Gecko buffet

My condo was rented to me furnished by the owners (the HOA of the complex), and that furniture is completely functional so I don’t pay too much attention to it. Well, except for when I was on a wicker couch for almost two months with a cast on my leg, then that couch was replaced.

The replacement couch is a nice sofa bed, with black wood scroll-y arms/sides, and I was told when it was brought in that it had termites. Since it was free, we decided to see how long we could beat out the termites with regular treatments before replacing it. It seems that 4 months is about all I can take of the termites, and their swarming habits. They have also infested a nightstand in my bedroom, though I don’t know if that happened separately, or if they migrated from one piece of furniture to another. We’re on the lookout for another pull-out couch now.

What does this have to do with geckos? Well, I’m pretty sure my geckos are absolutely thrilled with my infestation; at least one of them. There are large beams that run along my vaulted ceiling, and another that runs across the room over the kitchen island. The kitchen light is mounted on the side of that cross beam, and I have a small capiz shell lamp hanging from the beam nearby, over the back of the couch. More frequently recently, there have been swarms of the termites dive-bombing the shell lamp when I have it turned on at night. My first experience ended in a lot of Raid being sprayed, and then having to climb up on the counter to clean off the beam and light fixture with a cleaning spray. Then I skipped the poison and went straight for the spray. Both of these worked. One night, entirely by accident, I found the natural solution. When the swarm starts, I turn off the lamp and turn on the overhead light. The termites then swarm to the overhead. One of the house geckos started showing up and gobbling down the termites unfortunate enough to get in his range, and believe me, that guy can MOVE. Now he’s Pavlov’s gecko. When the lights switch in the evening, every couple of days, he is right there, waiting for the buffet to show up. It’s a little disconcerting to clean so many translucent wings off the counter top the next morning, but I prefer it over having to get up and spray cleaning stuff overhead then climb on the counter to wipe it all up.

Isn’t nature wonderful? 🙂

Taking stock

Yesterday, Saturday April 25, 2015, was my 6-month fracture-versary. What did I do?

I spent 30 minutes on a cross-trainer and traveled 1.3 miles.

I walked 40 laps in the 2-4 foot pool (it’s not incredibly long).

I spent about half an hour sitting on the beach at White Sands.

I applied for a job.

Six months ago today, I was sitting on my couch with my left leg wrapped in a box cast and ACE wraps, hopped up on pain meds, sweating and miserable. Through the care of my medical team and physical therapists, the support of my friends and family, and my own determination, I’m now walking well-enough to fool the uninitiated and I feel like I can truly start the Hawai’i life that I had originally planned. The thing is, that life is not the same anymore. I have been changed by this experience for the better, and I more fully appreciate the blessings that I have. My ability to be independent has been reinforced, but I learned how to ask for and accept help. My friendships have been refined and honed and expanded by sharing my experiences. The things that I value are different. These elements have combined to form a more authentic fabric of my life for succeeding in Hawai’i. Being close to the people and the land are the most important aspects for life here, I feel, and all other pieces of success will flow from there. I have a new social circle, I’m volunteering for several events, tomorrow is my first “torture” session with a new trainer, and I’ll apply for my Hawai’i driver’s license once I get my social security card within the next two weeks.

In sum, I’m ready to move forward into a new life. I’ll keep you posted!

The Cockroach of Doom

I’ve lived on the Big Island for almost six months now; on Saturday night I had my worst cockroach experience to date. (If you want some more information on the common cockroach found in Hawaii, see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_cockroach). I’ve become accustomed to discovering them around my home occasionally, and keep a can of Raid handy since I cannot stomach the idea of smashing them with a slipper. I may need to reconsider that stance as a result of this experience.

I was laying on my stomach on the couch, reading a book, when I heard that very distinctive “whirring” sound that indicates a cockroach flying around my space. I peered towards the area where I thought I heard it, then grabbed my glasses so I could actually see what was in front of me. Sure enough, across the room on a white picture frame was my nemesis. I very slowly eased myself up, grabbed my crutch and retrieved the can of Raid from where it currently lives on my nightstand (last used a week ago when I sprayed a roach that then flew down to my PILLOW! This was foreshadowing for my next adventure.). As I eased back into the living area, I saw it fly from the frame to approximately the area of the ceiling fan. At this point, I couldn’t do anything else, so I returned to the couch and my book.

A short time later, I heard the whirring again, and a “clink” as the bug encountered the small hanging capiz shell lamp that hangs over the shelf of the breakfast bar. By the way, this was just to the side above my head. I bolted up in time to see it work its way down the hanging electrical cord and reach the cross-bar shelf, and move out of my line of sight. Okay, I’m going to kill this thing now because they just creep me out. I think it’s mostly the antennae, which seem to double the whole length of the body.

After moving into the galley kitchen, I used my crutch to ease aside my iPod stereo on the kitchen counter to see if the buggah was hiding there. Nope. Searched around the cross-bar and didn’t see it. I have a model Miata MX-5 with the top down sitting on that cross-bar, and I had a momentary flash of a scene from the end of “Team America” when the cockroach scuttles into a small spaceship and escapes that way. I was prepared to giggle hysterically if I located the roach inside the cockpit of the car. Eventually, I moved to the right side of the car, which was shadowed and could vaguely make out the shape of the cockroach skulking next to the driver door like a car thief. With Raid in my left hand and a crutch under my right arm, I aimed the can and sprayed it, and then tracked the frantic insect’s flight path with the Raid.

Except it veered towards me. And it got under my long wrap. I spun in circles, trying to make sure it had not landed on me, frantically stripping off my wrap and dropping my crutch. Then I felt it: it got under the drape of my top and in my arching and flailing about, it slid down past the waist of my yoga pants and was in my pants. OMG! I yanked my pants and underwear down right there in front of the screen door, damn near shrieking the whole time. It fell onto the floor on its back and lay there twitching. I quickly pulled my pants back up, swept the buggah into a covered dustpan, and retreated to a chair across the room to recover, shaking and sweating. I can occasionally hear it flutter now and I am staying far from it. I need to shower. Aloha Hawaii! Ugh.

Photo credit: “American-cockroach” by Gary Alpert – http://www.uos.harvard.edu/ehs/pes_american_cockroach.shtml. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:American-cockroach.jpg#/media/File:American-cockroach.jpg

My nemesis
My nemesis

Illustrating my new life

When I visited in mid-August 2014, the plan was to start setting up my new life and see what I would need to bring/buy in October. One of my specific goals was to buy a piece of art that would anchor me to the island. I discovered the shop “Second Hand” up in Kealakekua, and found a painting off the three “Hawaiian Graces” (Pele and two of her sisters) hidden on a far wall in the back room. It immediately spoke to me and drew me in. It set the tone for what will eventually become my art wall, and I’ve been looking for images related to it since then. The theme I’m trying to establish is centered around Pele and her influence.

To that end, tomorrow I will pick up an image a girlfriend painted for me that I had framed. It is a faceless Pele rising from a volcano, and will hang mauka (upslope) on the wall, so it closer to the center of the island. The Graces will be in the center. Another picture was already here, and I’m moving it from my bedroom to the art wall; it is a small, dark-haired girl crouched among tidal pools, and it will hang makai (downslope) on the ocean side of the wall. Scattered around and among these pictures will be: a lava landscape aluminum print by local artist Tom Kualii, another aluminum print of my Tutu and me poolside circa 1976-ish at her home in Kailua on O’ahu, a print of “Tiki vs Godzilla” by local artist Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker (from the cover of the book “Atomic Dreams at the Red Tiki Lounge”, which features Pele as a main character), a giclee print from local artist Jodi Fuchs of color blocks with images of enlightenment and spiritual connection, and a print that I am “fostering” from local artist Wayne Levin, of a woman on a surfboard under the waves (the crashing waves overhead look like clouds in the sky). I imagine I’ll add to these, such as the Steve Hanks poster of the back of a young woman standing amidst the rocks at the edge of the shore. All of these images have something about them that suggest Pele and/or Hawaii. There will be differently sized pictures, in assorted frames and mediums, that I hope to use to tell a story and express my affinity for Pele and this island, her home.

