to buy or sample Feral Fables. Use the promotional code “SL25S” (not case sensitive) at checkout.
Mahalo! (Thank you!)

Seven-Link Challenge

One of the blogs about blogging I read is ProBlogger. That’s a mouthful, isn’t it? This week, there was a challenge to respond to seven categories. I decided to take part, mostly because it requires some thinking about my posts in the past and where I’d like to go in the future. Here are the seven categories:

1) My first post.
I started this blog as a record for myself only. I was trying to make soil from compost and other materials in order to get something to grow on this acre of rocky lava we call a`a.

2) The post I enjoyed writing the most.
The reason I enjoyed this post is that it is about a special family event I wasn’t able to attend. My first granddaughter got married in October on the mainland and I couldn’t get away from teaching to fly over. Also, I didn’t take the pictures, but it showed several of my children and grandchildren. Needless to say, I shed a few happy tears as I put it together in a post.

3) A post which had a great discussion
I’ve written about lilikoi (Passion fruit) several times and each post brings more discussion than anything else I write about. Mainland readers probably don’t have a clue what lilikoi is, so it’s mostly Hawaii residents who get into great discussions about this fruit with an unusual flavor.

4) A post on someone else’s blog I wish I’d written.
My brother writes a blog that is way more popular than mine, and he tells of great things to do in and around the Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg area. Like me, he writes about his travels. He and I had just been to England, and we both loved London. I absolutely love this post he did all in black and white photography. It gave me an entirely new perspective to London.

5) My most helpful post.
This post was about a little book that has guided my life and the lives of others over and over. If you are looking for a way to set goals and objectives for the next year, this is the book that will help you.

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6) A post with a title I am proud of.
I think the reason I’m most proud of this title is because it represents several decades of waiting to have my book of the same name published. It is about a book I used in my psychology practice and with students. It can also be a self-help book by exploring some hidden meanings in your life.

7) A post that I wish more people had read.
This was posted to honor AIDS Day, and invites us to look at our lives and how we respond to unexpected events in our lives. AIDS awareness is growing, but still not enough.

It took me a while to decide on each of these categories. There are so many posts that would fit into each category. After looking at these seven posts, I get a good sense of where my pleasures reside in writing this blog. My topics have evolved quite a bit over the past two years, and on an unconscious level, I think I have been going in the direction that most suits me best.

I hope you are finding these rambling posts helpful when you garden or cook or travel or reflect on life.

A hui hou!

Aloha!
Feral Fables, my newly published e-book, will be available for a special promotional price of $2.99 until August 1, 2010. Go here to to buy or sample Feral Fables. Use the promotional code “SL25S” (not case sensitive) at checkout.
Mahalo! (Thank you!)

Your Best Year Is Coming Up!

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Tonight at midnight, it will become 2010. I’ve never believed in making resolutions for the New Year. What I like to do instead is set goals, both long-term and short-term. These are usually in several categories.

My favorite book for this is Your Best Year Yet! by Jinny S. Ditzler. It’s just a little paperback that asks ten questions “for making the next twelve months your most successful ever.” I’ve used it for the past ten years or longer, not only for myself but for my students.

This book can be used in any area of your life, from income to relationships to self-esteem. One reason I love this book is that it starts out with looking at what you accomplished over the past year. This acknowledges the positive aspects of your life rather than just those things that didn’t work out.

We may think we know what we want for our life, but until it is written down with a bit of structure and planning, it goes nowhere. We cannot leave our life up to chance.

At the end of just a few hours you end up with a one-page summary of your plan for the next year. They become your own words of wisdom for the year. This kind of exercise can help to change your life from merely “good” to “great!” That’s something we all deserve!

May you create joy and abundance in all things this next year!

I’m off to work on my own 2010 goals!

Hau`oli Makahiki Hou! (Happy New Year!)

The Gardener Within


Remember the old saying: “April showers bring May flowers?” It takes more than just showers to have beautiful flowers in May – or June or July or any month. It also takes digging and planting, nurturing and patience, faith and prayer.

My maternal grandfather was a strong typical “type A” personality, but when he worked in his garden, he was calm, happy and peaceful. His special joy was in finding many varieties of iris. He would drive all over Southern Illinois in search of new iris plants. Studies have shown that in a similar way, Alzheimer’s patients who are placed in a garden all day are no longer violent.

I don’t plan on collecting iris, but I’ve thought about the many varieties of daylily or hibiscus available. I’m trying a little of each to see which ones grow best here. It’s hard to decide – so maybe I’ll collect both!

Even when I lived on my sailboat for five years, I had hanging baskets of cherry tomatoes and pots of aloe plants for sunburn and wounds. I needed that bit of plant material to make me feel like I had a garden. Various cultures around the world have special tales about the healing power of plants on all levels.

Some of my favorite times as a small girl were spent in a special cherry tree in the back yard of a parsonage. We only lived there a couple years, but as long as we did, I would climb up onto a high limb and read. As a lonely child, it was my way to escape. Many of us have had spiritual experiences with trees, but we don’t discuss them for fear of sounding silly. We rarely talk about the spiritual aspects of gardening, until someone of like mind brings up the subject.

Maybe I’m a little strange, but I talk to my plants. I haven’t really heard them talk back, although they do respond by growing and producing. I used to think people who talked to their animal pets were weird, too!

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Today, I live on an acre of a’a in Hawai`i. A`a is lumpy, rocky lava that blew out of the depths of our volcano. The only way to plant something is to move aside the rocks and dump in a bag of soil, which filters down after a rain or watering and I need to add more soil. Still, there are nutrients in the greedy porous lava. Plants do grow, with a lot of prayer and patience.

Peter and Eileen Caddy were founders of the Findhorn Community in Scotland. They moved to a barren plot on the northernmost tip of Scotland, a place where nothing should have grown. Yet they made it work, through meditation and conversations with the nature spirits and “devas” – the angels of each plant. They claimed to receive gardening advice from those beings.

No matter what we may believe about all that, their results were incredible. I hope for the same results in my lava. Here in this little corner of the Big Island, I suppose it takes calling on Madam Pele, our volcano goddess – or maybe calling on the menehune.

I believe that if you are open to it, the process of gardening will tell you everything you need to know about life. There is a definite spirit of cooperation and communication between plants and humans. It is easy to see how we cultivate ourselves when we cultivate a garden. The idea is to relate to all living things as if they can understand, because they can! It is a living prayer.

Saint Fiacre is the patron saint of gardens and gardeners. He carries a shovel in one hand and a book in the other. He gave up his life as a prince of Ireland to live as a monk on the edge of a forest in France. Many people came to him for his healing through herbs and flowers. His reputation grew and ultimately, he built his own monastery that featured his healing plants.

Being There with Peter Sellars is a wonderful old movie. It is the story of a man who started out as sort of an idiot child who learned to garden, and could speak of nothing but gardening. Through a minor accident, he was brought into a home where he gradually worked his way up to international significance with only his gardening remarks. Everyone thought that his words were profound, and they became metaphors for everything from politics to world finance to love.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=lujotast-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B000056WRD&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

Please leave a comment and tell me what spiritual experiences have you had with plants.

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