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Sunrise from the Los' porch: Oct. 11, 2011
sunrise.jpg
Catherine Lo Photo

Monarch on goldenrod


RETIREMENT 


re-: prefix: again, anew

tire: to make one feel in need of rest

-ment:  state, condition, fact, or degree

retirement:  a state where one 

feels in need of rest again 


What in truth is retirement?  A departure

from a job or a career?  The end of worries?

Freedom from stress?   A time

to unstress?  A stage of life when our sense

of self worth allows us to believe that we 

have finished the course and we are finally

at peace?  Maybe . . .


Retirement has its own rhythm contrary

to plans and schedules and we stress ourselves

anew with other pressing matters and again

set aside lifelong plans      Retirement is like 

an express train that never comes to a stop . . .

  

Restructuring retirement to make the days

follow a productive pattern at a relaxed pace

would be as unpromising as diverting

the rapids of a swollen Waikomo Stream  

in great hurry to meet the sea at Koloa Landing . . .

          ( Copyright:  2001/2002)


Used in Memorable Moments:  A Celebration of the Childhood 

Of Eleanor Ibia Who Is Retiring from Teaching After 37 Years of Service (2002).



LABOR DAY MATIN


The sun greets me with its first burst of light

As I step out to the front porch from the living room.

The September morning breeze

Caresses me in brisk welcome

And I prolong the greeting by walking to the driveway

To pick up the morning paper.


Lo, a congregation greets me!

In the middle of the driveway

A flock of Mountain Doves and Mynahs 

Are gathering spiritedly

And I wonder what phenomenon

Is in progress before my eyes.


What call compels our feathered friends

To gather this Labor Day morning?

Suddenly a Red-Crested Cardinal appears and perches

On the moss rock wall on the right side of the driveway,

Like a preacher mounting his pulpit

On Pentecost Sunday.


The September breeze suddenly turns chilly.

Some knowledge of bird communication

Would help me now to understand

The harsh notes of the Mynahs,

The coos of the Mountain Doves,

The sharp call of the Cardinal.


Is the call for me?


(©2001/2003)


NOVA


For R. D.


In the springtime of his life

He would have made a superb standby

For Clark Gable playing Rhett Butler

In "Gone with the Wind."

His moustache even

Is a masterful copy of Gable's.

Otherwise, he could have been

A terrific teller of tales.


I do not know where he came from

Or what brought him to fair Hawaii.

I only know that he crisscrossed

The continental United States

And that he most certainly wants

To be called "Nova," not "Bob."

(Nova claims that his preferred name

Preceded the popular television program.)


It seems so very fitting somehow --

His nickname, I mean --

Considering how Nova suddenly appears

And then just as suddenly disappears

From the island, but soon appears again:

Like nova -- a variable star

That increases and then decreases

In brightness, but shines brighter again.


I do not know why I let him stay

On a job that requires concentration

And memory that must manage to recall

Details from the day before:

A job that requires at least

Fifty feet of memory --

The distance between the shelflist file and

The card catalog at the Library.


No, I do not know why I let him stay.

Perhaps it is his compunction

And his polite expressions of regret

When he fails to follow instructions

And must re-file those 3x5 index cards.

It seems so right that even Nova, variable

And just passing through, should have

A warm spot under Hawaii's often chilly skies.

(1988)


Published in Pleiades (now Makalii) -- 

The Journal of the University of Hawaii 

Community Colleges -- February 1989


THE GIFTS OF THIRST

A peaceful place at Poipu.
hoona2.jpg
Karl Lo Photo: 2.12.05

For Gayle

As we add years to our lives,
We experience disappointments and heartaches.
We learn that people we trust
Let us down.  But we are mindful
They are human like us, and we forgive them.

Loving too much, we experience heartaches,
And our hearts may be broken more than once.
Each heartbreak maybe more poignant than the last,
But each experience makes us wiser,
And we grow in knowledge and understanding.
 
From childhood to adulthood,
We quarrel with our best friends.
But we resolve our differences and move on.
We learn that disagreements are part of growing up,
And we acknowledge our share of the blame.
 
