Friday, July 18, 2008

Aloha! I'm setting sail!

As you may know, I’ve been writing several blogs in different topic areas. - about my “homesteading” efforts here in Hawai’i - inspirational posts taken from retreats and seminars I’ve given - memoir-type material about living on my boat and more

I’ve also been posting to two blogs established by my brother at - ideas for quick and easy cooking when you are a single or double - reviews from the two of us on books we’ve read

In an effort to combine readers as well as my thoughts, I am taking a brief hiatus from this particular blog. I plan to merge several blogs into one in order to focus more and present you with a better product. Anything new I write will be on from now on. Please check it out and subscribe! I don’t want to lose my readers.

Thanks for stopping by!



Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Body Works

Here on the Big Island of Hawai`i, it seems we are having a problem keeping traditional medical doctors. I won’t go into the reasons for that, but it brings a deeper awareness that I need to start taking care of my own body.

Certain diseases and surgical procedures that I may need as I get older will require more of Western medicine, I’m sure. However, in keeping with Da Vinci’s notion of corporalita, I can keep my physical structure as healthy as possible through natural means.

The little book that started me out doing yoga many years ago is Richard Hittleman’s Yoga 28 Day Exercise Plan. My old worn-out copy was published in 1969! It’s simple and the postures are easy to follow.

When I moved onto Lothlorien and stopped doing yoga, I didn’t get back to it when I moved back onto land in 1983. I’m writing this post with the intention of putting myself back on track.

“You are as young as your spine is flexible.” Hittleman quotes this ancient yogic adage. I have certainly been a good example of this, and as I garden (see I’m even more aware of my need to return to yoga.

There is another gentle movement that works wonders with our flexibility, balance and serenity. That is Tai Chi Chuan, or more typically called Tai Chi. If you saw the movie “Calendar Girls” (one I highly recommend), then you saw the women doing Tai Chi at the beginning and at the end of the movie.

I started doing Tai Chi with nothing but a book to guide me, and I can’t even remember the name of it. Like most activities that involve movement, however, it’s not easy to follow and get it right.

Years later, I took a few classes with an elderly cardiologist from China who was a guest lecturer at the University of Arizona Medical Center in Tucson. Because of him, my interest developed, but then I moved away.

Now a CD guides me in its calm and flowing way. The beginning of it is beautiful just as a meditation, if nothing else. T’ai Chi for Health, Yang Long Form with Terence Dunn. It is a full 2-hour program that starts with a philosophical and historical intro, then ends with a 15 minute demonstration.

Writing this post has inspired me to devote more time to my health in this way. Turn up your sound, and take a few minutes to watch and meditate with the Tai Chi video.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

How Stiff Is Your Spine?

This stately bird on a pier on Anna Maria Island in Florida is a perfect example of poise and grace. The pier continues to hold its own through all the hurricanes.

I had been doing yoga for a number of years before I moved onto the boat. Yoga gave me flexibility and inner well-being. But I gave that up when it became impossible to maintain a position, no matter how still the waters were.

Living on Lothlorien became an exercise in constant isometrics. Contracting my muscles became an unconscious act as I tried to maintain balance with a moving deck under my feet. So living aboard and sailing took the place of yoga. The main problem I had was walking on Mother Earth after a few weeks at sea.

One of da Vinci’s principles is that of corporalita. He kept himself in top physical condition and gave much advice on preserving our fitness. Physical activity and health isn’t always as high on my priority list as I would like, but I hope his modeling will assist in my “cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness, and poise.”

According to, an online authority on health, meds, and fitness, da Vinci is responsible for many of the health trends alive today.

Another way to adhere to the principle of corporalita is through native Hawai`ian alternative healing. There are classes available to learn the natural healing plants here on the Big Island.

Many of my friends, including non-Hawai`ians, are studying and using Hooponopono. This is a way of working with families and individuals within families to set things right, not only with each other, but with our ancestors.

There are many ways to achieve health and fitness. Learning the ways of the kahuna, opening ourselves to the ways of oriental medicine , living by da Vinci’s rules of health, we can begin to put ourselves right in many ways.

In the meantime, check out one of these books.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Boat Tag

Many of my sailing stories are of events that happened to us at the Isthmus of Catalina Island off the California coast. This particular story, however, took place in the anchorage outside of Avalon.

