Well…it’s June 2016…and our last update, titled “Turning a Corner?,” could not have been more apropos. Now, two months later, we can say with absolute confidence that we have turned a corner, indeed! The real question is, “What kind of warped corner have we turned and where in the name of Gandalf’s staff are we heading?”
Here we are, exactly two years on Fantasy Island (d’plane! d’plane!), and still no house. (I am drafting this fine missive from the comforts of the sixth establishment where we have laid our heads since setting our feet ashore.) Meanwhile, the IRS came calling again, and with a vengeance, wiping out a good portion of our remaining building funds. (Is “imperial governance” a legitimate statute, a piece of our legal code, that can be invoked in the current era?) As if that were not enough, the lava resumed its slow sputter down the side of the volcano. Worst of all, my new job put me back into an 8-hour per day work schedule (for training, for now) for the first time in two years and I have to start work at 4:45 in the morning! (Who knew that people were awake and working at that hour?) Agh!!!!
We can’t complain, though. Things are tough all over, right? (Why does it seem that the Run DMC ditty “Hard Times” is playing on a loop in my head?) Honestly…we have traveled to enough arm pits of this planet to know to be thankful, and to know that it could always be worse. I mean…after all…in Westeros, winter has finally come. Meanwhile, we have a rented roof over head, good health, meat and mead in our bellies, plenty of cheer and–as far as I can tell–no White Walkers.
Lords and ladies, welcome back to our blog, and please indulge me to begin with an update on our intrepid wayfarers…
Eldest. (Gratuitous nod to author Paolini). Driver’s license in hand, this one embraced the fine art of running errands for the parental units and chauffeuring siblings to and from their various engagements. Highlights for her during this period included a camping trip in Waimea with college mates that included a chance to hand-feed wild horses, an outing to the local night market (without parental supervision for the first time), and exceptionally painful abscesses that sprung up on a rather strategically unfortunate location on the lass’s body. Ah, the joys of camping in the tropics… (Certified as an EMT and with some time working in the ER, I find that there are few things that make me want to hurl, but watching a relatively highly paid Physician’s Assistant drain infected tissue and puss from your child’s lanced backside would be among them. After all…I could have done it myself with no copay.)
Jester. This one rocked her GED with a score that qualifies her for free college credits. (GED is Hawaii State’s preferred method for capping off a homeschooled high schooler’s learning before entering college…a way to prove that they actually have learned the things expected of a 12th grader). She applied to, and was accepted by, the University of Hawaii to begin a course of study in computer science (one of the local campus’s strong programs) and continued fishing around for scholarship money. Meanwhile, she has self-taught herself two songs on the acoustic guitar and is making final preparations for open mic night at a local pub. She has bought out the parents’ share of the seed business and marched on with seed sales at the market. She was put in charge of the crafts program at a vacation Bible school she assisted with last summer and got a chance to exercise her creativity in redesigning craft projects to better suit the kids and the setting of the program.
Pea Pod. Growing like a lima bean vine, I tell you! As “Master of Lettuce,” this one continued to delight the family with fresh grown greens, even in our nomadic state. (She has perfected the art of growing salad leaf in moveable flats.) Aikido and manga continued to occupy some of her free time. (She seems to have forgotten that she is half Chinese and has no roots, whatsoever, in the Land of the Rising Sun…unless my grandpa Miyagi was not being totally truthful about his Scottish heritage as he taught me to pick banjo at the family’s Appalachian cabin, typically after a proper tea ceremony honoring the ancestors. I must say, I never did quite figure out what “wax on” and “wax off” had to do with donning a kilt.)
Heir To The Throne. The boy was exceptionally busy. He knocked out his AP Biology test (still waiting for scores), was gifted four quad copters as payment for some yard work at a neighbor’s house, indulged in a little salt water shore fishing, learned how to slaughter a cow and neuter a calf, secured 5 medals in competitive outrigger canoe racing, volunteered to run the sports program for a vacation Bible school, and–in his copious free time–began dabbling with computer modeling. A Renaissance man in the making. Did I mention he was also baptized after a public profession of faith?
My Queen. Me Lady finally extracted herself from her part-time nursery and social work job to reengage in the fine art of slow food–whole food, home cooked meals. She also ramped up her emphasis on translation and began to further explore some consulting opportunities.
The Artist Formerly Known as “Dad.” “The leader of the band is tired and his eyes are growing old…” (That is not really a fair portrayal of things as they lay, but it sounded pithy, no?) During this period, I have been consumed (and forced to neglect my green collar and freelance writing duties) by the new job. (The sacrifices we make for a touch of stability, like health insurance and flexible spending accounts…) I was absorbed in full-time, 8-hour per day training throughout both months. This included a two-week jaunt to Honolulu for formal course work, allowing me to fly in the bride for a weekend of indulgence.
