April 20th, 2021 / posted by paularath

My treasured Sumaqkay clutch, which is always a conversation starter.

Many textile scholars claim that the art of textile weaving began in Peru. Having heard several lectures in Santa Fe in the ’90s, and read a few magazine articles on the subject, I have come to believe this may well be true.

So when our Antarctica cruise stopped at the Peruvian port of Pisco, I was determined to see some Peruvian weaving, preferably in an authentic workshop or studio.

A young Peruvian weaver in the Sumaqkay workshop.

When we’re on a cruise, sometimes the local port sends a representative to the ship to give passengers directions or help them find tours or restaurants they might enjoy. In Pisco we got lucky. A nice young man from the Chamber of Commerce, who spoke okay English, lit up when I asked my question: “Where can we see local weaving?” He answered with great enthusiasm: “Ah! Sumaqkay!” We asked him how far away it was and he said, “It’s in Paracas – not too far.” He then wrote down the name and suggested we hire one of the local taxi drivers who were waiting just outside the port.

Many frequent cruise passengers will say you should not walk off the ship and hail a taxi. But, honestly, Jerry and I have had some of our most perfect days just winging it with a driver we met in the port. (Valparaiso, Chile on Valentine’s Day was one fabulous occasion!)

We handed the driver, Julio, the name we were given. He looked a little puzzled at first, but then said “Yes, Sumaqkay,” and got on his phone. He drove and drove and drove, and then stopped and asked a woman making coffee, then a guy pumping gas, then another woman making tortillas on a barrel. No luck. Finally a motorcycle policeman came to our aid and pointed across the street at a green door. Apparently there is no address for the Sumaqkay Studio, just a green door.

Just two of the looms at the Sumakquay studio.

We entered into a beautiful garden and elegant shop. However, it was a Sunday and there was only one person there, running the shop, and no weavers. They put out a call and suggested we take a stroll in their farm and gardens while awaiting the arrival of a weaver. It was a lovely experience to wander through a Peruvian farm.

Jerry and I began our Sumaqkay experience with a walk around the family farm.

Sumaqkay is a mother-daughter design team. They combine leather with pre-Colombian patterns on hand woven fabrics to create well-made, unique hand bags.

Sumaqkay means “the most beautiful” in native Peruvian Quechua. They have taken the traditional form of weaving and taught young weavers contemporary approaches to color and design. The company honors Peru’s rich textile heritage by giving back ten percent of their revenues for the Sumaqkay Education Fund that helps support young weavers.

The Sumaqkay showroom.

I’m afraid there aren’t any more bags like my fabulous clutch. But you can see some of their work online at www.sumaqkayparacas.com

Paula Rath

 

 

 

April 12th, 2021 / posted by paularath

Heidi at about six weeks old.

Today is National Pet Day, so I thought I would share with you a bit about living with our cat, Heidi. We adopted Heidi at the Hawaiian Humane Society last July. She was about five weeks old at the time.

Valentine’s roses? Well, of course they have to belong to Heidi and me both!

The urge to once again own a cat came, predictably, in the midst of COVID-19 quarantine. Jerry and I really enjoy one another’s company, but we thought we would both benefit from a furry friend. We were so right! Heidi is a constant source of laughter and delight.

Heidi is positively the most curious cat we have ever lived with. She needs to know everything that’s going on in the house. She is also the most communicative of our many cats.

When she wants something, she has learned how to get it. She meows only to communicate her desire clearly and concisely. And her gestures contribute to the communication. For example, When it’s 5 a.m. and time for Jerry to get up and feed her (her idea, of course), she has learned that she doesn’t have to walk over his body or scratch him to get his attention. All she needs to do is to climb up on his bedside table, reach out her paw, and gently pat his arm. If he doesn’t respond fairly quickly, she simply starts carefully brushing his glasses, hand cream or watch onto the floor.

Heidi contemplates drinking from her favorite water source, mom’s basin.

 

Yes! Let’s splash a little before drinking it.

In the morning, when Heidi is thirsty, instead of going straight to the fountain we bought for her (complete with running water), she wants to drink, splash or even bathe, in my basin. She interrupts my coffee-making or newspaper-reading and meows for me to follow her to my bathroom. There she either sits on the edge of the sink, leans into the faucet or climbs right in to take a bath.

Heidi in one of her favorite naptime spots: a Hans Wegner chair that Duncan will inherit. I swear she gets Duncan’s vibes from it; Duncan is a cat whisperer, with an amazing affinity for every cat he meets.

This cat understands a growing vocabulary of human words: food, treat, out, no, water, deck, spoon, door, and the phrase: “scratch post, get treat.”

