Storyknife #3: Sightings

I’m not going to lie. The days here in Alaska during my 30-day writing residency run together. There are days when I sit at my writing desk, glancing up between bouts of laying down paragraphs, barely noting the drying fireweed of fall in the field beyond my window, barely remembering there are volcanoes across the…

Storyknife #2 Halfway There

It’s a rare day when the phone call comes. The phone call. The one that marks a before and after. When the phone rang that day for me, I remember glancing at my phone and seeing a number I didn’t recognize and “Alaska” as the caller’s location. Immediately, names started cycling through my head. Who did I know in…

Storyknife #1: Arriving Alaska

Old guy. Cane. Black fleece vest. Black trucker’s cap. Black slacks. Black leather orthotic sneakers. He veers my way. I think he’s going to ask for help. Directions somewhere. How to get to baggage claim, maybe. His cane click clacks with every step. “I don’t know,” he says when he gets a few feet away…

Tracking Twain into Hawaiian Language Newspaper Archives

One hundred and fifty years ago today, Mark Twain was back on O‘ahu, after five weeks on Maui and three weeks on Hawai‘i Island. When I was on O‘ahu a while back, I met James E. Caron outside Morning Glass Coffee in Manoa Valley. He’s tall—taller than I am—with grey in his beard and bushy…

Holy Mōlī: Albatross and Other Ancestors

In the days before Cook introduced Hawai‘i to the world and an onslaught of foreigners arrived. Back in the days before the old religion was abolished and missionaries arrived on scene. I’ve read that winged creatures represented messengers of the gods, because, unlike mere humans, birds can fly to great lengths and heights. Places far…

On Endurance.

Last week, in California, I sat on a square of concrete atop a hill, the exact spot where Guglielmo Marconi once sent and received radio messages across the Pacific Ocean. I’m talking the same Marconi who was awarded the Nobel Prize for his contribution to the development of wireless telegraphy. Ironically, the wi-fi at the…

In Mark Twain and Life: It’s Who Your Friends Know.

Preparing a Thanksgiving meal on Kaua‘i goes something like this: You spend days selecting the dishes you will make. You compile a long list of necessary ingredients. You hit your favorite grocer and find only half the items on your list. So, you stop at a second and third store and tick off a few…