Moonlight

The moon softly swells with the hush of night.

Her lily-white glow
on the ocean
in your eyes.

But her soul’s connection
blooms deeper
than the surface

or her sighs at a distance
between ebb & flow.

( This pulling
force of nature :
a secret
you know. )

For her love for your sea,
till the ends of the earth,

shines brightest
in the dark.


Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Stargazing in Wailuku, HI 6/29/2020

Ocean Meditation

I followed my heart today
and, of course,
I was lead back to the sea.

Only this time
it was different

( or maybe it was me … )

The energy was somehow
more wild,

though there was no wind
( hardly a breeze ).

The waves were mighty —
unbreakably alive,
unpredictably
free .

In awe

I was
mesmerized
by every movement.

The give and take of
every
breath

filled me,

stilled me

in a most profound respect,

as I watched its fireworks display:
a new surprise with every wave

sometimes blue
sometimes green

some exploding —
foam flickering
then fading.

Sea spray falling
like fire
to my lips.

Every
moment.

Every
energy

here

now.

In you,
In me,
In love,

In and from
The Ocean.

( Maybe,
next time,
I’ll be the wave
that meets you there. )


Makena Beach is a spacious state park on the leeward side of Maui. I love coming here for its seclusion and the way it sets a majestic and meditative stage to watch the ocean. I felt an intense calling to this beach today and arrived to find its waves more roiling than I have ever seen them before. The water is known for being pretty calm there, however, it was the breeze that I usually find there that was completely calm. It gave me more of a still reverence to its glorious display — an uniquely divine experience to be present in. 💙

I couldn’t help but think of a fireworks display with the 4th of July next week! 🎇

Wave video – Makenna Beach 6/28/2020

Today, the spotlight of nature’s stage most
centered
on the sea.

From somewhere in the whirling night :

a push and pull
between here and there —

a tugging on my tiny web
toward the weaving of my larger truth.

On the sighs of the wind
a bewitching melody
sings of my uncharted path:

to wander in the boundless spaces
held between the stars.

Still
I cling to self-worn threads
and fear a dark unknown.

Still
a voice cries through the night:
an aching to be born.

But how are new beginnings spun
if not through these heart-flaring storms?


I yearn to be swept

into nothing

but the sound of music in the rain.

Song of the Sea

Now I understand
what you tried to say to me

when the sun shone high
on those sand dunes by the beach

and your voice was singing clearly
of green and azure waves,

but all I saw
were shadows
on a desert that day.

Though the lyrics of your music
sounded true and so familiar,
my ignorance was dissonant
as I tried to sing along.

Still, patiently,
you listened,
as I practiced
and practiced

till I finally
was immersed
in the song of your sea.

And while swaying in the depths
to the lull of the current —

that music,
I discovered,
always played
within me.


Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Pineapples, Cake and Poetry

The Long Way Home : A Pineapple’s Journey

Too long
Pineapple clung
to the juices she was born with.

Though she tried to hide the seep of syrup
from the rot of flesh
that cracked her armor.

She knew no magic pill,
nor painless shortcut
could extend
her shelf life
any further.

And the only place that she could turn to

was the long road
to the lonely field.

Giving up the crown
she had held so high
upon her head,

she replanted herself
in the unknown soils,

and then began to wait …

Slowly
slowly
she replaced her fibers
with those that grew in the nutrient earth.

The veining roots brought green to stems
and blossomed the fruit within her core.

Still,
she remained,
while she rose from the ground —
fresh and full of wonder

at the sun
and the rain
and the stars
and their music
that echoed the song inside her.

Her skin turned gold with the honeyed dawn —
it’s sweetness gave off
a newfound fragrance.

And she glowed from within
with the light she’d unearthed :

a harvest
found buried in darkness.


I am completely AMAZED by pineapples! I had no idea how fascinating they were until I saw an actual pineapple plant for the first time: a miniature version of itself suspended atop a single stem, growing from the ground. How ridiculously adorable and miraculous that such a complex fruit is created this way!