Cat in the bag?

Heidi has endless curiosity about absolutely everything. She especially loves bags. All kinds of bags. Her favorite thing is to climb into a bag and hide. Sometimes this game goes awry. In the instance above, she got herself all twisted into the handle of a big paper shopping bag. We let her deal with it herself to see what she would do. She systematically shredded the bag all the way around, leaving her with just the handles firmly twisted around her middle. That’s when she meowed and help appeared immediately.

Heidi meets the neighbor’s cat, Earl Yim.

It’s not surprising that Heidi is convinced she is a human. The only other cat in her life is our neighbor’s cat, Earl Yim. He is an indoor-outdoor cat who regularly roams around our house. The first time they met through the screen, there was a little hissing but then all was quiet and they simply sat and stared at one another. The second time they met was the second time Heidi somehow got out into the yard. (See below for more on that.) She met up with Earl, and followed him a little way down the walkway in back of our house. No drama or fighting. But she didn’t hang around with him either.

Earl comes by to see Heidi, but he seldom catches her. On the occasion above, they just sat like that, a few feet apart, and stared. No hissing or clawing or attacking.

One of Heidi’s favorite places: the deck railing. It used to scare us when she ran up and down the railing, but now we know she’s okay. She loves to birdwatch and catch bugs.

Prowling for bugs or geckos. She has learned to carefully de-tail, then torture the geckos without eating any part of them. (They are not good for cats!) Clever cat.

Heidi is strictly an indoor cat. She is allowed on the deck, and spends much of every day out there, but she isn’t allowed to go outside the house. That said, she has somehow managed to get out twice. Once, when she a was a tiny kitten, about three months old, and a second time, a few weeks ago. We can’t figure out how on earth she got out, as no doors were opened for her escape. Unless she fell or jumped off the balcony; that’s a fall of about 30 feet. Neither time was she hurt in any way. The first time, when so tiny, we heard a kitten outside the downstairs door and were shocked to see her out there. The second time, she came to the front door and asked to be let in.

Heidi is a joyful addition to our home and provides us with laughter every day.

Paula Rath

 

 

 

 

March 21st, 2021 / posted by paularath

Photo courtesy Jerry Mayfield

This safari skirt may look like something I wore when living in Botswana and visiting the elephants in the Okavango Delta. Far from it! In those lean years, my ex-husband and I didn’t have enough money to buy gas to get to the Okavango Delta.

This skirt has a different story.  It joined my wardrobe much later, in 1987, on my 40th birthday.

My son, Duncan, was 12 years old, and he wanted to give me a memorable gift for this special birthday. Duncan and I had some fun times shopping in the original Banana Republic store in Ala Moana Center. It was a different experience to shop there in the ’80s. Before it was bought by GAP, it was a relatively small family-owned company. The visual merchandising was reminiscent of a thatched hut in, well, a banana republic. Lots of raffia and rattan and “old family travel photos.”

Duncan has always taken pride in the fact that he was “made in Africa.” (I spent the first seven months of my pregnancy in Nigeria.) So it felt natural for him to go to Banana Republic for my gift.

At the time, Duncan was doing some acting and landed a couple of commercials and a full shooting day as Tom Selleck as a child in “Magnum P.I.” This meant he had his own money to spend on his mom. (Although, sadly, the “Magnum” footage ended up on the cutting room floor.)

When Duncan stepped into the store, he knew exactly what he wanted. He described an A-line, long safari skirt with a pocket. He had scouted through my closet to find what size I wore.  Green was always his favorite color, so he preferred a khaki skirt that skewed toward green.

The surprised sales people showed him the skirt pictured above and Duncan said it was simply perfect. He added that he needed a belt that would coordinate with it, and he gravitated toward a brown leather belt in a distinctive asymmetrical style with an interesting faux horn buckle. It was my favorite belt ever! (Sadly, the climate in Nuuanu destroyed it a few years ago.)

(Note: The reason I know this story is because the sales people at Banana Republic were so taken with Duncan that they called me a few days after my birthday to tell me about his shopping experience with them. They said he was a charming young gentleman on a mission to make his mom happy.)

And so he did. This skirt is still one of my favorite garments and I love pairing it with my safari jacket and a Uniqlo white T-shirt!

Paula Rath

 

March 9th, 2021 / posted by paularath

My father, Bobby Rath, and I start down the aisle at Punahou Chapel.        Photo Courtesy George Smith

From small kid time, girls dream of the dress we will wear on our wedding day. When the time is near, shopping is a treasured (though sometimes fraught) task. What style of bride do we want to be? Romantic? Sophisticated? Minimalist? We worry and waver and finally choose the outfit that we will wear down the aisle. But how much do we think about what our future husband might like?

