Showing posts from 2014

Evolution in Hawaii: A Supplement to Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science

Makauwahi: Eyes on the Smoke of History at Kaua'i's Cave

Five and a half million years ago, Ha'upu mountain was the molten heart of a new caldera. Kipukai was  another erupting core.  When the oceanic plate shifted, and the hotspot venting lava with it, Waialeale became the active volcano, and Ha'upu began to succumb to the wind and waves. Two million years later, as the volcanic activity settled down, pu'u-- or small cinder cones-- erupted from the volcanic plain all around.

Enormous sand dunes piled up on the south shore of Kaua'i, in the wet shadow of Ha'upu-- no longer a living volcano.  The years layered the soft round sand, and the rain leached the minerals out.
The dunes lithified into limestone. Ribbons of minerals twined under the sand: olivine and silicates. Cathedrals beneath the hard packed mineral protected hollows full of ancient ocean sand.

Ice ages came and went-- the polar ice caps grew and froze the earth's water. Water leaching through the limestone formed intricate stalactites under lithified sand …

When in doubt... BUTTER MOCHI

Butter Mochi Rated:Submitted By: Lea Photo By: RoseFalles Prep Time: 15 Minutes Cook Time: 1 Hour Ready In: 3 Hours 15 Minutes Servings: 24 "Butter and coconut milk flavor this sweet, baked, Japanese treat." INGREDIENTS: 3 1/2 cups sweet rice flour (mochiko) 2 1/2 cups white sugar 2 tablespoons baking powder 5 eggs 1 teaspoon coconut extract 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 cups milk 1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk 1/2 cup melted butter DIRECTIONS: 1.Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish. Whisk the rice flour, sugar, and baking powder together in a mixing bowl.2.Beat the eggs, coconut extract, and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl until the eggs are smooth. Whisk in the milk, coconut milk, and melted butter until incorporated. Stir in the flour mixture a little at a time until no lumps remain; scrape into the prepared baking dish, and smooth the top.3.Bake in the preheated oven until the mochi is golden brown, about 1 hour. Cool to room temperatur…

AND ANOTHER THING-- wait, I mean, moving on.

So a long time ago, when I first moved to Kaua'i, I took my tiny adorable little 18 month old baby to the library. The automatic doors slid open, we smelled a blast of air conditioning and book mustiness, and my baby gasped, "YAY, BOOKS!"
The librarian, David, stage-hissed, "If she can't be quiet, she's going to have to leave."
I was so offended. I didn't want to ever go back.

But I realized something. This was MY library. I could walk there. There wasn't another one-- I had to get over it.

So I trained my kids to be terrified of the librarian, to be SILENT in the library, to gather as many books as we could and get OUT OUT OUT GO GO GO under his unflinching sniper eyes. And now... DAVID the MEAN LIBRARIAN.... he likes me. We are allies in a moldy, sandy, short-attention span, book-hating world. My kids are perfect library patrons for him. He gives me book recommendations. He will help me, with that hyper-vigilance, find obscure texts. I brought…

Kaua'i is Completely (Gorgeous) CRAZY

I left Hawaii.
Not forever-- just for two months. Just the day school got out-- all my book shelves pushed into one corner of my classroom, all the partitions folded and desks stacked and supplies boxed up. I got on an airplane-- actually three-- and left Hawaii behind.
I just got back Sunday.
I learned a lot. Some of what I learned I should probably write about. But not today.

Today, I went back to work. And the day sort of embodied everything that is sacred and amazing, and everything that is enraging and crushing about this rock in the middle of the pacific.

I left the house at 4:30 am. I drove my truck through the dark-- down the mountain, along the coast. Just knowing the black ocean was right there, invisible and inky on the side of the road, lapping at rocks in the dark-- gave me chills. The ocean is big and powerful-- a force to be acknowledged and respected. Good morning unseen ocean.

By 5:30 I made it to the beach. Many of the other teachers were already there, standing in t…

Kawa Ceremony

I came late to the faculty meeting yesterday. I walked in with my laptop and planner but the conference table was gone and everyone was sitting on the floor in a circle.

Kaina, the Hawaiian language teacher and charismatic force of nature, was sitting shirtless at the front of the circle, with three large wooden bowls in front of him. At either side hovered a shirtless teenage boy. To their left sat our two graduating seniors.

Ah. A Kawa ceremony. Cool.

I mentally changed lanes. Last year's kawa ceremony was out in the school garden one evening, in the handmade hale, and was followed by a hi'uwai-- a purifying dunk in the ocean to symbolize letting go of the old and embracing the new.  Apparently this time it was in the social studies homeroom, on the carpet.

I noted the three bowls-- one full of the stringy dried Kawa, one full of murky grey-green liquid, and one full of clean water with many little coconut bowls bobbing around.

Kaina whispered to the boy helpers, directing t…

Gratitude for a Day

It's easy to write when something awful grabs my brain-- or something annoying buzzes in my ear and needs expression to be silenced-- but today I am feeling raw and grateful and I want to write it down.

Gratitude is so fragile-- a wet tissue paper feeling-- and I want to feed it, like drops of nectar to a thin-winged moth.

So here is what I'm grateful for today.

