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A Pot of Rice
I was born and raised in Manhattan/Hermosa Beach California, a block from beach and I was raised Hawaiian - Japanese - Portuguese style by my Family who was from Hawaii fully and in part. I went to Outrigger Canoe Practices and Races every week - month (my Father was the Head Coach for the Outrigger Canoe Association with Uncle Sandy, see them in the photos to the left), and our Family went to authentic Luaus all the years of my childhood (I loved it!). I can still remember watching the canoes glide on the ocean while hearing paddlers say in unison, "Hut Hoo, Hut Hoo" and I learned all about canoes and wanted to know how they were made and everything. I grew up in a home atmosphere with furnishing/decor that was like we were living in Hawaii. My Mother decorated our home and focused on buying plants; we had beautiful ferns and other plants, and she bought nice handmade pottery to put them in. I went with my Mother to the Nursery's regularly and she taught me about the plants, then to a big Pottery Yard with her and I learned about Pottery. My Mother's Hawaiian Grandmother's Painted Portrait (her Father's Mother; a mixture of a Hawaiian/Chinese (in part or fully) when she was a Girl) was our only wall hanging in the living room/dining room, and her name was Amy Flora Holmes (I was named after this Grandmother), she looked so much like my Mother (it was uncanny). Amy Flora Holmes was born and raised in Hawaii by her Islander parents (Ivy and Walter) and Amy's Father and Uncle owned or managed/ran Hawaiian General Stores, on a couple of Islands, ( I saw old Ads in Hawaiian Newspapers that wrote like Walter Holmes and his Brother owned the General Stores). Grandma Amy Flora's Mother, Ivy Wilfong (which was her name before she was married), was born and raised in Puna, Hawaii by the Lighthouse. Hawaiians wrote and sang songs about Ivy Wilfong's Father, George Wilfong and they read to the fact that he lived by the Lighthouse in Puna (they are beautiful songs and they go on that in Puna by the Lighthouse is where the SUN was BORN; and this all is part of Historical Records within Hawaiian History). George Wilfong was also friends and worked for/with the Hawaiian Kings, when Hawaii was the KINGDOM OF HAWAII still. He is part of a Museum in Maui, Hawaii, they will tell you about him, for he invented a way for the KINGDOM OF HAWAII to Grow Crops in an efficient way. And he helped build and manage the 1st Sugar Cane Plantation on Maui with King Kamehameha III... George Wilfong also managed another Sugar Cane Plantation in Puna, Hilo, Hawaii. He was named a Postmaster and also helped make a stamp for the mail service when it started, with a King of Hawaii on the Stamp and he donated his home to become a Goodwill on Hilo, Hawaii for he loved HAWAIIANS and the Islands of HAWAII. A.K.A Geo. W Wilfong was also called Captain Wilfong because he and the Kings of Hawaii were into Whaler Ships and were part of a Whaler Club.
I will always remember making Leis from the Plumeria Trees outside of our Grandma Margaret's home in Hawaii (she is to the left with my Father) for the Canoe Paddlers to wear when the Canoe Race was over (we made them ahead of time, I wanted to wear one so bad..), then to the Luaus they wore them. Making the Leis and their scent made me want to work making Leis for a Lei company all of my life.
