Gone to Italy!

9 10 2012

Tomorrow my Darling Husband and I leave for Napoli, Italy, and I plan to post my experiences of the next four weeks on my new travel blog.  “Popo Goes to Italy” is found at http://rebekahstravels.wordpress.com. Please head on over!

We’re eager to see our kids.

As we readied for the trip to visit 3-year-old Miss Marvelous and her family, what a pleasure and how wonderful it was to have two Italian friends visit the studio this past week to keep us enthused.

The first was young Sofia, who came to O‘ahu with her mother Lisa and her grandmother, my friend and author of The Hakka Cookbook: Chinese Soul Food from around the World, Linda Lau Anusasananan. Sofia’s father is Italian, and his relatives reside around Napoli. Lisa, who lived in Italy, coached us on some Italian phrases, and we practiced speaking with a correct accent. Sofia and Alice Brown made friends quickly. Almost age 3, Sofia reminded us what it’s like in the company of a toddler!

Me, Sofia, and Lisa

The second Italian is Joe, who’s here now. Joe’s relatives are from Napoli, too! Whenever DH and I have the itch to travel, we need to consider our animals. Having a trusted house- and pet-sitter gives us peace of mind. Joe arrived yesterday from Florida—this is a vacation for him, too—and the animals adore him.

Bossy Ula the cat, in the foreground of dappled light, seems to approve of Joe, in white shirt with Alice Brown. But she’s still wary of the larger dog Pua, at left with DH.

Copyright 2012 Rebekah Luke

Japanese food art

26 08 2010

For special occasions, a fine meal may be in order. One of those times was last evening to celebrate my wedding anniversary with DH (darling husband). The fine meal was the kaiseki prix fixe menu at the Japanese restaurant Miyako in The New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel at Sans Souci Beach at the foot of Diamond Head.

Sashimi. Everything on the plate in this beautiful presentation is edible.

The artistry in the presentation of all seven courses served one at a time over two hours was a treat—a reminder to incorporate good design in everything we do 😉 —as were the flavors from the food. It reminded us of TV’s Iron Chef. The difference was that we ate everything and sipped sake to softly played music while enjoying the view of Waikiki and the spectacular sunset.

Anniversary couple

Copyright 2010 Rebekah Luke

Dressing like an onion: winter apparel for a Hawaiian

5 01 2010

If you’re warm-blooded and live in Hawaii or another subtropical-to-tropical climate, and you’re headed to where it’s cold and snowing in winter, here are some tips on the art and science of staying warm. If you’re not warm, you’ll be miserable, and that’s no fun!

Winter sports enthusiasts know this, and every first-year college student from Hawaii to North America masters this by year two, but if you’re my age or haven’t been away from the Islands for a few years, perhaps a refresher will help.

I was quite comfortable last month in Austria on a riverboat and on land of the ports of call (see my December 2009 blog posts). It snowed every day. My friends Kaylene and Rosemary asked what I wore and how I kept warm, so here goes.

I learned that:

• Winter apparel is not the same as fall-spring apparel. Leave the fall clothes behind; they are too hot for inside and not warm enough for outside. They just take up space in your suitcase.

• Dressing like an onion works. The layers trap insulating pockets of air to keep you warm. Invest in thin apparel made of new high-tech fabrics. It’s worth it, and you’ll be all set for the next time. Stay away from cotton because it doesn’t wick moisture, like perspiration, as well.

See my layering details below. Five or six layers, count ’em! There are variations, but this is what worked for me. You want thin clothes so you can still move, button your pants around the waist, and have your footwear fit with all the layers on. If it warms up for you, you can shed a layer. Better to have too many than too few.

• You can always go back indoors. Each time you do, be sure to peel off the outer layers of your clothes, if only for a short while. It’s a humbug, particularly when you go to the bathroom, but you’ll get used to it. Then layer back on when you go outside again. If you don’t do this, you’re liable to get sick.