Look at this tiny cutie!! 😍🍍

Here are some pineapple facts that have been blowing my mind recently:

  • One plant produces only one pineapple fruit per season.
  • Most species of pineapples take 24 months to reach maturity. That’s right, one pineapple from one plant takes two years to grow!
  • To grow a new pineapple plant you can simply twist off and replant the crown of a mature pineapple fruit.
  • The pineapple plant flowers with hundreds of little “fruitlets” that fuse together and become one fruit.
  • Once the pineapple ripens and the fruit is harvested, it stops ripening and its short shelf life begins quickly ticking away. So how you purchase the pineapple from the store is as ripe as it will ever be. It is only rotting at that point.
  • Although pineapples have become a symbol of Hawaiian agricultural, and Hawai’i is the only US state that grows them, they are not native to the Islands. They were introduced only in 1813.

🙃 I have always loved pineapple upside-down cake and wanted to try making one with fresh pineapple, instead of the traditional canned pineapple, most recipes call for.

This pineapple was grown right down the road from my house at the Maui Tropical Plantation. The fruit itself tasted like heaven, so I knew whatever was made with it would be divine!

This is a recipe I have adapted from many recipes and I am very happy with the outcome. The fresh pineapple caramelizes nicely with no overflow on the topping and the cake is dense and moist. Not only is this cake delicious, but the combination of spices and fresh pineapple makes your home incredibly fragrant when it is baking and after!

Fresh Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Ingredients

Topping:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
5-8 fresh pineapple slices (or 8-10 canned pineapple slices)
Maraschino cherries (to decorate with as you wish)

Cake:

1 and 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp table salt)
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
6 Tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg whites at room temperature
1/3 cup full fat Greek yogurt at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk (or half and half), at room temperature

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
  2. Prepare topping:
    • Cut and up fresh pineapple into rings.
    • Pour melted butter into an ungreased 9×2 inch pie dish or round cake pan.
    • Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over butter.
    • Blot all excess liquid off the fruit with a paper towel and pineapple slices and cherries on top of the brown sugar.
    • Place pan in the refrigerator for a few minutes to set while you prepare the cake batter.
  3. Prepare cake batter:
    • Whisk cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom and cinnamon together. Set aside.
    • Mix the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 min. Add the sugar and beat on high speed until creamed together, about 1 min, scraping down the sides as needed.
    • On high speed, beat in the egg whites until combined, then beat in the Greek yogurt and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed.
    • Slowly our the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Turn mixer on low speed, slowly pour in the milk. Beat on low speed just until all of the ingredients are combined. Do not over-mix.
  4. Remove topping from the refrigerator. Pour and spread cake batter evenly over topping.
  5. Bake for 43-48 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out mostly clean.
  6. Remove cake from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Invert the slightly cooled cake onto a cake stand or serving plate.

Pineapple Wine

Over a glass of pineapple wine
thoughts of you float to the surface,

sweetly swirling in my mind
as hours sip —
lick drips from the rim

and I smile
thinking how time is an ineffective metric

when you’ve fallen in love with a soul.


Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Journey Under Stars

In my loitering tonight
I realize
I’m not lost.

And maybe
it was the straight path

( the shackles I made to it
in an attempt to be free )

that was leading me astray.

In this waiting,
waiting,
waiting,

this time, maybe,
at the edge
of becoming.

In this waiting and looking up with intensity

I feel the aches in my neck
not in vain nor forsaking
all I’ve worked for
as little white lights
start perforating the night sky —

revealing themselves
one at a time.

Not ashamed of their infinite magnitude
nor afraid of their imminent death.

Each one belonging
to themselves
and made of the same dust
that I am.

Each one on fire

as I reach up
longing
to hold just one
in my hands.


Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Trying out some astro photography.

Lemon bars + poetry

A lemon’s role

So quickly
Lemon learned
she would never get the lead …

Her role was always
supporting
with a zest
or a squeeze.

She had accepted
her career as :
“the faintest essence”
or “the tasteful garnish.”

In the business of
breakfast, lunch and dinner
she was always
the slice of bitter
on the dish.

But then
she learned
she could be
a star

in changing courses
to desserts.

As “The Lemon Bar”
or “The Lemon Cake”

she found
her purpose in life
was to celebrate!


I have always had a super soft spot in my heart for lemon. It is, without a doubt, my favorite dessert flavor! 🍋

Although I find excuses to have lemon desserts all year long, with summer now just around the corner, it is the perfect time to bake lemon bars!

