Mourning a piano

9 08 2018

Never did I think getting rid of an old piano, the thing, would evoke such emotional feelings in me. I put it outside today, to make room for another one, a better one that was newer, shinier, and in tune.

The old piano—I didn’t name it, but it had a name. Story & Clark, and on the back of the sound board was a plaque that said it came from Aloha Piano. I had it for 50 years until today, and it traveled with me from Manoa Valley to Waikiki to Lanikai to Kaaawa.

My father, who had not supported me for several years when I was a minor, ended his silence one day by giving me 800 dollars cash. I used the money to buy the piano. I learned to play on my mother’s parlor grand. I don’t know what happened to it. The three of us went our separate ways.

Ayla’s first piano lessons were on this piano. Now 9, she played the C scale she remembered from a few lessons I gave her and got out her music book just as the piano movers arrived. They took the old piano to the roadside, brought the newer, shinier one to its place in the living room. After the moving truck left, a man came knocking at the door. A stranger.

“Why?” he asked, arms in the air. “Aren’t the keys good?” I explained some were stuck, some strings were broken, all the strings were rusty, and there had been termites in the cabinet. And that the piano tuner could no longer tune it up to concert pitch. Could he ask his friend if she would want it for her kids to plunk on? Sure, I said. She didn’t come.

Anna asks via Facebook if there are any salvageable parts for abstract wall art. Sadly, I am not that ambitious.

All afternoon kids and other passers-by have been plunking on the piano. It will be there for four more days, in the heat and the rain, before it’s taken away. I may still hear it. I’m crying.

Like an old mistress or lover, the memory will take a long time to subside.

©2018 Rebekah Luke

 





Mid-summer abundance

22 07 2018

The large yellow/orange globe is a papaya from my garden. The birds planted the tree!

Taking time to marvel at the variety of fruit that I see in my kitchen—gifts from friends, strangers, a bird, and from the market. I am inspired to assemble a still life. Ever grateful for the abundance. Mahalo e Ke Akua.





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





The longest beach in North America

4 06 2018



I just returned home from a holiday with friends in Long Beach, Washington, located on reportedly the longest beach in North America. The beach is also very wide and hard enough to drive a car on, unlike the beaches of Oahu. From the house we rented it was perhaps a city block away along a sandy trail through trees and grasses. We went there at least two times a day.










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