Sunday, September 18, 2011


Illustrious bodypainter, Ferry Zeeman, sent me these images for my 70th birthday last week.  Ferry is an old (and he'll agree that we are now considered really old!) childhood friend.  We both grew up in Balikpapan, Indonesia and attended the Dutch school there.  After an adventurous career in the Merchant Marines, Ferry settled in Oegstgeest, The Netherlands and launched himself into the art form of painting bodies.  Although indigenous peoples the world over have always adorned themselves with paint and other organic matter, at the time this was a new expression of art for the western developed world.  Now bodypainting has developed into one of the most outstanding, outrageous, fantastic, and futuristic art forms with exhibitions and competitions in Europe and South America.  Ferry Zeeman was one of its pioneers, if not THE pioneer in Europe.  Check out his website:

So now that I'm 70, I agree with all the good women who have told me that real life begins at 70.  Consider this: the whole month has been one big celebration!  And I expect it to continue.  It started off with a family reunion in Little Rock, Arkansas, where my youngest sister Paulette lives.  Paulette is a marketing and organizational genius.  No kidding.  She sweetly persuaded our humongous family of 80-85 (exact number?) members to travel to Little Rock to celebrate our 50 years in the USA and then single-handedly organized the event.  If you've ever tried to herd an Indo (Dutch-Indonesian) family together without causing hard feelings, you'll know what a feat she accomplished.  I will devote a whole post, "From Batik to Boots," to our incredible family reunion.
Reunion T-shirt shows how far the family has spread

Back to my celebrations.  After the reunion, my AWOL circle of art sisters celebrated by going on a Zipline adventure in Kaneohe.  (AWOL stands for Artist Way Of Life, or as someone's husband joked: Artists WithOut a Life.  He's just jealous.)  Not one to enjoy heights or funky carnival rides, I hoped I wasn't going to puke.  But it turned out to be quite a mild zip, lasting 10 to 15 seconds, just enough to get me out of my comfort zone. Filling out release forms, being weighed, suiting up, walking up to the starting point, and then waiting for your turn took way longer than the actual zip.  Still, it was quite a fun thing to do.  I asked the Zip Master if he’d ever had an older group of women zip and he answered no.  There you have it.  We’re his first.  Older women rule!

In addition to the Zipline birthday present, my AWOL sisters deluged me with more presents, most of them handmade (we’re artists after all) from clothes, jewelry, art and art materials, aphrodiacs, personally harvested lavender, screen-printed kitchen towels, and a Ganesha statue (Hindu god of prosperity and remover of obstacles) to a quirky hand-made stuffed rabbit I named Shoo-Shnookie-Shnook II, after Shoo-Shnookie-Shnook I, the beloved 65-year-old stuffed bear of artist Jahn-Peter, one of my Open Studio friends.

I learned that the Honolulu Branch of the National League of American Pen Women planned to present me with a happy birthday lei at our September meeting.  I had signed up and paid for the meeting, but promptly forgot about going.  They gave my lei to someone else.  Oh well, forgetting is one of the inalienable rights of growing older, right?

The Diamond Head Community Garden celebrated my birthday with a fantastic garden clean up.  Two long-time gardeners assured me that it was the best attended, best organized, and most enjoyable community workday ever in the entire history of the garden.  Even if they might have exaggerated (another right of growing older), it made for a wonderful birthday present.  For photos, see

Garden members gifted me with four lei, an orchid plant, a bouquet of flowers, plant food, a home-made organic pain medicine, and a beautiful Buddha statue.  I decorated my plot with a birthday flag.

After the garden clean up, my fellow gardener and neighbor, Marilyn, took me for my birthday lunch to Uncle’s at Pier 38.  They just happened to have freshly-caught halibut.  It melted on my tongue!  What a treat!

That day was for eating and more eating.  My darling daughter and sweetheart son-in-law, brought us a delicious Thai dinner and a beautiful bouquet of flowers.

The day after my birthday, I celebrated by getting up early and walking to Queen’s Beach for the Na Wahine Festival Triathlon.
 The ocean was cold and very rough. You won't see me do any of this.
Power to these women!

Yesterday was another day of festivities.  It started off with Zumba at the bandstand in Kapiolani Park, made more exciting by a sudden downpour. 

Then a party at the Monarch Room of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki, hosted by Harry Kasanow, our financial advisor.  As usual, pre-dinner entertainment was by the incomparable Iona Contemporary Dancers. 

This year Harry feasted us with a spectacular concert by the quintet, “Hot Club of Hulaville,” playing in Django Reinhardt-style.  Breathtaking!  I had to have their CD, “Django Would Go!”

 Fabulous singer Ginai with Sonny Silva on guitar

The biggest surprise of the night was that the City & County of Honolulu threw me a Waikiki Ho’olaulea Happy Birthday bash!  Kalakaua Avenue was closed off to traffic and became one huge party scene. 

 Kalakaua Avenue at 5:00 PM

A bandstand in front of the Moana Hotel around 9:30 PM.
Phil and I caught more music as we walked back home after Harry’s party.

The trio, “Maunaloa,” gave me chicken skin with their haunting songs in falsetto!

An unknown sixties band had a row of enthusiastic women dancing in front

A evangelical Christian duo singing hymns.

A guy on electric guitar with his girlfriend, singing Elvis’, “Y’ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog.”

To the people of Hawaii and the people of the world:


  1. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DEAR ELSHA!!! I love your sense of humor. lol. Hoolaulea, indeed!

    So, you finally went on the zipline? David wanted to try it on the Big Island, but he was too heavy and didn't qualify. It's good you are so slim, trim, and full of vim and can do anything and everything you desire.

    It's too bad you can't have a family reunion every year. My own clan is mostly on Oahu, though there are cousins on the mainland whom I haven't seen in years. I suppose if we reunited, we would need to reserve a whole section in Ala Moana Park to hold all of us.

    Is 70 the new 40? Cheers to you and Phil.

  2. Thank you for responding, dear Gigi.
    My daughter and I hope to entice our mainland family to come to Hawaii for our 55 year reunion. It's a wild idea with but a slim possibility that most can come, but we can try.
    From your blog it looks like you have frequent family gatherings. What a blessing!

  3. Dear Elsha,

    A mighty wave a of love and gratitude to your birth units for squirting your physical and spiritual essence upon this planet.

    And a mighty Double wave of love and gratitude for your friendship and lovely giggles these past wonderful years. You are a treasure to behold, to admire and radiate wondrous energy to we mere mortals. Happy Birthday Lovely Queen of generosity and golden glow.

    Love and Light,

    Ron and Kit