New Family Members and Musings on Spam

Week Twenty (16-22 June 2014)

The early stage adjustment continued. Becoming better familiar with our temporary house, we learned that we have starfruit, mango, and a type of edible fern growing in the backyard, in addition to the wealth of coconuts. We also began to enjoy the availability of free produce offered around the island. More specifically, a Craig’s List posting led us to free mangos cluttering someone’s yard up north and the drive there netted us two bunches of free bananas sitting out in someone else’s yard with a sign reading, “FREE FRUIT.” A run to the recycling station netted us a box of free lychees, set out by a local whose yard was simply producing too much. In the same vein, I polished off two books on shoreline saltwater fishing in the Pacific…time for some free fish. Our budding nursery expanded a tad with the planting of some longan and passion fruit.

Big fans of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), we began to look for some natural solutions to the issues of roaches, which are commonly encountered in the tropics irrespective of the state of cleanliness of your home. Given that some of these flying pests here match the geckos in girth and that the wild anoles seem afraid of this bug, we decided we need a bigger insect-eating patrol on duty. We adopted this fascinating little lady into our family:

Camille, our Jackson Chameleon

Unfortunately, she tends to fall asleep when the sun sets (when the roaches emerge), but she is very friendly, can change color dramatically and with uncanny speed, and we have seen her tongue shoot out at least six inches when she is hunting other insect prey. She now lives happily in a live palm on our screened lanai, does her part at keeping the bugs at bay, and she comes in to guard the fruit basket when needed.

Fruit flies? Not on my watch!

In an effort to naturally weed and prune the much overgrown jungle-like back yard, and set ourselves up with a source of dairy once we reach our property, we also adopted this ole gal:

Zelda, Our Six-Year Old Nubian

The week was rounded out with efforts to open dialogs with members of the beekeeping community, breeders of heritage breed chickens and rabbits, nurseries, and a CPA who can help us navigate the fineries of agricultural business issues and tax law. And…of course…a quick check on the status of the property.

Nicely Leveled

New Clearing Of Trail to the Back (look at the color of that soil)

No Sign of Pigs Yet, But We Have Mongoose

Unfamiliar Sundries

As touched on briefly in my cross-country road trip entries of late (the drivel about rough navigation via the goods sold at gas stations along the way), the character of a place can oft be captured in the offerings of the local roadside convenience store. This is not unlike the way that a food or wine’s taste reflects terroir, and our nearest purveyor of regular household items and munchies is no exception. Grabbing some chips and drinks to celebrate my first paid, published article as a freelance hobbyist writer, we stopped to admire the shop’s selection of machetes, spearfishing accessories, chicken feed, planting supplies, marlin jerky, and the local potted meat staple–Spam (including varieties unseen in some corners of the mainland–Chorizo, Teriyaki, Garlic and more).

On that note, allow me to digress for a minute. For those of you unfamiliar with The Cult of Spam, it is a phenomenon that spreads across the Pacific, a remnant of the influence of U.S. military presence during WWII. (In the tropics of years bygone, who wouldn’t readily adopt low cost animal protein that required no refrigeration, had an eerily long shelf life, came in a durable metal box that can be later repurposed, and was introduced by the likes of G.I. Joe?) I have witnessed the high culinary art of Spam preparation in restaurants and homes in the Mariana Islands of Guam and Saipan, the Federated States of Micronesia Island of Palau, the Philippine Islands (at least in Luzon, Palawan, and Cebu), and in the Hawaiian islands of Lanai, Maui, Oahu, and the Big Island. Spam with rice, Spam with eggs, Spam sandwiches, and Spam masubi are only a few of the more common presentations. What have the rest of us been missing out on?

So, in solidarity with our Pacific brethren, the next time you wander by that famous tin of potted meat sitting expectantly on the grocery store shelf, grab one, take it home, pop it open, savor the heady bouquet, and dig in…rediscover the joys of this nifty food-like product. (Or, at least, go out and see Monty Python’s live musical production, Spamalot… Or Youtube the original Python Spam skit.)

Kids (ours, not the goat’s)

The wee ones have begun to embrace the incessantly pleasant weather, the ready availability of exotic fruits, quick stops at the shoreline (they saw their first sea turtle), and visits to the myriad of farmers markets found throughout the greater Hilo area to pick up produce and learn from the vendors’ knowledge of local issues. A quick run up the Hamakua Coast to pick up some free fruit allowed them a quick stop at the t.v.-and-movie famous Akaka Falls.

They seem to be starting to understand how the 2-4 hours per day of homeschooling can easily be more enjoyable and productive than their more conventional educational experience to date (lots more time to leisure read, work with animals, advance hobbies and projects). Vacation Bible School (both as attendees and volunteer helpers) helped them while away a few summer hours each day, and they are gearing up for camp up in the mountains in the coming weeks.


I’ll stop here with a link to my favorite local radio station–KAPA–keeping us all mellow with Hawaiian licks. By the miracle of internet, you too can tune in, no matter where you are on this great spinning globe, and get a taste of the local rhythms that fill our days.


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