I have a lot of Hawaiian Relatives; I have a Brother named Keawe (after the Keawe Trees in Hawaii, Keawe reminds me of IZ, Israel Kamakawiwoʻole). A Sister named Natalie (and my Daughter Joy (Joy is my Mother's middle name) and she is a lot like my Sister and Mother mixed, I realized this as I raised her, which made me miss my Sister and Mother because they were on the Island and we were on the Mainland. I would go to my yard to sit in the sun sometimes and because my yard was filled with flowers like I was in Hawaii, and this reminded me of them also, I would say to myself; "I love my Sister and Mother so much I wish I was in Hawaii with them", but I was HAPPY (Proud) of my Mother for permanently moving to live on the Island with my Sister, who is her youngest child and that they were together anyways). Cousins; Bret, Boyd, Blaine, Anyneenee (who were awesome boys to know growing up, and now men). Pua (who is Aunt JoAnn's Daughter, who is Grandma Margaret's Daughter), and Monica, Melissa (who are my Father's Brother Uncle Mel's Daughters; I idolized Monica and Melissa as a child; my parents would tell me when they were coming to visit ahead of time and as I happily awaited their arrival I would wonder if I should start writing them letters also because I lived to visit/see these cousins, who are Hawaiian, Japanese mixed with 1/4 Apache Indian from New Mexico), etc... Hawaiians like names; they have names like Boogie, Lucky, Nani, Maleha, Rabbit (who I knew growing up) and more. Rabbit was a Beach Boy at Waikiki Beach we would visit him at the beach yearly and he would take me surfing.
Don Ho was my favorite musician/ singer as a child and now IZ is also, (Israel Kamakawiwoʻole; when he talks in-between his songs, I cry for my brother Keawe and think how much I love him). To this day I like Hawaiian Music and Japanese/ Native American/ Indian Flute Music the most!!! I think this is why I have never been a concert goer or listened to other music on my own or danced any way outside of Hawaiian Hula Dancing. I never went to clubs growing up or as an adult or anything like that to dance, drink or socialize. And Hula Dancing I have always loved so much, and I looked forward to watching Hula Shows at the Luaus, then on to hopefully practicing Hula in a group if I have the time. And when I sit my long hair is to my knees to dance the Hula one day, I grew it for that VERY REASON, (but I took my daughter to Hula Classes and sewed her an authentic white Hawaiian Hula Skirt for the classes but it was for children, and Hawaiians taught it though).
When I was in Grade to High School, I wore my MuuMuu's to school when I was allowed to that my Mother and I bought at Sears in Oahu. I love MuuMuus (to wear always) and could sew for a MuuMuu Factory as a job.
In High School, I took Sewing Classes, then was privately taught how to Sew by a Seamstress (who was our neighbor that married one of my Uncles later in life), then went on to teaching myself How-To Sew. Part of learning to sew in class (in High School) was to be part of a Fashion Show, To Show and Tell about the dress or clothes that we sewed, then wore for the show. I practiced sewing after school sometimes and this was when I sewed my first quilt for a friend and practiced sewing cute dresses I would wear to the beach (just like Hula Dancers can wear). Plus, as a teenager I was hired to sew on site and on consignment for a Sports Company to make Male Trunks/Shorts and Sweatpants that they would sell in their store (this was when I first used a Commercial Serger Sewing Machine). No one else really sewed but me in our family (except my relatives in Hawaii; they sewed Hawaiian Quilts). And then later in life, I taught my daughter to sew; she sewed her Prom Clothes and then she purchased a Brand-New Sewing Machine for her great friend as a Christmas Gift, when she got her first job, so they could sew together (I am proud of her).
When I was pregnant with my Daughter, I sewed Her Entire Layette and sewed every day for the whole 9 months (and did not paint even), plus sewed when she slept after she was born. Some of the things I sewed included; Burp Rags (in Chenille), Receiving Blankets (in a few fabrics), her Bumper Pads (with a mixture of fabrics and Chenille), the Crib's Dust Ruffle, her Patchwork Quilt (I bought color coordinating themed fabrics that were a pinstriped fabric, to ladybug mixed with a flower print, plus a fabric that was more solid with a hint of a print on it) and I sewed her Infant/Baby Clothes. I even sewed matching Clothes we could wear together (cute baby Pants and a Skirt for myself in the same fabric). And I sewed now sometimes from my own patterns that I cut and created from the cut of clothes I liked, and everything was sewn on two machines, one was a Serger Machine, which again is a professional stitch and a regular machine; everything turned out to be better than money can buy! Then, I painted a mural above her crib after she was born to match the Color Brand/Scheme I was creating for the Nursery's Decor. I also sewed Quilts for my three Sons, and hand-painted my Son's Onesie T-Shirts with cute cartoon characters when they were toddlers.
