Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Daily life

My friend Sebastian asked what I might be up to, on any given day. So, let me tell you now..... Calvin had it right.

The days are just packed!

For starters....



Charge the batteries.




A completely ridiculous setup, pretty much everything is wrong, but we can get away with this for the time being, because our needs are so minimal. IPad, laptop, and maybe a phone, our lives are VERY simple.



When it rains, we collect the water runoff from the roof. The gutter along one side of the cabin will fill this container in short order, given our 160-200" of rain annually.





The water gets used for.....




(Nice tub, eh?)




Yep, just like grandma. Actually, her setup was considerably more advanced than this. She had a wringer, to squeeze out the excess water. We just twist.
After use, the now dirty "graywater" goes to the expanding garden plot, particularly the bananas. Gotta keep those bananas happy!
There is such a wealth of natural building materials on the site, that it is difficult to know where to begin. Currently, I am still in the gathering phase, but the pile of invasive Guava is growing taller by the day.
Each of those "sticks " is 3"-4" in diameter and 30' long. Also very flexible, so curved, arched forms have been in my thoughts lately.
There is tons (literally!) of lava rock that is begging to be used.

I've been stacking rock, building some planters for the many ornamental and edible (!) plants that our kind landlords have provided (Thanks, Robin and Tatiana!)

I've also learned that a lava tube can double as a beer cooler..... The most awesome beer chiller ever! Hawaiian beer, too.


******* and *******


A neighbor guy gave me some ginger beer he brewed.... Oh, sweet heavenly nectar!


I will be making this in the future! Soooo good! And...... I've got that perfect cave....... Lava brewed cider, ginger beer, root beer, hmmmm.....




Ellie has a different set of priorities. She found a chasm that needs bridging!




Frustrating to try to get a good photograph, as the the chasm is nearly 15' deep here (but, of course, doesn't show properly. She was seriously death-defying or, at the least, risking a nasty stick in the eye!)









Random stuff is occasionally for sale in our neighborhood, by the side of the road. Just people making a buck.





Pig (wild!) Sausage, caught the pig just yesterday....3 for $10. That's 3 huge links...... Maybe 4 lbs, total.



Spicy, delicious




I've started clearing out an area for the new forge.



I'm VERY eager to start banging hot metal again.



So, on any given day, there is a lot going on. So much needs doing, and even though I am busy all day long, little gets finished, it seems.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Road trip

A few days ago, we went on a short road trip, ostensibly to buy some solar panels. Maybe we just needed to get out of the house,.... Take your pick. Anyways, it was a beautiful day, and the drive was welcome.
We traveled south, past the town off Pahoa. Things were looking awfully quiet there, with the threat of lava inundation looming large. The drugstore had just closed up shop, same the hardware store...... People's jobs gone (temporarily, but still.....). The road was nearly deserted, which seemed odd for a beautiful weekend. Which brings me to come observations...
People drive here. Everywhere. Lots of people lots of cars busy busy busy.... The roads seem packed, for such a small area. Constant streams of cars going every which way. Parking lots are full, spaces are small. The cars are newish, but typically have a lot of dings and dents.
Despite feeling so crowded and hurried, the drivers here are courteous and observant. They drive the speed limit, even though it feels painfully slow at times. I lived most of my life in Montana, where there essentially was NO speed limit, so 55 m.p.h. feels a bit like walking, but that's something that I need to adjust to. People here are patient. Or maybe the fines for speeding are torturous....I do see numerous people being pulled over. The police cars that I've noticed are newer SUV's, with a tiny, magnetic, bubble light up top. Very discrete, nearly unmarked. Rural stealth.
The courtesy exhibited while driving extends beyond the use of cars. People here seem to view waiting in line as a necessary evil, and honour the concept of taking turns. This is a completely new experience for me, at least since leaving the small town Midwest. I view standing in line, taking turns, waiting, as a social contract, and it pisses me off when people don't follow that most basic of rules. Here, people tap my arm, asking if I want to be next at the counter/register/stop sign, whatever. Amazing!
Car prices are much cheaper than we saw in Oregon (thankfully!), and with more choices of smaller, more efficient models of car. Oregon was all huge trucks and SUV's, with sketchy histories, bad titles, rebuilt or salvage being the norm, it felt like. Here, trucks, even crappy wrecked ones, go for a premium, while little Hondas and Toyotas are very reasonable in price.
I ALWAYS want a car that gets decent mileage, and here we found two that suit us well. Renee is driving a 2005 Scion tC that gets around 30 MPG, not great, but it is...... Zippy!
Also comfortable, stops well, lots of airbags, nice seats..... Just a nice little car. It suits Renee perfectly! Small and easy to park, plenty of room in the trunk for water jugs, and by far the nicest car we've ever owned. I guess that says something.
I finally found a 2006 Scion xA, a car that I've wanted for years but couldn't get one for the right price.
Four doors, seats that fold flat, and a tolerable large hatchback. 35+ mpg, good visibility (no blind spots!), and enough dings to make parking lots completely non threatening. A large step up from my usual POS car tendencies, haha. A total nerd-mobile!
Where was I? Oh yeah....
Road trip. East south eastern coast of the Big-island, close to the Kalapana area. Waipuku point?