Now…before your imagination gets ahead of you…I’m talking about food. You see, though we live in the Pacific on an island full of fine Chinese folk, we do not have access to authentic Chinese restaurant cuisine on the Big Island. So…a weekend in Honolulu for us (meticulously planned by the bride) means dim sum at every meal possible, rounded out with full course Chinese meals and late night congee runs in between. (To indulge me, at least enough to sidestep divorce, I was also allowed to spend some quality time at Gordon Biersch and, after the bride departed, Popeye’s Chicken. (You know you lack for civilization when you spend your weekend in the greater Waikiki area hunting down Louisiana-style fast food)). I put on 5 pounds in two weeks, most of it during the weekend during which I was force fed braised chicken feet, ho fun, egg custard tarts, and what not.
My Oahu getaway also included a visit with some colleagues from my former professional life (more exquisite victuals, nectar of the grape, and laughter over a touch of reminiscing), an ad hoc home study for a potential foreign exchange student host family (an out-of-the-blue request from one nonprofit that I work for to help place a foreign high schooler with a family at the base of Diamond Head), a perambulation down Waikiki Beach, and a drive around the southeast nub of the island (both with the bride).
After the spreading and prepping of some 500 tons of crushed lava rock, our new housepad was finally completed. Trenches were dug, forms and rebar for concrete footers were set, plumbing and electrical conduit was laid out, and the building inspector came in for his first visit (we passed). (Did I mention that our inspector is the husband of one of my new work colleagues?) Next step? Pouring and curing the concrete in between the frequent bouts of rain.
Meanwhile, Yurts of Hawaii, which is currently storing the yurt we purchased some 18 months ago, called to inform us that the roof of our yurt had mysteriously been damaged. Under warranty, we have asked for a replacement (versus a repair job). Just another point of craziness in the process of trying to build a home…
Finally, given all the heavy trucks coming in to work on our place (and that of a nearby new neighbor), we were asked to chip in some extra funds to help build up and repair the road that provides common access to our “neighborhood.” It seems that there is never a shortage of new chores and/or expenses… Will keep you posted.
More Travelers. Surprisingly, my stepbrother and a friend showed up on island for some traveling adventure and dropped by for palaver and prattle and a tour of our weed farm; they crashed with us one night as well. Then, for the third time in two years, we were visited by a younger married couple from our past work lives (three sets of old work colleagues in 24 months). As with other welcome guests from our earlier chapters of life, food and conversation with these two did much to lift spirits and solidify our feeling that we are on the right course (in a rather wonderful, albeit general, sort of way).
Then, unexpectedly and in a strange twist of fate, I found myself (within the capacity of my new job at the airport) conducting a bag check on a former senior colleague who, unbeknownst to us, was traveling on island. The shock on his face was priceless and I was fortunate to spend my lunch break quickly catching up with the old boy before his plane departed. (This was one of those cosmically aligned moments…The Maker placed me exactly in the right post at the exact right moment and only the slightest of change in any one of a number of variables would have left us unwittingly passing each other by.)
My Babies. Our wee nursery operation took on a new dimension as we made our first sale of mamaki–a medicinal plant that grows wild all over our property and sells for as much as $7 per ounce. I also found a good home for an ice-cream bean tree that I have been coddling for some 18 months (an easy $35) and had a work colleague snatch up one of my last soursop seedlings (another $15). (Keep in mind that all these foodstuffs are the product of God’s sun and rain–with no effort on our part–as wildlings on our land or as the result of us taking seed from something we have eaten (a grocery byproduct) and sticking it in a cup of dirt.
More Housesitting. Finally, our butcher and his wife, in preparation for their vacation and our older girls’ care taking of their place, invited us over for dinner (complete with homemade liqueurs of passion fruit and jaboticaba ). They briefed us on the upkeep of their home and growing operation. (Aside from providing many in our area with all of our grass-fed beef, they make and sell fresh leis from the flower producing plants on their land and they stock the local grocery store with ghost peppers and Hawaiian chili peppers). The couple taught our girls to harvest the flowers and peppers and make the leis, promising them all profits for whatever they sold during the 10 day absence. Beyond the picking and stringing, the girls were kept very busy during this period with the care of a host of dogs and pet fish.
Hawaii (Short and Sweet)
“And what about things Hawaii?”, you ask. Well..same old
stuff. Rather than dwell on the minutia of crime, corruption, and third-world-like life, allow me to point you to the official update on the volcano’s current eruption. Just click here.
And…here are a few graphics for your enjoyment:
The Big Island in a nutshell: