Thursday, October 23, 2014

Primal Monotony and the Permanent Now


During my 16 months here I have had the opportunity to meet a perfectly ordinary young man. Hans Costorp is from Hamburg, Germany and was visiting a friend here for a few weeks and was due to start a career as a nautical engineer at a venerable firm that was founded by his great great grandfather in 1810. He has been here seven years now. One Hans Costorp, our dependable hero. Here for good. Our hero had long since lost track of where else he might go, and who was no longer even capable of forming the thought of a return to the mainland.
The thing I am most grateful for about living 16 months at a retreat center in the jungle of Hawaii, under what can only be construed as simple and rustic circumstance, is the free time one has to think about things. Sometimes, when the power goes out for an extended period, that is all you have. For days on end.

And a yoga retreat/campus center to boot. Since yoga is derived from Hinduism and Buddhism, I have learned some of the tenets of yoga. One is an empty mind. Yes, the goal is to have no mind. Siddhartha Gautama, also known as the Buddha, described the mind as a drunken monkey bitten by a scorpion tied up in a hemp bag. Memories from long ago, shots of memories from 5 seconds ago. Angst about the future. Worries about what you don’t have, what you haven’t done, what you might lose if….all swirling around in a blob of evanescent organic matter called your mind. Everything you are is created right in there.

Accomplished yogis spend a lifetime getting to this point because monkey mind never goes away, it is just kept at bay. I have kinda pondered if having no mind is really a good thing. Most of those yogis end up as renunciates on a mountain top, poverty stricken and blithely naked. And I must I assume blissfully happy and free. They have seen through the illusion and arrived at the nature of true existence, absolute reality. They are finally home. Nirvana.
I haven’t had much luck with losing my mind because of the time investment involved. I would rather do other things with that time, like listen to someone tell a story for half an hour. Even if it is sophistry, it is at the very least a peaceful, enjoyable diversion intruded into linear time.

I first met Hans Costorp at the upper smoker’s tent when he explained his views on smoking. They were so unique that I sat up in my chair, hearing snippets of a conversation that warranted my attention, welcoming the possibility of a new source of entertainment.
“I don’t understand how someone cannot be a smoker-why it’s like robbing oneself of the best part of life, so to speak, or at least an absolutely first-rate pleasure. When I wake up I look forward to being able to smoke all day, and when I eat I look forward to it again, in fact I can honestly say that I actually only eat so that I can smoke, although that is an exaggeration of course. But a day without tobacco-that would be absolutely insipid, a dull totally wasted day. And if some morning I had to tell myself: there is nothing left to smoke today, why I don’t think I’d find the courage to get up, I swear I’d stay in bed. It is the same as when you’re lying on a beach, you don’t need anything else.”

Hans Costorp had originally intended to stay here three weeks. He was a patient man by nature who could spend long hours doing nothing in particular and loved his leisure time, with no  work, no other amusements, no numbing activity to demolish, banish or overwhelm it.
“ I love and honor sleep. I venerate its deep, sweet refreshing bliss. Sleep must be counted among the and how did you put it most kind sir ? Among the classic gifts of life, among its first, its primal? ”
Hans Castorp referred to this way of life as “the horizontal form of existence".
“And for the modern workingman, the thought of eternal rest after having exhausted one’s energies in labor was not all that terrible.”
“Actually, I only feel really healthy when I am doing nothing at all.”
Hans Costorp spoke often of life as illusion. The scholastics in the Middle Ages claimed to know that time is an illusion, its flow toward objective consequences due solely to our sensory apparatus, and that the true state of things is a permanent now.

