The definition of hyphenated

The definition of hyphenated according to Merriam-Websterof, relating to, or being an individual or unit of mixed or diverse background or composition.

Since the pandemic, for various reasons, off-island family hadn’t visited until January. My sister-in-law and husband from north of the Arctic Circle arrived a few days after Bea & braddah (mine, not Bea’s) departed. It was quite some effort for the in-laws to come from their home to here, involving five airports and two hotel stays over two days. Norway is 11 hours ahead of us during winter (12 in summer), and when they left they had daylight approximately from 9am-3pm. Days rapidly get longer until the point where they have days with 24 hours of daylight. [Have you seen the psychological thriller movie “Insomnia?” There’s the original 1997 Norwegian film and an American remake in 2002. The Norwegian film ended with a little more ambiguity, which I preferred. ]

Contrast a place with the year ranging from days of all darkness to days of all daylight, to Hawai’i. We don’t observe daylight savings time, and the longest day in June is about 13 hours and shortest day in December is about 11 hours. Weather in those parts might range from 26-61F, and here it ranges 68-87F.

The differences seem great. But their location in Norway and Hawai’i both have dramatic coastal nature and a culture around fishing. There are some beaches in Northern Norway that look amazingly beautiful on a sunny summer day. Beaches with no or few people, sparkly turquoise, clean water, white sand and … very cold water, maybe 59F in the summer. God’s joke on Norway. I laugh because you often can identify the local swimmers here in the winter since they’re the ones wearing wetsuits (the ocean temperature is around 77F in the winter, 80F in the fall).

Anyway, back to here and now … we were fortunate to be able to visit the Doutor property again (see last week’s writeup), thanks to Reiko and her friend. Reiko even presented her friend with her craft creation. That’s when I realized that basket was considerably larger than I had imagined. I thought it was about 10 inches high from the photo in the middle. That’s the problem with photos of a single object with nothing to give it perspective.

Another interesting part of being friends with Reiko, who’s familiar with Japanese, American, and Hawaiian culture, is she’ll occasionally mention things I hadn’t thought of. My understanding of Japanese and Japanese-American culture is rooted in when my great-grandparents immigrated and how their offspring grew up. “Hawaiian” culture (in the general sense, not ethnically-Hawaiian culture) is so heavily influenced by all its immigrants, sometimes I don’t know if a word’s root is based on Japanese, Japanese-Hawaiian, or Hawaiian pidgin. It’s not the same culture or language as Japanese who immigrate now. And many who immigrated three generations ago were farm workers, not, e.g., a Japanese engineer who came here for graduate school and/or high tech work.

For example, take the word kotonk. It’s not Japanese. It seems the word’s origin came from WWII times, when the Hawaiian Japanese Americans (buddhaheads) were distinguishing themselves from mainland Japanese Americans (kotonks). I just found an article “Kotonks & Buddhaheads” that’s very close to my background, except I have a Chinese American layer on my story, too.

US immigration is fascinating. A friend of ours with Norwegian roots grew up celebrating Christmas Eve with lutefisk (lute=lye, fisk=fish, dried cod rehydrated in lye, think Drano) and homemade lefse (soft Norwegian flatbread often made of potatoes, tortilla-ish). Her relatives who immigrated had to make lefse if they wanted that staple from the mother country. Rune grew up buying lefse. I think it’s similar in that most Americans wouldn’t think of making tortillas when good ones can so easily be found at the store. But probably the first Mexican immigrants made them.

I truly digress. This is a coffee farm. We grow and sell coffee. I’m a kotonk, or half kotonk. For me, moving here for this endeavor was always about so much more than “just” coffee. I think that larger story and what immigration means is amplified right now because of these family visits. Hubby is himself an immigrant and recent citizen, since Norway finally allowed dual citizenship. And when Mom visited, old stories came out, especially when we got together with the ‘ohana. Mom’s big brother, Number One Son, UH to me, lived and worked in California all his working life before retiring here. He will have a milestone birthday next year. My cousins shared a funny story about our deceased aunt (not my cousins’ mother), who was the youngest of the six kids, 18 years younger than UH. UH was going to college at UH in O’ahu and he had come home for vacation or something. Our aunty, a youngster at the time, told her mom, “There’s a man at the door.” … “That’s your brother!”

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