I did not sew as much when my Three Sons were born and were toddlers, because I was busy learning to bake bread with real yeast (a neighbor was teaching me this (and I baked it every few days), she had me buy yeast from Becker's Bakery in Manhattan Beach, CA that you cannot buy at a store, that is a cake yeast). And I was learning (over my whole life since my Sons and Daughter were born) to cook recipes from books that had Cuisines from the Mainland Cultures to Mexico. I was learning to cook these other meals for the very first time (I was really into it and thought I was a good cook by the time my Third Son was born); I even put a cookie recipe I started to make a lot and add to, into a Baking Contest (my Third Son still makes these cookies himself to this day). Because when I was growing up; I grew up on All Hawaiian - Japanese - Chinese - Portuguese food/recipes! My Mother only cooked Hawaiian Food which made up our only diet (which were mainly our Grandma Margaret's Recipes from Hawaii, which was her Mother-In-Law). We ate Portuguese Sausage, Sweet Bread, Curry Stew, Shrimp Curry, Hawaiian Hamburger, Homemade Hawaiian Punch, Macaroni Salad, Chinese Pot Roast, Banana Pudding, Hawaiian Banana Bread, Lobster, etc, (caught by my Father and Uncles, my Father was a Deep Sea Diver and Fisherman also, we watched a lot of Jacque Cousteau growing up and we snorkeled in Hawaii). We went to stores in Gardena, CA sometimes where we could buy products to make Chicken Long Rice and more. And my Mother did teach me how to cook the Hawaiian Recipes so I could make them for the Whole Family and make them with her. For a Luau once, my Mother and I made Homemade Wontons for hours, we would stand in the kitchen cooking all day sometimes (I grew up talking a lot to my Mother and would ask her, "What recipes she made when she was young or when she was first married?" And she would reply, "I could not boil water when I got married Amy!"). My Parents even barbequed our Turkeys (Smoking them) like the food can taste when Hawaiians cook with Lava Rocks/Coals in the ground. But I will confess that we actually had a Luau at our Hermosa Beach home on the Mainland once (we would normally just have/attend our Luaus on the Mainland at a special place that the Outrigger Canoe Association rented to have them at), and my Hawaiian Uncles helped my Parents cook the Pig and other items in Taro Leaves in the ground with rocks/hot coals, in a yard on our block (all of our neighbors were invited). I remember my Hawaiian Uncle Gilly (who is next to my Father to the left) and I were talking at our neighborhood Luau and Uncle Gilly talked me into trying raw fish, Ahi (maybe) with the sauce from a large selection of raw cut fish for the first time. And my Parents had me make a Pot of Rice EVERYDAY (without missing a day, from age 7 to 18 years old, 365 days a year) (after School when it was in), for my Family to go with Every Dinner, as my goldfish swam in its bowl by our kitchen sink.
When I moved out on my own and got my first job, went to art school, etc.; I moved in with my Hawaiian Uncle Gilly (who was my Godfather also, my parents were not religious but a close friend from the Mainland talked them into letting me be baptized at a church by a Reverend Parker, and so that I had Godparents), so I lived in one of the rooms in his home. Uncle Gilly remarried after I lived with him, to Nancy Rodenhurst (I remember the day they met at Uncle Al Ching's home). Nancy sent me Uncle Gilly's photo in the mail. I love Uncle Gilly and Uncle Ronnie also another Hawaiian Uncle; I used to Run up to 5-10 miles with Uncle Ronnie when I was a teenager weekly sometimes (I used to run 10K's almost every weekend, in different cities for a year as a teenager also with friends), and now my Mother tells me that Uncle Ronnie walks like me; we are walkers to be physically fit. Uncle Ronnie also married Heidi Fernandez after I was a teenager, who before that was our family friend and still is.