Pele and her sisters
Pele and her sisters

Small town life

Living in the Kona area is definitely living in a small town. For one thing, the square formed by Henry, Ali’i Drive, Makala and Quen Kaahumanu Hwy is commonly referred to as “town” or “downtown”. It’s not a very big square, either. On Ali’i, you essentially enter town once you get to the Royal Kona Resort, and you leave once you get to the King Kamehameha Hotel (aka Courtyard Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel). There’s a bit that jogs out from there along Kuakini Highway, down to Old A’s Rec Area at Makala. Among the people I’ve spoken with, the area outside of this is not considered in “town”, although Kailua Kona itself stretches up and down the coast and inland.

Recently, I experienced two upsides to living a small-town life here. I drove down to Captain Cook to pick up a silent auction item that I won from SKEA a couple of weeks ago, and pulled in at the Spirit gas station to get gas and meet the woman who would give me the item. To my surprise, an employee was there at the pumps providing the gas. When I commented on the full-service provided, he said it’s a requirement in two states, but they like to provide the extra service to their customers. Pretty great that I didn’t have to get out and maneuver around with the crutch!

The other experience was when my mailman, George, came up to my lanai and told me that I had put insufficient postage on an envelope I dropped at the mailbox up at the shopping center. I happened to have my wallet with stamps in it on me, and he told me how many additional stamps I needed and said he would take care of it getting mailed since the existing stamps were already cancelled. That’s personal service that is very appreciated, and something I’d never experience in my condo complex in the Bay.

I also see this small-town experience in how people will refer you to their friends and family. For example, the office manager at my PT office is married to a mechanic at a local shop that has experience in Toyotas, so she suggested I go there with my RAV4. I have a relationship with her, so I trust that he will take care of me.

Personal service like this is something that I look forward to getting used to!

Getting in the water

I’ve lived here 4.5 months now, and I finally got into the ocean, AirCast and all. This is actually the first time I’ve been in the ocean since I was here in late August and it was well worth the wait.

I went out with my friend Julie on a trip with Dolphin Essence and Captain John on Thursday morning. His boat is a Zodiac, so it is limited to no more than 6 passengers. There were four of us on my journey, and such a small group really makes a difference. I’m still on the crutches, though I’m mostly using a single recently, but I used both since I knew it would be wet and graded at the harbor. Thankfully, I was able to get into the boat fairly easily, and settled into the only actual “seat”. We started the journey by pausing in the harbor to view a large honu, and appreciate the spinner dolphins. There were over 100 dolphins there, but we couldn’t get in the water because it wasn’t safe so close to where all the boats came in and out. They were beautiful to just watch. John performed a Hawaiian chant that really set the tone for the rest of the morning, encouraging us to open our hearts and respect nature. On our way north, we got in the water several times to swim with manta rays and bottlenose dolphins. With such a small group and boat, we were able to get moving quickly and get much closer than I expected. I decided not to use flippers, as I wasn’t sure if I could use them properly on my left foot. I did surprisingly well in the water, keeping the AirCast on, and kicking normally. It was a bit tough to get back into the boat, since I had to climb a PVC ladder, but since the Zodiac was so close to the water, I didn’t need to get very high, and was able to clamber over the side with minimal trouble I did manage to leave skin and blood in the ocean, along with my hair (as usual), so I considered it an offering for a great experience. Being in the water, with all my weight supported, felt amazing because I was able to be so mobile. I’ve forgotten how that feels.

Once we made it north, we spotted whales and spent quite a while following a small pod. We thought we were only following one that we’d seen breach in the distance, but they kept piling on and eventually we located 5 distinct whales. John said the first couple were adolescents, and they seemed to be having a grand old time speeding ahead and coming to the surface to get flip their tails. The cap to our trip was when a whale surfaced VERY close to our boat and startled/delighted all of us. Julie was standing on the side of the boat, and started shrieking when the whale suddenly surfaced close enough for her to touch, then skimmed along the side before diving down under the boat to move forward and join his buddies. We were all completely stunned and couldn’t believe it had happened. The rest of the trip back was much less eventful and we all were subdued, savoring the experience.