One lazy afternoon, most people on the hook were relaxing in the sun, napping or reading. The owner of one small sailboat (about 18’) had evidently dropped anchor and taken off for the shore without waiting to see if his anchor had set. Later, I envisioned the anchor dangling straight down into the deep water without touching bottom.

Anchoring is an amusing topic for another post, so I won’t get into that at the moment.

This little boat was drifting between all the rest of the big “girls,” and each time she bumped against the hull of someone else’s boat, they would just give it a gentle shove to send it on its way. Pretty soon, a little breeze would blow it toward another boat, only to be sent off in yet another direction. I watched until I got bored with it all, and decided to nap.

This particular story probably comes under da Vinci’s “Sfumato” heading because all of us pushing that little boat away were fairly ambiguous about what to do with her. She’d been a nuisance but no one knew who she belonged to or what to do with her, and I suspect that most of us really didn’t want to be bothered with it.

I’m not sure how much later I woke up, but in the meantime, evidently someone had called the Harbor Police to come take care of the little boat, and he was towing her down the coastline out of everyone’s way. At one point, he casually glanced back to make sure she was following adequately.

We watched as he quickly cut the motor of his own boat, took off his jacket, balled it up and flung it down. I think it’s probably a good thing none of us could hear what he was saying.

The object of his frustration was trailing behind him. It seemed that in the process of drifting from one boat to the next and being sent on its way, the little boat’s anchor had gathered up the rodes of several other anchors and was pulling them off their own secure anchorage. A trail of about six boats were being towed, one right after the other.

The guy got on his radio to call for assistance. I wanted to watch it all get untangled, but I never did get to find out what finally happened. Several of us were heading into shore for dinner, and the main topic of conversation was that little boat. We could just imagine the owner coming back out on the bum boat at the end of his day, scratching his head and wondering if his boat had sailed off without him - especially if he’d been drinking. What a shock that would have been!

We wondered if all the other boats received the same free trip down the coastline to be re-anchored. I wonder what those owners thought when they found their boat missing. If that had happened at the Isthmus, everyone would have known what was going on, but at Avalon there were too many boaters and very few people shared stories with others. If anyone was there and knows the end of this story, I’d love to hear it.

I was very happy my own rode wasn’t one that she picked up.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Flooding - Then and Now

There are many events in our memory that recede with time. Trying to bring back those memories is not always successful. Reading about the flooding along the Mighty Mississippi River this past week has brought back some of those memories for me.

In January 1937, there was a major flood in the Ohio River Valley, which has since been described as the deepest Ohio River flood on record.

I was twenty-eight months old at the time, and my family lived in Mound City, Illinois, where the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers came together. The estimated population in 2003 was 673. Here are old photos of that flood. These pictures show people trying to move about on boats.

I was told that when Daddy came to take us out of the parsonage in a small row boat, Mother grabbed three things: her violin, a Monopoly game, and me. Her violin was precious because it was a rare instrument and Mother was an excellent violinist; the Monopoly game (new to that generation) was a borrowed item and she needed to return it at all costs; and I suppose she saved me because I was her child. We were taken to higher ground to wait until the waters subsided enough for us to return.

My father had gone to help out on the levees, and according to Mother, the only way she knew he was still alive was through occasional radio reports of a great rescue miracle performed by the town’s “young Methodist minister.” Her tales about the flood may have been histrionic, but I suspect they may have contained an element of truth.

I scanned this picture of my father from a fragment of an old photo that was made during his time of working on the levees.

I was in fourth or fifth grade when I read in our geography book about how the terrain of Southern Illinois had been drastically altered because of the 1937 flood. Years later, when my youth group from another church attended a function in that flooded out little church, the water line was still visible about twenty feet high on the still unpainted walls.

Almost up to the moment I left for college, women would come up to me and say, “I made little dresses for the Methodist preacher’s daughter and you must be her!”

I pray for the many people who are trying to survive mentally and physically in the flooding today.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Overview of DaVincian Principles

In the process of trying to organize my thoughts for this blog, I went to something that has been floating around in my head for years. In early May of this year, I briefly discussed one of my favorite books, How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, by Michael Gelb I want to keep this book in mind as I continue to write for Lothlorien.

This week, I am giving you an overview of da Vinci’s seven principles, as organized and identified by Gelb. I have created three other categories in order to cover some of the areas I want to discuss on these posts. First, here are the ones from Gelb’s book.