And what was Ted to think of this term ‘illusion’- a state in which elements of dream and reality were blended in a way that was perhaps less foreign to nature than to our crude everyday thoughts? The secret of life was literally bottomless, and it was no wonder that occasionally there rose up out of it illusions that...and so on and so forth, were presented in our hero’s accented, amiably self-effacing and exceedingly easy manner.
How did Ted actually feel about all this? For instance, did the 16 months he had demonstrably, indubitably spent with people like Hans Costorp feel like a mere 16 days? Or did it seem to him just the opposite, that he had lived here now much, much longer than he really had? He had asked himself those same questions, both privately of himself and formally of others, but could not come to any decision. Probably both were true: looking back, the time he had spent here thus far seemed unnaturally brief and at the same time unnaturally long. A month here is, so to speak, the shortest unit of time, and a single month played no role at all. Real time knows no turning points, there are no thunderstorms or trumpet fanfares at the start of a new month or year, and even when a new century commences only we humans fire cannon and ring bells.
We’ve been here together for so long now-16 months. If you stop to count, which isn't all that much by our standards here, but when viewed from the mainland, now that I think back on it, it’s quite a long time. Well, and so we’ve spent it here with one another, because life has brought us together here, have seen one another almost every day and had interesting conversations, some on subjects I would not have understood anything about on the mainland. But I certainly have here-they were very important and relevant, so whenever Hans Costorp discussed something I paid strict attention.

Hans Costorp rolled his first one paper cigarette of the day and mulled:

“I will not attempt to gloss over the specific forms of life’s natural cruelty takes in your society, Ted. What was the term you used most kind sir...detached? Fine, but what does that really mean? That means hard, cold. And what does hard and cold mean? It means cruel. The air in the mainland is cruel, ruthless. And within a year here, at the most, one will never be able to take hold of any other sort of life, but will find any other life cruel-or better, flawed and ignorant. You have to have lived here to know how things really are.”
“As if I was some innocent from the old country, an average fellow who strolls about, laughing about, stuffing his belly, and earning money-a model pupil of life, who could conceive of nothing except the boring advantages of respectability?
“On the whole, however, it seemed to me that although honor has its advantages, so, too, did disgrace, and that indeed the advantages of the latter were almost boundless. The feeling of being a schoolboy no longer in the running and enjoying the advantages of disgrace.”
One fine morning, I nursed my 36 oz. Thermos full of Kona blend coffee, sweetened with agave syrup and heavy whipping cream at the Kalani Smokers tent. It was a day like all the others in Hawaii, the same, but different. They say if you don’t like the weather on the Big Island, wait 10 minutes. Still, it was, as Thomas Mann phrased it, a primal monotony.

Hans Costorp expertly lit his cigarette and then, quite unexpectedly, Hans Costorp had a brilliant insight into what time actually is: a silent sister, for the purpose of keeping people from cheating.
“I’ve always found it odd, still do, you see how time seems to go slowly in a strange place at first. What I mean is, of course there’s no question of my being bored here, quite the contrary, I can assure you that I’m amusing myself quite royally. But when I look back, retrospectively as it were, you know what I mean, it seems as if I’ve been here for who knows how long already and it’s been an eternity since I first arrived. It has absolutely nothing to do with reason or measurement of time-it’s purely a matter of time. This place is populated almost exclusively by unsettled folk who have found their way here from all over the world and had returned now for good and for the horizontal form of existence. Space, like time, gives birth to forgetfulness, but does so by removing an individual from all relationships and placing him in a free and pristine state. One could in fact forget completely just where one is. You wouldn’t believe how fast and loose they play with people’s time around here. One month is the same as a day to them. There is nothing ‘actual’ about time. If it seems long to you, then it is long, and if it seems to pass quickly, then it is short. But how long or how short it is in actuality, no one knows.”
The ash blew off Hans Costorp’s hand rolled cigarette and he continued:
“The main thing is that the seasons here are not all that different from one another, you see. They get all mixed up, so to speak, so there is no need to pay attention to the calendar, no need to know what the actual date is.  I have never once glanced at a newspaper since I’ve been here.”
Hans Costorp now seriously no longer knew how old he was.
“Bernard of Clairvaux, for instance, teaches about a ladder of perfection unlike anything I have ever conceived in my wildest dreams. His lowest rung of the ladder is found at the ‘treadmill, the second in the plowed field and the third and most praiseworthy, however, don’t listen to this part, was a bed of rest. Lao-tzu teaches that doing nothing is more beneficial than anything between heaven and earth, that if humankind were to stop all activity, perfect peace and happiness would reign on earth. It seems to me that the spiritual possibility of finding salvation in repose, contemplation, retreat, sounds quite plausible. One could say that we live at a rather high level of retreat here. On a live volcano in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, we recline and look at the world and its creatures and think things over. To tell the truth, now that I think about it, my bed has proved very beneficial over the past seven years, made me think more about things than I ever did in all my years on the mainland, I can’t deny that.”