My friend Dave noticed I had to think about it, that is, what layer goes on next?—well, yeah!—versus people from cold climates for whom it’s automatic. You’ll need a few more minutes to get dressed too.

• Lathering your body with lotion after a warm bath or hot shower will keep your skin from drying out and getting itchy. My pharmacist recommended Vaseline total moisture conditioning body lotion. The lotion is for your whole body, not just your face. My momma who went to school in Chicago and Shanghai taught me this years ago.

• You can use a nasal spray or neti pot to keep your nose from drying out and bleeding. Consult the pharmacist.

• Hand warmers, those magical packets of warmth that activate when exposed to air, in your gloves are “life savers.” Mine came from Dick’s Sporting Goods store in Pennsylvania, but you can get them online at http://warmers.com.

• It’s best to eat just before you go outdoors. Digestion generates heat.

And if, say next winter, you visit the outdoor Christmas markets in Central Europe, head for the glühwein hütte for a mug of hot mulled wine or cider!


Layer 1 (innermost)—Your regular underwear. For women, this includes pantyhose or tights. Apply lotion first.

Layer 2—Long underwear a.k.a. long johns. I brought two sets:  one silk set from REI with long leggings, sleeveless top and long-sleeve top; and one set of capilene from Patagonia. This is your “baselayer.” If it is colder than cold, you can double up on this layer.

Layer 3 — Pullover top (e.g., silk, nylon, polyester), blouse or shirt with long sleeves. Wool trousers with lining. My DH got away with heavyweight jeans, but only with long underwear underneath. Plus a pair of thin warm socks.

Layer 4 — Wool sweater; I wore a long-sleeved V-neck cashmere.  I alternated that with a long colorful Coogi wool sweater vest from Australia (a gift) that covered all the way down over my hips. Smartwool brand knee socks of merino wool; the brand matters. Visit smartwool.com.

Layer 5 — Fleece vest with pockets and a little longer in the back below the waist where there is no body fat (on me, anyway). Scarf—mine was pashmina from China—or neck warmer (a tube that looks like the neck only of a turtle neck; I found this easier to wear than a scarf, and you can pull it up to cover your nose). It’s very important to keep your neck comfortably warm, or risk a sore throat. When not wearing the neck gear, you can stow it in the vest pocket. When indoors, my closed-toe slip-on Birkenstocks (I’m unable to wear flats or heels comfortably). DH wore Crocs on the ship.

Layer 6 — Knee length heavy wool overcoat with pockets, or other outerwear jacket, like a ski jacket. Hat. Gloves. Snow boots or waterproof shoes with thick soles.

I inherited the wool coat from my cousin Dee who was a frequent traveler. I preferred this to a fleece-lined, hooded Gortex jacket. I found my Dale of Norway hat at the Salt Lake City airport when I passed through in 2002, a winter Olympics year. The program directors of the ship wore knitted hats with extensions that covered their ears and cheeks and ended up in yarn braids; really cute. My fall gloves were not warm enough, even with liners. Mittens are warmer. At the last minute I bought pop-top mittens designed for hunters from Dick’s in Pennsylvania. (Thanks for finding them, Richard!) These allowed me to remove the mitten half when I wanted to shoot—my camera! The mittens came in camouflage-colored yarn, but who cares when warmth is the objective. I would have gotten them in bright hunter’s orange, but they didn’t have them in my size. When not wearing, stow your hat in one pocket and the gloves in the other pocket. I got my purple lace-up Sorel snow boots many years ago from Lands’ End for my first Alaska trip, and they still work great. I just love them.

Bonus frosting on the cake —Remember to pick up some hand warmers.

If with these tips you still don’t want to guts real winter, well then, lucky you live Hawaii!

Copyright 2010 Rebekah Luke

Let it snow!

2 12 2009

Where does a Hawaiian island girl go on vacation? To places where it is cold and snowy. To places where I can wear clothes! In a few days I’ll be on my way to central Europe to visit the Christmas markets where I know it will be very cold.  I am wishing for snow.

