Ah, April…so many points of note. Take Easter, for instance. That time of year when many celebrate the death of a Jew by eating a ham… The time when many commemorate a little known miracle of the Messiah–when he made a Mediterranean rabbit lay technicolored boiled eggs to feed the masses, and his disciples hid the surplus ova from Roman soldiers in various nooks and crannies around the nearest village.
(For a more fulsome and equally cynical commentary on the distortion of the remembrance of this Holy Day through pagan ritual, see my rantings from April of last year, if you dare.)
Channeling Bono and Janis Joplin
Then there was mid-month…the much loathed 15th…time to pay the piper. I would need to use advanced math, perhaps that of an extraterrestrial intelligence, to accurately describe how much money Uncle Sam decided to extract from us jobless, homeless folk in the form of taxes. It was, hands down, the largest check I have ever written. Honestly, we should have a bridge named after us or at least a public toilet.
Our Household Effects Arrive…(One Year Later)
April was–and always is–also time to celebrate another year in which this earth has been trodden by the delicate feet of my good bride. (That said, she will always be twenty-something in my eyes…)
Also, this month, advancing her plans of world domination of the chocolate market, the youngest began collecting cacao pods from the trees in the yard of the home where we currently hang our hats, and she began processing pods to collect, ferment, and roast their valuable inner nuggets.
Cacao Magnate in Training
As I have noted in other posts, a desire–if not calling–to plug into community was one of the many reasons we decided to break with convention and pursue what some may call an alternative lifestyle (homesteading). It dawned on me this month that we have made considerable headway in this regard. Why? Well..One day this month, after a jovial meeting with the vice principle of the local high school to discuss placing foreign exchange students in his fine establishment and housing them with families in our district (one of my income streams as we build the homestead), I found myself walking some distance down the road to the nearest place where I could get online and get some work done while awaiting my bride chauffeur. “What happened to your other car?,” you ask. Well…in a true measure of neighborly cooperation reflective of the practices of Aunt May or Gomer Pile, we have for many weeks loaned our car to a neighbor in need…the same neighbor who put us up in his off grid cabin for several months free of charge.
If that does not smack of Andy Griffith to your satisfaction, consider that while I was taking this walk down the street, I was greeted by name by a police officer who had pulled over a speeding citizen and who was in the process of drafting a citation for said driver (a side effect of neighborhood watch involvement). Then, several paces later, I was honked at and waved to by a passing vehicle driven by a regular at the farmer’s market where we hawk our goods each Saturday. Just the day before, shopping at the local grocery, I ran into cohorts from two of my various “jobs”–a regular occurrence in this small town setting.
The Family That Processes Cacao Together Stays Together
The dark side of paradise continued to rear its ugly head this month. Near our property, our next door neighbor, for instance, had his car stolen from his driveway entrance after the perpetrator, caught in the act of rummaging through my neighbor’s cabin, threw a hatchet at him. A security gate in our neighborhood, while locked tight with a combination lock that only our local neighbors have the code for, was removed from its hinges by some unauthorized traveler. (Probably just well intentioned bird watchers, right?) Vagrant pig hunters squatting on neighboring plots were again sighted hauling carcasses from the bush, and again left behind hides and skulls for all to enjoy. Another instance of illegal dumping had us all quite miffed (and the police refused to examine the deposited, bagged trash for bills, receipts, or any other evidence that could identify the perp). (Did I mention that we live right around the bend from an active duty police officer?)
And all this was just near our property…
From Storage on Mainland to Storage on Hawaii
The home in which we are staying in the town of Hilo has proved to be no less exciting. A drive-by shooting at the nearest crossroad woke us all in the middle of one night and we read about it in the paper the next day. Returning to the house one afternoon, about five minutes away from the abode, the bride and I had to pull off the nearest main road to avoid a police high speed chase of a stolen vehicle, and we got to read all about it in the paper the next day. (Did I mention that the local paper of East Hawaii has a page devoted to crime issues every day? Arrests, outstanding warrants, trials, details of the last robbery… Ah, paradise.) Then there was the morning we left for our paper route pre-dawn to find four police cruisers and multiple officers on foot swarming a house just a few blocks away…
Not the stuff of tourist brochures when you look into traveling to Hawaii, eh?
Slam Poet Laureate at Open Mic Night
Many of you have asked, “Dude! What is up with the hair?,” or something conveying that friendly, if inquisitive, sentiment. Two months back, one local, bold young redhead even asked my dear ole visiting ma, “Did you fly all the way here to cut your son’s hair?”