Hans Costorp exhaled and returned to his favorite topic:
“And judging from that, it appears that under these confusing conditions, man in his helplessness tends to experience time in a greatly diminished form rather than overestimate it. What people call boredom is actually an abnormal compression of time caused by monotony: uninterrupted uniformity that can shrink large spaces of time until the heart falters, and one is terrified to death. It is always the same day, it just keeps repeating itself. Although it is always the same day, it is surely not correct to speak of ‘repetition’. The tenses of verbs become confused, they blend and what is now revealed to you is the true tense of all existence, the inelastic present.”
Hans Costorp lived each day as it came-each normal day, its established sameness divided into little segments, neither diverting nor boring, and always the same. Two more habitu├ęs quietly slipped into their usual seats, pulling out their pouches of American Spirit organic tobacco and rolling papers, sealed away in Wall-Mart Tupperware containers. Joseph mentioned that he had 15 minutes to kill until he had to report to work at 2:30. Smokers are never worried about late trains. There is always something to do.

Hans Costorp let meander through his mind the idea of Joseph with 15 minutes with nothing to do.

“Joseph, you have to be at work at 2:30, but it is not quite two-thirty, perhaps; to be precise it is more like quarter past. But such extra quarter hours left over from nice, round whole ones don’t really count, they are simply swallowed up along the way-at least that is what happens whenever time is managed on a grand scale, on long journeys, for instance, on plane rides that last for hours, or in similar situations when life is emptiness and waiting and all activity is reduced to whiling time away and putting it behind you. A quarter past two-that’s as good as half past; and half past two is the same as half till three, for heaven’s sake.”
“Time-not the sort that airport clocks measure with digital bursts of energy every nano-second, but more like the time of a very small watch whose hands move without our being able to notice or the time grass keeps as it grows without our eyes’ catching its secret growth, until the day comes when the fact is undeniable- time, a line composed of elastic turning points, time, that had continued to bring forth changes in its furtive, unobservable, secret, and yet bustling way.”

“But the measuring and counting of time is what binds you here, Joseph. Your personal, individual time-that is for newcomers and short timers; we established residents reserve our praise for unmeasured time and unheeded eternity, for the day that is always the same.”
“Things here, my good man Joseph, Hans Costorp continued, with a forced smile, are different from what is usual elsewhere. The spirit of the place, if I may put it that way, is not a conventional one. There was no defend yourself here, no responsibility, and no tribunal of priests judging some of us who have forgotten our honor, lost it somehow. It is depravity with the best of consciences, the idealized apotheosis of a total refusal to obey Western demands for an active life. The only reason we are all still sitting here now is so that we never have to return.”
That being, after all, as for so many people here, the point of Hans Costorp’s personal sojourn.
He was used to it and was grateful for the opportunity that this local style of life, which for him had long since become the only conceivable style, had provided him to be here safe and secure and think things through.