This lemon bar recipe is one that I have adapted from my neighbor, Melanie’s, family cookbook. She truly makes the best lemon bars I have eaten in my life, so I didn’t change very much from her original recipe. I even got the beautiful lemons to make these bars from the Meyer Lemon Tree in her backyard.

Lemon Bars

Time: 55 min.
Yield: 12 bars

Crust

Ingredients:

3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs room temperature
2 tbs all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
Pinch of kosher salt
6 tbs fresh lemon juice (about two lemons)
1 tsp lemon zest

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all crust ingredients into mixing bowl
  3. Beat on low speed, scraping sides of bowl, until mixture is crumbly (about 2-3 minutes).
  4. Press mixture onto the bottom of a 8X8 ungreased pan.
  5. Bake 15-20 minutes until lightly browned.

Filling

Ingredients:

3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs room temperature
2 tbs all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
6 tbs fresh lemon juice (about two lemons)
1 tsp lemon zest

Directions:

  1. Combine filling ingredients into mixing bowl
  2. Beat on low speed, scraping down sides, until mixed well (1-2 minutes).
  3. Pour over hot crust.
  4. Continue baking for 18-20 minutes, or until filling is set.
  5. Let cool completely.
  6. Sprinkle top with sifted powdered sugar.

Lemon Tree

Every morning I climb
the steepest hill

with the remains
of my orchid’s
fallen blooms

and those hibiscus
that softened
with rot
in my hair.

Their lives having amounted
to only the brevity
of my joy.

And I wonder
if they did or did not
have souls

as I lay them
under the lemon tree.

And if they did,
but especially if not,

I pray that

now, they may be
free.


Lemonade

I feel you
in the song of summer :

the buzz
of honeybees
and hummingbirds
fill my chest

in a resonance
that lingers
long after
the guitar strums

and the bashful plucks
at blades of grass

under a tree of butterflies
and bittersweet fruit

your eyes shine
like nectar
in the blooms
of shade

when I think of your kiss :
like sunshine
and lemonade.


Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Nourishing poems

Sometimes we stop and look around
in these high mountains climbed.

We think of all we were
and how much we’ve changed.

How we are no longer holding ourselves
tightly coiled
as fiddleheads,

but know
now
we can unfurl :

hearts open to the elements —
accepting
what is nourishing.

We carry and admire those
glistening raindrops :

each cherished memory
and lesson learned.

Wishing only
to love
as the miracle
of the fern.

Hiking Waihe’e Ridge Trail 6/13/2020

In abundance
of information
I become
impoverished
of the nourishing.

A benumbed machine
shifts around heaps
of matter in my mind.

Unending fragments,
forgotten in meaning,
clutter in corners of my soul.

While endlessly scrolling
through mixed-messages

words start overflowing —

I can’t sift through the madness.

When my hard drive sputters
and my bandwidth expires

all I can do
is start
cleaning my house.


Sometimes I need a break from social media and the news.

Photos from the Kula farmer’s market this weekend.

What is it that refreshes and nourishes your soul?

My favorite juice joint on Maui is Gypsy Juice. I don’t just like coming here because of the delicious drinks, but also because the girl who makes them is one of the kindest humans I have ever encountered. Talking with her is just as nourishing as her creations!💗

Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Responsibility

World Oceans Day 2020

I unravel
my apology
in her waves

and I ask
what I can do.

The moon pulls at the hem
of her blue dress
and her hands slip away
from mine.

She leaves
what she can no longer carry
on the sand :

The starving sea turtle
who ate too many
plastic jellyfish.

The poisoned octopus
offers me
just one
of his three
landfilled hearts

with his
dying wish:

“If you
won’t take it
who will?”


World Oceans Day became internationally recognized by the UN in 2008 and has been growing in popularity and participation every year since. The day was created to recognize the implementation of worldwide Sustainable Development Goals and to encourage public interest in caring for our oceans.

Living near an ocean is new to me, having lived most of my life in landlocked states like Idaho and Colorado. Before, my awareness of the detrimental effects of plastic pollution on our environment had always been in the back of my mind, but not something I took daily responsibility for. Now, having the privilege to visit the ocean regularly, this awareness has quickly moved to the front of my mind, as I’m reminded of the immediate and lasting impacts our waste has.

