Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Hawai'i vacation part 2

The reason it was good that I didn't react as much to my usual "beware" foods is that I accidentally ate some. Claudia knew that Lisa avoided gluten so she insisted we try the gluten-free chocolate cake. How do you say no? I could tell right away there were nuts but didn't think that they were almonds until I had had several more bites and she came to check on us. I asked her how she made the flour and she said, almonds! Lisa and I looked at each other with big eyes before exclaiming. Probably the lunch ahead of it helped, to pad my stomach with other food, and we stayed a little longer to make sure I didn't need the bathroom since we were headed somewhere without facilities. Fortunately, I was fine!
Polulu valley was our next stop, and we drove past Hawi and Kohala (birthplace of Kamehameha I) to get there. Even from the parking area it was stunning.
But the plan was to hike down to the valley and back up. A guy stopped us before we started the trail and made sure we were aware that we could die hiking or by drowning in the water. As you can see from this sign, there are more reminders as you descend. I was worried at the very top about slipping down because the path was dry but it was fine once we got going. Certainly better going down first than up, we agreed.
You can see some of the valley at left as Lisa leads the way.
And what a stunning valley it is. Once you get down, you can go right to the valley and the water that snakes out of there, and we saw grazing cattle (I think they were cows) in the distance. But mostly you go left to the water.
For sure this had to be a sculpture left behind. Lisa hiked out over the rocks further while I stayed on driftwood logs and hung out, and later drew in the sand and rubbed it all over my hand.


Our reward was to get acai bowls, except this time I didn't realize that they'd top with granola (FILLED with almonds) and a banana (both are foods I weirdly cannot eat anymore). Probably I was too tired from the physical activity to properly read the info on the board! But it still hit the spot. We had hoped on the way home to revisit Beach 69 to get in the water, as I hadn't submerged yet, but it started to pour so we went home instead.
You can't see how busy Two Step was (all of the people in this pic are strangers), but I finally got to get in and clearly it has been so long that I found the water to be way more salty than I remember ocean water ever being. Lisa snorkeled and I just swam with goggles since I'm no good at the former. Even with my terrible vision, I could see plenty!
After we dried off and snacked a bit, Lisa took me next door to Pu’uhona o H┼Źnaunau, a national park. She was so surprised to see this basket maker in one of the sections, since she said she has never seen her before on her many visits. A passerby also noted that she comes all the time and has never seen her! We lucked out, because she was making these wonderful baskets and giving them away (those patrons are expected to give a donation the the park when they leave). Someone she knew was around gathering material to work with and it was nice to see her guide her in the finishing part of the basket (ends are twisted and then wrapped around the body, and two roses mades of leaves are tucked in!).


