Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Little Beach Closed Due to Potential Bomb

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) asked beachgoers at Little Beach this afternoon to leave the beach due to a possible bomb they discovered. They asked people not to touch the wires at the beginning of the trail, the access path from Big Beach to Little Beach. They also closed off part of Big Beach closest to Little Beach and said a bomb expert is scheduled to investigate the wires tomorrow.  The rest of Big Beach is considered safe and is still open.

Exposed wires that are being investigated.

Is there really a bomb?

Beachgoers noticed exposed orange wires along the beginning of the path. The wires have been exposed due to extreme erosion of the sand along the north side of Big Beach, as well as hikers walking along the inland access path over rocks and naupaka plants. Normally no one would walk in this area, but with the January displacement of sand, areas that are normally undisturbed are being used. By the way, every few years, the sand between the two beaches becomes displaced.

Why would there be a bomb at the beach?

One explanation is that during WWII and for decades afterwards, the island of Kahoolawe, across from Big and Little Beach, was used for military target and bombing practice.  Remains from unexploded ordnance and other military practice exists in La Perouse (Ahihi-Kinau) and other parts of South Maui. These orange wires may be residue from the war, or later military field exercises.

Path from Big Beach to Little Beach, Makena State Park.
Top photo:current condition. Bottom photo: normal condition.

The displacement of sand has exposed more rocks. Photos are not in the same scale.

Tricky access path to Little Beach under current conditions.
Little Beach and part of Big Beach are closed temporarily.
Update 2/18/15: The beach has been reopened. No bomb was found. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Beware of Flying Costco Garage Shelters!

They really do fly, especially in the recent windstorm we had on Valentine’s Day. This flying garage flew over the fence from our neighbor’s house and landed against our house and the truck, hitting the power lines to our house (and to several other houses). It also melted the wire for Oceanic Cable going to our neighbor’s house.

It's also very dangerous to be near live power lines or to
touch metal or water touching live power lines. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Hawaiian Healing and Tea with Kahu Lyons Naone

The room at Viewpoints Gallery was packed.  Hawaiian teacher and practitioner Kahu Lyons Naone gave a talk recently, ostensibly about Hawaiian Herbal Teas, but the teas were just a tiny portion of what he talked about, which included Hawaiian culture, plant gathering protocols, healing, plant medicine, and respect for the land, our ancestors, and each other.

Kahu Lyons Na'one

I’ve debated about what is appropriate to share publicly on this blog, and what is inappropriate or maybe even harmful to share. Kahu Lyons Naone talked very freely, but in thinking about the nature of the internet and how we use information, I want to be very respectful of the information he shared.  
First of all, I want to say that the information I share may not be fully correct or the truth, meaning that I am sharing information through my personal filter and there may be mistakes or inaccuracies in how I heard what he said. So the information may not be accurate, there may be misspellings, inconsistencies, or other miscommunication, and while I may be able to contact Kahu Lyons Naone for corrections, the approach I have may not be in balance with the information he presented. So please do not regard this as the truth.

Also, Kahu Lyons Naone asked that we be very respectful in how we apply the knowledge, and to not go out, willy-nilly (my words, not his), experimenting with different plants or medicines to see their effects. He asked for some caution in using this information. In addition, this is not meant to be medical information or advice, since I am not a doctor and Kahu Lyons Naone does not have a medical degree! Basically, this is where I try to protect myself and him from lawsuits without using legal jargon. Get your advice and guidance from a qualified doctor, not from information on my website. This is for cultural and educational enrichment only.

I was really blown away by what Kahu Lyons Naone shared with us:

What is aloha? He posed this question to the audience. His answer: Aloha, if students don’t understand this part of it, they are not allowed to pick up a leaf (for healing or gathering). Alo – face, look at each other in the eye and share breath, aloha. Face each other and share. At that moment this person and I receive a spiritual breath at the same time.

Otherwise we’re lost.

Ha, (with a soft h) call it whatever you want, whatever name for spiritual connection that you want. 

Last year I had blogged about Aloha for the A-Z Challenge, and this is an even deeper idea of aloha that I wonder now about my previous conceptions of aloha. 

What is the spirit of the plant? So the medicine can penetrate. Ha – long breath, soft h. what’s important is who you are and how you use it.

On healing: We don’t call it healing. We call it pono (being in balance, righteous). When you see a doctor you are not pono, you are off balance.  We don’t give you an herb for each diagnosis. The body can heal itself. We don’t want you to keep taking medicines your whole life. He holds up a leaf, saying there is no scientific medicinal value in this. Healing is a partnership between the plant, practitioner and something higher.