This moment: the girls are falling asleep together in my bed. They have twisted the sheets around their feet and around the quilt that Matt's dad recently sent us-- an heirloom from Vietnam-- a deep blue, hand embroidered piece of functional art. They are listening to an Aesop's Fables audiobook on youtube. They are freshly showered, teeth brushed, stories read, and fully dressed in tomorrow's clothes: RJ in a homemade "bra"-- the tattered remains of a tiny satin dressup and black leggings with two meters of fake leopard tail pinned to the back-- and MP in a stylish pineapple and hello kitty ensem…

Dear Men and Women at That Party

Dear Men At That Party,
You are laughing-- a baritone staccato-- outside on the porch. The beer bottles have begun toppling over the ledge into the grass below, to be discovered the next morning in the dew like eastereggs. The cadence of your storytelling rises and falls, and you jostle and jockey for center stage-- interrupting and verbally shoving others out of the way. To us inside the meaning is lost, but the ruckus remains. One of you begins slamming something again and again-- the door? The sound is nearly drowned in the answering laughter. It sounds loud out there. Competitive. I've only met one of you before; the rest of you are strangers. I meet all of you eventually tonight, except one of you-- the guy who passes out on the couch. One of you, one of the two single guys, apologizes to me for using foul language in front of my kids. I wave away his apology-- I tell him my kids are so hung up on "stupid" and "shut up" being the very worst words in the wo…

A little heart break

My heart is a little broken today. I know it's the right thing to do-- to let go, but it still hurts. A part of me still wonders if I should say, wait! Stop! It's worth saving! I'll do better! I'll change-- I won't let things that are important to me disintegrate anymore-- I'll make time, I'll try harder. I'll make beautiful things. 
But no-- I won't. I need to let it go.
What's all this about? My wheel. My kiln.
My pottery wheel deserves a new home, a better life. Someone who will take care of it the way it deserves. Who even knows how to use it properly. Maybe I'll be a better person at some point, and then I'll be prepared to bring another pottery wheel into my life, and this time make none of the mistakes I've made with this one. But-- not soon. When I'm ready. I'll know, next time, before jumping in.
When I was sixteen, my parents gave me a birthday card with our traditional birthday breakfast in bed. The note said, "a …

Na Kupuna, The Holy Spirit, and Ahimsa

Today us the kind of day that shortens my life by five years; that parches my skin and carves the jagged lines around my eyebrows and mouth deeper into a scowl; that makes me want to escape or run or fight. Or write.
So right or wrong, I need to write it out.
Yesterday I read the Ramayana to my students. I have a short graphic novel version, and the kids got all swept up the the grand drama of princes, princesses, gods, goddesses, demons, gurus, bears, and monkeys. They imagined how they would retell the epic Hawaiian myths in their own styles and sketched Hawaiian gods and goddesses in sarongs and swim shorts, with Disney princess faces as they listened.
And today I loaded them up into two school vans and took everybody-- all of the secondary teachers and students-- up to the Hindu temple and monastery in Wailua. I was impressed-- every kid followed my instructions to bring their permission slips and wear modest pants or skirts. I quizzed them in the van-- Rama and Sita, Jambavan and Ha…


Just got back from a four day jaunt to Oahu. We stayed in Waikiki, went to museums and ate out-- it was a fun mini vacation from our rural island. I liked pushing through the crowds of people, admiring the daring high-fashion haircuts, and eating authentic Japanese food. 
But I was bothered by something unexpected. 
I heard English in all accents, and a UN roster of other languages: Tagalog, Chinese, Korean, Russian, and French. I heard more Japanese than I have since living in Japan. But I didn't hear a single word of Hawaiian. No mahalo or aloha or e komo mai-- not even the token, tourist-board approved warm fuzzy version of Hawaiian that gets used as a tool to bring a non-threatening layer of native authenticity to maitais and cheap plumeria leis.
Once I noticed it, the lack bothered me more and more. All the little chances people missed to use the few words of olelo that have crept in to common usage jumped out at me. At the bishop museum, we heard recorded Hawaiian voices chanti…

Ola No ka Olelo Hawaii?

When I challenged my students to write an essay convincing me that the Hawaiian language is in fact a living language, they said they would if I wrote one in Hawaiian. So here it is.

Note: I've chosen to leave out most diacritical marks, except where their absence causes marked confusion, to avoid inconsistency, as recommended by the University of Hawaii Hawaiian Language Style Guide. Basically, if you can't include them all, don't include any of them.

I ka hoomaka ia na halawai makua o Punana Leo, olelo pu makou na makua a me na keiki a me na kumu i ka nuukia o ke kula: E ola i ka Olelo Hawaii. O kela ka pahu hopu o na kula Olelo Hawaii a pau: a hooulu na olelo, a hooikaika na mea Hawaii. Aka, hiki makou e hooulu keia olelo? Hiki oia ke hoi i ka ola? Ai ole, ua hala ka olelo Hawaii i ka wa kahiko?

E pana ana keia mau ninau me he mau ninau eiae. He kumu wau: oia ka'u ano. Ka'u mau ninau: he aha he olelo ke ola nei? Hiki he olelo make ke ho'i mai i ka ola? I na …