Lava Walk

Sunset at Chain of Craters Road, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Straight from the heart of the earth, lava streams up as the beginning of islands and continents. It smells like fireworks: sulphur. Lava is rock being river, cascading into the sea. In Hawaii, lava symbolizes the goddess Pele, passionate sculptress and dancer. Some say she lives in Halema’uma’u crater on the Big Island of Hawaii. Those who know her well bring gifts of gin and ohelo berries, which they toss into the steaming caldera with prayers of respect.

If you dare to walk in the dark over dangerously uneven lava shelves with a flashlight, and you have sturdy shoes that you are willing to sacrifice (because sometimes the heat of the lava river coursing ten feet under the trail can cook the glue holding your shoes together), take a seaside walk after sunset at the bottom of Chain of Craters Road in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to some place you decide to stand in the dark and watch neon bright streams of lava flow down the mountain and into the sea.

You will not be alone, but, rather, on a pilgrimage with thousands of others, almost any night you go. Not everyone wants to walk all the way to the edge of the cliffs, because sometimes the lava cliffs break off into the sea. But some people always do.

Moonrise over the ocean at Chain of Craters Road. Note lava on the left.

Hawaii Weddings

At my booth at the Hilo Bridal Fair in 2003.

In 1988, on Maui, I opened a home business coordinating custom weddings for tourists. Before I sold the company in 1999, it (that is, a bunch of employees and I) had put together about 3000 of them. Before you award me a medal for courage, I should say that more than half of them involved only a couple, a minister, maybe a photographer, and a beach at sunset.

I preside at the wedding of Kevin Schlueter and Sandi Yang.

Even after I sold the company and moved to Hawaii Island, I put together another half dozen weddings, which I enjoyed all the more because they were few and far between. Producing twenty or more weddings per month is not exactly a recipe for optimal physical and mental well-being.

I made this bouquet from flowers growing in my botanical garden near Hilo.

The joy that kept me doing it so long was the volume of creative output—I made thousands of bouquets, sang thousands of songs (some to accompany hula dancers), brainstormed with clients to create unique ceremonies, rewrote and redesigned my ads, website and brochures yearly, designed outdoor wedding equipment to withstand the Maui winds, designed the overall look of the more elaborate weddings, and constantly researched new locations, performers, costumes, equipment, floral resources, and ideas to make my weddings fabulous.

Reception set-up on the porch of my garden home near Hilo

It worked. When Good Morning America presented a week on weddings in March 1994, they filmed one of our weddings. When Nancy Davis, an editor at Modern Bride magazine, published a coffee table book, she included four exotic weddings we produced. When wedding consumer advocates Alan and Denise Field created a book on destination weddings, they recommended my company.

I sing at a wedding near Kalani Honua Oceanside Retreat

What closed that chapter was my muse. Even though my creative output was prodigious, it wasn’t about my unique voice as an artist, writer and musician. Managing an office full of employees, client files, inventory, office and wedding equipment, communication systems and monetary decisions required over forty hours per week of intensely focussed attention, on top of which the creative wedding projects that gave me joy took another twenty to forty hours per week. I certainly did not want to give up the part of the business that gave me joy. There simply was no time to make another book, song, film, or performance. Sometimes there was hardly time to eat and sleep! So, when I sold A Wedding Made in Paradise, it was with a profound sense of relief.

Surrounded by tropical flowers and trees, a couple weds in my garden.

Nonetheless, I am looking forward to presiding and singing at the wedding of my website godparents Kim Cooper and Richard Schave in June, and also for Tracy Dove’s daughter Sarah Coppen and her fiance Chris Warmuth at their wedding at Arcosanti.

Why I Blog

Why I Blog

I like to write, take and edit photographs and post stuff online.
Anything done daily gets done better and better.
I like the spontaneity of blogging. I do it when I like, about whatever I like.
My voice, not often available in corporate media, is available online.
I want to help raise political awareness; it’s going to take a lot of us participating vigorously to save democracy in the USA.
I want to recognize publicly the works and celebrations people are creating to promote sustainability, peace and social justice.
I’d like more people to know about my artist friends and their works.
I’m hoping to contribute to the physical health of my readers with recipes and health-related information.
I love the way my blogposts are finding their way around the ‘net.
I’m amazed at how many people are visiting my website. Today (March 28) the counter says nearly 28,000 readers have visited since the new site went up on January 15.

Living in the Art

How much fun are you having with your house?

Stephanie Farago’s legendary artist house in West Hollywood has vanished (she sold it and moved to the tropics), but I was lucky enough to visit while she was still living in the midst of her ongoing creation. She painted the elaborate wall decor herself, collected the abstruse and mysterious furnishings during her travels, upholstered some of the furniture, and arranged everything like a set designer. Stephanie paints wonderful oil paintings, created two coffee table books, one on collecting pre-World War II boudoir dolls, and an upcoming book on the life and work of artist Steven Arnold, and once made a video of Carnivale in Venice.

