Friday, October 28, 2016

The Great White Lion

I found an old "silly kitty story" about Alban, Valentine's predecessor. I thought I might as well share it. {Smile}

The Great White Lion

Back when we used to play AD&D regularly, we had a particularly... INTERESTING AD&D game. {wink}

In getting ready for the first encounter, Dad arrayed a bunch of monster counters on the table. The monsters were promptly attacked by a humongous white lion: Alban decided to sit on them.

We chuckled over Alban's "attack", and chatted and such for a while, partly because we weren't ready to start, and partly because we couldn't see the monsters for the first battle. {grin}

Eventually, Alban decided to get up and go visit some of the nice people who were obviously sitting around the table just to admire him. With the monsters free, we got out some of the figures for our characters, and started to arrange them to show our marching order.

The party was promptly attacked by a large white lion. I cannot understand how Alban can stand sitting on a bunch of lead lumps with poky parts sticking out in various places. Alban insists there is no problem. Now what? We couldn't see our figures to see where we were or who we were fighting. Not with Alban on top of most of them. I started pulling out the ones I could see, and Gabe got a couple further underneath. We had to endure dirty looks and dodge a few bites, but we got them. {BIG GRIN}

Since we had two sets of characters that night but were only really using one, Alban still had lots of nice figures to sit on, but not the ones we were using. Of course, since they weren't the ones we were using, Alban lost interest in sitting on them part way through the battle. He wandered over to sit on Mom's stuff, so he'd be really convenient for petting.

We heaved a sigh of relief. Now we could see the battlefield much better without Alban in the middle of it. Mom decided to bribe Alban to stay with her by giving him lots of nice "fishy treats" while we continued the battle. Alban obligingly ate up his favorite snack. Then he got up, and strolled back to the figures, which he sat on again.

Gabe carefully arranged THE CHAIR to be even more enticing than usual. Not only did it have that nice cushion, now it had kitty toys and fishy treats on it, and was right next to Gabe, and pulled out to be ever-so-easy to jump down onto.
Alban gave it a disdainful look.

Gabe smiled, patted it encouragingly, pointing to the fishy treats and the toys. He even took a fishy treat, held it so Alban could sniff it, and put it back on THE CHAIR.

Alban was not going to be bribed.

Pulling one or two figures farther from him so people could see their characters and opponents, we continued the battle. The rest of that battle, several days' march, and a few minor encounters later, Alban finally decided to get up and stroll over to claim Leonora's chair. Amid much laughter, which Alban did not condescend to notice, we moved his chosen chair and got Leonora another. Gabe also brought the fishy treats and toys from THE CHAIR. Alban did eat the fishy treats no that they were convenient.
Luckily, Alban had finally settled down for the rest of the night. The rest of our game proceeded without any more encounters with the Great White Lion. {sigh of relief, REALLY BIG GRIN}

Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

Monday, October 17, 2016

Racism, Prejudice, and a Challenge

{sigh} I've been hearing a lot about racial prejudice and discrimination. An awful lot of it framed as Us vs. Them, where Us are People of Color, and Them are The Whites. I've even heard people say that as a white, I can't help but be Part of the Problem.


I'm a Baldwin. My relatives have been fighting against racial discrimination and prejudice for at least a century and a half, sometimes risking our reputations, our jobs, and even arrest to make things better as we can. I haven't had the opportunities my ancestors did, but I'm ready for my turn.

I am not part of the problem, but when folks tell me I am... it's tempting to be what they so obviously expect. It's really tempting. {bite lips} Fortunately, this ally is pretty stubborn. In fact, I'm stubborn enough to ask for a way to be part of Us, and not Them, despite being white. That's my challenge to anyone and everyone who's been pushing this dichotomy. Find a way to stop shutting me out.
I'm not an enemy here, and I don't appreciate folks trying to turn me into one. {determined look}
Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Woman in the Moon and Rainbow Falls

The Goddess Hina was very upset. Her husband was so lazy! Not only did he expect her to make him fine kapa to wear, but he expected her to fish, and keep the garden, and even do all the cooking! She loved making kapa, and was very good at it, but cooking was a man’s prerogative, and fishing and gardening were normally shared. Yet her husband demanded she do it all while he napped.