Somewhere along the river cruise route from Germany to Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary there might be some of that falling white fluffy stuff. Maybe in Salzburg, Vienna, Bratislava, or Budapest? I’ve got my snow boots packed! In the meantime, our WordPress host is accommodating by snowing on Rebekah’s Studio. Cool, huh? (pun intended)

Here’s a picture of a picture of my very first snowman the year I declared, as an adult, that I wanted a winter vacation. It was the first time I deliberately traveled to a cold place. My visit to Anchorage, Alaska, coincided with the Fur Rendezvous festival in Anchorage.

Heather and Sean showed me how to build a snowman in Alaska

A couple of seasons before that, it snowed in the mountains on the San Francisco peninsula in California during the coldest winter since such-and-such year. I was working for Sunset magazine at the time. That winter I remember the first snowball thrown at me at Yosemite National Park where the waterfalls were frozen and the scenery was gorgeous-crisp and quiet.

Throughout our 25 years of marriage, DH and I often visited his parents, brother’s and sister’s families in Pennsylvania during the winter holiday, so often that my friends would ask if I ever went anywhere else besides Pennsylvania.

The last December we went to the East Coast, before this one, was to see his parents at their funerals within two weeks of each other. We huddled under the falling snow and placed orchid lei on the ground in the church’s memorial garden where we buried their ashes.

One weekend we took the train from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. We stayed at the Pen Arts building that is the headquarters for the National League of American Pen Women, the members’ clubhouse. The staff went home for the weekend, and the mansion was ours. To trek around in the snow the next morning, though, we first had to get out of the front door. Thank goodness DH remembered how to shovel the steps and to say, “Yes, thank you!” when a man came by to ask if he should salt the sidewalk.

If you have to live in wintry weather all the time, I’m sure it could be more tiresome than romantic. But if you are born and reared in Hawaii as I was, it’s a novelty.

When I was in Osaka, Japan, one February for the opening of the Oceania exhibit at Minpaku (the National Museum of Ethnology) at Senri Park, Professor Shimizu regretted to tell me, when I asked, that it probably would not snow. A few minutes into lunch, he was really surprised to see the white flakes falling outside the dining room window. But I wasn’t.

Here is the link to Minpaku. The photo you see is an exact replica of Hale Kuai Cooperative store with authentic Native Hawaiian made products in Hauula, Oahu, that I co-founded with Ka Lahui Hawaii. How it got there as the Hawaiian part of the permanent Oceania exhibit at the museum is an amazing story, a real memoir that I’ll share with you someday.

I say it’s fitting that WordPress bless this blog with snow. Please enjoy it warmly in front of your computer! I’m planning to send holiday posts while abroad.

Copyright 2009 Rebekah Luke

Taiji for health

18 11 2009

The WCC Taiji Class had a lovely visit from its master Alex Dong this week. He is a fourth generation Taiji master who was born in China, moved to Hawaii as a boy and attended school here. From Hawaii he moved to New York City and opened schools in many parts of the world. He travels from school to school.

I’ve been attending the class at Windward Community College in Kaneohe on the island of Oahu for only about three years. Class is twice a week and tuition is $40 a month. Once or twice annually, Master Dong returns to teach weekend workshops from which we learn the finer points of the Taiji form, that is “Dong Style Orthodox Taiji” evolved from the Yang and Hao styles.

When he’s not in town, his senior students or appointed teachers lead the class. Students may advance their study during the various workshops taught by Master Dong wherever in the world he gives them. Many combine the workshops with vacation travel abroad—New York, Greece, Italy, Croatia, Czech Republic, Brazil, Great Britain, China, Hawaii, for example.

