Day 69 – Thanksgiving

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Today I give thanks to this happy couple. My parents – circa 1969 at Banff or Glacier NP. They represent what the United States of America is all about.

A country of compassion.

A country of opportunity.

A country where an economic refugee from Germany and a political refugee from Cuba, could meet, fall in love, get married, and carve out a life and raise a family.

All of that happened in a little neighborhood on the far north side of Chicago called Rogers Park.

They embodied the American Dream.

My dad, a craftsman, opened a business with his brother and my mother went to school to become a registered nurse. It took them a little over 20 years to buy a house, which by that time my brother and I were in college.

But it wasn’t all peaches and cream – if I may use that cliché.

My little nuclear family was a place where two very different cultures collided.

Yes, collided. No melting happened in the pot of my family. Although, you could argue German and Cuban DNA did blend to create my brother and me. But that is another story…

From our little experiment – I am authorized to say the American melting pot is a farce, a fantasy, a disillusioned idea.

What does it mean to melt cultures together?

What does it mean to have no diversity?

What does it mean to have no differing opinions or perspectives?

What if there was only one color in a rainbow? Blue bow? Red bow? Purple bow?

Take a walk in the woods, snorkel around a coral reef, canoe along a river through a rain forest.

In nature there is only diversity. An ecosystem is made up of diverse creatures. From microscopic plankton to huge whales. Life on Earth thrives on biological diversity. Any time one organism takes over a habitat – the ecosystem becomes imbalanced. Disease, mass die-offs, decreased food sources.

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Life on Earth thrives on biological diversity.

Why should it be any different culturally?

In my little family, we didn’t blend cultures. We didn’t create a new culinary genre where  sauerkraut is paired with arroz con pollo, lechon asado, or ropa vieja. Although bistec milanesa or empanisado (breaded steak) was very similar to wienerschnitzel – and this little Cuban/German girl loved both.

Dad never learned how to dance the Cuban son – mom never learned to polka. Neither learned the other’s language. A version of English is what we spoke in our household (although I always say English is my second language).

Dad thought my Cuban family yelled too much. And Mom thought my German family didn’t like her because she was a “darkie.”

For better and worse, my parents stayed together until my Dad’s death in 2013. Despite their outer dysfunction – the communication challenges, the short bouts of yelling, followed by years of silence – deep down inside, they loved each other.

As I approach my late 40s, I have finally realized what my parents gave me.

Cultural sensitivity, an ability to be patient with and understand people with accents, a mysterious morphological make up that allows me access into a diversity of groups, and the consciousness to see the humanity shared by all of us.

So I give thanks for them and for this country that made it all happen.

I only hope I can share their gifts with others.

Aloha!

 

 

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Day 27 – Care Package!!!

This week began with my hand banged up and my finger throbbing from having a splinter. Not the greatest start of a week. 

I haven’t blogged because there are days I just don’t have the time nor the story.

Today was going to be another storyless day. I spent 11 hours in downtown Honolulu in a meeting. Came home and was invited by my neighbor’s for dinner (Alaska salmon!). When I returned to my studio the air conditioner blew a circuit breaker (again).

But the story came when I opened a bulging package and out came oodles of love from my niece, nephew, and their parents!📦

Care package!


A lovely letter from my niece – who asked me to write her notes so we could be writing buddies (!), and so she could practice her spelling. 💌

I received “Holoween” goodies, even though she wasn’t sure if they celebrate Halloween in “hawie.” 

The care package was perfect because I have felt weird about buying Halloween stuff in Hawaii. 

I don’t have a door to welcome trick or treaters and I am fairly positive I won’t be getting dressed up in a costume. The little bit of October love from this package is sufficient for me. 🎃

Especially, my new artwork drawn by my sweet, multitalented niece.


Feeling Aloha! 💞

Day 20 – Farmer’s Market

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Thursday night farmer’s market in Kailua is a family affair. There are food vendors where you can find, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Turkish, and my favorite Kalua pork…

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There are about 5-6 produce vendors mixed in with prepared food vendors,

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such as Hummus made with breadfruit (Ulu), salsa, poi (made from taro), cookies, pies, butter mochi (my new favorite thing), jellies, and…

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sugar cane juice (aka guarapo), just like in little Havana…

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Thank you Sugah Daddy for the yummy treat!

Aloha!