Reality Check

Buying a house is all fun and games, until you start living in it.

Don’t get me wrong: I love my home and I am thrilled that I purchased it. I’ve owned a home (well, a condo) previously, so I had a pretty fair idea of what I was getting myself into. Now that I’ve lived here for 5 months though, my “honey do” list has gotten pretty long.

And it’s all on me. I don’t have a “honey” to help me do the things, though my girlfriends have been incredibly generous about loaning me their husbands/boyfriends, and I’ve found some great skilled vendors. The list keep growing, and I’m trying to be a grown-up and compromise.

I found a gorgeous daybed with trundle that I want to buy, but it’s pricey for the whole thing including mattresses. And I just received a bill from my eye doc that is $500 after insurance. So, I’ll buy the frames now and put two twin mattresses on a future Costco shopping list.

The windows could use replacing, as they are sticky, single-paned, the screens don’t fit properly and/or they are riddled with holes. The original plan was just to replace everything soon, but I’m going to have to piecemeal it with new screen doors and learning how to replace the mesh in the screens because all new windows isn’t in the budget right now (see medical bill above).

A friend sold me some great LED tubes for the overhead lights in my garage, but I need to bypass the ballast for them to work properly. That requires an electrician, which is $100/hour. I’m going to put the florescent lights back in for now as I don’t want to tempt an electrical fire, and I can’t afford the electrician.

The hall toilet keeps cycling and I can’t figure out why. My contractor friend has replaced the flushing mechanism, and the flapper, and now the handle doesn’t go all the way up (I think I need to adjust the flapper chain) so it’s not flushing at all unless I remove the tank lid and pull the chain from the inside. THAT is an expense that is necessary, and if he can’t figure it out on his next visit, I’ll call a plumber. My water bill is almost double that of a comparable household, and I am wasting SO MUCH water. I flinch every time I hear that toilet run, and imagine the dollars and gallons being flushed away.

As much as I want to do it all NOW, I’ve had to slow down my pursuit of the perfect home and remind myself that I plan to be here for many more years so there’s no rush, as long as I can make it habitable and safe. The exterminator and monthly gardener are necessary expenses to keep the house critter-free, and the yard from getting me reported to the HOA (I have a LOT of bushes/flowers/trees, and no idea what to do with them). I am putting in sweat equity in pulling weeds, trimming palm trees, and placing new paving stones to replace the porcelain tiles on the pathway that are slippery death traps when it rains. The art is on the walls, and I’m thinning out more stuff for a garage sale.

Slowly, my house is becoming my home. I guess this another area where I have to factor in “Hawaiian time”!

Island Girl Problems

It occurred to me that I need to throw some humor in here periodically, and it’s been so damn hot and humid recently that I’ve been moaning about my “island girl problems”.

  1. Hot water for shaving is just too uncomfortable (I shouldn’t be sweating while in the shower, yeah?). Shaving happens in a cold water shower and I live with the bumps.
  2. Speaking of sweating in the shower, even after my only-cold-water shower, I find myself starting to sweat as soon as I turn off the water and start toweling off. What was the point in showering again?
  3. If you get the urge to try some facial care, don’t bother with the face mask. It’s too hot and humid for it to dry on your face, even at night.
  4. Make-up melts off my face far too quickly, if I can even get it on. Fans in the bathroom/house, and A/C  in the car can only do so much. I don’t bother most of the time, and getting “fancy” means I actually put on brow pencil, lipstick AND mascara!
  5. There’s a very limited dating pool on an island. A friend of mine described it as, “You don’t lose a partner, you lose your turn”, and that is so accurate. You’ll see that turn all over town too, so make sure you really want to step up.
  6. It’s hard to avoid drinking – everyone who comes to visit is on vacation and wants to go out for mai tais. Then there are the potluck/pau hana (happy hour) get togethers with friends where there is more booze than food. Oh, and don’t forget all of the festivals and fundraisers where they want you liquored up so you’ll open your wallet at the silent auction!
  7. I look like a broke lush buying a bottle of the cheapest, unpronounceable vodka, but at least my clothes won’t be stinky when I do. There is so much sweat in a tropical climate, it’s good to know how to use vodka in a spray and in your laundry to remove sweat and other odors.
  8. It takes a whole lot of practice to be able to strut effectively in slippahs, when out with my girls. However, it’s remarkably easy to fall off them, even when sober.
  9. If you have hair that can be pulled up/back, it will be. Despite your gorgeous, long fall of straight hair, or riot of curls, no one will every see them. The wind, the sea and the sun will all combine to make it uncomfortable or inconvenient to wear your hair down. And forget styling implements. Even if your outlet can handle the electricity, do you really want to spend 20 minutes using heat to dry or flat-iron your hair?