As we grow older, time seems to gallop beyond our control.
We come face to face with our own mortality
When we lose someone we know, 
When we lose someone we love,
And we rethink myriad matters of life.
 
Our thirst for life leads to a fuller life,
A life of contentment and thanksgiving for whatever life brings,
Never fretting,
Always ready to welcome each day with joy,
And never anxious about tomorrow.
(5.13/5.20.08)

Comments

That was great, Catherine!  JUST what I needed to read right now/today!  :-)  Mahalo, Gayle. (May 14, 2008)
Re:  I believe these things make sense.  
Thank you for sharing the piece, Suzanne.  As I read it, I was reminded of a poem I wrote recently.  Here it is. -- Catherine (June 12, 2008)
 

Dear Catherine, this is beautiful; you should publish it for all to enjoy! 
-- Suzanne (June 13, 2008)

Dear Ann:
The thoughts and sentiments that you articulate in the second paragraph of your e-mail resonate with me, so much so that they remind me of a recent poem that reflect those thoughts and sentiments.   In my usual circuitous way ... unlike your direct, clearer approach ... I jotted my thoughts in THE GIFTS OF THIRST, which I am sharing with you.  Thank your for reading it!  You may critique it!  I am always  open to constructive criticism!  That's how we learn even at our age!
Catherine  (June 30, 2008)
 
Catherine, such a lovely and meaningful poem; I loved it beginning to end.  It reflects life so well, and you worded it in such a way that touched my heart.   How can perfection be corrected!  Thanks for sharing.  
ann (July 1, 2008)

 




What Happened To Common Sense?


April 27, 2008


Dear Ann:


Indeed, the death of Common Sense is a sad commentary on our society.  For example, the overflowing prisons from coast to coast reflect the death of Common Sense.  Instead of dealing with the causes of the ails of society, and finding solutions, those in power elect to build more and bigger prisons to accommodate those who break the laws.  Isn't that sad? There will never be enough prisons to house the lawbreakers!  And those in power don't have the common sense to do something constructive about the problem besides constructing buildings!  They have to break the cycles of lawlessness by going back to basics, returning the Ten Commandments to homes and schools and impressing on children that the Ten Commandments all require TRUE answers, and that they don't constitute a multiple-choice test! 


When I read the paragraph that includes the quoted line below, I was reminded of a poem I wrote on a related subject a few years ago.  I found the two pages immediately in one of my notebooks.  The title took me by surprise, the more reason I want to share it with you.  I wrote the lines on March 28, 2002, at 11:40 AM.  I'm sure there was something in the morning news that day or the day before that triggered the thought and compelled me to write that morning.  

Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; ... 


WHERE HAS COMMON SENSE GONE?


Pity the little boys and girls

who are just getting used to their educational environment,

who are just beginning to explore a bigger world,

who are just beginning to get acquainted with life. 


Holding hands with their best school friends

of the same sex

they are labeled GAY or LESBIAN!

Their innocence banished forever!


Where has common sense gone?

Alas, for little boys!

Alas, for little girls!

They don't even know their gender,

Let alone sex and sexuality!


Where has common sense gone?

Bring back the old days!

Give back to children their childhood!

Yes, parental guidance and discipline matter, 

But give back to children their childhood!

(March 28, 2002)


Peace and hope,

Catherine

Poipu: View of the ocean from poet's backyard.
sea07.jpg
Photo by Karl Lo | March 14, 2007


SILVER YEARS



I have sunny days, and rainy days,

And I am content whatever the weather!


The trade winds keep me cool and comfortable,

And those unwanted Kona winds,

the warm winds laced with volcanic fume, 

that make Kaua`i's South Shore uncomfortable,

the kind of winds that cause labored breathing and asthma attacks,

can be pesky and annoying,

but the trade winds return soon enough.


Arthritis and osteoporosis define the silver years.

And pain takes up residence in unexpected places!

Wrinkles and silver hair are identification tags,

along with thickening waistline and baggy eyes.

But the silver years bring freedom in abundant bunches.


Silver years make my mother a twin sister!

Hows that, you ask!  Go figure!

But where I am in life, I am comfortable and at peace with myself.

Oh, I wish my belly would be flatter so I can wear old favorite dresses

and pants that no longer fit and have to be given away to a thrift shop.