My lovely wife, giving me a rather perplexed look.



Part of an ongoing project, "Private deposits in public places".
Hey, take a picture of that!

Wait! Not me.....

It's in here somewhere....
Right there!


Orb weaver spider of some sort.




My favorite photo of the day.

Ewwww! Something smells bad!..... "Ellie, quit poking dead stuff and get back in the car!"


I wonder what they were actual saying?







We also stopped at Isaac Hale park, poked a very threatened puffer-fish, then wandered home.



We got the solar panels.



Monday, January 5, 2015

Moving in


I finally, FINALLY, found a decent free connection for uploading tons of photos, so...... Friends and family, here we are.
Luckily Renee found us an obnoxiously crappy pickup to rent, because we certainly brought lots of stuff.
Much of the stuff is the "wrong" stuff, but it needs to be stored, nonetheless. TV remote, but no tv (no power here, so that stuff is all gone now..... Yay!).... Strange discoveries, like the contents of our kitchen "junk" drawer, but not a rubber band to be found anywhere.... Weird! Dead batteries......
Screws. I had a great Oregon source for awesome stainless steel deck screws, so I brought, oh....20 lbs or so. Sounds great, right?
Big, long screws are a PITA without a powered screwdrivers. Not even I want to drive a 3" screw by hand. How did I forget this?!..... Nails. Nails are good.
So, I can't remember if I've mentioned this before, but I did something similar to this "Living in the wild" thing, about 25 years ago. Similar, in that it was a rough piece of land (20 acres) with no power, running water, nothing, although by the end second year I strangely had a phone and internet. I remember at the time, chatting with some folks in New Zealand and how they found it quite amusing that I had access to the internet, but no toilet.
There are a few distinct differences this time, however. The first time, the property was located deep in the wilds of the Montana mountains. There were regular chores that needed to be accomplished, things like cutting firewood, that would result in death, if neglected. Many times I woke in the morning to find that my glass of water had frozen solid. I used insulated coolers to keep the beer from freezing..... Priorities! (I was brewing my own beer, as if things weren't interesting enough. Good beer was rare then... Now I can't choose, there are so many different varieties!). Freezing to death would be highly unlikely, here in Hawaii.
The main difference is that back then, I was desperately poor. Right now we are FAR from rich, but at least we have money for food. We can afford to buy whatever we need, and Renee will still be working. A regular income does wonders for maintaining a marriage.
The second big thing is that now the internet has developed into being the world's largest library. Way back in the day, that was the big dream for many of us, and..... Here we are. Lots of crap, but also also phenomenal amounts of pure gold, all thanks to the many, many wackos who want to share their interests with like-minded crazies. The knowledge base is growing exponentially.
The actual enclosed area is 8' x 10', plenty of room for storing my tools, but Renee needs to find a new place to sleep.
The lizards (Anoles, mostly) sleep up in the rafters......
.... But sometimes they favor your leg as a resting spot.
Renee decided to clear out the space under the cabin.
She LOVES her tent!
Ellie is finding new things daily.

Lava tubes.



The tiniest, newly hatched frog imaginable.




There is one cleared area that has been planted in Cocoa trees.

The other cleared spots are still in the rough.
Bare lava and lots (LOTS!!) of down timber, all ready for salvage.
Most of the timber is Guava, an invasive species that tends to out-compete the Hawaiian trees, smothering the native Ohia forest. The Guava here is tall, fairly straight, moderately strong, and light in weight. Great for building in "stick" fashion, lashings, pegs, and notches.
We are outside the tiny town of Mountain View, but 10 miles away is the slightly larger town of Keaau.

Bulk foods.



Ace Hardware.....

...... sells real Japanese tools!





I held out for a few days, but I couldn't resist these two.

The small blade is serrated, and has become my go-to tool for tall grass. $7 USD.
The Kama is hand forged, laminated steel. Not the finest work, but these are meant to be nearly disposable. This one was $32 USD.

There were at least 12 different kama at the store, but only some of the blades are hand worked. Most were factory made, and a few were stainless steel. Prices ranged from $4 - $48 USD.

Having cool tools for sale in the hardware store is great, but by far the coolest thing about this place? On the big island it's ok to be poor, or just to live a simple lifestyle.

There are public water taps all over the place where people can get safe, free drinking water. Many/most people collect the rainwater that falls on the tin roofs, using it for most household duties, but here is where you get your cooking and drinking water. This tap is at the park, 4 in a row, and they get used all day long, by all kinds of people.
The dump is free, too, and very busy.
It drives me crazy, to go to the dump and see all off the stuff that we discard, that gets thrown away. Back in the day, you could scrounge around and often come home with more than you originally brought, but now that is strictly forbidden. Legal reasons, ya know.
Here, they have gone one better. They have made the incredibly intelligent decision to make a combined recycling center/trash dump/thrift store. Donate the usable stuff, recycle what you can, and trash what you must.
Bins of clothing (free on Thursday!), household goods, building supplies.
More clothes, books, electronics and kitchen things.

Most stuff is $1.


I LOVE this place!