Shadows on the carriageway

21 12 2015

For a memoir of Oahu and Waikiki, this image of Leahi (Diamond Head) and the carriageway in Kapiolani Park may be for you. It is available now for your consideration. The path, familiar to island residents like these Sunday painters, is lined with ironwood trees and extends from the Bandstand to the tennis courts. $250 with hardwood frame. $200 unframed. VISA and MasterCard accepted. For delivery information, please email

"Shadows on the Carriageway" 20" x 10" giclée on canvas

“Shadows on the Carriageway” 20″ x 10″ giclée reproduction on canvas of an original oil painted in 2013 by Rebekah Luke

The gardener as artist

17 11 2015

This is the first weekday morning in 40 weekdays that I didn’t hear a gentle knock on the front door signaling the arrival of the new, cheerful, smiling gardener. Instead, I am greeted by a light warm rain on the newly landscaped yard, a work of art completed yesterday.

Allow me to set the stage. My injured hand, from “overuse,” prevented me from tending plants as before. DH and I had the mature mango and avocado trees cut back, as we need to do every two or three years, because they are close to the house. That let in more sun, and then there fell a lot of rain. The best way to describe the resulting look was, we lived in a jungle.

I searched for a person to clean the yard—because as wise daughter says, “Hire the professional”—but I could not find anyone who was willing or who would show up way out here in the country. If the yard was already cleared of its jungle-y aspects, fine, perhaps someone could keep it trimmed. Word got out that I was looking, and two of my Hawaiian lady friends recommended their man.

They had good things to say. “Oh, he could probably do your yard in a day.” “He’s a hard worker.” “He works in the sun.” “Now he comes just once a month; that’s all that’s needed.” “Give me your number, and I’ll have him call you.” Great!



Enter Hailama, a sturdy Hawaiian from Kahana Valley, who said he would work every day “’til pau (finished),” that meant a 5-hour day, rain or shine. Touring our jungle, I attempted to describe the original garden plan, now obscured with the overgrowth, and Hailama asked, “What do you want to keep?” Ah, a new perspective!

We agreed to keep the mango, the avocado, and calamansi trees for the fruit they produce;  the vegetable-and-herb boxes; the red hibiscus for their petals used for Mexican jamaica tea; and the kou tree, ginger, and ti plants to make lei. We wanted to keep as much of DH’s native Hawaiian plant collection as possible.

One of the features of the land we mālama (care for) is that there is not much soil. Only rocks. A lot of rocks. We are near a stream, and some people think our street is where the stream used to be, because it lines up with a natural ocean channel. I think so, too. It turns out that Hailama loves to work with rocks, or pohaku in Hawaiian.

Mauka side yard has a new, curving rock border with a cascading variegated green/white/purple cover in front of a new red hibiscus hedge that will grown up like the mature hedge on the right against the wall. Upper left: breadfruit tree. Middle right: alahe‘e tree. Foreground: a sitting rock.

This garden path has a curving rock border with a cascading variegated veridian/lavender/purple cover in front of a new red hibiscus hedge that will grow up like the mature hedge in the middle background of the photo. Upper left: breadfruit tree. Middle right: alahe‘e tree. Foreground: one of the “sitting rocks.” Red ti leaf accents.

Starting at one corner and then proceeding to the next adjacent area, in a continuous flow, Hailama took advantage of a blank canvas to transform the garden. Every day brought a new surprise. For the most part, he worked with what was already on the property, relocating and rearranging the elements with new lines and shapes. In doing so, he made room for energy to flow freshly.

“What is your vision?” I asked. “I don’t know,” he shrugged. Looking up and moving his arms from above his head and down the sides of his body, he said, “Every day I ask God, and He helps me.”

Detail of garden path. After the mature hibiscus hedge (left) was trimmed to half its height, the tops were made into cuttings to form a new 25-foot-long hedge (top of photo).

Detail of garden path. After Hailama trimmed the mature hibiscus hedge (left) to half its height, so I could see the waterfall again from my studio window, he saved the tops and made cuttings to form a new 25-foot-long hedge (top of photo).

We started to have small discussions. He liked flowers. I liked food. “Do you like color?” he asked. “Yes, and pathways and focal points.” As he worked, Hailama began to re-grade the lot. He liked curves, where previously there were straight lines. In the way he used the rocks he dug up from the ground, the garden started to look zen. That I liked!


Every rock is hand-picked, considered for its “face” and painstakingly set into the ground by hand. A row of the veridian-lavender-purple plants is on the lower terrace for a color repeat. Behind it is a row of white ginger that will eventually take hold; Hailama brought them from his own garden. In the background, Hailama trimmed the old panax hedge to a manageable height for maintenance.