Back to sewing; People that I have worked for, have also paid me to Sew Prototypes of their products and dolls (see my home portfolio page under PRODUCT ART), some of the prototypes were characters that I created for them, so they could manufacture their characters/product. I did not just sew the characters but also embroidered or added on their eyes, nose, etc., in different ways, adding notions, including yarn hair at times and accessories/clothing that I sewed also (I have made more prototypes than you see on my portfolio). I also have made dolls with hard heads where I hand painted their faces; I bought clay and shaped the dolls face and head then used a mixture of special materials to form a mold over the dolls clay face/head. When the mold was dry, I cut the head in half off of the clay and formed it back together with more products to reshape the head while adding a cardboard tube (neck), to add the clothes or stuffed body onto the head's neck after everything was painted and dry. Again, I sewed all of the doll's clothes and bought craft hats, etc. for the doll when needed. My painted doll faces were realistic to the characters being created and I have to brag that I made very great dolls; I made a hard face/head Mrs. Doubtfire Doll (that had hair and glasses like in the movie with wrinkles, etc.,) a Peter Pan Doll (with his entire attire) and then a Dog (Davey and Goliath) Doll. They were so real and nice that someone stole theses dolls from where I took them to show and tell, at a job that I had in college (I kept them in a hat box), and I did get other prototype jobs from people viewing these dolls. As a teenager I was taught to Knit by my Godmother (she knitted a lot of slippers and blankets) and then spent time Knitting off and on; I will always Knit. I also took my daughter to Private Knitting Classes when she was 5-7 years old and she liked it, and my daughter and I would Knit together (some Montessori Schools think that Knitting develops part of your brain when you are young in a great way).
Polynesian Cultures love the Ocean and some of them hold their breath 10+ minutes and they are Loving People. I write this because the Polynesian People made me who I am today; Working away at Art, and to Work with You! They shaped me, and my life growing up in the Hawaiian Lifestyle, which is different from the people living on the Mainland. But since I went to Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, CA. then on to being an Honor's Student with other Honor's Asian Students (I mention Asian Students because they were always the only other Honors Class Students with me where I went to school at Los Angeles Harbor College), so I think I am Up-To-Snuff with the TIMES! And I also realized that my Family was a Good Family while I was in college (which I thought already), but not like what was happening to me as a student in College. Now to back track, in Grade School I was put part of my class day with other students who were in the Mentally Gifted Minds Program to do harder schoolwork that was created for Mentally Gifted Minds Students (and I was one of them). Then in High School I was placed in the highest-level English Classes, got straight A's my Senior Year in every class and applied for Awards for my work through Mrs. Fields, my Counselor. Plus, Mr. Burd, was one of Mira Costa's Algebra teachers (and mine my sophomore year), he had me teach Algebra from the very beginning of my learning it to the class (I knew nothing about Algebra and never took it before), but was Gifted in Algebra (for some unknown reason?) and knew the answers to the Algebra Problems without doing the Equations (I did not even know why, and it did shock me all my life if I would think about it and relive it). So, Mr. Burd made me get up on the chalkboard to see me do the whole equation (long equation, from start to finish to make sure I was not cheating) (I think) and I was not, and again no one taught me this, it was a gift within mathematics. And then Mr. Burd ended up having me Grade the other students work. And in his class, I also learned that I had a higher level of Focus than what I could ever fathom, before I was this Sophomore in High School (and I was in the eye of the tornado and always, my entire life from then on, that is the only way to describe it). I could be an Algebra/Mathematical Professor/Teacher and have considered it. I was also Invited into UCLA'S Honor's Program after attending and being in L. A. Harbor College's Honor's Program. I was a little worried as an Honor's Student and I did ACE all of my work and (was qualifying to continue on being an Honor's Student). But While Walking From Class to Class and taking the17 Units a Semester, I would think to myself and was leery that I would be studied and tested somewhere one day (I did think Area52 at some point maybe, everyone must wonder if that is REAL? lol) because of my Mental Gifts that I did not know I had to this extent (And Harbor College did asked me to take tests and I agreed to do so, they had me take 25 to 35 tests in their Career Center to test my Intelligence, and my results came back that I had a 1% of Our Countries IQ and in Art, English and Behavioral Sciences (but I wondered about my Math skills and maybe they are part of Art and I did not know what to think? But this is what I was told at a meeting to tell me my test results.) And the college wanted me to become an English Professor, but I was not sure about that. Then they wanted me to become a Psychologist and I said to them, "I do not want to be a Therapist or Psychologist") .
