Sunday, November 28, 2010


 How I Plan to Defend Myself, 2008
Fiberglas mannequin torso with found objects
34"H x 16"W x 18"D

This was the last piece I made before leaving for Bali. It holds the very last supply of junk stuff I had still left over.  Planning to enter it for consideration in the 2009 Artists of Hawaii Show, I left it with Marc Schechter, my long-time photographer, for documentation.  Alas, I never followed up with it.  It languished in Marc's studio while we were in Bali.  He even started using some of the tools.  After coming back I decided to pick it up and bring it home.  Now it is literally the only piece of art left from my previous life.



Saturday, November 27, 2010


Why I Write, 2005
Plastic & cloth doll, found objects, mixed media

Why I Write

The lines from me
to what's not me
are tenuous

in their willy-
nilly reaching

gulping air
hoping that somehow

the right sequence
of dots and numbers
will win the lottery 

of words but time
is not a friend
I must write

with nail hair
splintered bone
let my words run

silk on silk
but smell of fire
each line

a leap of muscle
by vigilance

the tempered steel
of fury


Wilson Tunnel Rear View, 2010

Death comes to me dressed in a butcher-paper suit 
 face masked by a recycled grocery bag 
I tell him thank you I'm so glad it is my turn


 Swollen River (Photo by Thijs Lieffering)


Here is a story I heard from Suamba, our driver. 

Suamba's neighbor, Gustie, once found a dead baby boy by Campuhan river.  Since rivers are public domain, the baby became the responsibility of the banjar (community).  They gave it the name Buddhalara and buried it at the crossroads on the left side of the street.

Shortly after, a big fire broke out.  Three blocks of houses burned down, plus, the banjar's banking system.  Many documents were lost in the fire.  It was a disaster.

People went to Jero Mangku, their holy man, wanting to know what caused the fire.  Jero answered that it was because Buddhalara was buried on the wrong side of the road and was given the wrong name.  After waiting for the correct date, the villagers then re-buried him on the right side of the road and changed his name to Buddhayasa, which means both Wednesday (the day he was found) and Patience.  Ceremonies honoring the baby were performed every six months thereafter.

People who can see ghosts report that Buddhayasa has now grown into a handsome young man.  They see him walk from the river to the crossroads where he disappears.  A group of laborers from Java who sleep by the river have also reported seeing a baby turning into a giant.



Painting by Agung

Another story I heard was about a farmer who found a dead baby girl.  Since he found her on his own property, she became his responsibility, not the banjar's.  He buried her with the required ceremony and continued honoring her, at his own expense, with all the required ceremonies for a safe childhood as if she were still alive. In addition, when he had saved up enough money, he released her soul with the final Balinese ceremony: Cremation, the ultimate and most expensive ceremony.

In gratitude she began appearing to him as a real person and gave him advice from beyond the veil.  She would tell him things like, "Your neighbor across the street is suffering. Gather such-and-such herb and give it to him. It will heal him."  He would do as he was told and soon he became known as a great healer. She  always appears to him during healings and other times when he needs her.  He converses with her as if she were sitting right next to him.

Like Buddhayasa, the girl has grown up into a beautiful woman.  But unlike Buddhayasa, because her soul was released to further the journey, she lives in heaven.  She is now married and has borne several children.

The man who told me this story also said that she delivers messages from the dead.  For instance, after the death of one of his relatives, his family had gone to see the healer.  (I'm sorry, I never got the healer's name or the woman's name)  Upon the family's arriving, the woman knew immediately who they came to ask about.  She described the deceased appearance in accurate detail and (without being told) gave his correct full name.  She assured the family that he was fine.  Then she chided them for not bringing him in earlier for a healing.  He would have been healed, she said.  He didn't need to die.  She then facilitated a conversation between the family and the deceased.

I asked the man to let me know when he and his family were going to see the healer next.  I wanted to meet the healer in person.  Unfortunately, when he called me months later, spur of the moment, I could not get our driver to pick me up fast enough (he lives half an hour away and was still bathing) to go rushing through Bali's unholy traffic jams to a village halfway across the island, and meet the family there in time.  I'm still sorry it couldn't get done.