As the trade winds, the reputed cleanest air in the world, now slightly tainted by sulfuric dioxide from the lava flow creeping seven miles away, picked up through the banana trees, I wondered how can this roundtable could help principled real world people understand the changes taking place in our young adventurer’s perceptions?  The scope of dizzying equations grew. Where previously, by yielding just slightly, Hans Costorp had not found it easy to separate the ‘now’ of today from that of yesterday, or the day before yesterday, or the day before that, when all were alike, like peas in a pod.
If fact, Hans Costorp’s family back in Germany had become quite concerned about what appeared to them as his disintegrating state of mind. What had begun as a three week vacation in Hawaii had morphed into a seven year renunciation. He was fast becoming the first Costorp since 1810 not to join the family’s prestigious engineering firm. There recently had been a death in the family and Hans Costorp was nonchalant. The death of a relative, with whom he had minimal contact at the best of times, did not concern Hans Costorp; because he knew death is an illusion, and thus so, an envoy was dispatched from Hamburg to Puna to see what was what.

It was strange suddenly to have sitting beside Hans Costorp, a representative and ambassador from his home, the scent of an old, vanished, earlier life, of another world that lay so far away. Any sense of kinship, of any family relationship, had dwindled imperceptibly until such people were almost strangers to our hero.
Hans Costorp and this envoy, actually a favorite uncle, did not talk about home, they said nothing about personal, business or civic matters. And that was the end of the attempt by the mainland to reclaim Hans Costorp. This acting patriarch/envoy admitted quite openly to us that such total failure, which he had seen coming, was of decisive importance for Hans Costorp’s relationship to to his people back home. For the family in Hamburg, it meant a final shrug, a total abandonment of any claim to his old life. For Hans Costorp, however, it meant freedom finally won.
The death of this distant family member, which would never have been of great emotional consequence to the indifferent Hans Costorp, and indeed after an estrangement of so many adventurous little years, all emotional content had been reduced to almost nothing-seemed to him nevertheless, very like the breaking of yet another tie, a last connection, to the world beyond, bringing to perfection what he so rightly called his freedom. In truth, in the recent past of which we speak, there had been a total abrogation of every emotional bond between him and the mainland. He wrote and received no letters.
“I never write letters. To whom, really? To whom should I be writing letters? I have no feelings whatsoever for the old world anymore. I've lost that somehow.”
“In fact, our dying is more a concern to those who survive us than to ourselves; for as a wise man once cleverly put it, as long as we are, death is not and when death is, we are not; and even if we are unfamiliar with that adage, it retains its psychological validity. Welcome from the darkness and return to the darkness with some experiences in between. But we don’t experience the beginning and the end, birth and death. We are not subjectively aware of them, they exist only in the world of objective events and that most kind sirs, is that.”
“We evaporate, so to speak. Just think of all that water; all those water atoms as an energy laden cosmic system. All the other ingredients are not very stable without life. Decomposition takes over, and they resolve into simpler compounds, into inorganic matter. Life is dying, there’s no sense in trying to sugarcoat it.”
The time had come for the morning habitues to go do nothing somewhere else and as the gang packed up their Wall-Mart Tupperware containers of tobacco……Hans Costorp ruminated:

