***Commentary*** Please Stand By, Back To Regular Programming Shortly

Aloha faithful Big Island Chronicle readers,
Sorry if I have seemed distant lately — with all the blog drama, I have had very little motivation to put my thoughts into words in the limited time I have to write. Along with having a less-than-warm-and-fuzzy feeling for blogging, I have also been very busy with an extra-long list of things to do. Topping the list was my son’s first birthday, which, in true Hawaiian style, included a luau. I had to make a Costco run to prepare for the party and, since I was going to Kona, I ended up arranging for and conducting a couple of interviews for some freelance stories I have been meaning to write. That meant an overnight stay on the other side, which, inevitably made for more blog fodder. But it also made for quite a full and mentally taxing week.
I thought today was going to be the day that I sat down and cleared my inbox of all the news I have to share with you. Alas, after a day of celebrating my boy’s birthday, my daughter came down with a fever and vomited multiple times throughout the night. My Sunday list just got rearranged and nursing my child is my chief concern at this point. I also have quite a bit more laundry to do as a result of the pukefest. So, what that means for you is that you should 1. dose up on vitamin C and 2. expect to hear from me after I get our house in order. Hopefully, you all will have a great and productive week. Stay healthy, despite the odds.

***Commentary*** Regarding The Pahoa Bon Dance

My friends the Franciscos and I took our children to the Pahoa Bon Dance last night.  What an awesome event — a community dance. What a truly, heartwarming experience.  Maybe it’s because I’m one of those mixed breed Americans that really can’t claim any particular culture, but I was completely and totally taken with the dancing, the music, the kimonos, the mochi, the worship — the whole experience. I mostly observed the dancing, recorded videos and took photographs, but I did make a point to go around the circle at least once, trying to follow along to the dance moves out of respect for the custom and in honor of my ancestors.  Those unaware of the significance of the Obon Festival can see here that it stems from ancestral worship and has evolved into a community reunion. At one point, when the drums and flute were played, I watched the dancers go in a circle and I had a flash of my Native American ancestors. It was one of those moments of seeing how alike we all really are.

It was really nice to see the Japanese community of Pahoa so alive! I sense the Japanese influence all the time in Pahoa Village but, beyond the yearly Obon at the YBA Hall, the Japanese culture is pretty dormant. In fact, I’m always walking by the empty and locked-up YBA Hall, wishing it was used more for community activities. I gave myself a tour of the YBA Hall on Saturday night and was captivated by all the framed photographs of old Pahoa buildings, cemetery plots, and even the large sheets of paper detailing the family names associated with Pahoa cemetery plots.  I also was taken by the ornate ombutsan, or Japanese altar, the candles, incense and anthurium offerings.

It was quite the town affair, I saw many people I knew in Puna, including Councilman Fred and his wife Betty Blas.  I also saw people I knew from Hilo, who obviously have ancestral ties to Puna and that particular hongwanji that hosted the Bon Dance.

 I posted several videos of the Bon Dance on my Facebook (see link above and both  here and here). Some of my friends in Puna who weren’t able to make the dance were grateful to catch of glimpse. One friend observed the lantern lights strung for the bon dance in the videos, and suggested how great it would be for all of Pahoa town to be strung with those sort of lights.  Mainstreet Pahoa Association, for which I’m serving as president of the board this year, is trying to plan a Pahoa World Fair next year.  Why not have the world fair coincide with the Hachigatsu Bon, or Bon Dance in August?

Letters — Regarding Our Child Care Problem

Greetings Tiffany,

I’m pretty busy these days, spending long hours.  I can’t really keep up with my correspondence.  And please, I don’t want to talk about my trial, guilt or innocence, because the court is already in the process of devoting quite a bit of time to doing just that.  But I do have something to say that needs saying:

In the 36 years since I was first a mother, although improvements can be seen in lots of areas–from birthing alternatives to charter schools to improved opportunities for women, the situation with child care is pretty much the same as it was. Parents have to choose between big child care facilities or private sitters and worry…too rigid?…not enough structure? …too impersonal?…and what about sick days?  Often it’s a day by day struggle as Mom tries to do her job and yet raise her children.

