And on the other hand...

Click here for The Yin Side where the other half of me holds forth!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Holiday Spirits

A miscellaneous Tuesday in late March doesn't sound like a holiday, but there it is. It should be clear to anyone, I think, that our spiritual traditions are linked to the cosmic clock, or at least the one that keeps time in our own tiny solar system. So, Day 15 of the Second Lunar Month: a full moon, which I have come to associate with monthly direct reports with my supervisor; I thought I was done with somewhat unpleasant monthly cycles. But as it is a state holiday, I have the day off and the DR is postponed. So since it is not only the day honoring a Hawaiian prince (in the only state in the union that has official days honoring royalty), but also the birthday of Laozi and a festival day for the San Qing, the Three Pure Ones, I am off to Chinatown.  I need some good Chinese soy sauce to complement my stash of local Japanese-inspired Aloha brand, and I may succeed in my ongoing quest to find statuary of the San Qing, not really for myself, but for a FB Tao friend in the midwest where such things are harder to come by.

I am going to escort another friend, a French woman who shares my interest in Chinese painting, on a little walking tour of the shops and sights in Chinatown.  (I'm thinking of this as a dry run for actually escorting a group of like-minded folks in China itself.) Thirty years ago, this neighborhood was strange to me, when Popo, my aged Chinese next-door landlady took my arm for a tour, said "Call me Popo", and introduced me to her best noodle shop, her best duck shop, and her best bun shop.  She told the proprietors,"This is my friend, take care of her."  Popo liked us as tenants: "God always sends me Episcopalians," she said, weirdly. She was an Episcopalian, and we visited the Chinese Episcopal parish a few times.  A Hakka woman, likely first generation in Hawaii, she shared a lot of old Honolulu and China with me.  It was a blessing both ways, I guess. I used to answer her calls for help sometimes when her husband, seriously afflicted with Alzheimer's, had fallen or she needed something from Longs.  It only occurs to me now how horrible it would be to denounce your landlord. She was a shengren, really. We lived in her ohana house only for about two years, but it was a crucial part of our Hawaii adaptation.

Laozi, the San Qing, and the Anglican/Catholic Holy Week to boot!   Passover too, but that is not really part of my heritage (I think, although, one never knows, do one?), except in the Catholic echoes. I have Good Friday off as well, working for a Catholic institution as I do.

Popo would be proud. I will think of her today, surely passed on by now, an ohana ancestor, as I meander the old neighborhood. I am sure I will tell my French companion of things that have changed since Popo's tour.

I missed this year's New Year festival in Chinatown, but here are some images from 2012.  I don't think too much has changed in a year, but over 30, probably quite a bit.
Popo probably saw this building when it was first constructed.
Actually, I think Popo's grandchildren live in one of those high-rises in the back.
Protecting tradition.  That low building is probably worth several million bucks.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Vernal Equinox, 2013

Plumeria reaching for the sun.
The equinox is one of two times in the year when yin and yang are in perfect balance, with yang about to increase until the summer solstice.  I feel this balance in my belly, to the extent that I barely need to talk about it.  The kolea are putting on their breeding plumage; the solutions to many vexing problems of the past few months are falling into place; tax forms delivered to the accountant; buds are reaching to the sky (not that they don't always do that in Hawaii).

Despite my May China pilgrimage plans falling through for the second time (people seem not to want to travel now, or are afraid of China, so we can't seem to get a group together), I am thoroughly enjoying my current round of Chinese painting classes.  Images are worth many words, so I just will update this equinox post with some recent images. Chinese paintings are "poems without words" as poems are "paintings wthout form." My calligraphy is not at a level where I can properly combine these, but I hope you enjoy the images as much as I enjoy making them.
Enhanced and restored from a messy draft.

Homage to Li Keran
Another homage to Li Keran

Homage to Shen Zhou

Homage to my teacher.

Homage to Li Keran; the original of this sold for $51,000.

Homage to Fang Chuxiong.

Self portrait.

Classic image.

Homage to my teacher, but his lady is much less haughty.

Another restoration of a messy draft, inspired by visit to Cannon Beach, Or.
And here's a photo homage to my assistant, Lao Hu, the Yellow Emperor:

So, if I can't go to China, I can at least channel qi through my brush, Lao Hu willing. I'd like to use his tail, the way the monk did in "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring," but my calligraphy isn't good enough and I'm sure he would object.  See this fabulous film on youtube (for cat tail calligraphy start at 1:03:00):

And besides, it's only just spring.