Here is a mini-tour of Stephanie’s creation:

Stephanie Farago in the Bali-Tibet room:

The Rudolph Valentino room:

The Carmen Miranda breakfast nook:

The Chinese salon:

A side room of the Chinese salon:

Stephanie’s livable art was her creative mind projected in 3-D. I wonder what her new place is like?

Cure for the Blues

I learned this recipe from Yolanda Parker, a Guatemalan herbalist.

Bring four cups of pure water to a boil. Remove from heat and add a dozen orange tree leaves (with blossoms if available) and three long leaves of lemon grass. Steep until the tea is cool enough to drink. This tea is specific for depression, but is useful for ordinary stress as well.

Altar Party

January 8, 2005, Phoenix, Arizona. Six of us women artists gathered to craft visionary altars at Tracy Dove’s house. Tracy Dove and Kathy Cano-Murillo provided boxes of printed images, old greeting cards, glitter, beads, glass jewels, tile, scrabble letters, miscellaneous small objects and glue. One of Tracy’s friends brought over a stack of cigar boxes to decorate. Shari Elf and I drove in from California for the festivities.

My altar is about a transformation into high gear art manifestation. Summer 2005 I spontaneously began making my blues/jazz CD What Living’s All About, my most exciting project to date.

Shari Elf made a mosaic of a man’s face with scrabble letters saying Nice Man. Last summer she met and began dating her favorite man so far.

Kathy Cano-Murillo’s altar says “Frisky Love” and contains images from Mexican pornographic comic books (“you get them at the carneceria, but you have to ask the butcher” she told us.) No report on the enlivening of her love life, but Tracy says Kathy has been inundated with book and TV deals lately, and looking especially beautiful. She’s been happily married for many years.

Tracy’s choice of image was a mermaid, and her year has been an intense voyage into the oceanic realm of the subconscious, totally transforming her life in ways she never dreamed possible. (That’s one of her paintings behind her.)

Tracy’s niece April’s beautiful altar features a three dimensional snake. Her life, in the past year, has taken many twists and turns through subterranean spaces.

Other visonary art parties I’ve attended: making crowns or tiaras, creating “treasure maps” (flat montages of visionary images), and decorating masks or blown eggs with paint and decoupage. I’ve saved most of what I’ve made at these events; they feel powerful to me.

Why I Walk

No fees, uniforms or equipment required.
Any time of day, and almost any location is suitable.
It can be done alone or in any size group.
One can walk to portable music or the local soundscape.
It lends itself to observing nature, people, and architecture.
It can be part of making a living or protesting injustice.
One can walk and focus on breathing at the same time.
Walking is a great time to stretch and align one’s body.
The rhythmic crosscrawl movement soothes the nerves.
Saves on gasoline.
Walking alone inspires creativity.
Fine time for a cell phone call, too.
I’ve even attended 12 step meetings by cell phone while walking.
To think outside the box, I get out of the house.
Doesn’t jar my joints or my breasts like jogging does.
Happy muscles, happy lungs, happy heart.

More on Verified Voting

Voting rights activists sue the state of California over voting machine certification:

A plethora of current election fraud articles and quotes:

Don’t forget to remind your congressperson to co-sponsor HR 550, the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2005. You can easily find out if they already do by checking here.

Mochi Waffles

Brown rice mochi waffles are not eggy and tender like batter waffles. Their texture is somewhere between Rice Krispies and bubble gum. They are firm enough to be finger food; in any case they are challenging to cut with the side of a fork. Brown rice mochi waffles are simply more entertaining than the popover form in which brown rice mochi usually arrives at the table.

I learned to prepare this dish at the Grainaissance Mochi and Amazake factory in Berkeley back in the early ‘eighties. I had met the Grainaissance folks at the Natural Foods and Products Expo in Anaheim, where I had gone to market my raw sprouted vegan ice cream recipe. I met Gypsy Boots there. His cookbook Bare Feet and Good Things to Eat is the first ever in my memory to mention eating sprouts.

Thaw any flavor of Grainaissance Mochi (Raisin-Cinnamon is a good choice.) One package of mochi makes two large waffles. Cut the mochi into 1/2 inch cubes. Heat up a waffle iron and spray with non-stick spray. Place enough cubes for one waffle on the hot waffle iron, covering it evenly. It’s better to underfill than overfill, because if the mochi runs into the outer channels where there is no heat, it won’t cook. The heat will melt the mochi so that it runs together and it puffs up, and eventually it gets crisp on the outside. Open the waffle iron and remove the waffle onto a plate with a fork. Serve immediately with banana jam (see below). Or if you use a savory flavor of mochi, (say, Sesame-Garlic) serve under a curry or other bite-sized, sauce-slathered entree.

Banana jam: Whenever you have bananas going brown in your kitchen, peel them and put them into a plastic bag in the freezer. When you want banana jam for one person, place one frozen banana on a small plate and microwave it for one minute. Mash it with a fork, season it with a pinch of cinnamon, and mix well. Variation: add a frozen strawberry to the frozen banana and microwave for one minute, and then mash them together, with no cinnamon.