As we all know, this impact is especially true for our single-use plastics (water bottles, plastic straws, styrofoam take-out boxes, etc.) that are only useful to us for an average of 12 minutes, while it takes an estimated 400 years for these plastics to decompose. According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a garbage truck worth of these plastics are dumped into the ocean every minute, that is 5-13 million metric tons a year! They estimate that by 2050 the weight of plastics in the ocean will exceed the weight of fish in the ocean!

The particles from these plastics are unfortunately consumed by marine life, as they mistake the foreign objects for food. Sea turtles often mistake plastic bags as jellyfish and end up starving, never knowing they didn’t actually eat a jellyfish. Not to mention the toxins from these plastics are linked to a plethora of health problems for marine life and for us humans, who consume the fish.

This is a very daunting and troubling issue that is not going to be solved by just a few. To make a change we all need to do what we can, starting with just one simple thing in our lives. That could be bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, using a reusable water bottle, or refusing plastic straws at restaurants. The World Oceans Day website, as well as many others like Plastic Oceans have plenty of great resources and ideas on how we can do our part!

Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Singing lessons

There is one thing
they don’t tell you
about singing lessons.

And the one thing is that
it’s more
than just
singing lessons…

It’s soul work.

It’s digging deep into your roots
to explore your depths
and expose your truths.

And every lesson is a different story …

One day it could be that
hands are shaking,
heart pounding,
desperately aching
kind of love story
between you and music

and the next day
reads as
a serene fantasy:

a garden
blissfully blooming —
breathing as one
with the spirit of music.

But never is it ending.

You have to keep working.

Keep showing up.

Tending the garden that is
wild
and most days
messy,

but always
promising.

Always yielding
discovery,
beauty,
music,
love.


Singing is an incredibly vulnerable activity, requiring the full commitment of your mind, body and soul. The ultimate goal is to find harmony within these (at least for long enough to get through the song you’re singing). You have to cultivate a compassionate space within yourself. Some days it is much harder to get to this space because of all the other stuff you may be experiencing in your life that is cluttering your mind, creating unnecessary tension in your body, and causing negative self-talk that is crushing your soul.

I have been a student of singing for eighteen years and have studied with over a dozen different voice teachers, each with their own skill sets and methods of teaching. As a student I find some lessons to be much more of a struggle than others, and it usually comes down to my mindset and where I am emotionally going into the lesson. In college many of my voice lessons became therapy sessions, as I was regularly in turmoil over my future or feeling completely overwhelmed with schoolwork, social obligations and upcoming performances. Will I be good enough to sing my role in the opera? Will I be good enough to even make it through this day? It was an inner battle I was forced to fight with my anxiety rising in my throat, trying to relax my uptight shoulders and clenched jaw; attempting to also put aside the flash cards in my head for my biology test tomorrow, the seating chart for the wedding I was planning, and the other ten new pieces of music I was learning for the choir tour next week. All these stressors were coming out in my voice while trying to focus on the task at hand: my breath, my technique, my diction, my delivery of the Bellini piece I was currently singing. Many lessons ended in much-needed tears, as it had forced me to really confront all that I was dealing with, realize I could not carry all that weight and I needed to just surrender to the love of music.

I have been a teacher of singing for four years and have found the job to be incredibly rewarding because I get to essentially help guide my students to this more compassionate space for themselves. It is a challenging process because every student is different, some with many more layers to get through than others. My goal is to create a welcoming and loving environment where students can learn to make big mistakes and sing silly voice warm-ups freely, learning to accept themselves at their very raw core. Some beginning adult students will not make it through many lessons because the peeling back of these layers they have built up through the years can be unbearably uncomfortable, stirring up too much, and that is completely fine. Those students might get more enjoyment out of learning a different skill that is less immediately demanding on the vulnerability of the soul, such as singing in a choir. For others, the love of music or their sheer determination to thrive as a solo singer will conquer self doubt and they will learn to enjoy the turbulence and nakedness of using their voice in new ways in front of others.

If you are interested and want more information about voice lessons, take a look at my lesson page or feel free to contact me! I just started teaching online lessons via Skype and Zoom. I will be accepting new students starting July 1st. 😊

Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke