Saturday, September 15, 2012

Braddah Can You Spare A Dime? It's All Relative...Or Not

    Aloha Kakou!! As I write, the rain is gently starting to fall, the coquis are doing their mating thing, (well the males are much success they will have, who can say) and I am about to start looking for the bottom of a couple of glasses of wine. Just another typical night in Hilo for us. My glasses of wine have become a fairly routine part of my evenings here. This is markedly different from the way, (and the things) that I used to drink. I was never a regular wine drinker until about ten years ago. Sure, I had the occasional glass to be cordial, (and I have always loved champagne) but if I was drinking, it was going to be beer, Jack Daniels, rum, vodka and it surely would have been more than two. What has changed? Well, many things, but I'll start with being at the age where when someone tells me that two glasses of red wine a day will do my heart good, I tend to listen to them. (Of course, if they told me eating two whole heads of cabbage a day would do me good, I would not dive in as easily on that) Also, I have come to really appreciate wine, instead of just drinking it. Dig? I am by no means an expert, but I know what I like. Here are a few wines that have made an impression on me:

Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon
-Leialoha and I were treated to this one from our friend and A1 cruise director David Cole He was also kind enough to invite our dear friends Bruce and Sharon to share in this wonderful red. Great wine, great friends

Jay Lohr Cabernet Sauvignon
-My sister-in-law Lisa introduced this one to me, and we consumed many a bottle back when they used to live in Florida.

Ravenswood Zinfandel
-This was my go to wine when I was gigging at Aruba Beach Cafe in Ft Lauderdale, and there were many great happy hours spent playing music with my friend Bruce Freeland and looking out on the Atlantic Ocean from the stage.

Veuve Clicquot Champagne
-This is the champagne that Leialoha and I choose to celebrate special occasions with, and it is also the one we use to celebrate my mother's birthday with every year when she comes on a cruise. I am a sucker for champagne...but only good stuff.

    So let's see what the title of tonight's blog is all about, shall we? One of the nicest things about living here is the very strong concept of ohana (family) and also the extended ohana. I imagine that in many places on the mainland it is similar...but here in the islands, where the farthest neighbor island is only an hour flight away, (and hence many of your relatives not on your own island may only be an hours flight away), you tend to interact a lot with your immediate (and non-immediate) family. Family events and news are shared and spread fairly quickly and a relative dropping over unannounced for a visit is always welcome. Another thing that seems to be not all that uncommon is finding out that you, (not me, but someone born and raised here) are related to someone who you never knew you were related to, either by blood or by marriage. As an example, Leialoha did some family research a couple of years ago, and found out that she is related by marriage to the Vaughan family. Palani Vaughan is a very well known and respected performer here in Hawai' also happens that I know Palani's son Kilipaki, (who lives on Kaua'i) from my steel guitar teacher Alan Akaka. It's one big circle. There is also a very interesting and lovely tradition here in Hawai'i is something called "Hānai". While I do not believe it is as prevalent to today as it once was, it is for lack of a better term, adopting a child into a family, but not really in a legal sense. From an article I found:

Hanai (v.) – to adopt, to be close; to nourish, to sustain.
Children were raised by, not only their parents, but by grandparents and other relatives. Hanai was the kanaka maoli custom whereby a family adopts a child given by someone else and raises that child as a family member. No written records were necessary. (In old Hawaii there was no writing.) No stigma was attached to being "hanai." The practice of hanai was used to ensure that the Hawaiian culture was passed on to the younger generation. The claim of the grandparents upon their grandchildren took precedence over the claim of the parents who bore them. The parents could not keep the child without the grandparents' permission. A male child was offered to the parents of the father, and a female child was offered to the mother's parents. Parents would offer their children out of respect, as a gift of the greatest possible value. If the child were not offered, the grandparents would ask for the hanai privilege; they could not be refused. This practice extended into the community so that if the biological parents were unable to adequately provide for the needs of the child, someone else would be chosen to be the hanai parents. Children were also passed on to relatives or friends who had no children.
Hanai was practiced by the alii too. Liliuokalani was the hanai child of chiefs of higher rank than her parents. In her biography she reports that hanai "is not easy to explain... to those alien to our national life, but it seems perfectly natural to us. As intelligible a reason as can be given is that this alliance by adoption cemented the ties of friendship between the chiefs."
Later on, when other nationalities took up residence on the islands, there was ready acceptance of non-blood "kin." John Young, an English boatswain of a small American fur trading vessel, and Isaac Davis, a member of the crew, were hanai into Kamehameha's family.
The custom of hanai was strongly condemned by the missionaries. They couldn't understand the looseness of natural family ties. They were influenced by their concept of the "immediate family."
Hanai exists today, but not always for the purpose of maintaining the Hawaiian culture. Kailua-Kona "Mother of the Year 2002" had five children, three adopted children, six hanai children, twelve grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. I have heard of a person who was brought into a Hawaiian family at the age of 50, a definite expression of aloha. The term "hanai" is still common today; you may hear people referring to their "hanai Mom" or their "hanai sister." Listen. Would you want to become a hanai child of a warm Hawaiian family? 

   Personally, I think this is a beautiful just opens up your family circle even wider and enhances your ohana. Now, there is also another kind of familial salutation that you will hear around Hawaiʻi and this may be one of my favorite traditions, and the one that really caught me off guard. As a sign of respect and/or deference, we will refer to someone older or someone who is to be given respect as "Aunty", or "Uncle". Blood relations have nothing really to do with this...for instance, the first time I was called Uncle, I was at Leialoha's cousin's, granddaughter's first lu'au. (I will explain Baby's First Lu'au at some later time) and a group of young 20 something's came into the yard, and greeted me with "howzit uncle?" I had to look around to see what relative they were talking to. It was me. But, by virtue of my age, or maybe my grey hair I was afforded that greeting. Leialoha to certain people is Aunty. Now, if someone is your contemporary, you can use "braddah" or "sistah"...or "cuzn". There are even performers here whse names have become synonymous with the use of Aunty or Uncle. The best known might be Genoa Keawe, who was one of the most beloved figures in Hawaiian music of the last 50 years. Nearly everyone refers to her, (with great and well deserved reverence ) as Aunty Genoa. One of my favorite performers is Aunty Nicki Hines...Here is a quick treat for you. This is a clip from Aunty Genoa. She was one of the great Hawaiian performers and known for her falsetto:

         So there you go...just another aspect of living and being in Hawai'i. Where it sometimes seems that we are all one big some people's cases, quite literally.

    Lastly, for tonight, it is another of the "Why I Love living In Hawai'i" entries. I love many do all over the world. But there are two kinds of hula, (or should I say types of performances of hula) that I really love to see. They are when the kupuna (elders) dance and when someone does a kolohe (rascally) hula. If they can be combined into one dance, all the better. Here is Aunty Flo 'Iwalani Koanui doing a hula to a song called Ahulili...she is doing a kolohe interpretation of the lyrics. Quick side note...Hawaiian language lyrics very often have two meanings. The second level meaning is called the kauna which is a hidden meaning where one is speaking or singing of one thing and actually talking about something else. I believe she is only dancing two verses, so here is the english translation...

A love for `Ahulili
He might be jealous
For not always being placed on
The mist of the mountain
The mist of the mountain

Here is the cool
Heady fragrance
Your desires that caused arousal
Have satisfied the body
Have satisfied the body

    You can see and hear how the people love this...and I love living in a place where they respect and revere the elders, and where the elders can have good fun like this. Malama pono!!


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the mention. Good friends good wine goodtimes.