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!

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!

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!

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. šŸ™‚ 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. šŸ™‚

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!

Life on crutches

In short: it sucks. Yes, I’ve tried to be upbeat and look for the positive aspects of the situation such as the aloha spirit I’ve encountered and being forced to slow down, However, having a broken leg and moving around on crutches is always a bad thing. It’s slow, uncomfortable, and uncertain.

I’ve had lovely experiences with the people I’ve encountered, and I’m apparently quasi-famous at the school where it happened Today I took my scooter (woo-hoo mobility!) to the farmer’s market up the street, and the first three people (two vendors, one cute EMT guy) I spoke with all knew exactly who I was once I said I fell at the school. In fact, the first vendor’s daughter had been encouraging him to help the EMTs carry me that night, but as he had a bad leg, he was unable to do so. Another vendor is friends with my friends, and she very generously gave me a jar of her concentrated mamaki tea to use for healing. At my last doctor’s appointment, I was able to ask a new friend for a ride and she was extremely generous with her time to take me to the doctor and then the grocery store. When I took myself to the grocery store on Thursday, some random guy in the aisles asked me if I had a Sharpie and could he sign my cast. He explained as he did so that he included his band name, and this is what the EMT on Saturday recognized. Turns out there’s a death metal band in Kona, called Repellent. Who knew?

So, that’s the good aspect. The bad is the rest: the discomfort of the cast itself due to its weight and being rigid and hot. The pain of the leg, despite pain meds, which I’m weaning myself off. It’s hard to move around, like trying to take a bath without getting the cast wet or fall into the tub when I’m balancing on the edge. When I’m standing, I balance on my right leg, and while I’m strong in body, it gets wearying after a while. My muscles are aching and trying to figure out how to reconfigure themselves to work with the new way my body needs to move. You have no idea how tiring it is to lay on the couch or sit in a chair for so many hours every day. Having your independence taken away when you are used to relying on yourself is a very difficult thing, and it’s hard for me to rely on other people.

I have four (at least) more weeks of this. I broke my leg two weeks ago tonight, and it is the one month anniversary of my move. I hope to be out of the cast by Christmas, but I’ll for sure be in it for my birthday and Thanksgiving. I’m frustrated and trying not to be depressed. I know, I know, I’m in Paradise. I just wish I could be out there and enjoying it.

Things I’ve learned: When you think you need to go to the bathroom, start making your way there. It’s going to take a while to arrive. If someone offers you help, take it. It’s good for both of you. It’s okay to slow down, just don’t stop as it’s hard to get your momentum again.

An experience I could have done without

I managed to fracture my left tibia and fibula on Saturday night. This is the post I wrote about it on Facebook.

As mentioned yesterday, I was a guide for a Halloween Journey at my friends’ kids’ school last night. I looked super-cute and made the fortunate decision to wear my lace-up, over the ankle,AriatĀ riding boots. I truly think they kept things from being worse. The Journey had 7 “scenes” representing places around the world and traveled over the school grounds, which is set along the mountain-side. This means the terrain was of varying levels and somewhat rough. I had finished the Journey and people were traveling down a hill to the “Reform Club” at the bottom. A woman in my group slipped in a muddy patch, and went down hard on her butt. The only thing hurt was her dignity, but I said that I would go stand above that patch and direct people away from it. As I made my way around the patch, back up the hill, my feet slid out from under me and I landed hard on my right side, facing down the hill. As I hit the ground, I heard an unfortunately-familiar sound, “CRACK!” and felt sharp pain around my left ankle. I’ve broken bones before and I knew what had happened.

There was much screaming and gasping in pain from me and people immediately rallied to help me. At one point, I almost passed out, with voices and vision fading and blurring, but they got me laying down on the ground and that helped a lot. Turns out, I was blessed enough to have two doctors in my group: a female gynecologist and a male foot surgeon/podiatrist (? a foot doctor of some sort). They were assessing me, and did a lot to reassure me. Someone called 911 and thankfully Kona Community Hospital is about 2 minutes down the hill from the school. An ambulance was there soon, but then came the challenge of getting me to the gurney at the bottom. They put a box split around my lower left leg, and the two attendants plus my friend EricĀ carried my top half, while at least one, possibly two, people carried the left leg so no weight was pulling down on my heel. The attendants were awesome, and so was everyone who helped me (I only remember the name Ally because JulieĀ told it to me later). Per the EMT, I look much younger than 40, by the way.:) Ā  I kept it together for the most part in the ambulance and all the way through the ER. My nurses were lovely, so kind and very careful not to hurt me as they got me half-undressed, ran an IV and started giving me drugs while getting the intake information.Shout out to Alecia the travelling nurse!

I had some morphine before the X-ray (always ask for the anti-nausea drug at the same time! I didn’t get sick at all!), and they eased off my left boot with less pain than I expected. The laces on the boot got cut, but the boot itself came off relatively easily. It had helped to contain the swelling on that side, and based on where the break was, I think it helped direct the fracture and keep it from pushing out. X-rays confirmed that my tibia and fibula both had clean fractures (above the ankle and below the knee respectively), and I was put into this odd split. It stated out as long strips of fabric that were wrapped around the base of my foot and up the sides, then another one was put… somewhere I don’t remember. The whole deal was surrounded by ace bandages to halfway up my thigh, and I was encouraged to make sure my knee had a slight, natural bend. The fabric got warmer and I could feel it expand and contract. By the time they released me, it was hard and very heavy. Pretty cool! Julie had stayed with me in the ER, but then went to pick up my car from the parking lot, and came to get me. Yay for the RAV4 with a backseat that allowed me to stretch out in it!

To wrap up the rest: the Z’s got me home, and after I lost it (finally) while they tried to figure out how best to help me, they gave me some space and ended up going back to the hospital to get me adult-size crutches as it turned out their daughter’s crutches were too short. I am now working on how to move around without putting any weight on the leg, keep the leg elevated while resting, and not wince too much when some movement makes the bones shift inside the splint. Also, I’ve had periods of extreme sweatiness come and go. I hope to see the ortho specialist within the next day or two, and that she will say I don’t need surgery.

I’ll keep you posted!

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