Thank you, Perrin

9 10 2014
Festa dei Nonni 2014 by Perrin

Festa dei Nonni 2014 by Perrin

DH went to Italy to visit the kids after we both went to his high school class reunion in Pennsylvania, and I returned to the Islands to attend my class reunion. Both granddaughters attend Italian school. One day Miss Marvelous’s younger sister Perrin, almost 3, brought home this darling ornament for her Papa. It was Grandparents Day. Pretty good likeness of Popo and Papa, don’t you think? I like it.

Copyright 2014 Rebekah Luke

Related blog: “Popo Goes to Italy” —


Today’s my birthday, I feel like a wreck

9 01 2010

Today’s my birthday, and I feel like a wreck.

Yesterday Pat, Irma, and Becky came to cheer me up. They brought flowers, smoothies, presents, and cupcakes! That did make me feel better, and DH said he hadn’t seen me that lively since we came home from our trip.

That was around Dec. 27. Although home, sweet home, and having had a ball on a once in a lifetime vacation, my body experienced an excruciating  pain that I can’t recall ever having in my life. My body is crooked, and my range of motion limited. I feel weak.

A trip to the emergency room and a follow-up visit to an M.D. pronounced it’s not H1N1 but likely a virus or a combination of things. Viruses last about 7 to 10 days, she said. Today is day 14. So I’m baffled. Not a whole lot of change.

Michael, my neighbor, claims he had the bug, and that Sandra, his wife who is a flight attendant, had it twice. It’s from the airplane, he said. And coming home from Vienna to Honolulu, I was on a lot of planes. Will the pain go away? He promised it would.

Heal thyself, DH reminds me, the Reiki master. Right. My reading of the spiritual CNN says the first half of January will be rough. No kidding!

I’m so grateful for my family and friends and that I’m where the climate is warm.

I do have an appointment with my naturopath today who’s fixed me up before. I am wondering if it could be something mechanical (something of my body physically out of line) or an underlying allergy that might be preventing me from being well. Dr. Burke practices acupuncture, that works with the same energy as Reiki, and Chinese medicine too.

I have my hopes up for some relief to bring me back into balance. That would be a wonderful birthday present.

Copyright 2010 Rebekah Luke

Claim your space and find your voice

28 11 2009

Miss Marvelous’s primary daytime caregiver four days a week is Papa, her grandfather (a.k.a. DH at Rebekah’s Studio). On those days Popo (that’s me) is the backup caregiver, chief cook and bottle washer—literally. This is the first time I’ve had a baby at home. It’s a delightful distraction, or attraction, I should say.

One day last week DH scheduled an important errand in Kaneohe. He was kanalua (hesitant) about leaving the little girl in my charge. “Are you sure this is okay?” No problem, we’ll be fine, I said as he watched me change a diaper. He prepared the next feeding for me. He even conscientiously phoned the baby’s mom to alert her of the shift change.

So I got to have some dedicated quality time with Miss Marvelous. She’s seven months old now, and starting to become mobile. She’s not crawling yet, but she wants to. During tummy time (“Back to sleep, tummy to play,” right?) she rolls from her front to her back in all directions and can inch forward on her tummy just a little.

I placed manipulatives—the correct name for these age-appropriate toys, I learned—in front of her, slightly out of her reach, as an incentive. One of them was a soft cuddly hippopotamus named Hillary who she loves and responds to.

For more encouragement, I got the bright idea to give Hillary a voice. A voice that wasn’t Popo’s, but a higher voice.

Miss Marvelous is into very high-pitched shrieking-screeching-whatever this week. Discovering her vocal chords and finding her voice, perhaps? I have a 6-year-old puppy dog, so I know to reward desirable behavior and to ignore less desirable or plain unacceptable behavior. Therefore, I am ignoring this sound.

It was fascinating to me, then, that when Hillary spoke aloud to Miss Marvelous, how MM responded. Her big blue eyes lighted up even more than usual, she smiled at her friend who was speaking to her and became very animated, actually engaging with the four-legged stuffed toy who by this time was demonstrating how to crawl. Popo became invisible and all attention was on Hillary.