CuriositiĆ  – I explained this in the above link so I won’t go into it again, except to suggest that you think about doing one of Gelb’s exercises. Sit down and as quickly as you can (in one sitting), write out 100 questions of things you are curious about. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

Dimonstrazione – After graduation, I talked briefly about this principal Here, Gelb suggests you let thoughts flow on the question “What would I do differently if I had no fear of making mistakes?” That one isn’t easy, either.

Now we get into some of the principals I haven’t touched on yet, but will in the future.

Sensazione – Sharpening my senses requires a conscious decision. I love to smell a fresh pot of tea, touch a luxurious orchid, hear a roaring surf, taste a new herb or spice, see color and movement. Gelb writes of Da Vinci’s “continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as the means to enliven experience.” There are many topics I can discuss under this principal.

Sfumato - This word literally means “going up in smoke.” To the best of my ability, I have sought to follow da Vinci in his “willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty...”, to become “more at home with the unknown, to make friends with paradox.” Ambiguity is where many of us have difficulty.

Arte/Scienza - Music and other arts provide nourishment for my emotional and spiritual life, yet I am drawn to new technology of the 21st Century. Da Vinci is my role model for maintaining that delicate balance between imagination and logic as I seek to develop both sides of my brain, for what he calls ‘Whole-brain’ thinking.

Corporalita - Health and physical activity isn’t always as high on my priority list as I would like, but I hope Da Vinci’s modeling will assist in my “cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness, and poise.”

Connessione - When I write, or read favorite authors, or explore other cultures and sub-cultures, there is a “recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena. Systems thinking. Ties everything together.”

Here are the three categories I created, using the Italian words to stay in the mind-set of da Vinci.

Famiglia - Family includes my biological family, my extended family, genealogy and the infamous Kaimana Kat. More recently, my family has expanded to include six beautiful hens – three Araucana and three Rhode Island Reds.

Geographia - I have lived in a variety of geographical locations, visited in many others, and hope to visit in those I’ve never seen except in my dreams. This section will include past, present, and future.

Proprio – This grouping is for odds and ends of personal “stuff” that doesn’t seem to fit under any particular heading.

I will continue to organize this blog in my mind (as many of us bloggers do), but at this point, I think I will try to do something from one of the principals or categories for each post. That may change – but hey, I’m a woman, right? I’m allowed!

Next week – Sensazione!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

No Hardtack For Us!

I had a wicked time trying to cook a meal on the little two-burner propane stove the first few times. By the time I moved off the boat and into a house five years later, I could cook a full Thanksgiving dinner on the tiny stove – turkey, pumpkin pie, and all the trimmings.

There was a small oven on the stove, and I had this fantasy that people would be lured by the smell of baking bread as we sailed along. Probably no one else could smell it, but it was enough to tantalize myself and whatever crew was sailing with me at the time.

My recipe was simple – a no-knead whole wheat bread. Put 7 ½ cups of whole wheat flour in a large bowl and set it in a very low oven for about 20 minutes. Dissolve 6 teaspoons dry yeast in 1 cup lukewarm water and add 1 tablespoon honey. Mix 4 tablespoons molasses with 1 cup warm water. Combine yeast and molasses mixtures and add with 2 tablespoons salt to the warm flour. Add enough water to make a sticky dough, approximately 2 cups.

I usually get 2 large loaves out of this, or you can get 3 small loaves. Butter your pans and turn the dough into the pans. No need to knead the dough. Let it rise for an hour and preheat oven to 450 F. Bake about 50 minutes or until crust is brown. I let it stand in the oven for a bit after I turn off the oven. You are supposed to let it cool before you eat it, but I’ve never been able to do that!

I marked it in my cookbook that I fixed this for the first time on July 25, 1980 out of Avalon. Mark turned 21 years old the next day, so we celebrated that night.

Split pea soup with smoky pork became a tradition on all our homeward bound trips after a week or more at sea. It’s a good thing stoves on a sailboat are gimbaled so that they remain steady and the soup doesn’t slop out when we are heeled over on a good run.

I like to use bacon ends and scraps. Brown these in a pan, then add chopped onion and slivers of carrot and cook slightly. Add a package of split peas and water. Add seasonings. I put in pepper, oregano, marjoram, bay leaf, or whatever I have on hand. Simmer until peas and veggies are cooked, but I like to leave the peas slightly lumpy for a hearty soup. It thickens as it stands, but it rarely has time to stand.

A big mug of hot pea soup with freshly baked bread slathered in butter seemed to make it easier to head back home. There was no hardtack for us!