To become more acquainted with Taiji, I’ll refer you to the website alexdongtaiji.com. There I read that Alex Dong comes from a family of Taijiquan masters. His great-grandfather, Grand Master Tung Ying Jie was the national champion of China for many years, and he was a leading disciple of Yang Cheng-Fu, the main proponent of the modern Yang Long Form. Tung Ying Jie also studied with Li Xiang Yuan who was a disciple of Hao Wei Jing founder of the Hao style Taiji. Alex Dong’s grandfather, Grand Master Dong Hu Ling, spread the art in Southeast Asia and the United States, and his father, Grand Master Dong Zeng Chen, is world famous for his skills, especially in Taiji push hands.

Taiji had been recommended to me for exercise, and I do think my health has improved since I began. Balance, concentration and memory, strength, breathing (I am asthmatic, but less so now), energy, grounding, flexibility, posture—these are just some of the aspects of mind, body, and spirit that Taiji addresses.

To give you an idea of how whole Taiji is, I asked the master sifu (teacher) what he did to cross train. He replied, “Nothing. Only Taiji.”

So far I practice all three sections of the slow set and the sabre (knife) set; I practice between classes, read articles and books, and watch the videos of the master performing. My first Taiji teacher Lois explained that learning Taiji is like peeling away the layers of an onion. That is so true! A warm “Thank you!” to all of my teachers.

At this stage of my practice, I have a personal interest in relating the energy work of Taiji to Qigong to Reiki and healing.

For related posts, please see my 9/3/09 entry “Learning about energy healing.”  From the menu bar, Reiki Healing by Oelen, tells about my Reiki practice.

Copyright 2009 Rebekah Luke

Artist sketches in oil

30 09 2009
Looking Down Upon the Path - 5"x7" oil on canvas

Looking Down Upon the Path - 5"x7" oil on canvas

Usually I sketch a scene before blocking it out on a larger canvas. This drawing is like a dry run. Sometimes I sketch in oil. Sometimes I like the sketches better than the larger paintings. “Blue Koolau Mountains” and “Looking Down Upon the Path” are two examples made from the Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden Visitor Center on Oahu in the area called Luluku. This is a lovely place to visit, walk, and camp if you want to up your green quotient. I’m going out there again tomorrow. On Friday 10/2, I will be at the Pohai Nani health fair from 9 to 1 with my Reiki table. Come for a demo with Oe-Len. There’s a fabulous view of the mountains.  ~ RebekahBlue Koolau Mountains by Rebekah Luke

Blue Koolau Mountains - 5"x7" Oil on Canvas

Copyright 2009 Rebekah Luke

Alii Sunday at Kawaiahao

31 08 2009

Liliu's portrait

Yesterday was Alii Sunday at Kawaiahao Church in Honolulu, honoring Queen Liliuokalani (b. 1838-d. 1917), sister of King David Kalakaua. She reigned as the last monarch of Hawaii from 1891 to 1893 when she was overthrown. Her birthday is September 2.

Each Alii Sunday, the Hawaiian Royal Societies and other ahahui (Hawaiian clubs) walk in the  processional, and the front pews are reserved for them.

Yesterday I attended as a member of the Koolauloa Hawaiian Civic Club with Kamakea, our vice president. We rode in to Honolulu with her son Kaimana, who is a member of the Royal Order of Kamehameha I.

This post shares the highlights for me. You may wish to go sometime. Visitors are welcome to Sunday worship service. Portions are in the Hawaiian language. Kawaiahao is part of the United Church of Christ.

Kawaiahao Church is on the corner of King and Punchbowl streets. A plaque describes its construction

Kawaiahao Church is on the corner of King and Punchbowl streets. A plaque describes its construction.

Kawaiahao plaque

The Hawaiian Royal Societies, or Aha Hipuu, are a special sight. They include:

Royal Order of Kamehameha I who wear red and yellow capes over black suits. The different patterns and lengths of the capes indicate rank.

• Hale O Na Alii O Hawaii, whose members wear white with red and yellow capes. Hale O Na Alii O Hawaii at Kawaiahao

Ahahui Kaahumanu, whose formal attire consists of black muumuus, black hats and deep-yellow lei resembling feathers.