“The diaries of opium eaters record how, during the brief period of ecstasy, the drugged person’s dreams have a temporal scope of ten, thirty sometimes sixty years or even surpass all limits of man’s ability to experience time, dreams, that is, whose imaginary time span vastly exceeds their actual duration and which are characterized by an incredible diminishment of the experience of time, with images thronging past so swiftly that, as one hashish smoker puts it, the intoxicated user’s brain seems to have had something removed, like the mainspring from a broken watch. I have been here for years now, that much is certain, a dizzying stay, an addict’s dream, but without opium or hashish.”
“But since time immemorial, the human striving for feeling has in fact had one means at its hand, one drug, one intoxicant that belongs to the classic gifts of life and bears the stamp of the simple and holy, and thus is no vice, one means of stature, if I may put it that way. Wine. The gods’ gift to man, as the humanistic peoples of antiquity claimed, the philanthropic invention of a god who is in fact associated with civilization, if I may be permitted the allusion.”
Although Hans Costorp was extremely fluent in English, his accented and peculiar form of the mother tongue sometimes lost us as he meandered from heavy topic to heavy topic:
“Conscious emotion, with the abstruse oddities of hypnotism and somnambulism, the phenomena of telepathy, prophetic dreams and second sight, the wonders of hysteria...”
“These human minds were disgusted by the idea of wealth increasing automatically and placed all speculation and transactions involving interest under the rubric of usury, making every rich man either a thief or the heir of a thief. They considered the peasant and the craftsman honorable people, but not the merchant or the investment banker. They wanted the goods to be produced on need and loathed the idea of mass production. The idea of cities is historically associated with a most inhuman degeneration of economic morality, with the many horrors of modern marketeering and speculation, with the satanic rule of money, with commerce.”
As he discussed these topics, philosophic horizons expanded until suddenly we, his capable audience, beheld great riddles shimmering before our eyes. Riddles about the relationship between matter and the psyche, indeed the very riddle of life itself, which, so it appeared, might be more easily approached along these uncanny paths, the path of illusion and the path of thinking things through.
“God and nature were both unjust, they had their favorites, chose to be gracious at random, and adorned one man with precarious honors and the next day with an easy, but ordinary fate.”
Alas, I sit here now so I can be alone to consider Hans Costorp. To think back over the past 16 months with all their many and varied impressions and adventures, which were not easy to sort out, because they seemed interlaced, blending in to one another until palpable reality was often no longer distinguishable from what had merely been thought, dreamed, or imagined. But adventures they have been.

Thanks for stopping by

In all fairness to the now deceased Thomas Mann, his 1924 book "The Magic Mountain" was plagiarized, embellished, changed, re-arranged, modernized and generally fucked around with to create this Ted-ism. Read About The Magic Mountain Here In all fairness to the now married Amanda A. I never would have even heard of Thomas Mann..oh wait, "Death in Venice" comes to mind, one of those required English 201 books I never got around to, had she not sent me Magic Mountain and said "I just had to read it". Mahalo to you both.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Hurricane Iselle, Massage and Air B&B

On August 7, Hurricane Iselle, the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall on the Big Island of Hawaii in recorded history, well, made landfall. We had had plenty of warning and Kalani was ready. All tents and tarps were struck, water and generators were trucked in. Soon the power went out and would stay out for another two weeks. It made for a surreal two days, since we basically live outside and all, with torrential rains, howling winds, falling trees and giant waves in the ocean. As a result of this community's preparation, it really ended up being no worse for us than hurricanes on the East Coast. Great food continued to be served by generator on time. Above, we wake up to begin to inspect the neighborhood.

My old tentsite with the hatches battened down. 
Brien 21, from Brisbane, OZ and Alyssa 20, from Long Island and two of my chess partners, checkout a tent in the early AM. There was widespread tree damage on the island, mostly from the introduced and invasive Albizia trash tree, also known as the tree that ate Puna. Power was out in some parts of Puna for almost two months.

Because of our preparedness, the only lasting effect on us was making our already rustic way of life, a little more rustic. The Civil Defense used the property as a staging area to give out ice and water to locals. 

I chanced upon this free water and soft drink depot while doing laundry in town. I didn't need the water but had two of the free hot dogs they were also giving away. My first dog in months.... awesome un-asked for snackatizer!

Jim, from near Culpepper, Virginia, former and current comedian, author, and psychic Read More about Jim Here  Kana, a gifted musician from Japan and Mitch, a gifted banjo player, chef with me and hailing from another podunk town in Wisconsin that no one has ever heard about, wait out our turn at the laundry mat in Pahoa. After two weeks with no power, we were not the only people with that idea. In an otherwise mirthless place, Kana's drumming seemed to lighten the mood somewhat.

 We also subsidized meals for the community at large.

These guys seemed to have weathered the hurricane quite nicely, one even gave birth to a colt. 

Hawaii School of Massage  One of the benefits of life here is subsidized one and a half hour massages given for $40 by students at the Hawaii School of Massage at Kalani.


