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

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 Pageant

Maui held a beauty pageant
for the plants on the island’s stage …

First up was the talent portion

The Palm Tree did the hula,
the Hibiscus danced ballet,
but it was the Trumpet Vine
who wooed the crowed
with her jazzy serenade.

Next up was the evening wear

The gowns were rich in pines and petals
from the Norfolk and the Orchid,
but to the Bougainvillea
and her ruffled florals —
the blue ribbon was awarded.

Then there came the on-stage question

The Fox Tail and the Lobster Claw
didn’t have much to say,
but the Bird of Paradise won, wings-down,
with her passion for civil rights day.

Awards would start with specialties …

Of course, Photogenic, went to Belladonna,
she thought she’d win Congeniality,
but that went to the kind Plumeria
(Belladonna had no personality).

And then there was the final moment;
the title holders announced

The first runner up was the Ginger Plant
with her spicy need for the spotlight
but the crown went to the Pineapple,
for her sweetest beauty laid inside.


Writing and Photography By: Katy Claire Funke

This month officially marks 10 years since I entered the world of pageants. I won the title of Miss Idaho’s Outstanding Teen through the Miss America Organization in 2010. It was one of the most life-changing moments for me and I still reap the benefits from the skills I gained through my pageant experience. Even though pageants get a bad rap (and don’t get me wrong, they definitely do have some not so pretty aspects), I can say, without a doubt, that the people I personally worked with: my state directors, fellow contestants, and title holders, are still some of the most remarkable women I have ever encountered. I earned a great deal of scholarships through the Miss America Organization to go toward my college education and so many unforgettable experiences that I will always be grateful for.

A moment in the sunrise

I try to never miss a sunrise

to paint my intentions
within a landscape
completely indifferent
to me.

I can seamlessly slip
through the
spiderwebbed cracks
on my little patio

and into the sunlit glow
of a sacred space,

exhaling my prayers
and wildflower hopes
to breathe in peace
made with the day’s
groundlessness;

understanding
the unknowings
and embracing
the chance of showers
through the answers
of Saint Honesty.

I know if I unfurl today
I can wrap myself back up into
our shared sky of peach blossoms
and watch the egret take flight
from its canvas of polished reeds.

It’s here that I find harmony
within an impossible opalescent
distance,

while sipping slowly
at the therapies
of our secret garden …

and for just our moment

gravity shifts
miles into
inches

and I can trace over the ocean
until i find your
fingertips:

like a soft morning kiss .

Bonus Morning #Haikus

Dalí melts the clocks
The sun rises in your eyes
Wind sails to your seas

__________________________

Monet sent lilies
to make a good impression
on his best painting

Claude Monet, 1914, The Waterlilies: Morning

Writing & Photography by: Katy Claire Funke

I fell in love with Poetry

A love story #prose #poetry

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment
when I fell in love with Poetry.

Somewhere between the summer nights
and the carelessness of his hair.

Of course, he was a musician with this
hypnotizing rhythm and a smile like Chardonnay.

Just the way that he knocked at my door that autumn day …
I must have known for certain that I’d never be the same.

How he waltzed right up to me and took me by the hand.
How he whispered, we should dance
and I felt so silly, only knowing a few steps
like the haiku shuffle, and the iambic slide —
but oh, the way he held me, right then I could have died!

All of it is beautiful, he said, because it’s you.
I swooned into his smooth talk, but deep down always knew
that my rhymes about my dog were only child’s play,
while a masterpiece he was, (but good heavens, still I blushed!)

On our very first date we hiked up into the forest—
and no, he wasn’t wealthy, but was richer than the royals
when he showed me all the jewels hidden, muted in my world,
and he listened ever gently to all my heart had to say.

To hear it as he did was like dining at the Ritz.
As never had I seen the sky in such divine array
in a morning glory apricot.

And music — how it just lit up like candlelight!

And all the late-night drives… where was he taking me?
A coral beach at sunrise? Floating on the sea?
Somewhere down the way to a love, complex and deep?
I swear the way he knew me was like I’d known him all my life .

But my dear, he was a heartbreaker…
He showed me what it was to cry through all the pain —
oh, the pain! His pain, my pain — it was all the same.
An unanticipated turn into a ping-pong game;
ending in a knock-down-drag-out fight within myself
pinned into a corner. I had to write to get me out.

Impassioned in our nights and exposed in all my scars
that he kissed and turned to stars while we held each other tight.
We forgave and fell asleep, only knowing I’d awake as a new unburdened day
finding beauty ever steady than it was in yesterday.

On my journey never knowing where all of this would land,
but always being thankful for the journey he began.

Writing & Photography By: Katy Claire Funke

Synergy & Seal Haikus

Synergy

Before the coral reefs felt pain
and the oceans could speak English

we were as one,
the mountains and I,
as were
the sea lions
and constellations .

Before our spirits
could be sacrificed
for jewels and false images

we exhaled
with the ebbing tides
in waves combined of energies .

God made us
to participate
one body
and one spirit

when stars were space
and space was not
we were
a knitted ball:
immaculate .

Can our molecules remember
through our inner cracks in concrete
that our seeds were scattered to thrive ?

Can our hearts
break our molds
like the ancient banyan trees,

their root-woven wisdoms
still in our eyes ?

I am on a constant quest for Banyan trees these days. Such incredible wonders! I found this beauty on the grounds of the Maui Country Club today.

Seal Haikus

from today’s run-in with an adorable sea lion at Paia’s Ho’okipa Beach:

Splash me with your pearls!
Oh! Paint me like your French girls!
Sea, make art of me!

Waves can’t crash my scene!
Watch me worm and wobble ‘till
I collapse dance shores!

Writing & Photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Poems on my heart

Five poems

My Dearest Crippling Expectations,

If I do more
will that be more
of what you like?

If I contour my armor
until it’s contorted just right?

If I suffer a death
by small paper cuts
and fold into your
most perfect origami

will that be
enough?

At least for tonight?

A Love of Learning

In love
I’ve :

bloomed in
irreplaceable
burning flowers

danced in
unpredictable
storms of lightning

swam in
unreasonable
waves of passion

and sang in
indescribable
winds of freedom

But it’s in the stillness
following the flames and gales where I really see

what love is teaching me:

to not hold too tight

to not hold too light

to choose
growth
+

to choose
balance
+

to choose
compassion
=

to choose
love
.
.
.
Every day .

Editing

I’ve become very good
at editing.

Of this,
I am ashamed.

If my work is seen as,
“mmm not quite”
I will detonate
that slate clean.

I will fiercely cut to
“wow, you’re perfect!”
or slam the undo key

until I get back to
“you’re such a good girl”
or other fairy princess
beginnings.

But today I wish
to own my work;
my every stroke
(and over stroke).

I want to pick up
that ball in the bin
and slowly begin
to uncrumple myself.

To-Do

My mother always told me
that I was obsessive.

Obsessed
with everything
I do.

My love language
is acts of service
because I love
to do.

To do do do
always doing.

Always doing
my to-do list.

But when I see
the beauty
of the simplest of lilies

I stop what I am doing

and I look at it
just being

and it’s then I truly see
what I was meant
to do.

Love,

If I could
I would tell you
how much you mean to me

but I can’t

there are
no words

not enough
time nor art

to ever explain .

There’s only:

breaths
to catch
on the wind

smiles
to spread
on the sun

songs to send
poems to write
flowers to plant

and the stars
that will forever
bear witness
to our love
set free

in all of its
eternities

Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Photos taken in Wailuku, HI and Baldwin Beach