I was so glad that Lisa was able to take a basket home. My incredibly intrepid, generous, and loving host created the exact retreat that I needed. She showed me gorgeous tide pools in a more quiet area of the park and I finally saw lots and lots of goats, which are a very common sight here.
This is the protected bay that only the highest ranking people in the past were allowed to enter. As it is sacred, snorkelers and swimmers and so on are also not allowed in here, but turtles are.
A replica of a heiau, or kind of temple, protected by all of the wooden gods both directly near the structure and along the shore.
Since we stayed for a while, we were hungry and stopped at Pau Hana Poke. I loved this sign outside because my partner always tells me to slow down eating since the food won't run away. Good to know they won't swim away, either.
That was gone almost as soon as I sat down to eat it at home.
Even though I wasn't right at or in the water every day, it was there daily. This is the view from the lanai and the sunsets every day reminded me of how much I appreciated sunrise every morning at my Virginia residency earlier this year. When I first started seeing the sunsets on this trip, I always felt compelled to wave goodbye to the sun.
On my final full day, we returned to Donkey Mill for their annual Cool Fusion event, a fundraiser. It reminded me of the chili bowl event at Women's Studio Workshop (which I haven't attended, but the general gist), except on a tropical island. Each ticket gets you a free bowl that artists have made and donated to the event. I had very little luggage space in my carry on so I kept walking around choosing a bowl, and then picking up another one that was lighter, and lighter, and lighter!
Up on the next terraced level was the band, which was so good, where we could sit to eat, enjoy refreshments, and the very cool vibe.
After washing my bowl, I got into the line for bibimbap, as this was a Korean-themed event. Yeonsoo was down in the ceramics studio doing a demo, and he did all the artwork for the t-shirts and other textile goodies. They had consulted with a Korean chef and then made the most delightful meal for us.
Even Yeonsoo's wife Jihae was helping to serve food! It was so well set up and curated.
This was also pretty much all gone as soon as I sat down. Since arriving home, I've already used the bowl at every meal.
To do a really quick shopping spree for limited gifts to bring home (again, almost NO luggage space!), Lisa took me to the tourist main drag in Kona and we sweated our way through it. She explained that because the shore is at the lowest elevation, it's much hotter than where she lives near Donkey Mill.
While we were too pressed for time to tour the palace, we did take a peek behind to get closer to the water.
It was very strong that day, with waves often crashing above and over the barrier wall. I found the orange buoys fascinating because they looked like inflatables!
One of the big reasons I timed my trip the way I did was to be sure to see the group show that Lisa is in with her kapa hui. She has made a huge commitment to learning kapa making within community and I marveled at the depth of her commitment throughout the entire trip. I was sad to not be able to meet her teacher due to sudden diagnosis and treatment, but lived with Roen's work that is all over Lisa's rental. This is some of Roen's late mother's work (who was not only a kapa maker but lei maker, extremely accomplished in both). I loved especially the pleated hula skirt made of kapa.
I loved this piece of Lisa's, bojagi that mixes kapa and Korean textiles. It was hung so that you could see light through it and also note the back, made of lovely silk/hanji fabric from Andong.
This is another piece that Lisa made with the blue in the sky all made from dyed kapa that is beaten out and then fused to the base layer. I love that her journey began by learning to make the tools for this practice. It's such a big deal to be able to do that! I love that her teacher for that is also very active, so that kapa makers have a place to go if it's too much for them to make their own.
This piece by Lisa was inspired by an encounter with an octopus and I heard the story after we walked away from the turtles in Puako Bay. This explained why she stopped eating octopus (I felt guilty for eating it in front of her but it was so delicious), and the beautiful Nat Geo book about them on her coffee table. I learned so much that I never expected to, because I was able to immerse and relax, browse and read what she had around (like a whole book about Georgia O'Keeffe's first visit to Hawai'i), and experience a completely different place while being supported with great care.
On the porch of the Isaacs Art Center, where the show was, members of her kapa hui came out to share demos.
Mary was delightful and also brought really good food to share. I wondered if they wore ear protection for the constant beating but they said they didn't. I'm sure it helps that they always beat outdoors; that is a completely different acoustic setting from where I am usually beating fiber (the same plant!) for papermaking.
I was so sad to leave Lisa by the end of my trip but from almost the beginning of it, she welcomed a return visit. She is so open, gracious, caring, and focused on this stage of her art career. While she kept talking about how smart people around her were, she really downplays how very smart she is. Her intelligence manifests differently, and I saw it over and over again in the way she cares for her family, her kumu kapa and hui, and the community she has created since arriving on the island. She can sweet talk mochi ladies and garbage men, a fruit stand lady up the hill, really anyone. That is a skill that most people I know, including me, do not have! But it requires a certain understanding of people and yourself, a particular way of existing and moving through the world that is honest about your desires and your hope that people at their core are decent.

It was rough coming home to dark grey clouds and what is inarguably an ugly landscape. But this temporal time between travel and full home settling is always the magic time to try and set some lessons into real life. When we left the show in Waimea, we saw another giant rainbow—they bookended my entire stay with a true spirit of aloha.

Pau Hana Poke

Donkey Mill Art Center

Isaacs Art Center

Roen Hufford

Lisa Chun Rodondi

Haole Do It: watch season 2, episode 3, for a touching show about Roen and her students, including Lisa and many of the women I met at the kapa show.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Hawai'i vacation part 1