Children are the greatest resource of our community.  Period.  Yes, their well-being is the primary job (and more) of their parents, but society as a whole also has an interest and a responsibility in their healthful–and righteous–upbringing.  We depend on them to carry on…well, everything society cares about.  So why don’t we provide childcare rooms at the county council and the courthouse?  A place where a mother (or father) can take a cranky child to feed or for a nap or to spend supervised time while the parent participates in government?  We spent plenty on the new courthouse; for example, every courtroom has a wheelchair lift from the judge’s chambers to the courtroom proper, in case we ever have a judge who uses a wheelchair.  Couldn’t some part of that money have been invested in our future citizens?  Lots of folks have struggled for equal access to government.  That’s why we have the wheelchair lifts, headsets for hard-of hearing, Braille on elevator buttons, interpreters for those who don’t speak English but must interact with the courts.  Why is childcare always piled solely on the child’s parent?  Don’t we as a society value our children?  Don’t we want to care properly for our greatest resource?  Don’t we want their parents to be a real part of “we the people”?  I don’t think that’s why.  I think we care deeply about our children, all of them and not just our “own” children.  Maybe it’s because working mothers (and fathers) don’t make enough noise about the problem. The disability access came as a result of years of struggle, after all. So why aren’t these parents organizing to earn the right to childcare?  The fact that those intense infant and toddler years are brief is part of the reason, but the biggest part is this:  Working parents are usually just too BUSY to take on one more thing.

One Louve,
Rev. Nancy (Harris)

***Commentary*** How Are You Spending Your Holiday Weekend? A Snapshot Of Mine

MJ Svoboda (L) and Puna's Elvis Dan Nix perform outside the Pahoa Battery and Propane in Pahoa Marketplace today, Saturday, July 2. Photo by Tiffany Edwards Hunt. All rights reserved. Use with permission only.

You have a couple hours to make it to the Bon dance at the Kea’au Hongwanji, if you are looking for something to do this holiday weekend.
If you’re not out camping or staying overnight in Naalehu after the parade there today, know that the Hilo Bay Blast is tomorrow and Monday. Apparently, there is a car show on Bayfront Monday, along with the barbecue cookoff that has becoming quite the July 4th tradition.  There are also 4th of July parades planned for Volcano and Kailua-Kona.
Today I woke up with a rah! And thought I’d take my five-month-old in my husband’s old truck down to Red Road to meet up with the Opala In Paradise cleanup crew. I filled up the old truck at Paul’s Repair in Pahoa, only for the truck not to turn over.
Lucky for me I met Good Samaritan who had a portable battery charger. The truck started and we made it as far as Pahoa High School before it sputtered to a stop just on the edge of the intersection of Highway 130 and Highway 132. I called for roadside assistance and walked in sprinkling rain with my son and his car seat to our shop in Pahoa. There I met my husband and got his new truck and our daughter while he went to meet the tow truck at the intersection.
On my way down to meet the Opala In Paradise group, I saw them caravanning with trash loads toward town. I turned around at Lava Tree State Park and followed them to the Pahoa Recycling and Transfer Station.
There we unloaded four pickup loads of rubbish from the illegal dump site in Kapoho. Starsha Young with Keep Hawaii Beautiful found some trash at the site with the name Ryan Crago. If you know of him, he owes the public an explanation for why trash with his name on it was found on the side of Red Road (Highway 137) with four truckloads of what appeared to be the remains of a roofing job.
After the truckloads were emptied, I followed the caravan of trucks back down to Red Road. My baby wailed, wanting to be breastfed. I kept thinking to myself, “Why am I trying to save the world with my baby, or taking my own trash and recyclables to the transfer station?”
We got to the Ryan Crago / Red Road dump site and there was only enough left for one truckload. That was five truckloads in all, when you tell Crago. After breastfeeding my boy, I followed the caravan to Pohoiki Road where there was another site with a rotten couch and an electrical lamp.
On my way past Pohoiki, I noticed there were no waves at my favorite surf spot and a big raincloud that was about to dump on a campground filled with people.
I followed Ed Miner — who had loaded up the couch and lamp into his truck — back to the transfer station. Once there at the transfer station, unloading the couch and lamp with Ed, I looked around at all the people going and coming, determined to head back with my own garbage.
Back with my family’s trash at the transfer station by 1:15 p.m., I talked story with an old friend from Kalapana and tossed recyclables into the grey HI5 redemption cans, waiting for the redemption folks to finish their lunch break.
In the 15 minutes I waited for the redemption folks, I studied the newly renovated $3.9 million transfer station, thinking about how I’m going to organize my family’s garbage accordingly. Read more

***Commentary*** Earth Day 2011; My One-Week Cloth Diapering Update

By Tiffany Edwards Hunt. All rights reserved. Use with permission only.

I’m going to try and not act too self-righteous.  It’s Earth Day, and I just feel so proud to be a cloth-diapering mama.  Yeah, one week into this and I can report that it is a lot of work.  But it’s really gratifying.  It’s a lifestyle change, a shift in attitude about pee and poop.