JarRed's Massage and Yoga Classes The other benefit is that every imaginable kind of yoga class is offered for free. I have tried them all and settled on Jared's Vinyassa yoga. They range from Yin yoga, which emphasizes resting restorative poses that last for long periods of time, usually laying on the floor, to Power yoga which is way too many calisthenics and leg lifts for me.Vinyassa is a continuous flow practice that holds the poses for about three minutes.

In my working life, I helped carry catering tables, maybe a million or so, for a couple of decades. Our standard way to carry these tables was to have two people on the left side of the table with both of our right hands on the upended lip of the table. As a result, my hips re-aligned slightly to the right and was beginning to cause me problems. I saw a doctor and words like titanium implants were bandied about. I thought that there was no way in hell I was going to let someone cut those muscles, hell I would just as soon live with the inconvenience. Then someone suggested yoga. I am happy to report that yoga, specifically Jared's Vinyassa classes for the last 14 months have 97% cured the problem. Nothing like having an end of the semester re-alignment.You can check out Jared's services, classes, workshops at his website. Mahalo Jared!

One of my favorite masseuses, Hanna, 21, prepares her massage table on a cliff overlooking the Pacific. It really doesn't get any better. Hanna specializes in deep tissue and lomi lomi styles.

Samantha specializes in intuitive massage. When she encounters a problem area in your body, a bone in her leg starts to crackle, sort of like a Geiger counter. She reports that she has had this gift since she was a child and it intuitively lets her zero in on the problem area.

One of the keys to successfully adventuring long term here is doing so without spending much money. When we travel about the island, we use AirB&B  I have used them about five times and have really stumbled on to some remote and beautiful spots. The house/B & B above was in Kona and a private room was $107 per day.

We had access to this living room, full kitchen and the beautiful pool out in the yard.
This one was over looking the Waip'io Valley . Just sitting in these chairs, it was ineffably difficult to absorb if this view was even real.

This was one of the bed rooms in the cabin where five of us stayed. Get a group of game people together and the cost is minimal.
with this view on one side

and this view out front

and morning flowers like these...for a split $227 a night and we never even saw the owner...she just left us the key.

This is the view from the backdoor street entrance of Hulihe'e Palace in Kailua, Kona, looking through the front door ocean view, which I thought was kind of cool. Built in1838 by Governor Kuakini, it quickly became the house of choice for vacationing Hawaiian Royalty until 1914 and now is maintained as a museum by the Daughters of Hawai'i.
Uh, Ted mate, your cruise ship is in the other direction.

The last bit of news for this time is our new outdoor kitchen. There was some problem with the fire suppression system and to solve the issue, this camp kitchen was quickly and professionally built. Although it added about three extra miles of walking per shift, 109 steps at a time, it moved us from four walls inside to this coop with a view. Another added bonus is that guests and volunteers going about their quotidian routines can stop by for chats with Ted and see what's cooking.
Random vignettes are painted during a shift. Here I watch Kana weeding the Cuban Oregano in the "YUM", play on "OM",kitchen garden, while I stir the bouillabaisse.

Enough of the Hurricane news. Out next post will follow the slow motion lava flow that is threatening Pahoa. They predict that the flow is going to pass through the middle of town in ~12 days, probably setting it on fire, like it did in Kapaho in 1960 and Kalapana in 1992, the two towns on either side of us. We are 9 miles south of the flow, so our biggest concern is the cutting off of the road. There is an alternative road, and they are building another one, so our biggest concern is re-supply, which would make the 15 minute trip into Pahoa morph into an hour and half one. The effect on guests' plans remains unclear.

One can follow the progress of the flow's most recent progress by going to this site and clicking the most recent update.

 Charles recently sent this article Pahoa-living in a state of emergency

Thanks for stopping by 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Reiki, Saffron and Staph Infection

In the center, is Mary, 55, from Auburn, Maine. Mary is a physical therapist by profession, but by vocation is a Zero Balance practitioner and  Reiki energy worker. Maleah on the left, 19, an architectural student and Lindsay, 32, a second grade math teacher, accompanied us on this quest.