But where I am in life, I am more understanding of myself and of others,

I am kinder to myself and gentler with others,

And that is very good, indeed!


The silver years are years of freedom:

I am free to do as I wish.

I can sit at the computer for hours as I am doing now

without interruption or guilt:

Retired, there is nothing urgent that I need to attend to.


The silver years bring better understanding of life,

deeper appreciation of family and friends,

wider range of interests brought by years of experience,

greater control of daily life

as long as one is healthy and able.


Silver years are years of privilege,

and if one has lived well

and has earned the respect of others,

life is a joy and peace prevails.

(Jan./Mar. 2008)



BONSAI MATTERS

Sam Lee's Bonsai | Spring 2007
bonsai1.jpg
Photo: Sam Lee | Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii



There's something compelling about bonsai:
as compelling as clearing
the living room of a couch
in conflict with the carpet.

As compelling as clearing the lawn
of dried mango leaves and twigs
that litter the yard after Kona wind.

Bonsai is a thing of beauty:
a cascading joy:
a windswept loveliness:
an upright splendor:
a clustered charm ...

Bonsai requires pruning:
pruning branches to achieve design:
pruning roots to encourage new roots:
continually pruning to enhance loveliness ...
repotting ... repotting to refresh the soil ...
tying and wiring branches to create beauty ...
wiring and twisting trunks to improve design ...
styling to enhance beauty ...
shaping ... continually shaping ...
shaping to design a joy forever ...

Yes, there's something compelling about bonsai ...
(1996/2001/2003)

Poet's Note: A bonsai garden is a microcosm of the world we live in. Also, the creation of a bonsai is not unlike the creation of a poem.


THOUGHTS SHAPED BY A BONSAI TREE

To Kathy

Sam Lee's Bonsai | Spring 2007
bonsai2.jpg
Photo: Sam Lee | Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii

I pray that I may grow to be
As patient as a bonsai tree:
A tree whose natural beauty is trimmed,
Its growth controlled, constrained;
A tree that calmly tolerates
The redesigning of its shape.

Ah, proper pruning does reveal
Hidden features of loveliness,
Careful shaping does improve
Form and style and grace.

I pray that I may grow to be
As patient as a bonsai tree.
(1986)

Originally printed on the cover of the bulletin
for the retirement party for Kathy Peters, Kauai
Community College head librarian, in December
1986. Subsequently published in the May 6, 1988,
issue of "Ka Leo O KCC" and in the April 1999
"Borders News & Events."

Karl's Lipstick Plant
lipstick.jpg
Photo: Karl Lo | Nov. 2007

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Date: November 12, 2006 11:54:09 AM HST

Subject: Let's Increase Gifts to Charity Instead




Dear Everyone:

As the Christmas Season approaches, I'm sure we are all beginning to feel the stressful wind beginning to blow.  At the same time, we hear about the homeless, the hungry, and people we know who are hurting and in need of help.  Instead of exchanging gifts this Christmas and in future years, let us increase our gifts to charity instead and give to those who are less fortunate than we are.   And not having to rush around shopping, baking, wrapping, mailing and delivering Christmas gifts would free us from the stress that assail us this time of the year.  It's a win-win agenda.  I'm sure you agree.

Christmas is a joyous time of the year, and we should continue to share the message of the season of love,  peace, hope, and joy.  And we can do that by exchanging Christmas cards, which is traditional with most of us.   With the technology that we are blessed to use, e-cards are fun, fast, and frugal!  Also, we can make our own greeting cards and keep our creative juices flowing.  And Christmas letters and telephone calls keep friends, relatives, and families connected.  But foremost,  by increasing our gifts to charity instead of exchanging gifts, we share and spread love, peace, hope, and joy even more.   Aloha pumehana.

Love, peace, and blessings,
Catherine

CATHERINE LO
P. O. Box 887
Koloa, HI  96756
Tel. (808) 742-72138
Web Sites:


PLUCK

The night is dark
and December's prevailing wind
is fanning  
the wintering of my heart and mind.

My harp harkens the dawn of a new day.
The sound touches
the melancholy chords in my heart
that vibrate with the black movements of night.