I’ve learned that as soon as the baby rubs her eyes, pulls her ear, or starts to fuss, that it’s time to put her down for a nap. Lucky for both of us, when I put her in her crib and switched off the lights, she was out in less than a minute. Conversing with Hillary and all that exercise on my tummy is tiring, Popo!

Mommy phoned, how’s everything? Baby’s fine, she’s sleeping . . .

Later we read the mail-order catalogs together. Great fun. I tried to multi-task and watch Oprah at the same time, but that was difficult. I don’t allow Miss Marvelous to watch TV yet, but boy, TV is a magnet, and as soon as the baby hears it, she’s drawn to the screen. So I switched back to Soundscapes.

Next, still “reading” the catalogs, Miss Marvelous played the didgeridoo without the instrument, spit flying and all, entertaining herself for about what seemed like an hour. With this ability she can blow the Hawaiian pu (conch shell) too.

Miss Marvelous and Hillary: we made this photo and emailed it to Papa and Mom to show them everything was A-OK!

Another voice. Thank you, dear one.

These experiences reinforced what I believe is a need to claim one’s space and find one’s voice in our changing times, or at any time. Put another way, stop procrastinating, do it now, and speak our piece/peace. What are we waiting for?

That is how I created my healing space and my breathing room and Rebekah’s Studio that make me happy.

Recurring mantra:
Claim your space and find your voice
Are you listening?
Copyright 2009 Rebekah Luke

From national park to national park

28 09 2009

Watching Ken Burns’s “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” on PBS last night reminded me of two great trips we took in 2004 across parts of the continental U.S. where some of the parks are located.

Lower Falls at Yellowstone

Lower Falls at Yellowstone

This excellent PBS-TV program about the national parks continues every night this week through Friday, 8 to 10 p.m. HST, and repeats at 10 p.m.  I highly recommend watching/taping it.

That year, 2004, we decided to meet and enjoy some of our family on Moku Honu (North America, Hawaiian for Turtle Island as Native Americans call it)—an idea inspired by the fact that my father, my hanai (adopted) father, and darling husband’s mother and father all passed over in 2003.

I used the internet and telephone to make all the travel arrangements myself.

The first trip was in May. We had a date with DH’s brother and sister on Memorial Day to spread their father Walter’s ashes at Mount Nittany on the Penn State campus per his request. We started to entertain the idea of driving ‘cross  country, but which route?

We also wanted to call on uncles and aunts and their families who DH seldom saw and who I had never met. Walter had two brothers, Uncle Lee in Texas and Uncle Ron in Virginia. Let’s go visit!

We got out the road atlas. I plotted the towns and thought of who else we could call on between Texas and Pennsylvania. I thought of Cousin Eddy in Memphis, Tennessee, of my mom’s side of the family, and my brother-in-law Paul in his new house in North Carolina.

Upon further examination of the map, I could see that we could plan a route and visit a couple of national parks and other visitor attractions too. We agreed we would drive short distances, maybe four or five hours at a time, not all day, then stop and stay no more than three days at each place. We didn’t want to wear out our welcome.

Here is the route and the itinerary, in case you’ll be in the vicinity and want some ideas:

Fly from Honolulu to Dallas. Visit Uncle Lee and family in Plano and Tyler, Texas.

Pick up a rental car in Tyler, drive to Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas, then to Memphis. Turn in the car.

Tour Memphis with expert tour guide Cousin Eddy. (I have to mention the famous Memphis barbecue, Graceland, Sun Studio, Stax Museum, National Civil Rights Museum, Beale Street (rockabilly music by the Dempskys), soul food, Memphis in May festival, plus a drive to Ripley, Mississippi, to visit Eddy’s aunt and eat pie!)

In Memphis, buy a lot of music CDs. Go pick up the next rental car. (Would we mind driving a van that needs to be delivered to Philadelphia for the same rate? As long as it has a CD player, no problem!)

Listening to our music, drive the length of Tennessee to Nashville, attend the Grand Ol’ Oprey.

Enjoy the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from Gatlinburg, TN, and over the border to Cherokee, North Carolina. Drive slow along the very scenic Blueridge Parkway from Cherokee to Blowing Rock, NC. Stay at Chetola Lodge for the Celtic Music Festival.