 Mary and her visiting friend from the mainland, approached me a while ago and emphatically insisted that their treatment was mandatory for me. Unsolicited, they had felt something adrift in my auras. Since "energy" work is so ubiquitous here, why not take advantage of a session with people that had 30 years of experience in such matters? After all, my Christian indoctrination  as a young man taught about holy ghosts, halos/auras, visiting sprits in the form of angels, both good and bad, Jesus/God as light, and that if one prayed hard enough, one could feel His "energy". Isn't prayer really just a form of meditation?

After all, in Mr. Shelor's  10th grade introductory chemistry class at Episcopal High School, didn't he present atoms with their attendant electrons, protons and neutrons, as the primal, immutable, original  universal energy not dissimilar to OM? Why not check it out?

So I went to an isolated massage tent in the jungle one afternoon and lay down on the massage table. Mary was at my head taking out stale, useless energy with Reiki and her friend was putting fresh, absorbable energy back in with zero balancing. Mary told me that I could sleep or do whatever I wanted. They were hands placed on various energy centers and plenty of straight ahead massage. Folks, being that I have always been a competitive napper, having the talent of being able to catch twenty winks just about anytime, anywhere, this was not an obstacle.

One thing that has vexed me here, both in serious massage and energy work, is when the practitioner is finished, sometimes they will just silently leave the room. I am usually in a kind of coma state but in my mind I am kind of anxious of when exactly has enough time  passed that I can politely open my eyes? Usually, when I do come to, there is no one in the room.

 In this case, after about an hour and a half,  I sensed that they had finished and waited for what I thought was the appropriate amount of time and opened my eyes. They were sitting in chairs where they had started, silently watching me. Mary said "welcome were gone a long time".

There were dreams and colors. Was it the treatment or was it a run of the mill Ted nap? Mary said I would know in about three weeks.

Since Mary and I worked in the kitchen together, she would check on me from time to time, asking how I felt. For a number of reasons, I feel great, so I couldn't really give her a definitive answer. Mary then reported that sadly, my chakras were "sodered" shut. Yes gentle reader, the decades of stress had caused the motherfuckers to be welded shut like a bank vault. Drastic action was required. lava.

Mary said she needed some live lava. She would then act as a conduit, pulling the energy from the lava through her and into my apparently permanently sealed chakras. Being an amateur geologist I said I would do some research and get back to her. After going to a few US Government Geological sites, I found some live lava had flowed out of Pu'u O'o vent as recently as July 29. A crack on the side of the larger Kilauea cauldron, Pu'u O'o was the source of the lava that buried Kalapana in 1992.   
Everything I read on line said that both choices of hikes to the vent were extremely dangerous, due to the cauldron continuously melting and collapsing on itself, as well as the capricious shifting of poisonous gases. Just hiking on the above creviced and buckled lava flow is precarious enough and it was a 16 mile round trip. If fact the whole area had been closed for several years. If you went in there and got into trouble, no one was coming a looking.

Nah, take a pass on that one.

Instead, I suggested that we go to where the 1992 flow repaved Red Road, known locally as the end of the road and wander and ponder until something happened. We walked for a while and came upon this house. A man stirred from within and came out to check us out. He was not a rightfully angry Hawaiian, pissed about some haoles trespassing on his land; he was not a hermetic poet. HE WAS GARY SLEIK, A LAVA EXPERT AND REIKI MASTER. What are the chances?

Gary agreed about the safety of our hike, and pointed to some palm trees in the distance, that marked the site of a four year old lava river. He should know because it burned his house down. We all agreed that, at least in geological time, four year old lava would have retained enough energy to safely satisfy our energy needs.

