“What is Remembered, Lives”*

I've been in San Francisco for the past several days with my Reclaiming friends.

On Saturday night with 1000 other people, I danced the Spiral Dance.

The Wheel of the Year has turned again.

Tonight I joined a procession of people at the Dia de los Muertos celebration in the Mission.

Both of these events brought back many memories of my life in San Francisco and my friends who have passed through the veil into the Summerland, the Isle of Apples, where their spirits dwell, along with the spirits of the unborn.

Impressions and photos of both of the events will be coming. Below is a column I wrote on World AIDS day two years ago that is apropos now.
There are two days a year I set aside to remember those who have passed between the veil and are on “the other side:” Samhain (All Hallows, 31 October) and December 1, World Aids Day. I also honor Veteran's Day – though I have a problem with war, most of the young men served their country in spite of inept politicians who have never served a day like US soldiers have. It's not their fault that they were killed fighting a meaningless battle staged by idiots.

Oh, the waste of young men and women in wars generally, but especially the one the US is involved in now…I am so lucky I've lived to at least 52.

The passage of time has dulled the excruciating pain I experienced when I've lost my friends. The pain has been replaced with fond memories.

As the years go on, I remember these special friends:

Greg Antepenko – Greg and I were best friends for a decade (the 80's).

Greg and Kevin, 1984

There were several times we considered becoming boyfriends, because we both loved each other a lot in our own ways and we had very similar temperaments, but we decided to continue with a friendship that seemed to work. Greg worked part time as a gardener for Melvin Belli, the flamboyant attorney in San Francisco. Belli's office was near the Transamerica Pyramid, and he had plants in window boxes and on the roof. I remember visiting Greg on the roof of the Belli building (circa 1985).

Here's the Belli Building at 722/728 Montgomery, San Francisco:

I usually brought some snacky food. We'd smoke a doob, kick back on his break, look at the San Francisco skyline, and figure out how to make Mel's place more fabulous. I'd end up helping Greg water, plant, and sweep. Belli himself was a real character – pity I never had my picture taken with him, but in those days, all one had was film and taking pictures was much more “of a thing” than it is now. Belli had his office on the street behind a big glass window, so pedestrians could watch him work. I remember that he had a very busy office – chock full of as, we say in Hawaii, “stuffs and junks” – pictures of celebrities all over his walls, little statues, and so much crap on his desk I wondered just how he wrote briefs there. Belli represented a diverse clientele – Wikipedia says that Zsa Zsa Gabor, Mae West, Sirhan Sirhan, and Jim and Tammy Fae Bakker (!) were among them. He always appeared to me as  a rather large toad sitting on a mushroom with a large rake, pulling in the dough. When I saw him at work, I was reminded of his guest role in the original Stark Trek series as “Gorgan the Friendly Angel.”

Here's a picture of Anna, Greg and I in November 1988 at the Aids Memorial Quilt display in Washington, DC. The three of us were “Quilt workers” dressed in white. Our job was to help people find panels of their loved ones, and hand out tissues and hankies to people. It was the first time I had ever done so much grief-counseling in one place in two afternoons. It had been a heckuva day, so we retired to a nearby tree on the Mall to relax (watch my back, youse guys!):

Greg lived in Rio Nido on the Russian River in his younger days (circa 1979-1982). I'd drive up there every weekend to hang out, and we'd go out to the Rainbow Cattle Company for cocktails and smarmytalk.

Oh, the days when I was more carefree and 25 years old… Thanks for the memories, Greg! I hope you are resting comfortably and making wherever you are more fabulous. To his credit, Greg was an instigator who likely increased awareness of teaching your doctor about AIDS in San Francisco. AIDS/HIV was a whole different world back in the 80's. There were people that wanted to isolate people with AIDS/HIV – people were treated very poorly back then. Fortunately, it has changed somewhat, but there are still many instances of HIV/AIDS discrimination in our society.

Tomas 1986

Tomas Colon-Batis. “Every tingle time (sic)” I think about Tomas, I cannot help but smile. What a happy-go-lucky spirit this guy was. He was Puerto-Rican/Cuban mix, and would think nothing of dropping $250 on a shirt, living on Bell System telephone operator's salary. No matter that he might not have enough to make the rent that month, but at least he would look fabulous when he was evicted. Hw spoke perfect unaccented English, but could easy slip into almost any Spanish dialect (Cuban, Argentinian, Castilian) you could name, hence the “tingle time” above. He was a regular at our dinner table, where the wine flowed freely. He partied, he played, and eventually met his Mr. Wonderful (David, an EMT physician who drove a MB with the license plate NSPIKR) David was his dream come true who domesticated him, festooned him with jewels, a car, and a mansion in Hillsborough, south of San Francisco, and swept him away from his San Francisco family to be a Pensinsula spouse. Tomas' last days were filled with opulence and beauty – and boy, was his mom proud that he scored a doctor! I remember you, Tomas.

