E Komo Mai – Welcome

I love this glass artwork at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park on the big island of Hawai’i. There were no placards describing it or a name to acknowledge who made it when I visited in 2019. It was not part of an art display but serves as a window in one of the cafes at the Kilauea Military Camp, a recreational facility for those serving in the military, located in the heart of the park near the Halema’uma’u Crater.

Halema’uma’u Crater

The photo captured my attention because it represents many things I love. Mountains. Water. Trees. Life. I’m pretty sure that the red represents fire. As in born of the fire and born of the sea. Creating the land. I especially love the single tree. The tree of life? Maybe.

I became obsessed with the park and visited several times on what turned into my month-long stay on the Big Island exploring some tea fields and researching for a book I’m co-writing set mainly in Mississippi. Yes. There is a connection between Hawai’i and MS. I’ll be blogging more about that in the future. This National Park protects some of the most unique geological, biological, and cultural landscapes in the world. Extending from sea level to the summit of Mauna Loa at 13,677 feet, the park encompasses the summits of two of the world’s most active volcanoes – Kilauea and Mauna Loa.

While Mauna Loa is breathtaking, it was Kilauea I was drawn to. The crater and this glass artwork window are located on Kilauea, which also houses the park headquarters, the visitor’s center, a lodge, the military camp and many astounding views of the crater and the steam vents scattered along the trails.

The lava lake, along with the molten lava and lava glow that attracted folks for many years, disappeared in 2018. It dropped down into the earth and reappeared through fissures that cracked the earth open down a slope of the volcano, clearing everything in its path on the way to the ocean. So, I missed that hot, fiery show at the top, even though I found what was left behind astounding. I even had a chance to walk down inside the volcano’s hardened edge. There is something about a lone tree and an empty hole in the ground, which looks more like a grand canyon than a hole, that I find spectacular.  

 I like forests, too. After all, I am a daughter of the Appalachian Mountains. Kinda daunting if you get lost. It’s always the lone tree, or nearly alone, that I find striking, in that wide open space. It can represent many things. To me- Growth. Strength. Independence. And even Dependence.

You can’t stand alone, grow and become independent without the help of others. A tree certainly can’t. And neither can I or any of us really. Whether we admit it or not is another thing. Even though sometimes I do feel like that lone tree, doing a gig. Trying to explain to people with traditional jobs what it is that I’m doing. Sometimes it’s hard to explain to even those who do support me. Sometimes even to myself. Stories may veer left and right, rarely down a straight path. Just like life. We define our life by stories we tell.

At this point in life, I don’t consider gigs my job. I am pursuing things I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Like standing at the edge of a volcano. Story. I know that my root system is based on help from others, plus the foundation that I have put in place through the years to stand alone sometimes. Like the lone tree on the edge of a massive hole in the earth.

Pu’u Huluhulu Cinder Cone

And it’s not just in Hawai’i that I find these stand-alones. In my home state of West Virginia, I found a beauty in the middle of winter on friend’s farm, while taking a break from working on my book. My roots are definitely grounded in Appalachia and her storytelling. And family is definitely my roots and people who have given me strength. Friends, too. Nothing like a good friend to be rooted with.

My parents visited the set of my writer-director daughter’s film made in my hometown and saw up close the ‘magic’ of film and all of the people and hard work that it takes to make that magic. My sisters, my nephews and nieces all supported us and inspire me. Plus extended family. Roots run really deep in WV.

Dad and Mom on set of Crick In The Holler with daughter and writer-director, Ursula Ellis. Keslers Cross Lanes, WV

Lots of people have helped me along with way. I’ll be writing about these folks and others, too. You can now view CRICK IN THE HOLLER, so jump on over to Shop or My Gigs page and check that out on Seed & Spark link.

Back to the tree. In the opening scene of my film, ANGELA’S DECISION, that South Australian tree reminds me of one that I drove by every day in Oklahoma taking Ursula to school. Today, some of those SA trees burn. That’s one reason I added a Share to give back on my Shop page. To the Country Fire Services Foundation. I’m also donating half of my book sales of Angela’s Decision: A Journey of Adaptation to CFS through March. They’ll need help for a long time. That tree in my film in SA. The Australian people. Rooted in strength. Look around and I bet you can spot the kind of tree I’m talking about.

Winter. Summersville Lake area. West Virginia.

What is the Mississippi and Hawai’i tea connection? And why so long in Hawai’i? Stay tuned for blog posts about the book and script I’m working on. Feel free to sign up for my monthly newsletter. Here’s a hint. Research for a book that I’m co-writing with Mississippi tea farmer Jason McDonald, founder of the Great Mississippi Tea Company, along with his partner Timmy Gipson, and that story led me to Hawaii tea farms. Plus research for a future book and script (of course, I love adaptation) that I plan to write that will be historical fiction set in HI, WV and Chicago.

Jason McDonald and Timmy Gipson of the Great Mississippi Tea Company and myself.

But I chose this work of art to lead off my blog. With a stand-alone tree. That resides near a massive hole in the ground. Even though now that hole is being filled with a lake. Not of lava but with water this time. Something never before seen in the crater. A lake that is acidic, in the range of fruit juices (with high concentrations of dissolved sulfur and magnesium, for all you scientific geeks vising my site). Kind of like life, acidity and all. This hole in the ground is constantly transitioning. And that tree through the seasons.

Aren’t we trying to fill up our spaces and in transition? Some transitions more major than others. Job changes, having children, finding love, loss of loved ones, empty nest, finding a new nest. Whew! Life. Sometimes our shifts are more manageable. Training for a race, buying new clothes for a new look, writing something different like a play instead of a book. All you have to do is look at my hairstyles through the years; quite a transition sometimes. Ha. Or the 20 plus moves I’ve made requiring major life change. Sometimes we have a quiet period for while, just like the volcano. Or so it appears.

What really matters is what you bring into your space. Sometimes our space is too full and we might have to discard some things. Sometimes with transition, a large gap is created and is ready to be filled. So, I’m filling up some of my space here. Starting something new with a blog and a website. Putting myself out there. Like that lone tree. Independent and a bit afraid at the same time, embracing the beauty of both. Knowing I am strongly rooted.

Sunset View at Volcano House.

Other new things, like a podcast. Still doing my familiar that I love of writing screenplays and adaptations. Continuing my journey of learning about the wide world of tea and discovering new ways to tamper the pain from an army injury long ago.

Yes, I may blog about veterans also. And women over 40. Women over 80. Women under 40. Men over 80. Wherever the story takes me. Figuring out what gig is next. Or just what to have for lunch some days. Offering you a peek into some of my behind the scenes.

Not sure I’ll be as unique as the lake of water now in the crater, but I’ll fill this space with Story about writing books, tea, film and screenwriting, discovering places and people and just life in general. To include my favorite foods- vegetarian Thai, Armenian and home cooked Appalachian fare. And my favorite tea. The piney noted Lapsang Souchong, for now. I hope this space holds some interest for you and you take away something. If just the seed of an idea for yourself.

Sign up for my monthly newsletter for some announcements and news, and sometimes a freebie while you’re here. A HUGE thank you to Bekah, of Rebekah Read Creative, for designing this website and my logo. I could not have envisioned this without her expertise and for helping me define what Gena in General is to me, my Gig. That’s a story in itself, how this came about.

E Komo Mai. Welcome. To Gena in General. Come on in for awhile. All brought to you by the letter G, of course.

Dusk at Kamuela Inn in Waimea.

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