My legs were somewhat sore that night, and I took it easy on Friday since I’d been so active the day before. I had some painful twinges this morning, but I think I’m recovering pretty well since I was never in much pain (or any pain, during the trip). This is a really good sign to me, as today is my 16-week “fracture-versary”. Per the doctor, it takes 16 weeks for bone to heal when broken, so theoretically, my leg bones should be completely healed by now. Let’s just hope that I can build up my muscles a little quicker, and get my ankle more mobile so I can get to walking with no assistance soon!

More observations from Kona

Since I’m now able to get out and about, I have more things to share.

1. The Hawaii DMV does not actually exist as an entity. In the county of Hawaii, it’s under the Department of Finance and there is no official DMV website. You have to go to the county website and find info about licensing and registration there. When you go to the West Hawaii Civic Center to get your license or registration, you’ll be met by a greeter who will find out what you need to do and give you the appropriate number, then direct you to the correct line. I was there in the morning on January 5, and I saw maybe 20 people in the office for various reasons. The process was smooth and fairly easy. Also, the greeter doesn’t like it when you joke that it’s important to get your Hawaii license in order to get kama’aina discounts. Auntie will scold you. 🙂

2. I swear that I saw Beth Chapman driving one of those big black SUV deals on Thursday afternoon. I was heading towards Hina Lani on Queen K, and when I stopped at the light at Hale Maka’i, I noticed the driver of a black SUV at the cross-light speaking to the person/people inside a white truck in the next lane. The driver caught my eye because of her profusion of blond curls. I looked closer as the white truck pulled forward to turn south on Queen K, and the black SUV changed lanes to follow it. The blonde driver seemed to have exaggerated proportions and was wearing a red/white/blue shirt, as Beth frequently does. I didn’t see if she had the tac gloves with the tips cut out for her nails. Woo-hoo, D-list celebrity sighting!

3. Apparently you can fit 3 passengers in a smart car. Just peel off the top, and let down the trunk hatch and you have space to fit a person along with a backpack and skateboard. I delayed too long in trying to get a photo of this when I saw it, and missed out. The guy in the back knew how ridiculous he looked, and was smiling and waving at people who were staring, which is really the best reaction.

4. Funniest thing I’ve seen in days: a gecko straddling the cucumber on a shelf in my fridge. It seems a gecko was hanging out on the side edge of my fridge door, and I approached the fridge from the opposite direction and opened the door. The gecko freaked out, and jumped inside the fridge onto one of the walls. I just sat there in my rolling chair and laughed while he tried to figure out where he was and how to get out. I have wire shelves, so that didn’t help him at all. He made his way on top of the veggies on the second shelf on his way to get out the other side (after skittering on the back wall, and jumping to the solid bottom shelf), and when he did make his attempt to get out, he didn’t quite make it and landed with a splat on the kitchen tiles. Very much like a cat, he froze and assumed an attitude of “I meant to do that”, not moving until I closed the door above his head. They do poop all over the place but they are very good entertainment at times.

Gotta get out of here…

I got my car registered in Hawaii on the day California suspended my registration (due to lack of insurance) which means I am much more mobile now. Since I had to turn in my rental scooter on Dec. 30, I am ecstatic about being able to legally drive.
This means that I am able to get out of the house and start going places. I won’t necessarily be able to DO things once I get there (i.e. the parking lot at Old A is all lava rocks which I can’t navigate on the crutches/boot), but I can start exploring the island and reporting back on what I find there. First couple of items on my list: Captain Cook and Place of Refuge. After that, who knows? I’ve given myself three months to get healthy and get to know my new home, so I’m going to take advantage of it. Once I’m walking normally again, I’ll know exactly where I want to explore.
Also, I’m getting a new phone very soon, so I’ll have some nice pictures to post. 🙂 I know you want to see all of the beautiful scenery here.

Resilience

A friend of mine suggested that I write a post about resilience. This is in reference to how I’ve handled being disabled for several months (now 7 weeks). I don’t know if I agree that I have been resilient; I see it as just dealing with the hand I’ve been dealt. So, I’ll look at what resilience means and what I’ve been doing.