More and more, I find that the pail of soiled cloth diapers is a lot less daunting than a trash can full of disposable diapers.  With the soiled cloth diapers, I throw them into the washing machine for a rinse cycle.  Then I fill the machine with the family’s clothes for a full wash cycle before drying them. I don’t have time for any line drying like most mothers.  With the trash can full of disposable diapers, I would have to bag those up and, with the rest of our household trash, load, haul and dump them at the transfer station.  There is plenty of energy involved with both cloth and disposable diapers, it depends on how you want to spend your energy. Read more

Proud Parent — Regarding My Cloth-Diapering Adventure; Thank You, Moonsprout, For Sponsoring JJ

Moonsprout, Eco-Friendly baby store at 10 Lono St in Hilo. Call (808) 935-7523. Hours are Tue-Sat 10-3 Diaper Talks/consults by appointment

I want to express my heartfelt appreciation to my friend Geana Miura, of Moonsprout, an eco-friendly baby store, located at 10 Tyson Street in Hilo.  Geana gave my son, JJ, and me the gift of a half-dozen Fuzzi Bunz cloth diapers and other supplies necessary for us to transition from disposable diapers.  I want to be very open about the fact that she gave us this gift, because you are going to read me plugging Geana and her store adjacent to the Hilo Shopping Center, as my family’s embarks on our cloth diapering adventure.  I’ve known Geana for several years.  Many of you might have heard me interview her when I had my “Politics Aside” show on KHBC radio in 2006.  I admire Geana’s authenticity and unwavering commitment to cloth diapering.  I resisted Geana’s urges to put my daughter in cloth diapers three years ago, reasoning it would be too inconvenient with the laundry situation on our water catchment system.  But going through all the disposable diapers that we did in the two years that it took to potty-train my daughter really made me feel like such a neanderthal.  I want to do things differently with JJ.

You should know that my husband isn’t really into the idea.  In the 48 hours since I have taken this leap in environmentalism, my husband has protested and, the one time he has changed our son’s diaper during this period, put on a disposable diaper.  That’s okay. I’m really trying not to be too controlling, cognizant of the fact that we live in a Fabian society. People are naturally resist to change.  Time will tell if my husband will come around to my point of view.  I’ll be providing you with frequent updates on how the cloth diapers are working out. Geana knows that her gift — what we call JJ’s first sponsorship — doesn’t mean I’m going to be spinning anything. Count on me to share with you my honest impressions, the pros and the cons. I hope it all works out, because I really have come to believe that cloth diapering is the right thing to do.

Sentiment — Ode To The North Hawaii Community Hospital, My Husband, My Midwife, My Nurses, And My Doula

The Ilima room in North Hawaii Community Hospital's Family Birthing Unit

I couldn’t have asked for a more ideal birth.  My son, JJ Hunt, was born at 7:11 p.m. on Feb. 22, 2011 in the North Hawaii Community Hospital Family Birthing Unit.  This was two hours after I checked in to the hospital. Being that this was my second birth —  I have a three-year-old daughter — I knew what to expect. I woke up at 4:30 a.m., on Feb. 22 with signs I was in labor and by lunchtime I was having steady contractions.  By 2:30 p.m., my intuition told me it was time for my husband and I to prepare for the two-hour drive to NHCH.  My doula lives in O’okala so, by the time she reached her house, she took one look at me in the passenger seat and said, “You’re there. Go on to Waimea and I’ll call ahead to let them know you’re coming.” The most awkward moment of my labor was sitting in the waiting room of the hospital waiting for my husband to check me in.  I endured two contractions in the presence of strangers, and it was such a terrible feeling of being watched I remember crying into my bolster pillow.  Once I reached my room in NHCH, the nurses checked my dilation and determine I was between 6 cm and 7 cm.  I really wanted to go into the birthing tub, but they wanted to wait for the midwife to get there before they made that call.  I went into the shower and, like my first labor with my daughter, found the hot water to be such a panacea for the pain of contractions.  I’ll always remember being in the shower, doing everything I could to stop the mind chatter, which was questioning my ability to endure the pain.  “There is no external savior,” I kept telling myself.   Read more

***Commentary*** About Max


Image courtesy of la nostra storia

I’ve been preparing to share with you the story of my son JJ’s recent birth, in hopes of continuing our conversation about the politics of birth and advocate for natural birthing techniques at our island hospitals and beyond. What’s been holding me back, though, is the fact that a dear friend of mine lost her newborn son a week after his March 22 birthday. It has been devastating for our circle for friends to lose baby boy Max.  His is a medical mystery, and that has compounded our loss, not exactly knowing what happened to Max.  Today at the Balancing Monkey Yoga Center there is a yoga session in baby Max’s honor and, if you have the time, I urge you to participate.  If you can’t, know that we are trying to raise funds to buy a water well in Cambodia in his honor.  If you are inclined, please email contributions to Melinda Clark, P.O. Box 527, Kurtistown, HI  96760.

