We Now Resume Our Regularly Scheduled Program

Weeks Twenty Six and Twenty Seven (The Non-emergency Bits) (28 July – 10 August 2014)

The newspaper this Sunday morning brought word that hurricane Julio decided to move north of the island and, around 5:30 p.m., power and running water were restored to our rental home. Yay! The fridge is smelling pretty ripe, though.

Today’s rag also brought us news regarding citizens a bit southwest of us who are going through a more difficult recovery. There were, it turns out, people trapped in their homes by downed trees, the local swimming pool has been opened as a place to shower and charge cell phones, and the National Guard was called in to reestablish access to the totally cut-off area.

Catching Up

Okay…so where were we? Let’s see…this past week was partly taken up with storm preparations and tales of the event, and before that? Ah, yes. Week twenty six. And what an eventful week it was. Let’s begin with a quick word on my seven-hour fishing adventure on Monday of that week.

To be honest, a recap of this material could easily be a stand-alone short story, if not a Vince Vaughn comedy. In fact, I’ve already penned some notes for a rough outline and I may just do a separate blog entry to provide some granularity to readers of this electronic drivel. So, for now, I’ll just touch on the highlights.

Imagine an older Asian gentlemen with years of worldly and practical experience schooling a much younger East Coast city slicker in the ways of big game fishing in the south Pacific. It probably looked something like Mr. Miyagi instructing Mr. Bean, but–to be honest–my new mentor is even more hardcore and old school than Mr. Miyagi. Did I mention no life vests and occasionally drifting into 700 feet of water? Emergency radio purposefully kept in the off position? A depth finder that kinda worked when it felt like it? A nonfunctioning gas gauge? I love this guy!

I learned more in seven hours than I have learned in the past few years of my life and came home more exhausted and sunburned than I have been probably since beach week in high school. Lessons learned included extracting a boat from a slip using a large truck and a trailer, personally piloting a small craft for several hours, trolling for big game fish, gaffing and landing said fish, gutting and cleaning said fish. Wow.

We bagged two Ono (more commonly referred to on the mainland as a Wahoo, which also just happens to be the unofficial mascot of my alma mater. Wahoowa!!!!). One was about 25 pounds and, when stood upright, was taller than my youngest kid; the other weighed in around 20 pounds. If you have never seen Ono other than on a dinner plate, here is stock photo that captures the little beasties:

Aside from all the experience and the gratitude for being trusted to command this fellow’s beloved truck and boat, I was also compensated with a generous four pound slab of meat and two egg sacs bursting at the seams.

Since that day, weather has been too rough to go out again, but I am looking forward to our next outing.

Brotherhood of Growers

Here is a nugget that will give you a sense of the local camaraderie among growers. So…the bride and I venture over to a local residence in Hilo in response to a Craig’s List listing for baby apple banana plants. The Christian war veteran who greeted us ran us through a well scripted set of friendly questions to gauge just what we were all about. Then, about 30 seconds into the interview, he said, “Okay, come with me. I need to show you a few things.”

An hour later, we emerged from the full tour of his ½ acre lot fully educated on growing everything from breadfruit to taro and having tasted several fruit varieties right off the tree. This guy is pulling enough food from his ½ acre in downtown Hilo to feed a small Army. In the end, he sent us off with more baby banana plants than we asked for (charging us less than what we would have paid for the smaller amount), a huge bunch of fresh oregano to cook with, an arm full of other free goodies to help get our homestead started–Thai lemongrass, purple sweet potato, etc.–and an admonishment to hang onto his phone number and contact him with any questions or other sapling needs. (As I have noted in previous posts, it is not uncommon for us to walk away from new introductions with free food, good advice, and offers of future help.)

On that note, a quick update on our budding nursery, which we will start moving piecemeal up to our property shortly. The turmeric, soursop, passion fruit, pineapple, grapefruit, and others are all doing very well. Here is a snapshot of a few of the plants that we hope will help feed us in the future.

The Promised Land

We moved more coconuts up to the property (I think there are about 20 now), along with our eight new baby apple bananas.

Speaking of bananas, we intend to plant several varieties, including this blue-toned one known as a blue ice cream banana.

Here is a snapshot of the semi-precious peridot stones to be found all over our land. (Before you get excited or plan to come rob us, these are too small to use as jewelry and, unfortunately, all mineral rights belong to the state here in Hawaii). These are the source material for the green sand beach on the island.

The builders also began graveling in our driveway with large cinder. Now you can get as far as the housepad without a four-wheel-drive.

Here they are dumping smaller grade cinder for us to build our temporary base camp on.

The mixed pasture grass seeded a little ways back started coming in, despite some compaction caused by tractor activity. Only time will tell if this will take off and blossom absent additional organic material or other amendments. (It’s a bit of an experiment, really.)

And the dog loves the wide open spaces. (By the way, being an Australian Shepherd, we decided to name her after our favorite city on the continent, Sydney, where the bride and I celebrated our anniversary once upon a time when we were fortuitously both sent there on separate work trips in our former professional lives.)

Briefly, In Other News

I was assigned my first cross-island driving gig. Essentially, I sat in a van (sleeping and leisure reading) while I was ferried across the island (all on the clock, paid) and then retrieved a nice new rental car, popped in a favorite audio book, and drove said car back to Hilo through gorgeous countryside and in pristine weather. I made the trip twice in one day for a cool 9 hours of paid “labor.” (I still can’t believe someone gives me money to do this.)

The bride and I continued our classes. While she continued to learn about agricultural business issues, I was up to my elbows in dirt experimenting with Huglekulture and relearning the periodic table and how it relates to cation exchange in the soil.

We wrapped up the kids’ schooling for last year (our cross country relocation and settling in here slowed thing down a bit). Now it is time to launch into the new year’s curricula.

We received our first check from the newspaper, including tips from two customers and a bonus for signing up a new customer. Woohoo! We just about finished memorizing the 120-stop route, the bride had to dodge two wild pigs one night when she was driving, and we had to call in some suspicious activity to the local fuzz. Never a dull minute out there.

We passed our driver’s license tests and are now fully street legal. Since the bride got a better score than me, no fewer than two ladies at the police station made sure to inform me of the “spousal policy”–whoever scores worse buys the other dinner or breakfast. So…back to Ken’s pancake house we went.

On a curious note, the lady who processed my driver’s license asked me, “Isn’t Virginia nice?” I responded in the affirmative and, in response to my question, “Why do you ask?,” she noted that I was the seventh recent transplant from Virginia for whom she had personally processed a driver’s license in the past month. (Making this even stranger, this is not the first we have heard of other recent arrivals from Virginia, though we have yet to meet any.)

As we prepare to begin setting up our base camp this week, we have turned some attention to securing a good trailer. Need to haul mulch in, wood out, and a pregnant goat to her new home.

And that’s all for now…

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