Keith Bishop. Aah, Keith. One of the sexiest men I have ever met. We were both members of the California Eagles Motorcycle Club. He drove one of those really LARGE Honda Goldwings. Keith was such a gentleman…

Keith near the Fire, Finnon Lake Calfornia, 1986 (?)

Tim Pacy. He was my ex-partner's best friend, a good friend of mine as well. Tim was partly responsible for our eventual relocation to Hawaii. Tim deserves so much more blog time than I can give at the moment. (Note to self).

Tim and Tomas, 1984 (?)

I miss you all terribly.

*”What is remembered, lives” is a beautiful refrain from one of my favorite Samhain litanies written by Starhawk of the Reclaiming Collective. This song is traditionally sung on Samhain before we take a trance journey to the Isle of Apples, where the souls of the dead go to be reborn…

The Gates

These are the gates of youth and age
These are gates of now and then
These are gates of memory
And desire

Pass through them, slip between the worlds beyond time
Outside the boundaries of your human life

Pass through them, to dance the spiral
The journey of renewal

You warriors! Here your battles are over
You workers! Here your tasks are done
You who are hurt! Here find healing
You who are weary! Here find rest
You who are old! Here you will grow young again
For this is the land of youth, the shining land, the isle of apples

Here is all that ever was, none are forgotten
Nothing lasts forever
All that has passed comes around again
For here, What is remembered lives
What is remembered lives

This beautiful song was published on Reclaiming's “Let it Begin Now” CD available at Serpentine Music.

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Dewey’s Story

A black cat dropped into my life over a year ago, and he's had such an impact on my life I haven't gotten around to blogging about him yet.

I first met him hanging around the parking lot of the community college where I work in January 2008. My campus is bucolic – perfect for a cat, as there are many hidey holes, lots of vegetation, flat and hilly terrain, and plenty of critters to play with and prey on.

But This Cat really liked people. I would come up the steps of the library, walk to my car, and The Cat would run over and greet me as if I was a very familiar friend – his question mark tail, hanging lazily in the air.

Not to say that he didn't make friends with my colleagues (many of whom are catfolks too).

They even named him – “Dewey” – after Melvyl Dewey, the inventor of the Dewey Decimal System, a library classification scheme. Dewey is a boy. Had he been a girl, it's very likely he would have picked up the name Elsie (“LC”) for Library of Congress Classification system – that's the one most academic libraries use and the one my library uses. I know, saddling a mysterious cat with a reference to a classification system of knowledge…well, I'm sure there are cats out there with names more sublime and ridiculous…

But Dewey's story was a mystery. My campus has two feral cat colonies, and he looked like he didn't below to either. Though he was a bit thin, his coat was ok, and he was just too friendly to be a Feral Kampus Kitty. Over several weeks, he would show up just before sunset, and we'd hang out in the parking lot behind the library. I started bringing him snacks, and I opened up my car to him. Before long, he was hanging out in my car as we both listened to the BBC news on NPR. It was dinnertime in Hawaii, and Dewey and I were hearing about tomorrow already.

I was getting home later and later, and F was curious to know what was up. F loves cats too, and we talked about having one come and live with us (because you know that no home is really complete without a cat, or dog, or bird – that's the way I grew up) but the biggest problem: What to do when we travel? If you get hung up on questions like these, you'll probably never get what you want.

Dewey and I met during in winter. Winter in Hawaii is absolutely glorious in that it is windy, and rainy, and cool. I felt bad leaving Dewey at night, but my campus has plenty of buildings on pillar and post where he could find shelter, and the temperature never dropped below 60. I made sure he had a tummy full of food before I left.

One very windy night I worked until about 8PM – a little later than the time Dewey and I would meet. I climbed the stairs from the library entrance and walked to my car. I heard a strange, disembodied meow coming from….where?

I walked back and forth around the parking lot, and the meowing got stronger and then more faint…for 5 minutes I walked around, and around, and around, only to discover that Dewey…

was in the parking lot storm drain!

