All Systems Go

Week Twenty One (23-29 June 2014)

Black Jack!
(Or…for fans of Kevin Spacey and the movie “21”…“Winner winner, chicken dinner!”)

That’s right, we are in week 21 of our liberation from secure government jobs, our descent toward the poverty line, and our move toward a sustainable life on the side of an active volcano. So where do we stand? Here is a quick update.


The land clearing continues apace…

…and, beyond the tough-as-nails blue rock, I have found on our humble patch of earth at least four kinds of igneous wonder, some with shimmering flecks of the semi-precious peridot, birth stone of our eldest daughter, by chance (or not).

The floor plan for the yurt moved to the next level…

…and, as far as possible in our rental, our few homesteading and life-skills pursuits continue to press ahead. Here, for instance, is a snapshot of cloves, given to me still fresh from the yard by a member of our church congregation, which I sun dried (as you see here) for culinary use:

The bride purchased a large taro root at the local market and took a stab at making the ancestral staple, poi, for the first time. It was a two-finger version (consistency being measured by the number of digits required to scoop it up and into your mouth with any measure of efficiency) and it was delicious in its fresh, one-day old, and three-day forms.

We attended a free sustainability conference to listen to lectures on organic beekeeping, building soil with coconut husks, and other issues pertinent to our new lives. While strolling through the event, I was randomly handed two free whole avocados that were, literally, just plucked off of a tree that I was passing by and we departed with two free potted starts for the boy’s future herb garden–Mexican and Vietnamese cilantro. Driving back to our rental, we identified a great source of local fresh fish ($2.50 / lb for mahi-mahi just hauled in from the nearby waters). With a little local sea salt, it was outstanding in flavor when taken right off the grill, using charcoal made from coconut husk, of course.


We discovered an educational treasure trove–a cheap source of used hardcover textbooks (a steal at $1.00 each ) and the lessons went on…

The kids continued to make their own discoveries, advancing their education between all the “school work,” like when one asked “Why are there so many stars here?” (The Big Island is home to the largest observatory on earth, partly because the skies are so clear and there is minimal light pollution. A few very early mornings, we were able to see Venus with the naked eye so prominently that, when I first spied it at 4:00 when stumbling to the kitchen to get some water, I was concerned that it was an approaching aircraft.)

Educational activities also included a local researcher’s lecture at the local library on red fire ants (a consideration of the agricultural and anaphylactic order here), and a cultural program that allowed the kids to learn about native Hawaiian pattern and fabric making by trying out some native stamping techniques using local materials (ti leaves, cut breadfruit, etc.).

In the area of musicology, there was a free ukulele concert at the National Park by Carl Ray Vellaverde–the Jimmy Paige of this uniquely Hawaiian instrument–and, on the geology front, when departing the park, we made a quick stop to watch the glowing cauldron of Kilauea, the closest of the two live volcanoes that are nearby.

Quite a sight. And while I am speaking of the volcano, here are some day shots of the cauldron:

Throwing in a dash of fun, the kids went to a free showing of Despicable Me 2 at the local library while the bride and I sat nearby scouring the local papers for a work vehicle and other necessaries.

The Lifestyle

In our transitional rental house, life is one step closer to camping than what we left behind. We are all becoming accustomed to the daily rain, military-style showers, air-dried laundry, never ending indoor foot traffic of lizards and bugs, and meals outdoors on the screened lanai (sometimes by the romantic light of a solar lantern).

Other than launching and retrieving the youngest child to/from summer camp in the uplands, the week was only further marked by our visit to the local weekly night market. A five-hour gathering chock full of fresh cooked food (including brick oven pizza out of the back of a truck), handicrafts, live music and–for those who wish–dance…all held at a genuine kava bar. Posted signs reading “Say No to Monsanto” and “GMO Free Zone” let us know that we were among kindred spirits.

New Faces and More Spam

We were also blessed with another new local contact when our downstairs neighbor (a nursery worker full of planting and growing advice) was replaced with a former general contractor, steeped in the local knowledge of land clearing and building and the like. (I have lost track of the number of times we have been hosted by, introduced to, or otherwise led to interact with locals who immediately fall into mentoring roles on everything from local permaculture practices to the best way to fatten the wild pigs to considerations for installing rain catchment systems.)

I’ll leave you with this… Just in case you thought I was joking in my last post about the prevalence of Spam in the South Pacific, here is something we encountered at a local sushi-go-round:

Tune in next week… Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel…

Organic Kona Coffee


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