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:

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 stick softened butter at room temperature

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

My words can often fail me

My words can often fail me
in my quest to find the “right” ones.
I’ll easily let you take my tongue
while I become
a smiling skeleton.
And the time to speak
will quickly pass me
before I can decide
to stay as quiet as expected
or say what is shouting inside.


I may not fully understand, but I do know that we are created equal, everyone deserves love and kindness, and no one should feel unsafe or unvalued. Racism and injustice should not be stood for. Black Lives Matter.

Rainy Poems

Dreary
Chilly
Slanted
Saddened
Weeping
Showered
Drenched
Drizzled
Scattered
Colored
Unexpected
Misted
Nourished
Fragrant
Beloved
Rain.

The Hawaiian language has over 200 different names for rain. The breadth of these names describe the form and qualities of each type, as well as the specific times and regions of the islands these rains can be found. The Hawaiian culture recognizes rain not only as an integral part of survival, but also as a friend and spiritual guide. To talk about the rain is much more than small-talk in Hawaii, it is a conversation and language in itself. The physical intricacies of rain color parts of your day and life differently and help to understand the depths of others. Hawaiian ancestors trusted the different rains to determine when to plant specific crops, fish, harvest, and so much more. Most of us have lost so much of our connection to the land. I can only hope to notice and welcome more of these sacred, rainy visitors.


Haikus

1. My love is the rain
Soaking through the sheet of night
Time folds into sky

2. Gardens refresh us
Flowers are forms of water
Our souls drink the rain


The rain dripped down
the faces of leaves
then tapped unbreaking
a dance in the streets.

We laughed in gleams
shone brighter in night
to finally feel climate
that sung us alive.


Afternoon rain in Wailuku, HI 5/31/2020

In Hawaiian poetry mentions of rain or rains may signify joy, life, growth, greenery, love, good fortune (light rains, mist), grief, sorrow, and tears (heavy rains), the presence of gods or royalty, sex, beauty or hardship.

Some of my favorite Hawaiian rain types:

  • kili, much beloved rain
  • ko’iawe, light moving rain
  • ua nāulu, showery rain
  • ua lani pili, rain downpour
  • ua ho’okina, continuous rain
  • ua hikiki’i, slanting rain
  • ililani, unexpected rain
  • uakoko, rainbow-hued rain
  • Lēhei, leaping rain of upcountry Maui
  • kuāua hope, spring rain
  • ka ua ‘awa, grieving rain
  • ʻeleua, dark rain
  • kuāua, hopeful rain
  • ehu, fine spray rain
  • Lani-paʻina, crackling heavens rain
  • ʻUla-lena, invigorating, yellow & red rain of Maui
  • Mololani, well-kept rain of the Lehua flower & Ohia tree
Writing & Photography by: Katy Claire Funke

W.S Merwin

W.S. Merwin, was a beloved poet and conservationist who lived in near-solitude in Haiku on Maui from 1970 until his death in 2019. His work was highly influenced by his passion for restoration of depleted flora and his connection to the elements on the island. I am looking forward to visiting his plantation soon where he restored hundreds of species of palms.

Merwin wrote several beautiful rain poems. Here is one of my favorites of his:

Rain Travel

I wake in the dark and remember
it is the morning when I must start
by myself on the journey
I lie listening to the black hour
before dawn and you are
still asleep beside me while
around us the trees full of night lean
hushed in their dream that bears
us up asleep and awake then I hear
drops falling one by one into
the sightless leaves and I
do not know when they began but
all at once there is no sound but rain
and the stream below us roaring
away into the rushing darkness


- W.S. Merwin

The Rooster

4am:

“Dawn!”
He screams

before it even comes.

“Gold!”
He demands

all day long.

Hoarse by noon,
but never relents —

my silver-lining sweetheart,
my eternal optimist.

Then,
there he goes,

look at him run!

Please,
don’t give up!

Keep chasing that sun!


Wild chickens are in surplus here on Maui. There must be a dozen roosters trying to claim every neighborhood as their territory.

Here is a rooster who has been circling my house for weeks and I swear his crows are on a 20 second timer… His voice must be so tired!

Writing & Photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Watercolors

In the twilight we marvel
at this watercolored world.

Our eyes, a blend
with the marbled sea
and the sky’s pearlescent peach.

I try to outline the horizon,

but in dampened air
my pen just bleeds.

The sea breeze paints us
soft and blue
as we slip into the mist.

We share a sacred
intimacy —

within our souls
our time exists.

( The strokes we make
defining depths
just cause more drips
and swell the canvas. )

So instead,

we swim
in azure and ink

admiring
how every artist

paints love

so differently.


Writing & Photography by: Katy Claire Funke