Agung massaging Phil
Jaime, a Hawaii friend we met in Bali, urged us to visit a healer named Agung.  According to Jaime, Agung was a great healer who could also see the future.  Agung was raised in the jungle, developed paranormal abilities, and was told to leave the jungle and work in the city.  He became a policeman with a reputation for cleaning up corrupt officials, which gave him awesome powers in the police force.

Before any healing sessions, people would have to go through a cleansing ceremony in Agung's home temple.  The ceremony was led by his assistant, a young woman who would channel the answers to our questions.  It is quite common in Bali to see healers work with women who act as mediums.

When we arrived we were ushered onto the bale (pronounced: bah-leh) and served hot sweet tea.  One wall was covered by Agung's colorful and primitive-style paintings.

Wall of paintings by Agung

We came dressed in sarong and sash, as required for temple ceremonies and were duly "cleansed" through the chanting of mantras and offerings of flowers.  When the time for questions came, I asked if our landlord was to be trusted to keep his word.  He had asked permission to sell the villa before our lease was up because he was in terrible financial need, and he promised to reimburse us for the balance of the lease.   

The young woman prayed at the altar for a few moments.  When she turned around, her face was grave.  I knew the answer would be No.  She added the warning to beware of him.  When I saw the landlord the next day, I told him that he had no deal.  Little did I suspect what he had in store for me.  But that's another story.

Phil asked about his health.  He was told that he was fine.  He had nothing to worry about.  We did not know at that time that we would go to Bangkok the following year where the doctors would misdiagnose Phil's heart condition, scaring him into getting two stents.  We later learned that Phil's heart was fine.  They had given him the wrong tests.  However, it did become the reason for us to return to Hawaii, something we're very grateful for.

Bali was paradise.  Hawaii is heaven on earth.  No way to go wrong.

Radu Palamariu, our friend from Romania had come with us.
He was curious about Agung, but also very skeptical.
Read his fascinating post, titled MYSTICISM AND HEALERS (you'll have to scroll down to it) at:

Another painting by Agung

Friday, November 26, 2010


 View of Diamond Head from Paki St. 

Thanksgiving Day was gorgeous.  Sunshine cooled by strong tradewinds.  Phil and I ambled through Kapiolani Park, wishing Happy Thanksgiving to groups of picnickers here and there.  The park was otherwise fairly deserted, an unusual sight.  Most people were on the beach and in the water.  

Boyfriend wearing his favorite T-shirt, a farewell gift from Charlie

 Kapiolani Park with the mountains in the background

 Rainbow and palm trees... what more would I need?

 Paki Park (a pocket of Kapiolani Park) with my Fairy Mount on the left

A closer view of Diamond Head from the street we're on

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Group photo of the UH Balinese Gamelan Ensemble

 The Hawai'i Gamelan Society performed the last concert today of the 50-year anniversary celebration of the East-West Center. Imagine, the UH Music Department owns two complete sets of gamelan instruments, one from Central Java and one from Bali!  Amazing.

The Javanese gamelan is called Kyahi Gandrung - The Venerable One in Love.
The Balinese gamelan was a gift from Ida Bagus Oka, former Governor of Bali, and is named Segara Madu - Sea of Honey.

The Javanese gamelan ensemble played the first part of the program with guest dancer BAGHAWAN CIPTONING, a dancer and choreographer from Surakarta, Indonesia. In 2005 he received the "Best Dance on Screen" award. His two dances, "Gatutkaca in Love" and "Tari Bugis" (a Buginese Warrior Dance from Sulawesi) were fantastic. Those intricate hand movements, the lunging legs, and (of course) his gorgeous costumes, were a feast for the eyes.

After a short intermission, barely long enough to enjoy the Nasi Kuning (yellow rice) dish that the Indonesian Student Club had prepared, it was time for the Balinese gamelan ensemble to take the stage.

There is such unrestrained joie de vivre in Balinese music, I could hardly sit still. Their guest dancer was I MADE SIDIA who is a world-renowned performing artist in masked dance, gamelan music, and shadow puppet theatre. He did four wonderful masked dances.

 Phil and me with I Made Sidia

 A beaming Made Sumayasa with his daughter.

Watching the dances and hearing the music made me want to go back to Bali again.  Always the restless one.  But I will contend myself with having the best of both worlds right here where I am because the UH Balinese Gamelan Ensemble performs twice a year in Hawaii.  What more can I want?  We had heaven on earth today.