When I married Jerry Mayfield on September 3, 1988, it was a second marriage for both of us. We were grownups. I eschewed the wedding gown altogether and decided on a chic silk suit. Wanting to be a little sassy, I chose a hat with a tulle veil and fresh flowers that coordinated with my bouquet. I was quite happy with the look…until I saw Jerry’s first glance. His was not a happy face; it was rather obvious to me that he did not like my wedding outfit.

What to do? Well, at that point, nothing. I simply had to saunter on down the aisle with my Daddy, pretending I had never seen that look on Jerry’s face.

There’s no need to go into the deep psychological scars that might have affected Jerry’s take on my choice. (I’m kidding.) And the experience certainly didn’t leave me scarred. It was just a moment in time, and it passed quickly by.

At least Jerry loved my Princess Kaiulani hula muumuu!

At our wedding reception at Halekulani, I changed into a holoku, which had been planned in advance of course. I was to dance an appropriate wedding hula, “Pua Hone,” as a surprise for Jerry. (He didn’t know I danced hula.) I walked up to the front of the room with a little trepidation regarding my appearance, but the grin on Jerry’s face was quite different from the one in the chapel. So I simply sighed with relief and danced on.

As we left the reception, we were showered with rose petals, thanks to my sister Roberta’s thoughtfulness.

Much later, Jerry told me that the color and style of my wedding suit, sort of 40s-ish, was just slightly reminiscent of a suit his mother wore. And his relationship with his mother was, well, a bit complicated.

I’ve never worn the suit again, but it still hangs in my closet. Like it or not, it’s a reminder of the day when Jerry and I became husband and wife and began the incredible journey that has been our life together.

Paula Rath

 

February 25th, 2021 / posted by paularath

Living in a tinker’s caravan in County Cork, Ireland, with a couple of British friends                                            Photo courtesy Helga Hoefert

When I was about 10 years old, I read a travel article in my mother’s Sunset Magazine about a trip in a horse drawn tinker’s caravan in Ireland. The idea quickly became an obsession. It took me ten years to get there, but the girl you see on the left is 20-year-old me, with friends I met at the W.B. Yeats International Summer School in Sligo, Ireland.

The jeans I was wearing in Ireland are my beloved green jeans. When I traveled to Europe for the first time in 1967, I was determined not to look like a hippie. In those days nearly all the young Americans in Europe were hippies – or dressed like them. They often got stopped and searched in airports, and it was hard for them to escape a stereotype. I didn’t want any of that.

I did not carry a backpack; I had a turquoise Skyway suitcase my grandmother gave me. I did not wear ratty sandals, I wore red ghillies (Scottish dancing shoes). Instead of flowing Indian dresses, my “uniform” was a polka dot shirtwaist dress. My coat was not a well-worn sheepskin jacket, it was a proper double breasted trench coat. And I did not wear blue jeans; mine were green.

Those green jeans spent 12 months going around the world with me, all by ourselves, from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland, to Hong Kong. They had many adventures, such as hiking in Norway, dancing in Mykonos, visiting the Wailing Wall in Israel and Taj Mahal in India, touring bazaars in Istanbul, kicking a soccer ball in London, walking the beach in Ireland. They served me well for years.

On our Irish caravan trip, we went all the way to the coast of Cork. The horse was smarter than the poetry scholars; he refused to go more than 14 miles a day!

In the summer of ’67, I spent a month in Norway with the family of Erik Holtedahl, who had been our foreign student at Punahou my senior year. My grandmother was Norwegian and so is my middle name, which was her first name: Ragna. I felt right at home in the Rondane mountains, in Oslo and in the Holtedahls’ second home, perched over a fjord.

In Norway, I hiked in my green jeans for a week in the Rondane Mountains with my Norwegian “brother,” Erik Holtedahl.  It was a glorious time and place!       Photos courtesy Knut Mugaas

 

We stopped by a glacial stream for a picnic lunch. The water is gorgeous but freezing cold. We ate cheese the color of caramel, a type of beef jerky, and that delicious iced water.

I honestly can’t remember what happened to my beloved green jeans. I looked for another pair similar to them for many years, and about five years ago, I found these:

Jerry gave me this terrific green safari jacket for Christmas last year, and I love it with my green jeans! The shoes are a gift from my dear friend Cheryl Tipton.

Everything in my wardrobe has to have a story, or else why bother with it?

Paula Rath