On plant spirits and gathering plants for healing purposes: There are protocols to be done before gathering plant, to prepare oneself culturally, spiritually. Know the moon cycle (he refers to the Hawaiian moon calendar which is important for certain tasks or activities), the weather, the time of day, and so forth.

Treatment is very specific for the person who requests it: You may go out to where the plants are, and there may be several plants of the variety desired, but you do not simply go out and pick.
One can go out there, reach out and feel it and say this is the one. I ask the plant which one is for me. You don’t just pick the tea. You ask for the tea for…( a person’s name). The plant is very specific for that person.

His demonstrates his body trembling or quivering as he faces the audience.

Naka means quiver. Are we real because we quiver? Kanaka Maoli is the term for native Hawaiians. This is what it means.  Are we real because we quiver?

If my mind is on something else, this plant will not quiver. (I will not know which plant to choose.) So I have to do the protocols again.

Respect is a very important component of gathering plants, or using them in a treatment. If the plant spirit is not respected, there is no healing. He relates a story of going to Mexico with an Oneida man to assist in a medical treatment using a native plant there, and the natives told him and the Oneida man that “This was none of their business.” We said, “we know.” The foreign doctors involved in the study had forgotten to honor the spirit of the plant.

Weeds are medicine. There is even a word for it: nahelehele, and Kahu Lyons gave a story of how that came to be. 

Three spiritual plants Kahu Lyons Naone discussed:

Popolo – this is considered a weed, but it has spiritual and cultural value. It belongs to the nightshade family and has little purple berries. Kahu Lyons said popolo is one of the few plants one can give to children under 1 year old. You chew it, put it on a soft spot on the child’s head and sing to the child, to bring the child back into balance. (Keep in mind, he did not explain which part of the plant to chew, how to chew it, or how much to chew, so there is not enough information to try this at home. Please don’t try this at home.)

La’i, commonly known as the ti leaf plant (not to be confused with tea plants for tea drinking). Kahu Lyons requested that we call this plant la’I and not ti leaf plant, as many of us were taught to say. (I was  distressed after hearing this, that I went to a blog post on "Hawaiian shamanism" and added the word la'i everywhere I had the words ti leaf). This is a very important plant to the Hawaiians, used for cooking, carrying, for blessings, for leis, and the root is edible. And those are only the uses that I know of – I’m sure there are many more.

La’i is a plant safe for children besides popolo. If you put it on a child’s head, it is cooling. Then all the children want one. Note: I am sure there are protocols and ways of administering this plant, as opposed to simply picking a leaf and putting it on someone’s head.

Kahu Lyons Naone demonstrating a la'i leaf on his head.

Ohe – a specific variety of bamboo with skinny leaves, not the decorative bamboo we commonly see. Kahu Lyons says he uses ohe to apologize in places or to spirits where there is imbalance, where things were disregarded or destroyed. Then he follows the ohe with la’i.

Later on, Kahu Lyons Naone talks about 4 teas that we can use:

Mamaki  (with caution)
Wapine or Lemongrass (with caution)
Pe’a or Avocado
Lau’ae fern

I’ve decided to not go into great detail with these teas, for the time being, because there was so much information at his talk and I am still trying to process it internally. But I would like to note that Kahu Lyons specifically said to not mix one kind of Hawaiian herbal tea with another herb, because the plants interact, and one does not know the effect. He cautions for example, against drinking a mixture of mamaki and lavender tea. I am not recommending that anyone go out to drink any of these teas either because he had specific precautions about how to drink the tea, the way the plant is prepared, and how often to drink.  

Kahu Lyons also talked about the Hawaiian god of healing and change and how he was taught to respect the plant gathering protocols as a child by his elders. He talked about the usage of the left hand or the right hand in healing, and how to travel and which way his hands face. He talked about the wet and dry side of the islands and how that affects the plants one gathers, and the value of "weeds." Kahu Lyons is a kumu or master teacher. He could be called a kahuna, a Hawaiian spiritual healer or shaman. He is such a good teacher that anything he teaches would be interesting, even if it is how to watch paint dry. I look forward to learning from him in the future. I also feel as if perhaps I know less than what I thought I knew before.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Japanese Tea Ceremonies at the Rinzai Zen Mission

Recently, I had a chance to attend a Japanese tea ceremony at the Rinzai Zen Mission, an Okinawan mission in Paia. Yukie, a Japanese friend who's lived on Maui for years, invited me, and I debated going, but thought I would try to be open-minded. The ceremony was a Hatsudate Ceremony, the first Japanese tea ceremony of the new year. It was free and open to the public. 

The tea ceremony was presented by the Chado Urasenke Tankokai Maui Association. They hold the first tea ceremony of the year, usually on a Sunday in early January, and it's open to the public. The tea ceremony was performed in front of a mixed audience of all ages. Some people were Japanese or Asian, but there were quite a few Caucasians as well. 

