Kau Kau Kitchen
by Leilehua Yuen

Household Hints

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Handy Hints of Old for the Household

-Editorial by Leilehua Yuen

I have been finding that my haumāna, growing up in this modern world, don't know about many of the tips and tricks for taking care of a home that were second nature to us of an older generation.

Knowledge how to care for lace and linens, silver, and crystal is becoming a thing of the past, as the know-how for simple household repairs. Replacing a pane of glass was once a simple household skill. These days, people hire a carpenter who wants to replace the whole window! Who, today, know how to string a window, let alone why?

After three generations of ever-increasingly disposable lifestyles, we - and the rest of the plant - are now being made ill by the toxins and trash we have carelessly strewn across our planet. Garbage patches bigger than small countires swirl across our oceans!

And there is utterly no need for this. Plastic chairs we bought in 2005 are shattered and in the landfill. My grandmother's wooden frame chairs from the 1950s are still going strong, as are her wrought iron chairs from the 1960s.

I once had a student staying with me who used my great-grandmother's tatted napkins to wipe the table. I explained that we use rags cut from old t-shirts for scrubbing, and hand wash the tatted napkins. We also use glass canning jars, not the cut crystal, for storing food in the refrigerator. She told me that if I valued things more than people, I needed to re-evaluate my priorities.

I do not value things more than people. I value the craftsmanship of people, and I honor the people by taking good care fo the things they have put so much skill and heart into. I also value my planet, and honor it by taking good care of my things so they do not add to the landfill, and I do not need to repeatedly use more and more resources to replace them.

Plus, for new residents to our islands, keeping house in the tropics can present new and different challenges to those used to life in the temperate zones. Mold and mildew grow in abundance, and "wildlife" of the multi-legged variety enjoy "visiting."

So, in this section, I will be sharing my philosophy - as inspired by the memories embodied in the things I own, information on how to care for them, old-fashioned ideas whose time has come again, and other things my ʻohana passed on to me, which I will share with you.