In the couple months since JJ’s birth and in the weeks since the loss of Max, I’ve really dwelled a lot on the miracle of birth and what fragile ecosystems we are.  My friend who lost her boy has urged her friends and loved ones to write about how the loss of Max has affected us.  I will do that in depth. And, as part of that, I need to share my story of the birth that went right, the birth of my son.

The candle is symbolic of the fact that in the week that Max was being kept alive at Kapiolani hospital on Oahu, I held a vigil for him by burning a candle daily.  And since his death, I’ve continued to frequent burn candles, lighting them each time with Max in my thoughts.  If you can’t participate in today’s yoga suggestion and if you aren’t inclined to donate to our cause for Max’s water well, would you at least light a candle in honor of this baby boy? If anything, let this be a reminder to give reverence to the miracle of birth.

***Commentary*** Grateful For The Pohoiki Playground


Photo by Tiffany Edwards Hunt. All rights reserved. Use with permission only.

Words cannot express my gratitude to the County of Hawaii for the completion of this playground at Pohoiki.  I realize playground equipment is costly — this equipment was likely in the neighborhood of [$199,000 — edited 5/1/11] to  purchase and set up — and I know my family and friends will get a lot of use out of it.  We can only hope for more development of recreational opportunities at Isaac Kepo’okalani Hale Beach Park, e.g., a volleyball pit and a basketball hoop or two, along with a pavilion and/or picnic benches near the playground.  But I am grateful for what we have. I also want to commend the County for installing raised crosswalks in this area.  I can be critical of the County of Hawaii, and I want the powers that be to know that I appreciate it when we actually are delivered services in Puna. Mahalo nui loa!

***Commentary*** Hilton Waikoloa Staycation


Photos by Tiffany Edwards Hunt. All rights reserved.

When my husband and I went to the Three Dog Night Concert at the Hilton Waikoloa last fall, it was our first time without our three-year-old daughter; Throughout our stay, I had a burning desire to bring her back to waht felt like an amusement park.  This past month for her birthday we took her and our newborn son on a staycation there; we had such a great one-night stay there, I find myself daydreaming about, not just that grandiose hotel, but that 62-acre property it lies upon. What an ideal spot. Clearly this is sacred land.  That is your most predominant thought as you make your way around those multi-million-dollar walkways — that and wondering whose idea it was exactly for the tropical gardens, lagoons with waterfalls, three different hotel buildings, along with the boats and train around the premises. Before it was the Hilton Waikoloa it was the Hyatt Regency Waikoloa. Five years later Pan Global and Hilton Recreation were the 2 partners who purchased it in 1993 for $76 million to form Global Resort Partners. Pan Global owned 86% and Hilton Recreation owned 13%. In May 2002, Hilton Hotels Corporation purchased Pan Global’s shares in the resort for what was said to have been $150 million.

If you live on the Big Island and you have children, I suggest you take a staycation at the Hilton Waikoloa.  Yes, I sound like a real public relations specialist for the Hilton.  I need to qualify my nudging at you to spend money by suggesting how you save money: bring a cooler.  Have no shame.  Valet park your vehicle if you don’t want to haul your cooler all the way from the distant self-parking lot.  But definitely stop at a grocery store on your way to the Hilton Waikoloa, and get yourself some food and beverages to enjoy on the lanai of your hotel room. No shame, just wheel your cooler through the lobby and on to the boat or train that takes you to your room.  Be sure to pack your own utensils and paper towels or cloth napkins.  Of course, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t dine in at one of the Hilton’s fine restaurants — I personally enjoy having Japanese food when I’m at the Hilton.  By day, instead of seeking out the water slides at the cholorinated swimming pools, don’t pass up the opportunity to rent a stand-up paddle board for around the lagoon.  If you want, you can opt for a kayak or a water bike instead. If you are fit and you have the time and interest, you really should make an effort to walk around the property.  The trails are extensive and the natural wonder of the white coral beach and rolling waves is magnificent.  The oversized art around the property is also pretty wondrous.