It was really hard working on these pots but we worked really diligently. This was the table for those with less experience (the others went straight to the wheel). We built up with coils and I am working on my very lopsided pot alongside Lisa' sister Susanne, who made a lid for hers since she will use it to make kimchi.
This was the end of the first day, which is why I've wrapped my pot so it doesn't dry. Day two was so hot! I was really wilting but we had fun decorating in the late afternoon. My pot and slip were not dry enough to do good inlay but I was able to add a few animals (turtle, snake, and duck) to the lip of my pot, which Donkey Mill will bisque and then Lisa and Kevin will have to live with my pot before we decide next steps. I'm happy for it to go back to the land and know not to get attached to the first pot but it was a great experience.
Once all the workshop excitement ended, we eased into a one big outing a day kind of week, which was a good balance. While I would have loved to never look at my email/computer, I had enough headspace to not worry about it as much as at home, and two really smart people to bounce ideas off of (I turned down two teaching gigs for 2023 this week and it was much easier to do it while in a very spacious capacity). One of my favorite visits was to Beach 69, which is another location for unexploded ordinances. I didn't realize there was so much military training on this island where they left all this crap behind for locals to deal with.
Many of the places where the water meets the land are rocky but this is a wonderful beach because of all the natural shade, big trees, and how quiet it is (less tourists).
This is turning the other direction from the last shot. The rocks here remind me of Jeju Island in Korea.
The sandy area further down has amazingly clear water and while I could only get my feet in, it was amazing to see this driftwood. I assumed humans were making sculptures but Lisa reminded me that the tide was super low and so this is usually all submerged, just how the trees fell and/or died/washed up.
Then we drove a bit further to access Puako bay between private homes (all beaches are public and have to have access even if it means cutting thru private property). Lisa knew there would be turtles and aside from these two there was one more on the black rocks to the right (outside of the frame). Sunset was magnificent.
The next day we went to the summit of Maunakea. I felt a little conflicted about doing this because of all the issues around constantly building on and trampling over sacred land, but was so curious about the experience.
I didn't really understand from below, where it was cloudy, that we were rising up past the clouds.
I had also heard already about the way everyone needs to drive on this road so as not to destroy the car (this is more scary on the way down as you should not use brakes, otherwise you could burn them out and then lose control of the vehicle).
Since Kevin and Lisa had already done this trip before, he knew to pop the hood to help the car cool down as we prepared for sunset with a dinner spread and blankets in the back of the vehicle.
This is the other side of the summit, which was colder in the shadow of the giant observatory.
We also left early so that parking would be easier and we wouldn't get stuck behind a line of cars. Same for the way down.
I had ordered a down coat just for this evening and was grateful for it along with the tea that Lisa brewed and packed. On the way home we stopped at a recreation area to look at the stars, which were thick, more than I've seen maybe ever (at least in my memory). We could even see the Milky Way. While looking for a dark area, we ran into a guy who was driving out of a closed road. He said this was his first day at work but that he went to lay down and stargaze!
The next day, Lisa drove us out to the Hilo side and it was remarkable that I could remember the road and scenery from my last trip in Feb 2018. On that trip, I also got to visit Roslyn, who took my hanji class at PBI in Michigan way back in 2016 or so. I had obviously not remembered this giant bamboo grove, though! But I'm glad I was able to see it now after learning a lot more about bamboo last year in Korea.
Lisa got lots of doggie love from Shoshie (bottom left, pregnant) and Sammy.
The vacation home/studio has an incredible ocean view and we saw the wauke (paper mulberry, same plant we use for hanji making) that Roslyn had growing outside.
She has them growing right next to the studio and they've started sending out runners (you can't see but there's one right near the building to the right and she put cones around them so the guy who mows doesn't cut them down. She said they grow better in the greenhouse,
which was full of so many goodies! The wauke is in the back right and she told us about how she had them in pots and then they started to get out of the pot and root right into the ground underneath! She made a beautiful lunch for us and my favorite was the pesto quinoa with basil from her garden.
We looked at her orchard, which includes this coffee tree, and saw so much abundance with fruit trees that had seedlings growing all around from old fruit that had dropped and seeded. There were giant trees that she said she planted when she first moved there, and it's amazing how large they've gotten (then again, I don't live in a warm climate, so this kind of growth is always incredible to me). One huge one is a neem tree and she once had visitors from India tell her she cannot cut it down as it's a sacred tree.
We checked on her pool, which also has the ocean view. Afterwards, we headed to town to see Hilo.
I wish I had known about the mochi at Two Ladies during my last visit! But Lisa kept us well stocked throughout; I don't think I've ever had so much consistent mochi in my life. I was surprised to really enjoy the one with oreo cookie filling, and was glad to try the ones with fresh fruit inside.
We were sad that the pho place we wanted to eat at happened to be closed that day so instead we had Korean. Even though it was hot, I had jjamppong (partly because the jajangmyeon has pork, which I can't eat anymore). We also missed seeing a lovely ceramics gallery by just about 30 min but it was a beautiful day, strangely not rainy or cloudy.
The next day we stopped at Cipriano's Kitchen for a gorgeous lunch. The lilikoi tea was lovely and Claudia was so excited to share the specials with us. She had a band around her forearm near her elbow and said it's ravioli elbow. I could relate, since I have jiseung elbow (all the same as tennis elbow).
She sold me on the ravioli, which I rarely get. Often the foods that cause me to react back at home don't destroy me when I'm in other places (especially countries that have more strict rules around food—animal husbandry, farming practices, etc.). That served me well here!