Turn right (east) to visit Paul and family in Summerfield, NC,  head up to Virginia to visit Uncle Ron and Aunt Marge, and then on to Sister Penny’s in Collegeville, PA.

At the end of week no. 3, after spreading Walter’s ashes, we were in the Nittany Valley in the exact center of Pennsylvania. We located DH’s grandmother’s old farmhouse of his childhood, and we ran into his other cousins, all still farmers, of a family who has remained in the area since their ancestors arrived from the old country. This trip to the Nittany Valley was the first time DH, his brother and his sister traveled together as adults. I’m sure they will always remember it.

The second road trip was in September. We enjoyed the May experience of driving so much that we decided to meet the Luke relatives before meeting up with two of the Sinclair sisters on their annual pilgrimage to Yellowstone National Park.

Steamy landscape at Yellowstone

Steamy landscape at Yellowstone

I wanted to visit Aunty Julia, my father’s last surviving sister who lived with her daughter Loris’s family in Stockton, California. We started in San Francisco and met Cousin Laureen and family. Together we drove to Stockton to see Julia and Loris. Another cousin Lorene, not to be confused with Laureen, and her husband drove from Sacramento bringing dim sum for lunch. Throughout the afternoon Loris’s several kids stopped in with their kids, and we had a really nice reunion.

Loris has a sister, Bee, who lives in South Fork, Colorado. So next morning we flew from Oakland to Albuquerque and drove to Santa Fe, New Mexico. (In Santa Fe I can recommend El Paradero B&B, El Farol restaurant, and the Georgia O’Keeffe museum and café.) From there we went to Mesa Verde National Park, then to Durango where we rode the narrow gauge railroad to Silverton and back. We continued to South Fork (of the Rio Grande) to visit Bee and her husband.

Birch and evergreen

Aspens and conifers

To get to Yellowstone National Park, we drove the highway that runs along the top of the Colorado Rocky Mountains from south to north. We had dinner with Bee’s son Bret in Steamboat Springs. Next morning we entered Wyoming. There’s a lot of Wyoming before you get to the park’s north entrance. Ruth and Kathy came in from Idaho.

We thoroughly enjoyed our rendezvous, the beauty of the park, its geological features, and all the wildlife.

Pronghorn antelope

Pronghorn antelope

As it is adjacent to Yellowstone, we also visited Grand Teton National Park in Jackson, WY.

Thus ends my post of our 2004 tour of the national parks by way of some quality time with our families.

Some reflections:

When I was in the third grade at Schofield Post Elementary School, our lessons included listening to the Standard School Broadcast radio program about the national parks, featuring a different one each week. That’s how I first learned about these places that were wisely set aside for our benefit and enjoyment. I imagine the Ken Burns films will provide additional education today.

Why did we wait until our parents died to call on our uncles, aunts, and cousins? Because our parents didn’t want to. Now I think, that’s silly. Lee, Ron and Julia have since left the earthy plane as well. I am so glad we visited them in 2004. Now for both DH and myself, our generation is the oldest in our respective families. Gratefully, we still have our cousins, siblings, daughter, nieces and nephews.

Three weeks is long enough to be away from home; three and a half weeks is too long.

When time and finances permit, we ought to do a trip like this again—family and the national parks. Perhaps sooner than later.

Copyright 2009 Rebekah Luke

My dog is magical

20 09 2009

Relative to the Violet Flame in the articles I linked to near the end of my previous post on Gratitude, take a look at this photo that captures my doggy’s aura! Can you believe it?!

They are ready for their morning walk

Ready for their morning walk: (L to R) guest dog, darling husband, Miss Marvelous and Alice Brown with violet halo

That is Alice Brown who greets you at the top of this blog each time you visit Rebekah’s Studio. This is a straight photo from my iPhone, I swear.

Alice Brown is a Kahuku girl who was given to us by my late father’s caregivers. She is a mix of silky terrier (mom) and “the fat hot dog down the road” (dad). She’s a long dog with great hair, and she’s very entertaining.

Thank you, Alice Brown, for coming into our lives. You bring blessings and joy to us and everyone you meet.

