It’s Gettin’ Crazy (and We Like It That Way) – Part 1

Weeks Thirty, Thirty One, and Thirty Two (25 August – 14 September 2014)

Okay, okay. I know I am again behind on my posts. Bare with me. From volcanic eruptions, multiple neighborhood burglaries, and the death of fifty-percent of our goat herd to the celebration of an 18th birthday, a meeting with the mayor, and some outstanding dinners with friends, there has been a lot going on. And don’t forget that we are still enjoying the “freedom” of a life without electricity or internet connectivity. (That’s right. I started a sentence with “and.” It is chic…or lazy…or maybe it really is poor grammar.)

In the interest of getting a little fresh material out there for the consumption of our adoring fans (both of them), I am breaking with the established weekly format to throw out some thematically organized, bite-sized chunks of news and pictures of events over a three week period. Enjoy the ride and keep an eye out for the sequel(s) covering this interesting period.

From Hurricane to Erupting Volcano

As I bang out this missive in the posh setting of the local library, surrounded by rowdy and fragrant middle-schoolers just dismissed from classes, Civil Defense messages continue to roll out on the airwaves, but this time focused on the ongoing volcanic eruption and lava flows creeping toward residential and agricultural areas in the lower part of our district. I think we are in training for the End Days or something…

This development has left much of the island tense and a good many people scrambling to figure out what to do with livestock, orchards, equipment, and houses. We are located away from the harm, in the upper part of our district, but we are still touched by the swirl of anxiety in the air and we do have some acquaintances whose properties and livelihoods are under direct threat.

If you are interested in on-the-ground updates of the lava flow, including webcam coverage of our beloved volcano, check out this U.S. Geologic Survey link, which we peruse every now and then sort of like you might look in on the weather forecast.

In other news…

A Bit Of Progress

The good news is that our yurt arrived. The less than good news is that it will be months before the company can set the foundation and erect it. Also in the “less than good news” category, it was delivered unpackaged, in pieces, to our open camp ground…here in the tropics…where we have rain o’ plenty. So…we scrambled to buy some tarps to keep the many parts covered until a better solution surfaced.

Owner of Yurt’s of Hawaii Delivering the Goods

Unloading Our New Home

Yurt Parts At the Base Camp

Varnishing The Back Door

More Progess

Soon after the arrival of our Mongolian dream house, we hired an agriculture expert and permaculture instructor to consult us regarding our land. For two hours, we walked the property learning about and noting our soil conditions, native species in place, wind flow, solar aspects, drainage, etcetera. As with other professionals who have viewed our little patch of earth, he was impressed with the quality of the soil and landscape and the growing potential. We walked away with loads of suggestions on species that will work well for us and other planting considerations.

Before parting, and after learning that we have much in common, the good fellow asked if he could help us better protect the yurt components. “Sure,” we noted, and he immediately grabbed some tools from his truck to exploit the abundance of God-given construction material that we have on hand (wood and stone) and to teach us how to erect a fairly durable, if temporary, shelter. The whole family pitched in and learned a good bit about the use of hatchets, saws, and chainsaws that day. Another two hours went by and we had a protective shelter for our yurt and a new friend.

Cutting and Measuring Wild Guava Wood For Framing

A Good Ole Fashioned Barn Raising (of sorts)

Jeremiah Johnson Would Have Been Proud

Standing Tall

As noted in past posts, this type of chip-in-and-help mentality is something that we cross regularly here when dealing with like minded folks. In fact, during the short few weeks covered by this post, several different people loaned us (without any prompting) a large solar array, a sturdier camp toilet, solar shower water heaters, and the keys to an off grid cabin just up the road for our use whenever and however we would like. Three acquaintances have offered us the use of the showers in their home and we were offered the use of the shower at the church, if needed. Wow. Lots of good people here and lots of folks who, like us, have had to rough it while getting established and who know exactly what we are going through.

A Landmark Labor Day

Is it a sad commentary on our current recreational life or evidence of our serious focus on this homestead endeavor that we have now lived in Hawaii for two months and not yet been to the beach? Well… On Labor Day, some members of the church gathered at the shore and we finally dipped our toes in the local clear blue waters. Several hours spent swimming and snorkeling, observing sea turtles graze during their mid-day meal, and examining sea cucumbers was a refreshing way to reacquaint ourselves with a lost love–Big Blue. It was a welcome break from our focus on the property and, personally, I cannot wait to find the time to suit up, regulator in mouth, and jump back into the Pacific’s embrace.

