Finding Hakka roots in food

8 07 2018

Cousin Millie organized a table of 10 for last night’s Tsung Tsin Association dinner celebrating Hakka Chinese culture.

Most of the time I am unconscious of my ethnicity. When I have to identify in that way I say Hawaiian. That I am.

An occasion like the Hakka dinner reminds me of my maternal roots. 

At Golden Palace Seafood Restaurant six of us were first cousins; our mothers were sisters. Eileen, accompanied by her daughter Marty, and Kwong Yen, who came with his lady Molly, are our eldest cousins—age 91! Audrey Helen, Nathan, Millie’s husband Peter and my hubby Pete filled the rest of the seats.

Molly was surprised and thought the dinner at the Golden Palace Seafood Restaurant would be among us 10 only, not part of a big party in the banquet room! We enjoyed a pretty good Hakka menu, wine that Millie brought, raffle prizes, and party favors. As always, Millie and Audrey Helen gave out additional gifts. Christmas in July! 

A bag full of goodies—tea samples and fruit confections

A brave woman attempted to teach us a Hakka song. We tried! It was a lovely tune.

Hakka song lyrics and translation

Both the lion and the dragon made their appearance and were well fed. As the eldest, Eileen got to take home the table centerpiece—a money tree plant!

Eileen (lower left) watches Marty photograph Nathan feeding the dragon . . .

. . . and the lion

While “a good time was had by all,” I couldn’t help noticing that this year’s turnout was smaller than last year’s, and that there were hardly any younger people present. We need to pass this experience to our kids, if only to cook and eat our traditional foods.

What foods did your ancestors eat?

~ Rebekah





Revisiting ʻIolekaʻa for an anniversary

2 07 2018

Iconic view of ʻIolekaʻa

Yesterday, after 20 years, I walked back in to ʻIolekaʻa valley in Windward Oahu for the 20th anniversary of the celebration of life of my late friend Anita. She, her faithful dog Ei Nei, and the ʻāina (land) are memorialized in 13 landscape oil paintings I made in 1994. It was an honor and a privilege to have been invited by Anita to see her home, then and now.

A dozen friends and relatives began arriving at 9 a.m. calling “Ūi!” (Halloo) and answered by “Eō!” (Iʻm here). Long pants, long sleeves, boots, rain gear, hat, gloves, and defenses from mosquitos made up our garb. The plan was to hike through the bamboo forest to clean the heiau (stone platform) area and to rebuild the ahu (altar) with pōhaku, and then farther to the foot of the mountain, that is the water source for ʻIolekaʻa stream, where Anita’s ashes had been spread from a helicopter.

Cultivated anthuriums

Ginger and tree ferns by the stream, just steps from the house

Tracey and Donna blow the conch to acknowledge visitors

Cut anthuriums for Mom

Daughter Donna began with a prayer, and when she mentioned Anita’s name, a soft sweet wind breezed by, acknowledgement enough! Mahalo e Anita! Mahalo e ke Akua!

Oh, the memories. Not much has changed, except that I saw less kalo (taro) growing in the gardens. In fact, everything looks a little tidier. The current generation has recently returned to the land, acknowledging and accepting it is their kuleana to care for it.

Clearing the trail

Along the stream

Ancient Hawaiian rock terraces overgrown with bamboo

Every now and then a waterfall

Looking up

The ahu — before

Before photo. Waiting for the others.

The dog Ei Nei’s marker. R.I.P.

Corner wall of the heiau

Donna and Wally carefully rearrange the rocks for the ahu, flat side out.

More waterfalls

The ahu — after

Anita’s family and friends. pc: Didi Akana

After we pau hana we sat down to talk story and shared a bottle of wine and rolls with butter and jelly (Anita’s favorite snack). Sort of like holy communion, I thought! To me, the anniversary celebration for Anita fulfilled its purpose when the younger ones, her now-adult grandchildren, stepped up and announced it was their turn to continue the work.