She decided to run away, but how?

One day, she spotted one of the many rainbows the falls by the cave she made her home in were named for. It looked solid, and she was goddess enough to go up to it and start to climb. However, as she climbed, it got hotter and hotter, for she was getting closer to the hot sun. It got so hot, she had to turn around and go back.

Back to her husband, who was as lazy as ever. He still demanded he do his work as well as her own. Running away looked better and better, but she had to make sure she escaped this time.

One night she spotted a moonbow by the falls. With no sun out, it shouldn’t get as hot, she mused. She went over to it, and started to climb.

Her husband came out of the cave, and ran towards her, demanding she come back. He leap ed towards her, and caught her foot before she’d climbed out of reach. She struggled to get away. With a great kick, she pulled free, making him fall back to earth… but wrenched her ankle in the process. She wasted no time, hobbling high out of reach before he could recover and try again.

She climbed right to the moon, and there she stayed. You can see her when you look up at the moon, sitting with her wrenched ankle in front of her as she pounds her kapa. When she spreads it out to dry, it forms white clouds, complete with the original emphasis on her husband’s laziness. (No, that wasn’t my idea. J )

I don’t know many legends by heart, but I know this one well enough to tell it from memory. It’s stuck with me ever since I heard it at a storytelling at Kea’au library when I was a kid. This was one of the stories, illustrated on a felt board.

The Goddess Hina was known as the mother Maui. The Hilo area said she lived in a cave behind Waianuenue, or Rainbow Falls.

So here’s Rainbow Falls courtesy of Google Street view:

And here’s another view from them:

Do you see what I see?

Or rather… do you not see what I don’t see?

I don’t see any cave. Well, unless you count the backwash beach behind the actual falls, but that’s subject to continual spray from the falls. Besides, that kapa she made was a paper-cloth; the fibers were literally pounded together with beaters until it formed a flat, somewhat stiff sheet that people would wrap around themselves. If you got it wet, it went to mush that couldn’t be worn. So a backwash beach home is one you can’t get dressed in, or even keep your clothes in.

Now this is a spot on the Wailuku River. There are enough caves with underwater entrances, a known way to drown is to get caught in one, and not be able to surface for air. Having one with an air pocket would be unusual, but far from impossible… but you’d still have to store your clothes outside to keep them from going to mush.

No, the cave needs a dry entrance for Hina’s kapa.

 It’s a very well hidden entrance indeed, isn’t it? ;)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A legend of Kahuna Falls

Kahuna Falls is the other large falls in Akaka Falls State Park; the one you also see if you take the entire loop, and don’t just go down to Akaka Falls and back. One of the reasons it was called Kahuna Falls (The Priest’s Falls) is that there’s a pool right at the top of the falls that’s supposed to heal ills if you bathe in it. People were supposed to take their sick family members to it in stretchers and everything so they could bathe in the pool and be healed.

Sounds a lot like a lot of healing springs and pools around the globe, right? There’s just one little difference. They won’t let me embed from Google Maps, so here’s a link to the best picture Google Maps' street view seems to have of it.

If you’re have trouble figuring out the picture, the falls comes from about 5/6ths the way up that cliff, where slightly gentler cliffs up to the top of the ridge from there. I think most healing pools and springs are a little more accessible, especially since you really were supposed to climb up from the bottom of the falls. {pause}

My first impression is that anyone who can climb up there didn’t need much healing, but it’s not that simple. Especially not with stretchers and lots of relatives with good, strong backs to make that climb, and help pull their sick relative up it. Because in Lilo and Stitch, Disney understated the importance of family in Hawaiian culture. If Auntie is sick, they’ll get her there. It may take a lot of amicable bickering while arranging the ropes and the stretcher and all, but they’ll do it for Auntie.

P.S. I’m sorry this one doesn’t have more of a story, but this is what I had time for after making the last chair cover and fighting a suddenly difficult mouse (unsuccessfully so far). {half-smile}

Friday, July 22, 2016

Lili'uokalani Park and Gardens

I just discovered that Google Earth has many of the walking paths of my favorite park in their street view. A friend just taught me how to link there, so here’s a link.