I quizzed Gary for a while about volcanos and he quizzed Mary about her Reiki training. Everyone satisfied, he provided us with towels to protect us from the lava glass that was everywhere and hats for the ladies and off we went. Mahalo Gary for your hospitality!

What is left of Gary's house; this was the fresh water catchment. 

     blah blah blah

The treatment begins. 

Here is Mary with her OM tuning fork driving the OM  primal vibration into Ted's heart chakra. The energy in this tuning fork was channeled by Edna Doane, a sound healer from Maine to this Hawaiian lava field. This channeling, all the way from Maine to Hawaii and who knew, is creating healing energy by sound and vibration in the old boy.

Here, notice gentle reader, that I am holding two spherical crystals, in contrast to the pyramid quartz that is under the tuning fork on my heart chakra, that have been blessed by a Cherokee Chief outside of Ashville, NC. These crystals were soaked by the Chief from healing waters throughout the world including Lourdes. The pyramid quartz on my chest was from Paris, Maine, and differs from the spherical ones in my hands because it directs the rainbow spectrum into concentrated beams creating prisms of light throughout the body. 

After who knows how long, I come to. 

and pretty much ready to carpe diem. 

We then went to town and had lunch and then hiked to this beach. Mary captured me a ponderin': was it a nap or was it the Reiki?

Recently, I hosted a cooking class for guests and volunteers. 

I of course chose to make my perennial stand by, paella. I first learned how to make this in 1978 while attending the University of Valencia, the reputed birthplace of paella. I considered my 40 year relationship with saffron. Was was it Donovan that sang "I'm just mad about saffron, she's just mad about me...they call me mellow yellow?" Paella was a big seller at Chef Ted Catering and my voice mail greeting sounded as follows: "Thank you for calling Chef Ted. Sorry we are back in the kitchen, checking the bouillabaisse...ah looks like it needs a little more saffron. Please leave a message. Some would leave a message back :"checking the bouillabaisse...dude you ain't out of bed yet".

My treatment on the history of azafran, seems to be a source of amusement to Chris, 24, a world traveler. 
Guests and volunteers get with the cooking. Notice the $230 bag of saffron in the foreground.
Kenny, 30, and a kitchen manager, is helped by Leigh 32; she is charged with maintaining the integrity of the Sangria bowl. You met Kenny in one of my first Hawaiian posts.

The final product is coming along. 

While Corey left, 29, a family therapist in Boston, Leslie, the HR manager for Kalani and from Oahu and Jenn, 29, in grad school in speech and language pathology, help with the final garnishes. 

Decade after decade....perfect paella. 
Leigh on the right, who you have met before, was under strict and probationary orders to maintain the integrity of the sangria bowl. I ran into her an hour or two after the cooking class and kinda surmised how it had gone. I briefly considered charges of dereliction of duty.
A special shout out to Bob Girard, the provider of these t-shirts. I followed Bob's band at the time he was known as Johnny Sportcoat while attending The University of Virginia in the late 1970's. We kept in touch, as he continued to make music as recently as the time I left for Hawaii, and our paths crossed at many catered events. He also made my t-shirts for many years. Each order/gig of course, may have included a excursus on existential despair over a plate of BBQ.

Bob recently saw his handy-work modeled by Leigh, 32, who you met earlier as a horse trainer and Meredith, 19, a special-ed college student from Austin Texas. Bob reports that he wants to be these t-shirt's.

How often does Emil, 38, a tree surgeon from Oahu, show up to the back door of the kitchen, with fresh coconut water for the whole ohana?

I recently burned myself in the kitchen and it just did not heal. Eventually this staph infection developed. Staph is not uncommon in this damp environment.
The time for Noni leaves had long passed and a trip to the Hilo clinic was scheduled.
We made a day of it and hung out at various beaches a while. 

Hawaiian boys growing up a lot different than most of us did. 
and the Hawaiian doctor, resplendent in his silver ponytail and Hawaiian shirt, solved the problem with a massive ant-biotic bombardment. 


Thanks for stopping by