Men Who Stare At Goats Meets Dances With Wolves

There are few things in life that can bring one joy like a fresh cup of coffee sipped in front of a crackling, early morning, outdoor fire. Then again, I suppose it depends on the quality of the joe, the weather, and the the nature of the blaze. Writing from Hawaii, the mild tropical atmosphere and outstanding Kona were no issue, but suffer me to elaborate on a particular conflagration that danced before us during this time frame.

“What, pray tell, do you mean, good sir?” I can hear some of you say. Well… The particular fire before which I enjoyed my morning brew–the Dark Master, as some would call it–on this particular Wednesday morning was a barbecue of sorts.

“A morning barbecue?” You ask, puzzled. Well… It was actually a pyre. Where to begin???!!!

Did you ever see the George Clooney movie, loosely based on true events involving our government’s dalliance with the paranormal, “Men Who Stare At Goats”? I haven’t done much staring at goats lately, and I don’t think that government psychics are after my livestock, but on Tuesday evening, as we prepared to head off for a theology class, I found myself in an awkward position that any casual bystander may have labeled “Men Who Kiss Goats.”

Administering rescue breaths to our younger female goat as she began to crash from unknown causes, I was left wondering about what kind of disease a human could contract from lip locking an ungulate, irrespective of the fact that we are both Capricorns (albeit one by birth date, one by species). With a son focused on herbalism, including alcohol extracted tinctures, and a bride born in a British colony, we luckily had a small volume of gin on hand (for medicinal purposes, of course) that I was able to use to wash out my mouth and gargle (a lot). Yuck!

Did you ever see Kevin Costner’s “Dances With Wolves”? This death event had a bit of a side show that was more like “Dances With Puppy.” As I worked to resuscitate the old girl, Sydney (our Australian shepherd), gave up all hope and began digging a grave next to me and the distressed dairy animal. (I am not sure, but this may have been a commentary on my animal CPR skills as much as it was a practical and selfless contribution to deal with the inevitable.)

As dark approached, when the drama was over, we settled Clair’s body out of the rain for her last night at camp, respectfully stored in a wheelbarrow, covered by a tarp. The next morning, after our 3:00 a.m. paper route, in a scene that must have looked like something straight our of the Old Testament, we laid her upon a stack of local woods that we had kept dry for a campfire and then spent the next four hours or so sending her off. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust…

I would have loved to share visuals of this ordeal with you, but my kids insisted that it would be inappropriate to take pictures. So here is a likeness to give you a sense of what it looked like.

Well…maybe not exactly. I did not have time to put my robes on.

Anyway….her final remains went into the garden, where they will help nourish the food that will, in turn, nourish us. Though we have only cared for her these past few months, we will miss the young lady (she was only two) and her mother (our six-year-old goat) is, understandably, a bit sullen and now insists on a constant herd mate (one of us) being close at hand.

Indeed, the bride and I now usually start our day with a cup of coffee and a cup of tea as we take the four-legged bearded lady for a walk down the nearby country road. Oh! I should note too that the reason we do this is because she now bleats incessantly each morning with the rising sun to remind us that she needs some company. We are in a desperate search for a new caprine companion for the old gal.


Living in the country, we often have to take road upkeep into our own hands, particularly when it comes to clearing debris and pruning limbs that are overhanging the trail. I have found that two monkeys and a set of large loppers perched atop a Jeep make for a fine road clearing crew.

My Limb Cutting Crew and Guard Dog

In the meantime, our guard lizard, Camille, has been playing Houdini with nearly daily escape attempts when we do not set her up with a steady stream of flies to eat (like we often do near the trash or dish washing area of the campsite). In this now regular game of hide-and-seek, we have on our side the fact that Jackson Chameleons move about as fast as molasses traveling uphill in winter and, even after hours of being absent, we have been able to locate her making a deliberate, albeit slow, break for the hills.

The Great Escape (She Said She Was “Just Going For a Walk”)

Birthday Like No Other

The eldest finally made it to the age of suffrage. I’ll bet you are asking yourself, “How does one celebrate such a momentous occasion when you are living out of a tent on a live volcano?” Well… We offered her a ticket on the locally run commercial submarine to tour the reefs at depth, a zip line adventure, a parasailing excursion, or a helicopter tour of her new home island. No response. We offered cash. Nothing. So…while we wait for her to make up her mind, we decided that there was no better way to force someone to celebrate on the day of their birth by knocking down a half-gallon of Breyer’s ice cream while sitting at the picnic tables outside of Safeway.

We also let her drive for the first time…in my new JEEP!!!!

Look At That Smile



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