That should take you to the street in front of the park. You can go around the streets of course, but I hope this is pointed at a torii, a sort of doorless gate arch. (If I’d linked to the sidewalk, you’d be too close to admire the torii. {wink, Smile}) If not, turn around you find it. Then head straight towards the torii, then thru it into the park itself. I think you’ll pretty much be stuck to the handicapped accessible walkways, like I am in real life, but do it anyway. This is supposed to be the biggest Japanese-style garden outside of Japan. So you can only see the tide pools, bridges and many of the stone lanterns from a distance. There’s still a lot to see here. {Smile, BIG SMILE}

Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

Monday, July 11, 2016

A Pleasant Encounter

Something nice happened while Dad was picking up dinner at Maui Taco's the other night. (He was alone because my balance was too unsteady for me to go in with him.)

Dad was struggling with trying to carry dinner while walking with the crutch these days, when a boy about ten came up to him, and said he'd like to carry the bag for Dad. Then a woman came up as the boy's grandmother, and repeated that they'd like to help by carrying his bag.

Dad thanked them, and accepted their help. They walked with him out to the car. The boy carried our dinners, and put them in the trunk of our car when Dad opened it up.

As they left, the grandmother said "God bless you."

Dad replied in kind.

Dad says where else would that happen besides Hilo? I don’t know, but it happened here, and it lightened a difficult day when it did. J

Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Visiting Dad's Cousin, Part 2

The next morning after dealing with the skunks at Dad's cousin's place, I went down to have breakfast in the main house. Getting there, I walked in on an interesting conversation. Dad’s cousin was beginning to lecture her husband’s granddaughter. Apparently she was here for the summer in part to work for her Grandpa and Dad’s cousin. {pause} You see, Dad’s cousin was such a great animal lover, she not only fed skunks, she raised animals for a living. Specifically, she and her husband raised epileptic mice in a home laboratory they ran. They ran their own experiments on them, and also sold them to other researchers. Apparently their mice were somewhat prized because their epilepsy was closer to human epilepsy in several key measures than most epileptic lab mice at that time (mid-1980’s).

The lab was actually pretty interesting, as I learned later, when the granddaughter gave me a tour later. The mice were kept in drawer-like cages on one wall. To get in, you simply pulled out the cage and reached in from above. There was also a large table in the middle, where they could work with the mice, and a counter off to one side with a fish tank set up as an observation tank complete with a video camera, so you could put a mouse in, start the video camera, and get about two hours of observation on tape.

Anyway, the granddaughter was staying with them so she could work as a lab assistant for them for her summer job. There had been a problem in the lab the previous day. The granddaughter had put a mouse in the observation tank and set the video camera to record. You could see her leave thru the door at the beginning of the tape. A short while later, the door opened again, and one of Dad’s cousin’s four Siamese cats jumped up on the counter. It was “Ghirry,” which was short for Ghiradelli, one of my cousin’s favorite chocolate companies. Ghirry wasted no time at all on the wall full of cat-proof cages. He went straight to the fish tank with it’s open top. He checked inside, found the mouse, picked it up in his mouth, and left. That mouse, of course, was never seen again. {Smile, wink}

“Well, if you’re upset as Ghirry,” the granddaughter started to say.

“No. We are not upset at Ghirry,” Dad’s cousin corrected, “Ghirry was just behaving like a cat. He was just following his instincts. He didn’t do anything wrong. You left the door open,” and Dad’s cousin began describing the extra chores the granddaughter needed to do because of this oversight.  

I was really impressed with her attitude. So was Dad. It’s nice to see that someone understands that are some things you just don’t train some animals not to do; you don’t train a cat not to hunt mice. {REALLY BIG GRIN}

Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

Friday, May 27, 2016

By the way, sorry for the way the colors of my blog are messed up recently. You wouldn't notice it thru most blog readers, but if you read it directly, it's a mess.

I've tried to fix it. It's easy enough to make it even worse. It's not so easy to make it better. I have tried, and fighting my way back to only this bad a mess felt like a victory in the end. {rueful smile, wink}

Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

Friday, May 20, 2016

Visiting Dad’s Cousin, Part 1

Dad’s Aunt, Wilmar Shiras, wrote a book called “Children of the Atom” that’s a bit of a science fiction classic. Dad claims that it was inspired in part by watching her children struggle to fit in at school. The eldest of her children was very close to Dad’s age. That’s the one Dad is close to, so that’s the one I know.