I'll play on
until a new day comes.

I'll pluck on
until the last string breaks.

(Feb. 29, 1969)

Note: No, the author does not play the harp. This poem is a memorial of sorts to the harp that her parents had in their restaurant, The Plaza Lunch, which was a thriving business in Laoag, Ilocos Norte, until it became a casualty of World War II. The author remembers seeing a picture of the harp, and the image has stayed in the recesses of her mind. This piece is an acknowledgment of the harp's existence in the life of her family.




ANDROCLES REDEEMS A GOLD STAMP

To remain a slave:
or be devoured by a lion:
Androcles is not
blessed with choices.

But graced with a good heart,
Androcles does not hesitate to remove
a thorn from the paw of a lion.

The Romans throw Androcles
into the arena of the Colosseum
to be devoured by a lion
for the sport of it.

Undoubtedly, our four-legged friends
are gifted with memory.
Elephants have good memory, for example.
And remembering the kindness,
the lion chooses not to touch Androcles.
(1979)

 


I WRITE BOLDLY UPON THE PAGE

Filling my pen with the ink of imagination and reality
I write boldly upon the page whatever flows from my pen.

I write about joys and blessings:
About walking on the white sand behind our house.
I write about miracles big and small:
About waking up in the morning
after a restful night ... without pain in my joints.

I write about challenges lost and won:
About nursing back to health
neglected bromiliads in the backyard.

I write about the beauty that surrounds me:
About Mount Ha`upu in the eastern distance ...
About the Pacific Ocean splashing on the rocks,
washing Prince Kuhio Beach
in full view from our backyard.

I write about lessons learned and remembered:
About saying I'M SORRY and THANK YOU.

I write about events that have touched my life:
About family and friends who have surrounded me with love:
Six generations of family ...
friends from grade school ... high school ... college ...
neighbors past and present ...
visitors to Kaua`i who pass our home at Po`ipu
and who stop to visit as I weed the front yard.

I write about positive influences in my life:
About grandparents who taught by example
with their hard work and honest labor.

Mom taught my sisters and me
trustworthiness and honesty without saying a word.
I remember as a child the coins
on a shelf in the living room,
which my sisters and I never touched,
except for that one instance when a younger sister gave to temptation.
I believe Mom and the rest of the family
would not have known,
but little sister confessed with
MOMMY, I DID NOT TAKE THE NICKEL!

I remember Grandpa Victoriano reading the Bible
and attending church services regularly.
He told "Aesop Fables" to his grandchildren
and impressed upon us the lifetime lesson taught by
THE HARE AND THE TORTOISE:
YOU SNOOZE, YOU LOSE!

And how can I forget that as an eight-year-old,
I was awake the night Dad left our hometown
to take the boat to a faraway land called HAWAII!
Daddy give me five ten-centavo coins ...
one each for my four sisters and me.
They were all fast asleep, but I was most certainly awake
the night Daddy left our home in the Philippines
in search of a better life for his family.
In the morning, my sisters and I
dropped our coins in our piggy banks.

I write about negative events that stop progress ...
about leaders who take us to right paths ...
about drummers who take us elsewhere ....

Filling my pen with the ink of imagination and reality
I write boldly upon the page whatever flows from my pen ...
And I always give thanks ...
(9/24/04, 9/7/06, 11/17/07)


WHERE IS THE SUN?

For Ann

Where is the sun? you ask.
Yes, where is the sun?

I'm told it went to the other side of the moon
on a long, extended vacation!

It will be back ... sometime ...
But it may take a while for it to return,
For who really knows where the sun has gone?

He may be sleeping west of the sunset!
He may be resting east of the sunrise!
He may have gone exploring south of Antarctica
Or experiencing the weather north of the Arctic.

Like a friend who left on a long cruise
Whose sunny disposition we greatly miss
The sun is a forever friend
And it will be back!
(3/6/2002)

A CALICO CAT CALCULATES A CATCH


Little Sparrow, Little Sparrow,

He is watching behind the bushes!


Little Sparrow, Little Sparrow,

His plan is to feast before his noon nap!


Little Sparrow, Little Sparrow,

His calculating eyes are set on you!