I fished out a flashlight from my car, beamed the light through the grate, and saw a very unhappy cat staring up at me.

We have a crackerjack security team at KCC. I called Wayne, who came over with a large crowbar. We lifted the grate up, and I climbed down to get a very relieved Dewey. Dewey was so anxious to get out of there that he helped himself out using the climbing rungs!

Of course, this made it more imperative that I make a decision about bringing him home with me. There were a few other pieces to the puzzle that needed solving.

Dewey and I hung out from Monday to Friday – I went to find him on Saturday, but he wasn't around. Sunday–same thing. F actually began to put the pieces together – he suspected that he was somebody's cat who came to KCC during the week when people were around. Ok. made sense.  KCC is surrounded by the neighborhoods of Kaimuki and Kahala

But whose cat was he? Time to find out.

My boss loaned me her cat carrier, and I took Dewey in to see if he was chipped – he was, and the veterinarian would call the owner and tell him/her about me.

An hour later, I got a call from a woman named Heather. I told her that I had really fallen for Dewey.

I popped the question whether I could take Dewey home, and to my joy she said yes! Dewey was one of six who was hand-fed as a baby (his mother was killed by the next door neighbor), so he's extraordinarily bonded with people.

It seems that Dewey has a half-brother at her house – right across the street from KCC – that didn't like him. Dewey was exiled to roam outside because of this, but would return to his home for food. Heather was grateful that he was going to a good home, and, if for some reason it didn't work out at home, I could bring him back. I couldn't believe my good luck that day!

I have much more to say about this cat, and will add more information later…

pics to come!

Dewey loves to be vacuumed (!), and loves boxes:

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May Day 2009

I took advantage of a cheap airfare and took a couple of days off to hang out in the Bay Area.

As luck would have it, my airfare coincided with Mayday, or Beltane as it's called in some circles.

The Wheel of the Year has two opposites: Beltane, the beginning of summer, and Samhain, or All Hallow's Eve, the beginning of winter.

Beltane/Mayday is a day filled with eager greetings to warm weather, flowering trees, and young love.

The Berkeley Morris dance up the sun every May 1 at Inspiration Point in Tilden Park. This year, I got to attend – and it's been a long time since I've enjoyed the Berkeley Morris.

Follow the image link below to see a slide show of that beautiful morning.

2009 Berkeley Morris on Beltane Morn
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Swamp Romp 2009

I was the official photographer for this year's Swamp Romp at Kane'ohe Marine Base here on O'ahu. 

There were 3 teams of Swamp Pigs this year.

Follow this link to see the slide show.

Swamp Romp 2009
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Honolulu rallys for Marriage Equality

A nice turnout of Honolulu's concerned citizens for marriage equality this morning:

Hawaii is where the fight for marriage equality began.

More pictures of today's rally:


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Obama is from Hawaii, Obama is from Chicago?

More silliness – claims from both Hawaii and Chicago that Obama is “ours.”

Well, now that he won the Presidency, he belongs to the nation and the world.

Still, I suspect there are very few Illinois residents that are good at this:

Sandy's Beach where he surfed is NOTORIOUS  for more broken bones and neck injuries than any other beach in Hawaii. You have to know what you're doing to surf here well.

And you can't learn it in a weekend's visit. Meaning simply to acquire the form he has in the above picture takes lots of practice.

Yes, the President surfs! Not on one of those fiberglass boards neither.

He surfs the old-fashioned way, just like the Hawaiians did and still do.

With the body alone.

Go Obama!

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Obama in the rain

What a campaign so far, eh?

I'm very impressed with Barack Obama – but it was this rally that really brought it home for me:

Obama in the rain. Other photos are here.

A story in a local newspaper here (sorry, but both of them have such awful Web sites I'm having trouble finding it and providing it for you here) recounted the argument that Obama is really from Illinois now and not from Hawaii. What the article implied is that Obama's roots are firmly planted in Illinois and that he has somehow forgotten his Hawaiian origins. He enjoys mainland foods, baseball and basketball teams, etc. Some Chicagoans (along with our very unpopular Governor here in Hawaii) were trying to downplay his Island roots.

This guy comes from HAWAII. You know why? Only people from Hawaii will stand in the rain and talk to people. It rains here a lot. Obama was to have said “Let me just begin by saying that a little bit of rain never hurt anybody.” Bra-VO, Mr. Obama! McCain rallying nearby canceled his appearance because of the weather.

I guess the “tough guys” can't handle the rain.

Good luck Mr. Obama!

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