As I said before, this cousin and her husband used to live in a residential neighborhood with an unusual number of wild animals right in the neighborhood. At least it seemed that way to me when Dad and I visited when I was a teenager. {Smile}

I also mentioned that she started leaving dogfood out for the raccoons, because she is a great animal lover. Then the skunks found out and took over. Most people I know would stop leaving out dogfood at this point. Not Dad’s cousin. She continued to leave dogfood out for the skunks for years. I always did wonder what the neighbors thought of this. {wink, Smile}

That was all before I got there. By the time I did, Dad had visited twice without me: once when she was leaving out dogfood for the raccoons, and once when she was leaving it out for the skunks already. By the time I got to visit, too, the skunks were Very Well Settled In. When I visited, one of the first things I was told that I would be sharing a small apartment with Dad’s cousin’s husband’s granddaughter by his first marriage, who was staying with them all summer, and working for them in their laboratory as a summer job.

After dinner and whatever we did afterwards, I was ready to go up tot he apartment to get ready for bed. The route from the main house to the apartment went right past the skunk’s food bowls, but I was told not to worry. Just walk firmly, and they shouldn’t bother me. Well, I found the bowls... and skunk planted right in the middle of the pathway I was supposed to use.

I froze, startled.

The skunk stared at me, showing no fear.

Remembering they’d said the skunks shouldn’t bother me, I started forward hesitantly.

The skunk went thump-thump-thump-thump-thump with his front paws.

I froze.

I’d recently read or heard (I remembered which back then) that skunks did a kind of stamping gesture as a warning before spraying, because they didn’t like the odor any more than anyone else did. This must be what they meant.

I turned around and walked briskly back to the main house. There I found Dad’s cousin’s husband. I told him about the skunk.

“What? Don’t worry about the skunks,” he said.

“But he stamped at me, and that’s supposed to be warning.”

“Just shoo them off. They won’t bother you.”

“You know how to do that. I don’t!” I told him, “Please help me. You said you would.”

“Oh, for crying out... come on, and keep up.”

He stormed out of the house and up the walk, shooing away the skunks very firmly when he reached the bowls.

I did follow him... at least 20 paces behind him. I hoped that was enough distance if he was wrong about the skunks...

He wasn’t. They left promptly for him, and he escorted me right up to the door of the apartment. I thanked him profusely, of course. {BRIGHT SMILE}

Then he left. I actually didn’t have trouble with the skunks after that. Maybe my escort that first night put me on their approved list or something. But I didn’t get sprayed, and that was the important thing as far as I was concerned. {wink, BIG GRIN}
Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Dad's Frog

I wrote this up to swap with a friend for a frog story of hers. I thought I'd share it here, too. {Smile}

A few years ago, Dad was sitting on the patio in back of church for “This isn’t tea, it’s Lunch!” (as Father Moki re-named it). Anyway, he was just sitting there when he felt something land on his shoulder. Before he could turn to try to see what it was, it lifted...

...and a frog appeared on the table in front of him. It was a bright rusty orange, which was a extra surprise. It didn’t stay long before it jumped off to goodness knows where next, but he left quite a strong impression on my father. Dad did not expect to see a frog at church. He did not expect a frog to land on his shoulder. He certainly didn’t expect to see an orange frog. Yet this frog did all of that at once. It was a coquui, the frog from Puerto Rico that’s taken over the nighttime soundscape unless it’s too cool. The coquui who came here are all rust colored, somewhere between orange rust and brown rust. Dad’s coquui was definitely at the bright orange end of the spectrum. {wink, Smile}

Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Dad's cousin

An email a friend sent me reminded me of a cousin of Dad's. His cousin and her husband used to live in a residential neighborhood with an unusual number of wild animals right in the neighborhood. At least it seemed that way to me when Dad and I visited when I was a teenager. {Smile}

She started leaving dogfood out for the raccoons. Then the skunks found out and took over. Most people I know would stop leaving out dogfood at this point. Not Dad’s cousin. She continued to leave dogfood out for the skunks for years. I always did wonder what the neighbors thought of this. {wink, Smile}

Anne Elizabeth Baldwin