Copyright 2009 Rebekah Luke

What is family, island style

13 09 2009

Today might be a good day to talk about my family, or shall I say families. I’ll at least start. I am an only child, and my bloodline ends with me. Sometimes people feel sorry for me because of that, until they discover, “Oh, you have Family!”

Today might be good day to talk about family because we’re having Sunday dinner with my hanai family at our house, and I’m cooking. It’s our turn, and it will be a coming out party for 4-month-old Ayla (see my post “Miss Marvelous discovers her toes”), who is the daughter of my step-daughter.

My hanai (adopted) family came into my life about the time I transitioned from high school to college, well, earlier when I met Margy the first day I was a 9th grader. We remained best friends through Punahou. During my parents’ divorce when I was 17, Margy’s  parents—a doctor and his wife with six children—welcomed me into their home where I roomed until I landed my first job at The Honolulu Advertiser as a general assignment reporter. With that job I earned enough money to pay for my own apartment on Lanihuli Drive and moved out.

Family dinner is usually at Mom’s house. This is typical everywhere, as long as the matriarch is living, isn’t it? After that, the family sort of breaks up and the next generation of matriarchs takes over.

We’ll see who shows up: My nephew might have a flag football game. I’m told he is one of the better players. His dad who followed his father’s footsteps and became a physician—stay with me, now—might be on call. My sister, who competes in dressage, is showing her horse for the first time in a two-day event this weekend and hopes she will have the energy afterward to drive out to Kaaawa from Waimanalo. And ditto about the energy for a brother and his family who have a lunch party to attend at Bellows beach.

Some of my hanai family in the summer of 2008 in Washington, D. C., the year our mom Ivalee received the Jefferson Award.

Mom, who doesn’t drive anymore, will be catching a ride with Becky. Becky and I were each others’ first roommates in the Lanihuli apartment, and she’s family too. In any case, I’m making food for 15. Everyone wants to see and meet the baby.

Today might be a good day to talk about family because on Reiki Friday I saw a client from glee club who read my post “Sweet memories and coming home, part 1” and asked if I was related to Uncle Harry and Aunty Edna.

It is a growing fashion these days where I live to address anyone older than you, if even by a couple of years, as Uncle and Aunty whether you are related by blood or not. I’m sure it is done out of respect, but some people use the names almost as if they are punctuation marks in a way that, in my opinion, dilutes the title. I tend to agree with an authority on Hawaiian naming at Kamehameha Schools who prefers not to be called Uncle unless he is your real uncle. That’s okay, you can call me Aunty, but I prefer Aunty Rebekah.

So when my client asked if I was related to Uncle Harry and Aunty Edna, I thought to myself, yes, that’s why they are Uncle and Aunty, but I understood why she asked. Then I saw her resemblance to Harry. It turns out that Harry and Edna were her uncle and aunty too, and we’re related!—by marriage.

“We used to drive to Wahiawa to get lychee every year,” she said.  As they say, small world. Through family ties that extend all the way back to Kohala and the Basel Mission in China’s Kwangtung province, she explained how she knew many of my first cousins on my mother’s side of the family. My mother was the youngest of 15 Chongs. But that is another story, a story told in The Chong Family History by J. H. Kim On Chong-Gossard.* I sent my client off with a copy. “You’ll enjoy this because you know all of the people in it,” I said.

We are One.

My maternal grandparents and 13 of their 15 children in Kohala. My mother, seated front row and center, ws the baby of the family.

These are my ancestors: my maternal grandparents and 13 of their 15 children in Kohala in 1920. My mother, seated front row and center, was three years old and the baby of the family. Edna is the tall, darker complected girl on the right in the back row.

Copyright 2009 Rebekah Luke

* The Chong Family History by J. H. Kim On Chong-Gossard (Kaaawa: Chong Hee Books, 1992, ISBN 0-9634186-0-2, soft cover, 172 pages) is a five-generation family biography, or Jia Pu, of Chong How Kong and Pan Siu Chin and their descendants. Copies sell for $35 and are available from the publisher Chong Hee Books, P. O. Box 574, Kaaawa, HI 96730.

For information on Reiki Friday, click REIKI HEALING BY OELEN in the menu bar.