Fronting the panax hedge in alternating plantings are flowering red and pink ginger and ti leaves of various colors. Upper right: raided veggie and herb beds. Foreground, ʻaeʻae ground cover around the base of the avocado tree.

Fronting the panax hedge in alternating plantings are flowering red and pink ginger and ti leaves of various colors. Upper right: raised veggie and herb beds. Foreground: ʻaeʻae ground cover around the base of the avocado tree. Hailama explained the rock borders will prevent a weed whacker from cutting the plants. He designed the new garden for ease of maintenance.



View of the front entry from the street. Paths meander around the calamansi tree (foreground), sweet potato and aloe beds (middle ground), and the kou tree. The trees are pruned to resemble lollipops. You can see the windows of my second-story studio.

Weʻre looking forward to a carpet of green grass in the back. The brown lath will extend down from the deck. the "keepers" are the avocado tree, left, and the mango tree, at right.

We’re looking forward to a carpet of green grass in the back. DH went to buy grass seed today. The brown lath will extend down from the deck for a nicer backdrop for the border of colorful ti. The “keepers” are the avocado tree, left, and the mango tree, at right.


Curving steps

Hailama took great pride and pleasure in designing the curving steps to the mango tree. One of the large rocks is a piece of coral that he found while digging the surface. The steps leading to the banana are also coral!


Coral rocks found on site


One of several sitting stones

The rest of the story is that ours is the first property that Hailama has completely re-landscaped. He said, joyfully, “I am making this garden as if it is my own! This is the best one I’ve done!” Indeed, it is Hailama’s Garden. What a beautiful, extraordinary labor of love. The creatures love it. We love it. Our visitors will love it. Hailama is our angel, our new friend, and DH and I are so blessed and so very thankful! Mahalo piha, a hui hou, mālama pono!

(Copyright 2015 Rebekah Luke)

Winter In Kaʻaʻawa

15 01 2015

ʻAkekeke flock,
Golden Plover, Shama Thrush,
Peacock, Rooster, Hen.

Egret, ʻIwa, Chick,
Mynah, Bulbul, Zebra Dove.
Bird inventory.

Copyright 2015 Rebekah Luke

My Hawaiian moon

7 12 2014

O Hawaiian moon
again you call me to rise
from my deep slumber

Your December light
silver magnetic moonbeam
peaceful surrender

Copyright 2014 Rebekah Luke

Six degrees of separation among cousins in the Islands

8 06 2014

I got a Facebook message late last week from Boyd, who wrote, “Hey cousin, my wife and I will be on island for a wedding this weekend, and probably cruising your coastline Sat. AMish . . .” 

Yes, yes, I’ll be home, please stop by, here’s how to get here, etc., etc. Boyd and I have called each other “cousin” since we met at Iole in North Kohala for my family reunion (mom’s side) in 2012. Boyd is a folk historian and a wonderfully engaging storyteller. I’d asked him to tell our group about what life might have been like in the old days, and what he knew of the Chinese immigrants; and he wanted to hear our stories to add to his repertoire. We gathered at Kalahikiola Church near the old homestead where my mother and her 14 siblings grew up before the clan moved to Oahu.

After becoming acquainted we declared ourselves calabash cousins because his ancestors employed my ancestors, living on adjoining land divisions—Iole and Ainakea on Hawaii island. My aunties told me the children played together between the properties on both sides of a gulch.

Yesterday Boyd came to my island to visit me, and I felt like “Mom” was coming, so DH and I tidied up to make the studio presentable. I wasn’t sure exactly what time he and his wife Becky would arrive, so I planned lunch for four. I thought of the old days before the Information Age when families would call on each other, traveling distances to meet, to talk story (as we say in Hawaii) and catch up on all the happenings. These visits have evolved into Sunday night family dinner for many of us.

Yesterday’s Saturday lunch was a lot of fun. They did arrive just in time for lunch. We ate lupulu—a Samoan treat baked with taro leaves, corned beef, onions, tomato and coconut milk. We had poi, sweet potato, alae salt, Cathy’s inamona (Hawaiian kukui nut relish), and Joe’s chili pepper water.

Boyd and my DH, who you recall is a volunteer docent at the Bishop Museum, traded information on Hawaiian history while we women dutifully listened to stories we’d heard before. I heard Becky mention she was more comfortable with bodies and energy, that she left the storytelling to Boyd,  so when there was a break in the conversation I asked Becky, “Are you a healer?”