We emerged from the forest at 3:30, muddy, damp and happy, and glad a pot of corn chowder and other goodies were waiting for our potluck “lunch.” By the time I walked out to modern civilization it was 5 p.m. What a full and wonderful day! Aloha e!

White ginger

 

Tahitian gardenia

~ Rebekah Luke

 





Observing the moon phases

24 06 2018

Matching moon phases with calendar dates and making a journal entry

In my Hawaiian language class we are learning the names of the moon phases — a different name for each 24 hours as well as the hand signs. Kumu Keoua Nelsen challenged us to go outdoors and look at the moon. Last night in Kaaawa I observed its shape as gibbous or 3/4 full. I think it is Huna today. As I wrote in my journal, it is a “warm and windless morning. Light rain shower. 7” avocados on tree. Plenty papaya still green…”

Avocado fruit measures about 7” in diameter now. I anticipate it will be humongous by the usual harvest time in August.

 

Plenty papaya

~ Rebekah Luke





Volcano series

19 06 2018

‘ŌHIʻA LEHUA diptych
24″ x 12″ Hand-dyed Tissue Paper Collage
Volcano Series NFS

Fascinated, rather, mesmerized by the Kilauea volcano eruption at Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō on Hawai‘i island, during the past month, I have embarked on a fine art project goal to collage a series of diptychs for exhibition in January 2019. I started at the end — the ‘Ōhiʻa Lehua flower that is one of the first plants to naturally emerge and grow out of a fresh lava field.

I am reserving all the collages for the exhibit, and, therefore, they are not for purchase until that time.  Please click on the PAINTINGS menu tab to see more!

~ Rebekah





KINOHI composed by Herb Mahelona

2 05 2018

On April 28, 2018, at Kawaiaha‘o Church, I was a member of combined choirs performing the premiere of the Hawaiian language oratorio entitled KINOHI composed by Herb Mahelona. He wrote the lyrics and music over a 20-year period. I am excited to share the video with you. It is one hour and 40 minutes long. As the composer remarked upon hearing it sung for the first time in its entirety, “It is exactly as I dreamt it!” Please sit back and enjoy!

Worth watching more than once! – Herb Mahelona

https://youtu.be/XmVEAMnxbTs

Mahalo, gratitude, to all involved who made this happen.

~ Rebekah Luke, second alto





The rain barrel

11 03 2018

Installing the rain barrel we won at yesterday’s silent auction, a benefit for the Mālama Honua Public Charter School, was a satisfying Sunday project.

The Papa Ekolu (3rd graders) had donated the barrel. We had talked about getting one “just because.” And there it was, completely decorated by the kids and with a parts kit with tools and do-it-yourself installation instructions. Score!

Pete tapped it into a gutter downspout right by the garden boxes.

Cheerful barrel with hardware kit

Hauling the barrel home

Bag of parts

Diverter connects from downspout to top of barrel. Rain water exits through the spigot at the bottom where we attach a garden hose. When the barrel is full, excess water flows past and comes out normally below.

Cautionary signage

I love it!

Pete admires his final installation

Mahalo nui to Mālama Honua Public Charter School!





The things I find

15 02 2018

Today I came down with a case of cleaning frenzy in the studio. Not just cleaning, but decluttering as well. You know what I mean! Artists have a reputation of being messy, but frankly, I prefer tidy and organized so I can think more clearly.

One of the happy finds was a haiku I wrote in December 1979. I am including it here with some photo images so it won’t be lost again.

HAIKU

Wake up in the morn

And see the pretty sunrise

From Kaaawa

Mountains by the sea

I see the lion crouching

My own waterfall

Five white horses graze

O’er fence where grass is greener

At Kualoa

Salt spray, ocean mist

Turn on the windshield wipers

It isn’t raining

Slick bay reflections

Morningside of Oahu

Oriental hills

 

Sunrise

Kualoa

 








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