For women only

29 08 2009

A birthday lunch for Georgia was on the calendar this week, girls only, and a day or two prior Nancy, the organizer, called to say she had a ride for me. We hadn’t talked about carpooling and her thoughtfulness was a surprise. Gail would meet me at the appointed time and place in her red RAV4 after she picked up Becky, and we’d go to the Japaneses restaurant together. What a great idea. Okay!

I didn’t know Gail, and I was only acquainted with Becky. Most of our spouses knew each other through sailboating. These women knew the art of socializing. Me, not so much. It was Georgia who decided who would get invitations for her special day. We were a party of seven.

Folks who know me say I’m reserved, which is a nice way of explaining that I don’t seem very friendly to others until they get to know me. I’m naturally that way and always have been. It’s the way I’m wired. So I was appreciative that Gail and Becky in the front seat drew me into the conversation as we rode around the island from Kaneohe to Waimanalo, around Makapuu Point, along Sandy Beach, pass Hanauma Bay to Niu Valley.

Makapuu Beach

We talked all the way, but it wasn’t gossip, just a real friendly exchange of observations and practical information. How we did stuff, what do you think about this idea, did you know that, and what do you grow in your garden.  It was a delightful ride with scenic views of our beautiful island.

By the time we had finished eating the sushi, tempura, and the Okinawan sweet potato haupia pie, Georgia the birthday gal learned that Gail was a certified pig hunter (traps), that Camille who walks fine had gotten one of those senior accessories with wheels and a seat not for her but for her miniature dachshund (the pooch rides in a custom basket made by the sailmaker), that Candy was an expert at identifying and harvesting wild mushrooms in Idaho, that in exchange for room rent Nancy accepted very snazzy high-end sun glasses, and that Becky would be able to help Rebekah find new homes for darling husband’s bromeliad collection gone astray.

I had an absolutely wonderful time and thoroughly enjoyed this group of ladies—thanks for including me, Georgia!—which brings me to my point: the importance and significance of having a group.

Well, that’s obvious, you might say, that’s part of living. People have families, work-related colleagues, professional or trade associations, civic/hobby/social clubs, school,  sports, church, and most people have at least some friends. But think about it. Do you have a group that is not tied to an obligation or a service to others? Please don’t misunderstand. Purpose and service are high on my list.

I mean, do you have a group that fits you and your passion especially, among whose company you feel comfortable enough to be silly and have fun with as kindred spirits? It’s been found that a key to living life well as we age is regular and continued socialization with others.

Darling husband throughout his entire career, and now in his volunteer work, always spent his lunch hour with the same couple of buddies. My friend Jerry, also retired and who’s always lived life well in my opinion, that’s all she does—socialize! Okay, now that I (we) understand, I’ll go first and tell how I think I socialize. These are fairly tame activities. It’s not all I do, but these are my current standing dates that I enjoy, my faves.

Once a week I paint with a group on location. It’s not a class, most are hobbyists, and there’s no formal critique. We just go religiously to paint together and have Chinese lunch afterward.

•  At least once a day, we take Puppy-chan for a walk, usually on the beach. It’s here that we meet our neighbors and exchange news. The pup checks her peemail.

Beach at Kaaawa

I look forward to the gatherings my friend Cynthia hosts periodically for a group of women who help interpret each other’s dreams a la Alice Anne Parker in Understand Your Dreams (ISBN 0-915811-95-2). We’re all graduates of Alice Anne’s dream workshop. We bring potluck for dinner, and with wine and gold-flecked sake, we enjoy a gourmet experience.

Twice a week, I go to tai chi class. Not a whole lot of time to gab, unless you come early or stay late, but the group energy when doing tai chi creates a bond.

Now it looks like everyday I’ll be going to Rebekah’s Studio. I’m such a slow learner sometimes. My gosh, coming from the old school of writing news and information in the traditional manner of publishing before there were desktop computers to the new way of using the social media on the internet—it took me awhile. It’s not too hard to catch up, I found. explains that the personal news and commentary a blogger writes will attract readers of like interests, thereby creating little communities in cyberspace—little groups socializing. Voila! I get it.

What is your group? ~ Rebekah

P. S. Okay, how many guys out there read this post? No problem, the bit about socializing to thrive applies to men, too! ~ RL

Copyright 2009 Rebekah Luke

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