Archive for the ‘Thoughts, Musings, Things to Share’ Category

My niece, Tammy, and Wordsworth planted this tree when Wordsworth! Stop the Bulldozer! was released in 2012. Look how much it has grown since then!

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It is an ohia lehua tree and it makes these very beautiful flowers.


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A big “Thank you!” to Roberta Murray and the Hawaii Community Caregiver Network for inviting me to deliver the keynote address at their annual caregiver conference. It was a nostalgic return to Kona where my teaching career began.

Some photos for now, more stories to come.

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Hey Wordsworth the Poet, know what’s missing in this book? A cat. We can be friends, you know. I write poems, too.

Yours truly,
Junior the Cat


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This is the introduction to my April 2016 “Dear Frances” column in The Hawaii Herald.

Dear Readers,

I received the following letter from Dr. Christian Serdahl, a physician in Sacramento. He was responding to my Feb. 5 column in The Hawai‘i Herald titled “Support Group Angels.” In it, I questioned the lack of good medical care for our elders. His letter arrived a day after he read my column.

Dr. Serdahl is the first physician to ask me, “What exactly do you say to caregivers to bring compassion into their care?” He sat in his examination room and listened to every word I said. I felt like I had preempted his busy schedule, which I actually had done. Dr. Serdahl has no computers in his examination rooms, choosing, instead, to communicate directly with his patients. “My computers are in another room,” he said. His letter explained why.

For Dr. Serdahl’s letter, as well as several poems I’ve written about some of my medical experiences, go to The Hawaii Herald website. My column for them runs at the beginning of each month in the paper, and stays posted on their website.

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I shall be telling with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I…

Robert Frost


Do you ever wonder about all those “other roads” you have not taken? There’s two I can think of right now among the many.

Early in my career, I was writing curriculum for the State of Hawaii when a private film company contracted me to write a script to be produced for high school students. This was followed by an offer for a full time job as a script writer. A script writer vs. a curriculum writer. It was clear which would get me to Hollywood. I began leaning toward the more romantic, the more artsy…the less conservative. After weeks of living life as a pendulum, I swung back to my mother’s voice : “Stay with the State. It’s more secure and when you retire, you’re going to need that State retirement and health insurance.”

Another road diverged soon after. During those early years as a classroom teacher, I spent my summers away from Hawaii, knowing I needed to return to the students, refreshed with new experiences. One summer I sent a letter to a ranch in Nebraska, offering to be their summer cook. I pictured all the ranch hands around the rectangular wooden table, asking for seconds of my food cooked with soy sauce. I’ve seen enough John Wayne westerns to know some of those ranch hands are the Marlboro man
“My men would enjoy teriyaki steaks for a change,” the rancher called with a chuckle, and he offered me the job. At the last minute, I turned into a chicken.

I have said no to Paris, Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia, a bicycle ride throughout China among other invitations because timing just didn’t seem right.

I wonder what my life would have become, had I taken the road less traveled. Having a drink with Jim and Steve as in Cameron and Spielberg?

Having my own Cowboy Cuisine TV show?

As the new year unfolds, do we live safe and comfortable or take risks? Do we use the numbers in our age to determine whether we’re too old for that road less traveled? What are some of your regrets?

What are some of your regrets?

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I’m back home in Sacramento after giving four keynote addresses on Oahu and Maui. Scheduled to return to Kona next fall. Thank you Hawaii for all your aloha and for sharing your insights and the changes you have made as caregivers during my address. I return each of the applause back to you.


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IMG_3428This past weekend, I spoke at the Honpa Hongwanji Betsuin, Honolulu.

Bishop Eric Matsumoto and Alan Goto of Honpa Hongwanji, thank you for welcoming me home once again with orchid and white ginger flower leis. Rose Nakamura of the Dana program, thank you for your continued support of my work.

It was another homecoming seeing a former first grader and her family. I had taught Renee Tanaka when I was 24 years old, 51 years ago. To former colleagues from my teaching years, to former Kapoho and Pahoa residents, to those who came to hear me for the second time in two weeks, and to all who filled the temple, my gratitude.

I hope my presentation, “The Gift, Joy, and Legacy of Caregiving” and the many copies of I Am Somebody you purchased will be of help.

Rose, I’m so pleased the support group I had suggested almost 15 years ago is still going strong.


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IMAG3205-01This weekend, I attended the Sunrise Ministry Foundation “Journeys to Wellness” seminar. I delivered the keynote address and was honored to be one of the three recipients recognized with the group’s Puaka’ana o ka La (Rise Up!) award.

IMAG3207-01I cherish this award because it brings me back as Hawaii’s child. I thought my umbilical cord to Hawaii was severed when I got my California driver’s license. So, thank you, Sunrise Ministry Foundation for this significant gift.

Thank you also to Sharlene and Ron Yamauchi and Wally Fukunaga for their assistance in arranging to have my books available for attendees to purchase at the event.

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CandyIt’s the little things that truly count. This weekend, I spoke on giving care with compassion and dignity at the UH medical school in Hawaii and of all the positive and generous responses received, this stands out.

A man in the audience purchased three of my books and handed me a match-box sized candy. “This is for you,” he said. He reminded me of young students in class who would hold on to their bar of candy, debating all day whether they should eat it or give it to their teacher. And at the end of the day, I would be handed a bar of candy, soft and melted from heat from loving hands.

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An elderly woman sat next to me on Hawaiian air.
The last time I sat next to an elderly woman, I had to help her to the bathroom and
take care of her while her son and daughter-in-law sat two seats away and totally ignored her. The flight attendant who was aware of what was happening told the other attendants that I was to be served first throughout the flight. They thanked me profusely before I left the plane.

So this time, a woman who looked like she was in her nineties sat next to me and was a talker.
I tried to read, tried to write but she kept on talking in her animated voice. Other passengers were giving me sympathetic looks. She was sharp of mind. Very demanding, too. She sent back her champagne saying she didn’t want watered down stuff, to serve her brewed champagne. I lost count after her 5th glass. She didn’t care for her lunch. She wanted to watch movies but was told they no longer show movies on the screen. They gave her an iPad. I taught her how to use it and found her a movie. So I managed to finish a book and do some writing.

When they took the iPad away before landing, she used the f word because she wanted to see the end of the movie. THEN, she told me she has multiple personalities and named all the personalities. One personality died in an accident. She was told in therapy that they could merge all the personalities into one or to leave them as they are. She said they are family to her so she chose to keep each of them. I believe I was speaking to some of these personalities because of the difference in how she spoke to me. One was a f word user. One voice groped for words while the original was as sharp and feisty as Betty White.

The attendants tried to ignore her. I found her intriguing. She gave me the title of her bio that is being edited. She was traveling alone. Well, not really alone.

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