We have some trade winds today, courtesy of Hurricane Lester, so I’m going to go out and enjoy it! Have a fabulous weekend!

For Now

As I move about my home, and gets things fixed or put in place, I’m frequently using the words “for now”.

  • This will work as a jerry-rigged solution, for now.
  • I can store this here, for now.
  • That looks fine, for now.

I keep reminding myself that I’ve been in this space less than 3 months, and I don’t plan to leave anytime soon, so I don’t need to have all of my ideas implemented right away. My impatience must be tamped down, and that energy turned in a different direction: towards things that are required for existing, rather than improving my life.

The temporary solution to the torn and cracked rubber on a slider is to supplement it with Gorilla tape and it completely works. I have a Brita filter pitcher, so I don’t have to search out a Moen undersink filter right away. Replace the outlets in the kitchen with GFCI ones? Absolutely necessary for safety. “Island time” applies to home improvements, too.

But, oh, can I tell you how much I want to go nuts at Lowe’s and Home Depot and bring in contractors?

Finding a house to be my home

An electrician is currently up in my attic, installing another box to support one of my new ceiling fan/lights. I decided to replace the two existing fan/lights, one fan only, and one light fixture so I have four matching fan/lights. We’ve discovered that 2 out of 3 (so far) didn’t have the proper box in the attic to support the units, and I’m hoping the last one doesn’t have the same problem as the electrician doesn’t have any more boxes in his truck. Also, it’s apparently quite hot in the attic, and the poor guy is sweating a lot.

Here’s a little of the background I promised last time on what I’m doing here: I haven’t lived in proper single-family home in at least a dozen years, and I desperately wanted to. Most recently I rented a condo, in California I owned a condo. Prior to that, I lived in a 450 sq ft “in-law unit” in my landlord’s back yard, with the rented single-family home and roommates prior to that. I was very tired of having people so close to me, and in my last condo with a wall of jalousie windows, I could hear a LOT of what happened in my next door neighbor’s unit. Thankfully, they weren’t in it very often (seasonal owners). Also, I got a taste for nesting and making my space most useful and convenient for me when I lived in CA. I still miss that gorgeous kitchen that I remodeled from the studs out. It was time to buy a home.

I knew I wanted to stay near town and near the ocean. I could get a lot more space for less money if I went mauka (up the mountain) or south, but that would also require me to be a bit more self-sufficient and I’m not as rural in sensibilities as needed for moving south. Moving inland and up the mountain means more travel time, and the threat of mold (though I’m sure the temperature difference would have been fabulous). Since I sold nearly all of my possessions before moving to the island, and was renting a furnished condo, buying a “turnkey” (turn over the key, start living immediately) place was a high priority on my list. Finally, I wanted great outdoor living space. We spend so much time outdoors that I hoped to find a home with either an existing, large covered lanai or the space to build one. So, I started looking. Thankfully, I have a fantastic Realtor, who showed me some great properties. I did find the home I purchased on my own, and it was the first place we looked at.