Confession: I thought I would be very bored. My idea of Japanese tea ceremonies is that every movement is supposed to be very precise and scripted, with a certain way of holding the whisk, a certain way of adding tea to the bowl, a certain way of whisking the tea, and then setting the whisk down, and then holding the tea, and so forth and so on.  I was concerned I would fall asleep during the ceremony and embarrass myself by falling out of the chair. 

Rinzai Zen Mission in Paia, next to Baldwin Beach Park. To get to the mission, one actually has to drive into the beach park as if going to the beach, continue past the parking lots and then turn to the driveway to the mission on the far right.

The red structure has a bell or gong. 
My husband was also very reluctant to go because it was not a new experience for him. He had studied Japanese in college, including the Japanese tea ceremony for two whole semesters. He said that tea ceremonies are held with the same reverence by the Japanese as church services by Southern Baptists. He added that tea ceremonies are also very complex and each aspect of the ceremony and the display and decoration are also very significant - hence two full semesters during university! (And still there is more to learn.)

This flower arrangement of camellias was placed on a table in front of the
shoji screen to the right of the tea ceremony. The camellias are not the showy ones with multiple petals. The vase that holds the flowers is handmade and not smooth, embodying perhaps the quality of "wabi sabi" (handmade, imperfect, transient, the opposite of sleek) that is valued in Japanese culture. The person next to me said that different flowers are used at different times of the year and that the flower arrangement was deliberately asymmetrical. I thought this was a really beautiful arrangement.
The tea ceremony turned out to be very pleasant and oddly refreshing. I don’t know if it is because the structure gives meaning, or if there is a particular organized mindset in hosting a tea ceremony that imparts a sense of peace to the event. When DH and I got there, I was kind of agitated. It was one of those awkward days when things aren’t going very smoothly.

The whisk is made of bamboo and is very finely made. 
All the utensils and materials seemed to be placed with plenty of room around each item. 
Some utensils used in the Japanese tea ceremony

After we left, I was very relaxed but very awake. The ceremony was about an hour, and we even arrived 15 minutes late, and it was not a big deal. People showed us the empty chairs up front. DH said that in Japan being tardy to a tea ceremony is probably a very big deal, but on Maui, it’s relaxed. The ceremony was held outside, in a pavilion without walls.  Everything felt very airy and spacious and light. There was no feeling of hurry, panic or feeling cramped. Things felt significant but not heavy or pressing down. I felt calm but invigorated, very peaceful and very alert. A paradox? 

This is the matcha tea I was presented. It's a fairly vibrant shade of green, and it's frothy! It's thick like espresso, and has a bitter quality. I thought there would be more tea in the cup, but it's maybe 1/3 full. For someone who has never had this kind of tea before, it's an acquired taste and stronger than the green tea I'm used to. The man next to me really enjoyed his tea and requested seconds. 

From behind the Japanese screen, a woman in a Japanese kimono would appear from each side, walking to the next person in the audience, and presenting a handmade tea bowl with reverence. None of the tea bowls matched any other bowls. DH said one aspect of the tea ceremony is to appreciate the vessel that contains the tea, to look at it, feel it, and pause before drinking the tea. If you look at this tea bowl carefully, you'll see the left side is slightly indented for a thumb or finger.
The snacks that were served during the tea ceremony. The piece of paper is folded in half, but not perfectly in half. DH says this is deliberate, in showing imperfection. The half moon sweet is hanabira mochi which encloses a spoonful of sweet bean paste and a piece of burdock root that has been cooked and sweetened, since burdock is not naturally sweet. The rice cracker has an impression of what looks like a Japanese cherry blossom or sakura. The pink cloudlike confection symbolized a sheep, to introduce 2015, the Year of the Sheep. Each person was offered these foods and there were enough for people to have more if they wished. 

During the ceremony, one woman explained what was happening and afterwards, people were invited to come up to look at the tea implements more closely and to ask questions. The group also posed for photos. For anyone interested in learning about Japanese tea ceremonies, there is a group that practices weekly at the Rinzai Zen Mission, currently on Mondays. It’s open to anyone who is interested in learning, regardless of ethnicity. Please email me (mauijungalow (at) gmail (dot) com) if you'd like the contact information. Mahalo to Yukie and Koko for providing information about the ceremony. 

Some members of the Chado Urasenke Tankokai Maui Association
 posing for photos afterwards.
A bowl of folded Japanese cranes, good luck symbols.
This post is linked to the StoryDam weekly blog hop.
You may want to visit this link for some fun (and often free) February events on Maui.