Ahahui Mamakakaua—Daughters and Sons of the Hawaiian Warriors wear black with red, black, and yellow capes (some capes have green).

Other groups who were represented on Alii Sunday were the Daughters of Hawaii in their pure white hats and muumuus (they operate the Queen Emma Summer Palace), the children of Queen Liliuokalani Children’s Center (QLCC is supported by Liliu’s estate, and its beneficiaries are the orphan and destitute children in Hawaii with preference to those of Hawaiian ancestry), and the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs that strung crown flowers into 52 strands of lei to drape on the statue of Queen Liliuokalani at the Hawaii State Capitol following the service.

Crown flower was Queen’s favorite. The lavender blossom drapes the left side of her portrait, at the top of this post, and the altar in the next photo.

Kawaiahao interior

At left are the Ahahui Kaahumanu ladies in their formal black in the foreground. Aunty Ilima and Aunty Millie in purple muumuu sing Liliuokalani’s compositions, “Tutu” and “Paoakalani.” [See comment below.]

The church service itself was more lively and less formal than the congregational ones I attended in high school, about the last time I went. Admittedly, that was a few decades ago!

Kalowena gave a tribute to Queen Liliuokalani, and in her remarks she wondered, if Liliu’s time and our time coincided, would Google have given her an edge in maintaining Hawaii’s place in the world? Would her compositions be on iTunes, and would she be blogging and twittering?

This Sunday there was frequent applause, lots of “Amens” by the whole congregation, a testimony by a recent member for the sermon, and a hip-hop dance performance of the Black Eyed Peas’s “Where is the Love” by the youth ensemble. Apart from the pipe organist and choir in the back balcony, there was an ohana (family) choir of anyone else who wanted to sing from the front of the church.

Until she became Queen, Liliuokalani led the Kawaiahao Church choir. She composed more than 150 songs. Some were lyrics only, some were melodies without lyrics, and the rest were full arrangements. At Sunday’s service we sang “The Queen’s Prayer.” A fitting recessional was her “Aloha Oe” now famous around the world. I felt so sad.  ~ Rebekah

[See comment at the bottom.]

If you go …

Do view the 20 original portraits in oil painted by Susan S. Hoffstot entitled “Alii of Hawaii — The Hoffstot Collection” that are displayed on the walls of the right and left balconies. These were a gift from the artist and her husband William H. Hoffstot, Jr., “… to the glory of God, the honor of the Hawaiian people and the enrichment of the State of Hawaii” and dedicated on September 2, 1973.

[UPDATE: The portraits were painted by Patric Bauernschmidt, not Susan S. Hoffstot. Please read the comment by Patric’s granddaughter André below.]

In addition to the church building are other historical structures. One is the tomb of King Lunalilo. Read the plaque explaining why Lunalilo is not buried at the Royal Mausoleum with the other monarchs.

Lunalilo's tomb

Another is a fountain on the King street side of the church. That’s the Library of Hawaii and Honolulu Hale city hall in the background.

Kawaiahao fountain

Kawaiahao fountain sign

The motto translates, "The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness."

And a third is the seal on the gate to Lunalilo's tomb. "Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono." This motto became the Hawaii state motto, and it means, "The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness."

Copyright 2009 Rebekah Luke

Rev. Rebekah Luke has a healing ministry and is ordained by the Universal Life Church. The only two tenets of the ULC are “Freedom of religion” and “Do the right thing.” For more information, click on REIKI HEALING BY OELEN on the menu bar.

Suggested reading:

Liliuokalani. Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen. Mutual Publishing, 1991. ISBN 978-0935180855 Paperbound.

Liliuokalani, Her Majesty Queen. The Queen’s Songbook. Honolulu: Hui Hanai, 1999. Edited by Dorothy Kahananui Gillett and Barbara Barnard Smith. ISBN 0-9616738-7-7 Clothbound Edition and ISBN 0-9616738-8-5 Paperbound Edition.

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