I fell in love with this house, seriously. I probably overlooked some things that now irritate me, but isn’t that how it goes when you’re in love? The landscaping is gorgeous, unique and sortof low-maintenance (I have a landscaper for a close friend, fortunately). I’m surprised at how much joy I get wandering around the yards (they wrap around the entire house), pulling weeds and plucking dead blooms from the plants. There is a beautiful plant across from my office window that attracts butterflies. Hibiscus plants of all colors line the front sidewalk. I have no idea of the names of virtually everything, but it gives me such joy to see all of this beauty. The house is situated really well, at the bottom of a hill and the long part faces the ocean which is on the other side of the houses across the street. If the surf is high, I can hear it pounding the nearby shoreline, and I get some great tradewind action most afternoons. There is a walk-in master closet in the master en suite, a large covered lanai off the living room and a smaller one outside the sliding glass door in the master. I have a second bedroom that is currently my home office, but will also be a guest bedroom. And it was fully furnished when I bought it, which is what led to the garage sale mentioned in my last post.

Next post will talk about the purchase process and what happened after I moved in. A hui hou!

Getting back in the groove

Did you miss me? I know it’s been far too long since I posted here. I got busy doing those job things I talked about last time, then at the beginning of this year, I started the journey to buy a house.

Yep, I wanted to become a homeowner again, in my new home of Hawaii. One of the reasons was I wanted to get out of the condo I lived in; another was to stake my claim on the land. I have no plans to leave this island anytime soon, and so it made sense for me to start paying rent to myself in the form of a mortgage.

I’ll go back in time during the next couple of weeks, and touch on some of the things I learned and experienced during the process. Right now, I am celebrating my one-month anniversary of living in my new hale (house)! I closed escrow on May 12, but didn’t move until May 20. It’s been a whirlwind month since then, as I needed to move in, spend several days on a work project the next weekend, have a garage sale the weekend after that, and then finish up with a burlesque show on June 11! Normal life was put on hold for about 3.5 weeks, and now I’m working on balancing my “honey do” list for the house, with my real-life responsibilities.

However, I have priorities. 🙂 I have some friends coming over for wine-thirty tomorrow evening, which means I need to finish putting together the second sectional for my lanai. Also, it’s the solstice, and I have some spells and blessings I want to invoke once the moon rises.

Lots more blogs coming, as I keep finding stuff I want to talk about, if only so I have a written record on what I’ve done and why. I hope you take this next stage of my journey with me, and enjoy it as much as I do. Aloha!

Anniveraries

I celebrated my one year anniversary of moving to Kona by having an absolute fabulous dinner in Willow Glen, CA. Not where I had intended to spend my anniversary, but I extended my trip to the mainland to attend a friend’s wedding, and it was so worth it.

Today is another anniversary, one that marked a severe left turn in my journey. On October 25, 2014, I managed to break my left tibia and fibula. This was an event that continues to influence my life every day. I’ve written on the lessons I’ve learned from this, and now I’m looking forward to a bright future.

Since that time, I’ve found a job that both frustrates and fulfills me, the latter far more than the former. I have a wonderful circle of friends who love and support me and enrich my life immeasurably. My work with the burlesque girls and guys allows me free rein of my controlling, managing tendencies in a way that helps make the troupe better. The ‘aina around me nurtures my soul, and welcomes me to find my own small place on it.

I won’t look back anymore at this event, other than as one that helped to shape my life in Hawai’i. I choose instead to look forward, and appreciate that life, and fill it with joy and purpose.

To that end, coming up I have: Halloween Zombie Burlesque at Daylight Mind on Saturday night (8:30 p.m show, $5 cover), trips for parasailing and zip-lining to schedule, a performance at My Bar Kona’s White Party on November 14 (10:30 p.m. at My Bar!), my BIRTHDAY!, a boat cruise with a bunch of fabulous people to celebrate my birthday and that of a fabulous girlfriend, a fundraising event for Habitat for Humanity which is a Gingerbread Build on December 5, and so much more. I love my Hawaii Life!

R-E-S-P-E-C-T and community

I recently had an epiphany that seems so obvious in retrospect, I am almost embarrassed to share it. However, there may be others out there who have never looked at things from this angle before either, and I hope you appreciate what I learned.