Little Sparrow, Little Sparrow, 

Wing away to safety!


Copyright 1983


IF
(OR, HOW TO BE A WINNER)

Inspired by Rudyard Kipling's "IF"

If you can accept the gift of life
With joy and thanksgiving,
If you can look up to God
And thank Him for His blessings:
You are a winner, my friend.

If you do not ask for much
And can be content with little,
If you can win with humility
And accept your loss with grace:
You are a winner, my friend.

If you can share your blessings
With others less fortunate,
If you can give without expecting
A return for your kindness:
You are a winner, my friend.

If you can wish your enemies
Good fortune and success,
If you can find delight
In the well-being of others:
You are a winner, my friend.

If you can look upon each success
As a blessing from heaven,
If you can trust God
In both good times and bad:
You are a winner, my friend.

If you can ask God for wisdom
And work at finding it,
If you have love and peace
And share the gifts of the spirit with others:
You are a winner, my friend.
(1984)


MILLENNIUM MIRACLES

For Jackie and John

I wonder which ones of you, chosen by Fate
Will live to enjoy or regret that far date. ...
JANUARY 1, 2000
What will you think of these years we have finished
When time and new living have shrunk and
The dates and the names which, because of their nearness,
Are vastly inflated with terror or dearness?
A millennium's start ... as you stand on the brink of it.
You may hear my ghost saying, "What do you think of it?"

From "High School Class, 1946"
In Don Blanding's TODAY IS HERE (1946)

Vintage Personal Computer
Vintage personal computer
Borrowed With Permission

I.
It is a millennium of miracles: A century
Of magical, marvelous, and remarkable events.
The automobile propelled itself onto the scene,
Moving us onward to worlds unknown;
And the flying machine we call AIRPLANE
Gives us wings to wander to distant shores.
The cooling curiosity -- air conditioning --
Made its presence felt in 1911,
And the phenomenal push button elevator
Pressed on to shine and glow 11 years later.

Illustration - On the phone

But that telephone call made in January
1915 by Alexander Graham Bell
Is the millennium marvel closest to my heart.

Radio, which today we take for granted,
Painstakingly evolved in two decades.
Launderettes appeared on the landscape in 1934,
And the ballpoint pen pressed its mark in 1938.

The millennium brought technological blessings:
That talking and compelling box we call TELEVISION,
And that wonder of wonders we call COMPUTER,
Take us to amazing worlds otherwise unexplored.

Television Circa 1950
Television Circa 1950
Borrowed With Permission




And frozen foods, which pre-date many of us,
Bring warmth to many a wintering heart.
Plastic cards create instant money,
And cassettes and CDs bring to the world
The magic of music, visuals, and the spoken word.

Penicillin presented itself as a physician's panacea.
And Salk and Sabin blessed the world
With polio vaccines in1955.

And history will point to the pride
Of four decades of shuttle missions and
Space flights. On July 20, 1969,
The world witnessed that magical moon landing
With Apollo 11's Neil Armstrong
Making ONE SMALL STEP FOR MAN,
ONE GIANT LEAP FOR MANKIND.

Palm Trees
Palm Trees
Borrowed With Permission

II.
Each day brings fresh miracles:
The dawn of a new day and the light of morning,
The cloudless blue sky and the azure sea,
The faithful mountains that watch over Kauai,
The patient sun after a heavy storm,
The joyful noise of children at play,
The singing that thankful voices share,
The sound of rain on a still night,
The determined rain after a dry spell,
The glorious rainbow that frames the window,
The sunset and the evening star,
The perfume of plumeria and gardenia
The warmth of a hearty handshake,
The love that prompts the heart into a hug,
The welcome from chanced friends
At the supermarket or at the post office,
The magic of an evening of celebration
At the home of hospitable friends where
Talent and creativity feed the mind, heart, and body
And simple act of sharing
Engenders the miracle of multiplication,
The miracles of hearing and touch,
Of taste, smell, and sight. The miracle
Of the presence and the providence of God
Which empower us to welcome and to embrace
A new millennium with its joys and challenges
Ever mindful of our blessings and thankful
For the abundance that crowns our lives.
(1999)

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