Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Darling Alice Anne!

Mililani, Hawaii 2004

Alice Anne, my long-time “out there’ friend is at it again, badgering me to take a workshop.

“Out there” refers to not only where she lives (out in the country at a former Tibetan Buddhist retreat center) but also to where her mind roams.  She’s a psychic.  But otherwise normal.

For years she’s been telling me about this Hollywood guy who does something with writing or storytelling.  Sounds good, and yes, I write and I like telling stories, but my calendar is already chock full with more important things.  Plus, what?   I have to rough it?  Sleeping dormitory-style with… who-knows-who…?  Puh-leeze!

And this guy, Mark Whatever, I’m sure Alice Anne has a crush on him, the way she goes on about him.  Spare me, please.   

So, okay, he’s special and my writing will take off and I will be transformed and get discovered and be rich and famous and go to Hollywood and… 

Alice Anne just shrugs her shoulders and, turning away, says, “The meals will be catered by Henry.” 

Oh, wait, now you’re talking.  I love Henry and I love whatever he makes.  He is divine!  Totally divine!  I’d do anything to be married to a chef.  Except, it would have to be Henry.

And that’s how I got lured to take Mark Travis’ workshop ten years ago. 

That first workshop was everything I wanted and needed.  I wrote about my mother, wrote things I never imagined I would write.  

In all the years since, and continuing, I keep answering Mark’s challenge:

What would you write about if you had no fear?

 This is how I remember Mark the first time I met him

For the 15th year Mark Travis will teach his Write Your Life workshops!
Friday-Sunday, January 23-25, 2015
Friday-Sunday, January 30 - February 1, 2015

Sign up now!
Remember, Henry caters the meals.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


Misuzu with the Bart Simpson bracelet I gave her years ago

"Elsha, you have lunch already?"
"No.  Where are you?"
"Okay, see you in a minute."

When Misuzu calls, I'll drop everything and meet her.  She is one of the most extraordinary people I know.  A Hiroshima bomb survivor and an artist with a wicked sense of color and movement, she repeatedly astounds me with her uncanny ceramics, figure drawings and abstract paintings.  Her emails to me are similarly works of art and imagination.  Because she travels so much, it's a treat for me to spend time with her.  So yes, of course, I'll run over to Shirokya's at Ala Moana Center to have lunch with her. 

This time she's back from two months of hiking through Japan.

"I'm tired of having an old house that needs a new this and a new that," she says, "I don't care anymore about possessions.  I want to go to uncivilized places with just my small backpack and good shoes."

"Where did you go?"  I ask.

"I wanted to go all the way up to Hokaido, and further, to a little island, but a friend was flying in to meet me in Tokyo, so I walked around Tokyo.  Then she canceled and there was not enough time to still go to Hokaido.  Next time."

"What was the most interesting thing you experienced?"

Big smile on her face.  "I came off a ferry and I saw this old woman carrying a big basket of beans from her garden.  It was a very hot day and she sat down on the ground in the shade.  I sat down with her.  We talked for half an hour.  I enjoyed being with her so much.  She insisted I come to her house and spend the night." 

"Did you?"
"No,"  Misuzu laughs, "but back in Tokyo, I sent her a big box with many presents.  No return address.  Not even my name.  I wanted to surprise her.  I like that."

I look at my precious friend.  She has the body of a little teenager and dresses like one, black and white baseball cap worn backwards.  Gray hair the only sign of her age.

"You know, Elsha, I have maybe another ten years to live.  So I want to do everything I can in these ten years."

"And then?"

"My dream is to be walking somewhere, fall down and die.  Nobody will know who I am.  No possessions.  No identification.  Body finished."

Not bad, I think.  Not bad at all.

I raise my water cup.  "Banzai, dear Misuzu!  May they be the best ten years of your life!"

Such a small backpack, but just right for her.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


In preparation for her 60th birthday, Marcia Zina Mager went on a 3-day retreat in a cabin on Dr. Lori's property in Haleiwa.  For her passage into cronedom, she asked her circle of younger friends to "give her away" to a bunch of kickass Crone friends.  Crone meaning any woman over 60 and  kickass meaning a woman who has kept her juju, one who lives life with "huevas." (Literally: "ovaries" or "eggs," the female equivalent of "balls," like in "She's got huevas!")

Besides Zina, there were eight of us present, with Alice Anne and I being the oldest, and AA of course topping us all in being the most kickass Crone ever.  She blessed Zina with a wish for many grandchildren.  My wish for Zina was to gift her with many lovers.  Actually, I think I said the number "Five."  At least 5.  That should keep her happy for a while.

We shared gifts of songs, rituals, stories, poems, music... champagne, food, fruit, cake, dance... tears, laughs, sweat (lots of sweat), dragonflies, kazoos... ending the day with Zina sweetly presenting each of us with a personalized gift.

I'm still feeling voluptuous with the passion, beauty and huevas of my women friends. 


Friday, June 13, 2014


The construction site at Kapiolani Hospital fascinates me.  All that macho heavy machinery gives me a testosterone rush.  I think I'd be really good driving all that steel and growl.  What really strikes my fancy, though, are the cranes.  And today I got to see something I'd never watched up close before.  At least, as close as I was allowed.  The pictures will have to tell the story.

Out on the street is a truck is waiting,
loaded with steel girders for reinforcing concrete columns.
A worker comes to attach the girders to cables attached to the crane.
He has climbed on top of the load and is looking up 
at the crane cables swaying way above him.
He takes hold of the cables .
Two girders are now attached to the crane cables.
Okay, everything is hooked up and ready 
to be lifted over the pedestrian walkway into the construction pit. 
I'm shooed out of harm's way.  Of course.  I understand.  
The thin plywood roof over the walkway 
is no match for all that steel if it were to come crashing down.
The next pictures I'll have to take from a distance away 
with my so-so Android zoom.

Slight raise...  didn't expect those things to be flexible.
What else don't I know?

Little higher...
And off she goes...
Cool!  So glad I saw it and could document it.
Raising steel!

Friday, April 18, 2014


Thanks to Lena Gan, we were invited to attend the Governor's reception for the signing of the Bali Hawaii Sister State Initiative. 

The reception was held at the Archives Building by Iolani Palace.  Indonesian food, Balinese and Hawaiian dancse, and music by National Guard and UH Gamelan Ensemble (with anklung gamelan).

With the Balinese Gamelan leader I Made Widana 
(Apologies if I did not identify him correctly)

With General Darryll Wong, Adjutant General, Hawaii National Guard


Bali and Hawaii are the two most beautiful places on earth, and their many similarities make for a natural partnership between these vibrant states.  The Bali Hawaii Sister State Initiative (BHSSI) provides a framework for developing planned collaborations, strategic alliances and partnerships between the Bali province, Indonesia and the State of Hawaii.

The partnership will promote and facilitate continuous learning and best practices of economic, social and cultural sustainability and development within the areas of tourism, education, agriculture, environment, and other trade and investment sectors.

Bali and Hawaii share a common need and desire in collaborative learning and keep each other accountable to remain world-class destinations.

The partnership will also focus on historical preservation and cultural renaissance through, among others, "entertainment-education" approach in championing, appreciating and sustaining local arts, music, culinary and other cultural ways of living and heritage.

The BHSSI also aims to help promote and forge win-win partnership activities in quality (not quantity) development [...] taking into consideration the appropriate local wisdom and cultural heritage, values and practices.  Bottom line, we are confident this relationship was made in heaven.