Archive for the ‘Hawaii’ Category

Thank you, Christine Reed of Basically Books of Hilo, Hawaii for hosting a book talk/signing for my new Echoes of Kapoho. The Reed family has hosted all 15 of my books with the first poetry book in 1970. A gratitude of applause to  Big Islanders for shopping local at Basically Books.

Kapoho Reed and me

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Eh Auntie

If ever you’ve been called old or elderly by the young, there is something precious awaiting you in Hawaii. If you’re lucky, a young local man or woman will address you as “Eh, Auntie.” To be called “Eh, Auntie” takes a lifetime of processing to truly understand its underlying gift.

Remember the horror of being offered senior discounts when you were still in your 40’s or 50’s? I remember feeling such indignities when teenagers called me “Ma’am” in Michigan when I was still in my 30’s, not realizing it was an address of respect.  Kindergarteners used to call me “Mommy” by mistake  when I first started out as a teacher. That was fine until “Mommy” gradually turned into “Grandma.” Students are that special breed of people who forever keep you young. A sixth grader told me, “Please don’t wear that, you look like my grandma,’ pointing to the pair of eye glasses hanging around my neck. I quickly put my glasses on my head without the strap. When you’re young by numbers, you tend to fall and be captured  into the Culture of Youth.

Recently in Hawaii,  I was returning my shopping cart to the market when a young local man called, “Eh, Auntie, I’ll take that for you.” And he returned the cart for me. Once at Honolulu airport, a local man stopped me from getting a luggage cart with, “Eh Auntie, save your money. Here, use my cart.” He helped to load my luggage on to my cart. Once again, at the busy Honolulu airport, I stood in the way of someone wheeling a customer for early boarding. She whispered to me from the back, “Auntie, excuse me, can you let us pass? Mahalo, Auntie.” “Auntie” turned her request into such a gentle one. A friend in Hilo shared the following: She took a car load of trash to the local rubbish dump. A local man approached her with, “Eh Aunty, leave ‘um, I’ll take care of that for you,” and he unloaded her trunk of all the trash. When she thanked him, he nonchalantly explained, ‘No worry, Auntie. We take care of our elders.”

For the first time, “Eh Auntie” came to mean what it has always meant in Hawaii, the true Aloha spirit, genuine, untouched, unsophisticated, and real.  Each time someone approaches me with “Eh , Auntie,”  I know I am being cared for, recognized as someone who may need someone’s hand, am part of humanity and more than anything else, I have returned home to the islands.







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Please drop by to say hello, Oahu friends.



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Thank you Mindy Pennybacker for this review that  appeared in Sunday’s Honolulu Star/Advertiser. Island Memoirs can be ordered at http://www.bookshawaii.net.

2review Island Memoirs


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Island Memoirs: The Days of Our Youth

island memoirs photo


I have a perfect idea for a Christmas gift(s):

Watermark Publishing of Hawai’i just released Island Memoirs: The Days of Our Youth.

I’m highly honored the book opens and ends with two of my stories –“Eh, You Tink You Haole?” and “Once There was a Kapoho.” But more importantly, sandwiched between my two stories are the true treasures told by the people who have made the news in Hawaii – their first –person coming of age stories in the 20th century. Be prepared to pick up your own pen to write and preserve your own stories as you laugh, cry, and feel so very deeply about Hawai’i’s history and yours.

Stories are told by:

Don Ho, Ben Cayetano, Tom Moffat, Dan Akaka, Dick Tomey, Eddie Sherman, Walter Dods, Freddie Letuli, Yasushi Kurisu, Fred Hemmings, Roy Kodani, Makia Malo, Sam King, Henry Nalaielua, Gentleman Ed Francis, Ted Tsukiyama and yours truly.

In lieu of royalties, the contributors have agreed that their share of the book sales should be donated to benefit aio Foundation, a non-profit organization that develops empowerment programs for Hawai’i’s youth, including the Kahauiki Village affordable housing community for homeless families.

To order Island Memoirs: priced at $24.95:

A special 30% discount is given to authors and their friends and families if ordered until the end of the year. Use code IMCONTRIB at Watermark’s website. Orders using this code will receive free shipping.

Pre-order on Watermark’s website: www.bookshawaii.net.Or you can give Dawn of Watermark a call at 808-534-7170.

Thank you, folks.






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Thank you for asking about my Kapoho book: Kapoho: Memoir of a Modern Pompeii.

I was 18 when our town was covered by the same Kilauea Volcano who has returned to the same area.  Book is available on Amazon, Watermark Publishers , Barnes & Noble, and other local bookshops. The  cover shows the main part of Kapoho: The pool hall, the Nakamura store, and the theater which used generators to show films. My grandmother’s house was one of the first to be totally covered by lava.

3 by 4 kapoho cover

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This was taken from my niece’s backyard where I’ll be staying in Hilo.

Ah – Mauna Kea.

Beautiful Mauna Kea

Awaits my return.

t's backyard

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hibiscus 1


Hawaiian style morn

Seven blooms on the 5th day.

If only twas May.


Sacramento, CA

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As soon as I took a seat in the waiting room, a man looked at me and this is our conversation:

Man: Where were you born?

Me: Born and raised in Hawaii.

Man: Hawaii. Those people are the most negative.

Me: Negative?

Man: In Hawaii, what do you say to people when you leave?

Me: Aloha?

Man: What do you say when you meet someone?

Me: Aloha?

Man began to explain his views on how these two words were soooo native-like and I wasn’t even in a grass skirt with a bone through my nose.

I was called in for my appointment so I looked at him and said, “Aloha.”

I wish I had said the following:

  1. There’s another meaning of Aloha. We say Aloha when we want to say Butt Off, Idiot.
  2. I was born on one of those newly found planets.
  3. On a bed, on clean sheets.


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Hawaii residents…another end to one of  our Hawai’ian history. Journalist Lawrence Downes’ mother is from Pepeekeo.

As a child, on sleepless nights, I felt comforted by the sounds of the sugar cane trucks hauling cane, feeling I wasn’t the only one awake. This has ended.

Sounds of Old Plantation Days

I miss the sound of the cane trucks tonight

Hauling cane through old sugar towns.

Not the bounce and rattles of the empties,

As they head back to the fields

Over the twists of narrowing country roads.

It’s the dull muffled thump of trucks

Laden with tons of fresh cut sticky cane

That pass my silent, sleepless nights.

I’m not alone on these nights,

In company of faces sitting high

In darkened cabs, the glow of half-burnt cigarets

Hanging from their lips like summer lanterns.

frances kakugawa


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