On Friday, I went out with a group of co-workers to plant sandalwood trees with the Hawaii Reforestation Program. We were mostly adults, and a couple of kids, including the 4-6 year old daughter of one of those co-workers.Her actual (blood) Auntie was with us, and she stuck pretty close to her to begin. Once we all split up to go plant our allotment of trees, I was in a small group with this little girl, and three adult males.

Let me pause for a moment to explain something that I really appreciate about Hawaii, at least this is my understanding of it: when you are speaking to someone older than you, whether you are a child or adult, you show respect by addressing that person as “Auntie” or “Uncle”. This does not have to do with blood, rather it is respect for knowledge and age.

So, this little girl was working with us to plant trees, and after a while, she turns to me and says, “Auntie, will you help me?” I’m not around kids very often here, so it still hits my heart when one calls me Auntie. Of course I helped her, and when I urged her to walk forward to catch up with “Uncle” she knew that I meant the other two men in our group who had walked ahead. She didn’t need to know our names, but she knew our roles, and that she should listen to us.

Later, after we had all reconvened and were going to see the adult sandalwood trees, and the little girl was addressing another woman as Auntie, one of the results of this all-inclusive title occurred to me: she could say “Auntie” and mean any one of the four adult women in that group, and any one of us would have responded to her. She could say “Uncle” and the nearest adult male would have asked what she needed. This is what community does: become responsible to a child’s need, even if it is not our own, because you are “Auntie” or “Uncle”. I think this is really beautiful, and I’m so honored every time a child calls me Auntie. I’d probably be less appreciative if the 18 year old checker at KTA called me Auntie, but that’s my vanity speaking. 🙂

Planting sandalwood

Why Did You Move Here?

“Why did you move here?” is something that I am asked frequently when I share that I am a new resident to the Big Island. Whom I am speaking with usually determines my answer.

The spiritual: I have a photo of my mother on the east side of the island, 42 years ago when she was six months pregnant with me. My first visit here was in utero, so I was drawn to come back.

The practical: I was in a rut on the mainland, and was at a point in my life where a change could be (relatively) easily made. I’ve visited a lot over the last ten years, and I thought I could make a life here work.

The actual: I really like the “me” that I am here. That rut thing lead to me being closed up about new people and new experiences. When I am here, I slow down and open up to the people and world around me, and I become a better person. Don’t mistake me: I enjoyed my life on the mainland, and I miss my family and friends so much. However, I didn’t see my life changing very much, and I craved a new outlook and opportunities. The mainland was very comfortable, and I had no reason to make an effort to change. Very few people knew me in Hawai’i, and I was able to present a different part of me, the one that talks to strangers, and goes on adventures, and is forging a new path.

To get a bit New Age on you, I am able to be a better version of my self. I really like her. 🙂

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Nine months in

Yesterday was my 9 month Kona-versary, and I decided to look at where I am now.

Health: my leg bones are healed, and I am working on building my strength and endurance with a personal trainer. My ankle still bothers me at times, but I can stand and walk for much longer periods than I could just two months ago. I have also started seeing someone to work on my frozen shoulder so that all of my limbs are working correctly.

Home: I signed my new lease recently, committing to another six months in my condo; I started paying rent here on July 1 of 2014, so my lease runs July-Dec and Jan-June. Despite the frequent fiddling with making things more efficient/pleasing, and adding art pieces, I feel very comfortable here. Keauhou is my new home, and I feel good in my space.

Work: I’m working! I have a part-time job doing marketing for a Dolphin swim company. That means that I go to island briefings at various hotels and tell them about the amazing snorkeling and swimming with dolphins that they can experience with my employer. Thankfully, I’m pretty good at speaking in front of groups, and it’s easy to be enthusiastic about something that I enjoy. Part of my job requires me to go out on the trips so I can accurately describe the experience to the guests. *sigh* Such a difficult life, to go snorkeling and swimming with the dolphins for work. 🙂 I’m also interviewing for other positions, and hope to have a full-time job soon.

