Today my beloved Hehoa was killed by the neighborʻs dog. She was about ten and a half months old, an excellent hunter, runner and climber, often watching me from the top of the refrigerator. All I can think is that she was so focused on hunting something, probably a lizard, that she didnʻt realize the dog was near her. Of course she was in the neighborʻs fenced in yard so while the neighbors feel terrible about it, it wasnʻt anyoneʻs fault.

Hehoa2Hehoa was fearless, something I realized early on and so almost decided that I wouldnʻt let her be an outside cat for concern that she would get herself into trouble. But she was not happy indoors and after she was spayed, I did not want to deprive her any longer of exploring the great outdoors. I let her sister, Makana out all the time, who I was pretty sure didnʻt stray far so it was even more unfair that Hehoa couldnʻt go outside. I live off the street, the neighbor dogs are all fenced in, there are really no predators around, so there was no reason they shouldnʻt go outside and play and hunt (although I did feel badly for the lizards and the occasional dove, whose feathers I would sometimes find). And they thrived. Sometimes when I came home and didnʻt see them around I worried that something may have happened or they may have run away. I told myself that if anything happened, at least they had a good life. And then they would show up.

I had always been reluctant to have a pet because of the attachment I would have to it (I already said that in an earlier blog, when I took a chance and got the kitties). Sure enough, I became very attached to Hehoa. She was affectionate, comical, insistent. Most of all, sweet. I know she was similarly attached to me and now I am devastated. Hehoa was a shining light in my life for the nine and a half months that I was her mom. I donʻt regret a day and I canʻt think of anything I would have done differently and yes, I would do it again. For now Makana is staying close, dealing with her loss and my grief. We will get through this together. He inoa no Hehoa.


Sunset at Maunalua Bay

I almost didn’t go outrigger canoe paddling practice this afternoon because of the thunderstorms pounding the island all day long. But it cleared up at long enough to go out, paddle in calm water and be rewarded with this spectacular sunset looking toward Diamond Head from Maunalua Bay.

Haʻikū Stairs, otherwise known as the Stairway to Heaven

This past Sunday morning at 2:30 a.m. I met a friend to drive to a locked gate at one of the entrances to the private property where the trail begins that leads under the H-3 freeway to the base of the Haʻikū ladder. The locked gate may prevent cars from entering but there is a well worn foot path around the side of it. While waiting for the others in our group to arrive, two groups came in to hike the stairs, which finally convinced me that this was not just a rude joke to get me out of bed at 2 a.m.! The reason for the early start is that a guard is posted at the foot of the latter to prevent people from going up. The guard used to start work at 5 a.m., but evidently when hikers figured that out and started coming earlier, he started coming an hour earlier. We therefore had to get past the guard station by 4 a.m.

It was a moonless night but it was so overcast and raining occasionally that it wasn’t pitch black and our headlamps were adequate. The only problem was the cutoff from the road to the trail was obscured by night and a bamboo thicket, so we ended walking around for almost two hours before we found a different way to get to the base of the stairs. Too late, the guard was on duty and we were already the third group that morning to be turned back (the two groups before us had come from a different direction and had spent even longer trying to find the guard station).

The one time I climbed the stairs before the City and County repaired them several years ago, many of the steps were missing, so I held onto the fixed ropes, which is always a bad idea as one never knows how old or sturdy such ropes are. The stairs are very vertical, probably ascending at an 80-85 degree angle, so it is a very long and possibly fatal fall if one slips while high up. My friend assured me the hand rail was now solid so no problem.

The top of the ridge is the providence of the akua. The time I was at the top before, it was a very spiritual experience to be at one with the mist, the winds, the vegetation that is unique to the tops of these mountains. And of course, the view across the top of the Koʻolau range. I don’t feel badly about not climbing the stairs this time because they surely would have been slippery and visibility at the top would have been completely obscured. Instead I mahalo nā akua and nā aumākua for preventing us from doing something totally and insanely ridiculous!

Kaʻaumoana McKenney

It was less than two weeks ago that I, like many people, was stunned to hear on the ten o’clock news that Ka’au McKenney’s body had been recovered near Makapu’u lighthouse. It made no sense but the picture they flashed on the screen was definitely him, blue eyes that made up half of his face, a big smile that made up the rest. 45 years young, still so much left to do.

Kaʻaumoana McKenney2A friend of mine says you can tell whether someone’s life was successful by how many people attend his or her funeral. An insightful but unnecessary measurement. I already knew I would be only one of the many, many people who attended the service for Ka’au yesterday and the scattering of his ashes this morning. Ka’au was a beautiful person and a genuine waterman, and what set him apart from others who are lucky enough to live their passions was his desire to give back to the community. Because of that he will live on, through through his students, through his contribution to the polynesian voyaging community and even in the stars, and we will all be better for it. Mahalo, Ka’au, for your many gifts. Aloha, a hui hou.


Every Day Is a Good Day – Memorial Edition

Fulcrum Publishing, which published the first edition of Every Day Is a Good Day in 2004, recently released a Memorial Edition of this beautiful book. The only differences appear to be a new cover design and the addition of a foreword by Louise Erdrich. Maybe that speaks to the fact that that no other changes could have added meaningfully to this already-perfect book.

Since I am one of the women whose reflections are included in this book, my credibility may be questioned if I say too much about what a great book it is, so instead, I’ll critique myself, which I’m very good at doing. I always cringe when I read what I have said in interviews but that is not so in this case. In part it may be because Wilma gave me a chance to revise my responses, which I did, but I think that is only a small part of it. Wilma asked me questions that went beyond what I might have been thinking that day. The questions were deep. They went to the core of my beliefs, to my relationship to my Hawaiian culture and to what my version is of a meaningful life. I look at my bio at the back of the book and that has changed radically since 2004 but not my world view or core convictions. That is probably why I would not change a word today, over 7 years after saying what I said that day. I think the same is probably true for every other women interviewed in this book.

I mention in a blog that I wrote shortly after Wilma passed (see below) that this book was based on individual interviews with each women featured, we did not sit in a circle and have a free flowing discussion, yet, because of the skillful way Wilma wove our thoughts together, all our spirits are, in fact, sitting together, having this conversation.

I hope the collective wisdom in this book is helpful to anyone looking for inspiration, for meaning, even for answers. I am humbled to be in the company of these other women who are carriers of their cultures, who are deeply profound and amazing individuals. It certainly inspires me to be a better person. Mahalo ia ‘oe, Wilma.


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