Back to the level of Focus that I learned I had in my high school Alegbra class for this is what enticed me to READ and READ and READ and READ most of my life because I could read 1 book a week and more, that were long chapter books. And I did not want to do anything else but learn, (it felt like due to my interests in so many subjects).
Growing up I would also visit my Godmother regularly (she owned her home in Hermosa Beach) and she was an avid reader; she would let me know what books to read that she liked from her home library. I read many of her books that were very old-fashioned books, and I read, I Am Ok, You 're Ok from her bookshelf and I can still recall parts of that book to this day. She had me reading Dr. Spock when my children were babies, and The Power of Positive Thinking, to Billly Graham Books and a Past Life book, books of Poems, Phyllis Diller Books and Games People Play, Influential Books by Sigmund Freud, The Dance of Anger, Aesop's Fables and More. I also read a lot of books when I was a small child outloud to my Godmother or my Mother's Grandmother to the point that I can now recite entire Children's books without reading them since I was a child and that includes every Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme, I remember the words to this day (and I can remember every price on everything sold in every store I buy groceries at accidentally, that is another way to describe being gifted. And if I shop at a store that changes their prices a lot, I cannot believe it, "WHY" I think, and it is bizarre, and I try not to shop there. I can compare every item at Whole Foods to Trader Joes to Ralphs and Vons and then think where to shop for that day depending on what I need just from memory and compare prices from state to state in stores and California has great prices that are over-all better than any state which people cannot imagine maybe).
Due to my Godmother I also completely quit watching TV (Television or any shows online streaming, etc), 30+ years ago, and since I was very young, she always taught us (me) that a Television was really called The Idiot Box. And she said this ALWAYS ("Turn that Idiot Box Off"). (And I called my Godmother Grandma which she did not like at a certain point and I did argue with her in a talking diplomatic way and say I AM ONLY CALLING YOU GRANDMA!) And I wondered about her Grandchildren and if I spent too much time visiting her verses them? I did not feel bad because my Godmother was Grandma and not Mimi, I would say, "I do not like the name Mimi! So we had a very honest relationship.) I only watch movies for a special occasion - treat. But, I also stopped watching TV Shows when I was a teenager so that I could read that book or two, a week (which was additional reading added to my school studies that I checked out from the Library and I had another relative that did NOT LIKE the fact I QUIT WATCHING Television to the 9th degree and I DID NOT breath a word, (my mother would say it this way) to the other relative ( who was livid about ME not watching TV) about the IDIOT BOX and my GODMOTHER'S WAYS). And as a teenager, I would read novels (all kinds of stories and not just my GODMOTHER'S BOOKS, that were Fiction and Non-Fiction, ROMANCE NOVELS), health books (about vitamins, Fasting, Paul Bragg Books), Poetry books, and the book were stacked up from my floor halfway up over my bed, plus Magazines (Prevention, Time, etc). And I would read all day on the weekend (sometimes), after school, when I would go places with my friends, at sports games in the bleachers, on vacations (my parents took me on after I was 16 yrs old), and I would carry my book(s) I was reading EVERYWHERE and read at school in-between classes or at lunch break (I made the High School Yearbook in a photo reading with my MuuMuu on). Then as a young Mother I bought 7 books weekly (sometimes) at Used and New Bookstores (all different Topics), and I read all day when my 1st son Clark was napping; I always had a stack of books by me. So, I did not watch TV very often my whole life (or at all from 16 yrs old on as I think about it) and was selective to when I watched it; eliminating TV has been a lifelong habit that I liked to do.