Resilient: adjective

1.springing back; rebounding.
2.returning to the original form or position after being bent, compressed, or stretched.
3.recovering readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyant.
Well, looking at that, I guess I have been resilient. I had originally thought that it was something like “unchanged in the face of adversity” and I’ve definitely had change, and I’ve experienced some depression. I didn’t let myself wallow in it though, as that’s not really my style. I’ve had to open myself up to ask for help; I’ve not been good about asking for help in the past, preferring to remain independent and self-reliant. I really cannot do that right now, and I hope I retain the ability to ask for and, more importantly, accept help when I need it or it is offered. The Aloha spirit has definitely been shown to me, and I really like the way it feels.
I think I’ve been inspired in my resilience by my intense desire to get out and start living the life I came here to have. I have all these experiences ready, and I’m anxious to get to them. If I don’t get healthy, then my move was wasted, and I’m not about to let all this effort, cost and want be in vain. So I work hard at getting better; I do my damnedest to have a positive attitude about it; and I welcome my new physical therapist who is going to kick my butt (rather, my ankle) back into shape. Otherwise, what is the point in being here? If that is being resilient, then I’m going to embody it, yeah?

Being thankful

My last post was somewhat depressing, I realize this. So, I’m looking for things to be thankful for this time around.

I’ve been to the Keauhou Farmer’s Market three of the last four Saturdays, and I have a couple of favorite booths. Having the neon green cast and riding around on a scooter has made me highly visible, and it’s actually been fun to have various people stop and chat me up, asking what happened and making funny comments. The vendors know me and ask how I’m healing, and they are honestly interested. Not only do I get social interaction, I get really yummy food! This week I also had the bonus of Julie and Caylin joining me, part of my Hawaii ohana. It was wonderful to spend time with them.

Speaking of the neon green cast, I’ve been downgraded from a 3/4 leg cast, to one that hits slightly below my knee. When the original cast was removed, my leg felt SO weird. Very lightweight, weak and fragile. I discovered why the doctor moved my appointment to the lunch hour when she started manipulating my ankle before wrapping the cast. My ankle had been immobile for four weeks, and needed to be moved to a neutral position for the new cast. To say I screamed would be overstating the matter, but I will admit to a lot of yelping along the lines of “Ow! Ow! That hurts! Calf muscle! Ow! Ankle! Ow!”. I was okay by the time the cast was on (I got the bright green again), and my knee moved surprisingly well. I started physical therapy the very next day, and while I realize I lost some muscle mass, I didn’t expect the simple exercises to be so difficult. The new cast is much smaller and lighter, but I don’t have as much leg to bear the weight and the healing break is now in the center of the cast. The goal of the exercises right now is to get my knee and hip moving cleanly, so I’m ahead of the game by the time the cast comes off (hopefully 12/8/14) and I progress to a walking boot. It feels very good to have a lighter weight, though the change in my center of gravity is disconcerting. This is progress though, and I’ll take it!

My birthday was last Tuesday, and I had a Skype with one of my BFFs, PT, then pau hana with a couple of girlfriends. Of course I wore my tiara all day, and that was one of the things that helped inspire a lovely man to buy us a round of drinks. He also came over and signed my cast. That was a really good day. 🙂

I spent a bunch of money online doing my holiday shopping on Friday, Why would I be thankful for that? It means that I have family and friends whom I want to spoil with the fruits of Hawaii. Specifically, products from http://www.Hawaii-Coffee-Connection.com. I have one or two gifts left to buy, and hope to nail those down tomorrow on Cyber Monday.

This week started off on a positive note, with one of the new members of my ohana stopping by just to check on me and talk story. He’s been in my position, having a cast for 6 weeks, and it was nice to have a conversation with someone who understands. Tomorrow is the birthday of another BFF. I won’t be with her in person, but I know she’ll feel the love I’m sending her. PT is three days this week, which means three opportunities to get stronger. At the end of the week, I’ll help out with a local holiday fair which ought to be lots of fun.

I have a lot to be thankful for, and ’tis the season for it. I’m looking forward to the holidays in Kona!