Volunteer: This is a lot of fun, more than I expected. I’m involved in the planning/coordinating of several fundraising events, and for a local entertainment group. I’m enjoying meeting the people involved in the charities, and promoting great causes through the fun events. I had planned to try this as a career, but I think I like it more as a volunteer because I can choose what I want to work on, and influence the shape of the events themselves, rather than following direction from someone else and taking whatever comes along. I’ll probably promote these events here as they get closer. Prepare to buy your tickets!

Social: I addressed this pretty comprehensively in my last post. Nothing against my kane (man/male) friends, but I am blessed with some incredible women in my life who support, celebrate and lift me up. They don’t replace the friends I have on the mainland, but they have made their own places in my heart and I am so grateful. The circle of friends I’ve made, both men and women, are a lot of fun and someone always has something going on. Now that I am more mobile, I am able to participate more. Last week, I was able to do a full-day adventure along the Kohala Coast: shopping at Queen’s Shops in Waikaloa, ice-cream cones and window-shopping in Hawi, absorbing the energy at the lookout above Pololū Valley, raiding a church thrift store in Kapa’au, floating on the waves on Hapuna Beach, and a post-sunset dinner at Bite Me. I’ve been going to barbecues, get-togethers, hanging poolside, meeting for cocktails and just sitting down to talk story. I know good people.

I hope all of these wonderful continue in the future, and I will work to make them happen. My family is coming to visit next month, I have an August event we’re planning for now, and I will be back on the mainland for an event later in the fall. In a fit of irony, I think I’m going to plan my return flight to coincide with my one year anniversary. Life, like the waves, continues to roll on.

One of my shopping prizes from Hawi, Bruddah Ed watches over my driving.
One of my shopping prizes from Hawi, Bruddah Ed watches over my driving.

Wahine forever!

From “How to Move to Kona” by Julie Ziemelis (http://www.howtomovetokona.com/), page 51:

“People come here sometimes to ‘get away from it all’ and that’s exactly what they get most days. However, spiritually, you never get away from yourself, and your problems have a way of following you here. The island has a pretty intense energy that has a way of really making you look at yourself. I’m just letting you know that coming here WILL change your life, and you get to choose how that’s going to look for you. If you don’t make an effort to get out and meet people in a variety of avenues, with an open attitude, you may be lonely.”

This quote is resonating with me tonight, after a conversation at an impromptu summer BBQ last night when a group of women (who had all moved to the island) commented on the fact that we had each managed to surround ourselves with strong, intelligent women. We were at various stages in our life: mother, wife, single, divorced, teacher, professional, and we all connected with each other and delighted in each others company. The accompanying picture to this post is of us relaxing in a tidal pool at the beach, pre-sunset.

The reason for the resonating is because one of my goals when moving here was to change my patterns, and discover who I could be when I wasn’t stuck in my habits. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mainland friends and am grateful that they have stuck with me through my move 3000 miles away. Bless Facebook for keeping us close to each other. I did have to leave them though, quite literally, and find a new tribe of women to whom I could belong. I had no idea how well I would succeed at that, because I tended to be rather reserved and an introvert. Moving to the island allowed me to take the chance of shedding that persona, and being a more open, welcoming, accepting person. As a result, I am slowly cultivating a circle of female friends who inspire me to be a better version of myself than I was previously. I aspire to have the strengths and achievements that these women have already earned and experienced; I believe that because I have their inspiration and example, I can do anything.

I’m utilizing my strengths in new ways, giving help in places I didn’t know it was needed, and being inspired to be creative in areas that were previously scary. I’m breathing the sea air, lifting my face to the sun and moon, taking more notice of my surroundings (don’t be surprised if I cause an accident on Queen Ka’ahuman because I’m staring at the sea!), and doing my very best not to say “I can’t”. Instead, I am saying “I can” or “I will”. I’m so grateful to the wahine who welcomed me to their hearts and ohana, and allowed me to make a place where I can flourish and make a contribution that benefits all. I never thought that would be important to me. Imagine my surprise at learning that I want to leave an indelible mark here!Wahine in the Water