One day I may write my own Children's Picture Book about Making Rice Every Day as a child and how my goldfish interplayed with my rice making, along with my Family's upbringing they gave me. Maybe I will write a Series of Books and add stories about my Hawaiian Uncles and Aunts, my Godparents, etc. I have always wanted to write a Chinese Children's Book like Tikki Tikki Tembo or Children's Bible Storybooks. And maybe I can make children smarter like my Family made me and inspire the readers to become Honor's Students, because my Daughter was an Honor's Student also and I helped teach her, her studies, in a special way (that I thought up). Plus, I also taught my middle Son a lot of his school studies, and he read Books and Novels; reading a novel a week. I would get up at 5AM to drive him and I (and his siblings), to a bookstore for a new release that we could buy at an early-bird hour (so he could get and read the book right away), and he aced his exams, etc. I took my 3 sons and daughter to the Library, 3 days a week (as they grew up) and would read them 5 books a day sometimes and order books from other Libraries and read every book from an author that they wrote that I liked, to my children. I ended up putting SOME of my own reading aside to constantly read to my children and I read Children's Novels to them (a few pages a day at a certain hour) that we would discuss later (on a walk). I adored reading to my children and discussing the book, plot, storylines, and what they thought may happen next. This experience made me sensitive and understanding to authors while working for them.
Over the past twenty ++ years, I studied and read all kinds of serious and scary books that I will not comment about (I guess this area of interest I started to read as a 19-year-old sometimes), and the books I read were recommended by the Roman Catholic Church (mainly). (I am not Catholic though and I have never been to a Catholic Church, but I like the Catholic Church and respect and fully support the way Priests and Nuns live and reading their books about people they recommend). I have also read 500-page books on some of the Churches Topics of my interest; written from a variety of authors and some of them were married authors. None of the books I read was about propaganda. And I just read this NON-Fiction for years on end, and I read the Whole Bible almost. And bought the Bible on Tape and listened to the tapes for years (which is tough to understand when one is young in age). After reading the Bible for 20 years or more I started to understand it to the point that I said to myself, "The Bible is the best book ever written!" But I interpreted the bible my own way and not through a pastor at all or anyone. And I thought I can read and know this bible sitting on a rock in the wilderness for sure. And I wondered if I should go to Bible College and learn the Bible like someone who is a Pastor. But I was never going to be a Pastor so I thought "Well, I am that interested in the Bible anyways." Plus, I was into reading Boundary and Difficult Conversation Books and listened to them on a tape cassette also that I bought, and it did help me talk to my customers about their art projects! I think I spent thousands of dollars buying these special books I read for sure. But it was worth it, I am fully educated now in a special area of interest. And I think old Classics like I read from my Godmother's house are just as good to read to this day and not outdated.
The reason I write this whole piece to you within the Subject of Growing Up is because I started Realizing and Wondering; "Am I like someone who is just 3/4 Pacific Islander and maybe are my Children 1/4 to 1/3 Islander?" Because this was something I did not consider for many reasons and it is another topic I can write about in a book maybe one day. And my 3 Sons and Daughter I think live an Islander Lifestyle in many ways from me being their Mother and others enjoy living that way through them or with them. Because my 1st born son Clark has had a girlfriend who was born and raised in Hawaii for the past 15++ years (I am proud of him because he enjoys being like his family that raised his Mother).
I do Cherish My life Growing up as a Hawaiian with my Family and My life as a Mother!! (I Love Everyone So Much, EVERYDAY of my Life), and everyone Loved each other! And Hawaiians are VERY kind, pure and intelligent people and they also helped make my Children very smart, pure, kind, Intelligent people, who I adore!
Sincerely ~ Amy Koch Johnson