What, indeed, is up? I know not. For this has become an experiment in sociological exploration. “What?,” you ask. Well…since the day a hippy nudist insisted on hugging me instead of shaking my hand over a business transaction, I knew that my new ‘do had bought me access to pockets of society that are hard to infiltrate in a military style buzz cut. This was quickly confirmed a week later at the farmer’s market when a young, let’s say “free spirited,” lass bedecked in pseudo-Indian attire and sporting a piece of jewelry dangling out of one nostril approached me like a long-lost brother to barter goods. Checkout clerks often greet me with the colloquial “How’zit,” and a fellow newspaper carrier whom I often encounter during morning paper pick ups calls me “bradah” (that is, “brother,” for those of you who are still struggling with Hawaiian Pidgin).
And the rumors are true…on special occasions, for a more professional panache, I began sporting a man tail (“pony tail” to the uninitiated). I’ll note here too that, when I have gone to “formal” events (if anything in East Hawaii can truly be called “formal”), I was not the only chap sporting a tail, but I was definitely the youngest.
Cyrano de Bergerac?
The bride has quipped that I now resemble a younger, thinner Steven Segal. (I have no qualms with that. Though his movies are a tad droll, the philosophy of Aikido resonates with me.) A Japanese tourist waiting with me in a check out line once commented, “A young John Lennon.” Or maybe it was something about juggling young lemons. (Her grasp of the Queen’s tongue was limited and spiced with foreign accent.) That said, others have made the Beetles reference, and I can’t complain there. (The White Album is a classic and I, too, have my Yoko.)
A young member of the church congregation one day noted, “Way to copy George Washington.” (I am more of a T.J. acolyte, but still…no issue with that comparison.) Interestingly, several other kind citizens have made remarks of a colonial nature, bringing a smile to the lips of this Virginia boy (Williamsburg, Alexandria, Charlottesville, etc., being some of my earlier stomping grounds).
My favorite, though is probably from my father-in-law who, seeing my hair down, noted, “You look like a medieval knight!” (Now we’re talking!) I may be forced to swap out my renaissance festival costume of a simple monk’s robe should we be graced with the chance to attend such reverie in the coming seasons.
All that aside, on a serious note, I’ve been forced to study the fineries of tending long locks. I now, for the first time in my life, understand the importance of conditioner, for instance. And…I frequently find myself fighting my girls for their high-end brushes and quality hair bands. Some days I’m ready to go under the blade–cut it all off–but I’m having fun with it for now.
Grandpa Sowing Seeds
And that all brings us to this month’s readout on our little patch of earth and our various and sundry homestead endeavors. Where to start? Ah, yes…new acquisitions. This month saw the planting of additional food producing trees and bushes and vines, such as lychee, longan, rambutan, more vanilla, more black pepper, star apple, sapote, macadamia nut, and more blueberry. Our various permaculture plots also gave a warm reception to a variety of edible goodness–heirloom French squash, watermelon, kales, chards, and lettuces. We began enjoying fresh self-picked tomatoes, beans, and salad greens for the first time in many a month.
Another Beatnik in Training
“…and on the building front?,” you ask. A strategic pause. After much discussion with county officials, builders, draftsmen, and the lot, it turns out that relocating our house pad to higher ground on our property is the most cost effective solution. Downsides? Well…beyond additional delay, we will need to excavate (again), dig a cess pool (again), and relocate a ten thousand gallon water tank (or turn it into a swimming pool and buy new). While this ongoing saga would strike most folks in the developed world as absurd, this type of building and permitting lunacy is common here and we are just one more family with a harrowing tale of resettlement on this island, which in some ways resembles a third world banana republic more than one of the United States.
Rockin’ The Crowd Half-pint Style
Hawaii Fun Fact
On that note, I’ll further comment that when you dig into Hawaii beyond the tourist scene, there are many unexpected characteristics that come to light. Having traveled in and out of the islands for many years, these things were not new to us when we moved here, but I’ll share a few now to give you a better sense of the backdrop against which we are operating. For example, did you know that we have one of the lowest ranked public school systems in the nation? One of the highest numbers of welfare recipients in the Union? Prolific marijuana and meth cultures? Must import 90-percent of our food?
Here is the latest on the Big Island from the bean counters:
In 2014, the population of the Big Island grew by 4.9 percent, outstripping the growth of the rest of the state and the average growth across the country. More interesting is the fact that the growth is due to having more new people move to the island than were born on the island in a single year (for the first time). Also interesting is the analysis that most people moved here due to relatively low housing costs. (It is unclear if that includes the large numbers of folks who move here for the very generous welfare benefits. In other words, it is not clear if “low housing” includes living on the street, in a work-stay arrangement at a hippy commune, or in public subsidized housing. Yes… There are many sides to “paradise” unseen by giddy tourists.)
Homeschool Nap Time
A Tale of Three Properties. Though homeless, we this month again found ourselves tending two houses while continuing to work to develop our property. Housesitting has become a way of life for this nomadic family. It keeps us dry and on our toes.
Parent’s Farewell. After a solid month of good conversation, games, and other family time, the bride’s parents went wheels up and returned to the mainland–mainland U.S.A, that is.
And before the month was finished, and as a prelude to the next post, there was this…
(To Be Continued…)