Boyd answered, “Yes, she is!” So with my experience as a Reiki Master and hers as a massage therapist and Healing Touch practitioner, we hit it off, and I was able to hear about the wonderful healing environment going on in Kohala.

Continuing to talk about people and places we knew throughout the afternoon, we revisited the family reunion Welcome Dinner two years ago held at Kahua Ranch and hosted by the owner Monty and his new bride Elly. They had invited our family over. “How do you know Elly?” Boyd asked.

“She’s my first cousin,” I said. “Her father and my mother were siblings.”

“Well, then,” Boyd gleamed with a twinkle in his eye, “we really are cousins — through marriage!” Indeed. It turns out that both he and Monty descend from common ancestors.

Copyright 2014 Rebekah Luke



Pictures of an exhibition

3 11 2013

Thank you — friends, supporters, studio fans, and patrons — from the bottom of my heart. These are a few images of yesterday’s enjoyable opening day of “Hana Hou: Then & Now” at Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden.



Panorama Hana Hou




















Travel: the journey

27 10 2013

Let me suggest travel. Travel away from home for a change of scenery. To view another culture. To make new friends. Alone, with a buddy, 5 miles or 5,000 miles, it doesn’t matter. Just go.

For me, traveling forces me to focus and experience the present. It often makes me uncover inner resources I didn’t know I had. It’s great for clearing the fog in my mind, allowing more space there to observe and consider life’s options. Travel to the new, different, or unfamiliar presents other perspectives to weave into our future.

I’m giving this some thought this Sunday morning while getting ready for an art show I’m installing on Friday. I thought of some examples:

• My second to the eldest cousin K.Y., in his 80s, and his wife traveled every year since they were married, always taking the kids. Their philosophy was, why wait until we’re retired. Now their adult children and their children are of the same mind, happy and well-balanced. The whole family also has a love of hiking into the mountains or to the seashore, an activity also begun when the children were young. I paint with K.Y. almost every week. He’s a fascinating conversationalist and very kind.

• My teacher, colleague and friend Lori is coming back the day I install the art show from a month of driving, alone I think, across the continental US where she had some space (as contrasted to living on an island), called on former college buddies and sampled the regional cuisine. They’re foodies. Aren’t we all? She reports on Facebook every day, but I can’t wait to hear her stories in person.

• My other teacher Alice Anne, a professional psychic (both Lori and Alice Anne attuned me to Reiki), advised me that the periods of growth in my marriage would be during times of travel. We’ve found that to be so, away from the routine of daily living. She helped me interpret a recurring childhood dream of mine. Aunty Ethel who I was afraid of–she was my mother’s eldest sister, single, a missionary, and stern–was in the dream. Anyway, the message was that I should climb walls, cross barriers and venture out across the ocean to see “the big wide world, no be scared.” Aunty Ethel was my ally.

• My latest trip abroad was a month in Italy, you may have read. I wrote about it, including the recipes, on my travel blog. You don’t actually have to make the food. Just reading about it might make you hungry. This was my second trip in a year to Italy. DH came along and so did a villa-ful of my painting students. A short, spur-of-the-moment jaunt traveling solo to Oregon to sing and learn about choral music conducting from Rod preceded this. And along with that, closer to home in Hauula down the road, a writing/performance workshop taught by Mark who was on his way around-the-world for his 70th birthday. I’m so grateful for the remarkable experiences I’ve had this past summer. Traveling!

Which brings me to a call to action for you. Yes, you are encouraged to travel this Saturday to Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden in Kaneohe, Oahu. I am surprised at how many people I know who have not visited there. It is a beautiful cultivated garden at the foot of the Ko‘olau Mountains. You can take in the spectacular scenery, read the plant labels, take your kids to feed the ducks or try their luck at catch-and-release fishing. The entrance is at the end of Luluku Road.

AND, I invite you to attend the opening reception of “Hana Hou: Then & Now,” a new art exhibit of oil paintings at Ho‘omaluhia park by Yours Truly and gourd artist Tamsen Fox. Saturday, November 2, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Visitor Center Lecture Room. The collection features two versions each of eight Hawaiian landscapes, painted once, and then a second time when I revisited years later. The show will be up until Nov. 29 from 9 to 4 daily. On Tuesdays we will be there and you can watch us make art. When you see the landscapes you can imagine yourself traveling even farther to a different time and place. So it will be with the 3D pieces that will reflect both contemporary and ancient cultures.

We’ll take you there. It’s fun.

Hana Hou invitation.inddCopyright 2013 Rebekah Luke

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