Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Rx for Us: A Little R&R

Well after the last three and a half months of WTF -- we're due for a little R&R, right? Once again we are grateful to have found what seems to be the perfect place up in Volcano Village at about the 3500 foot elevation. As we drove up this last week, we have found that elevation can be just above the cloud line -- raining below but with cool blue skies higher (typical of the island's weather pattern.)

So here'a a few photos of our next "nest" -- nestled in a small furnished studio on a working ranch with goats, sheep, ducks and chickens -- and one token horse. The night sky will be amazing, and the property is surrounded on four sides by giant Sugi Pine trees. Our immediate plan is to be there for several months while we continue to work on long-range plans.

Well, maybe this R&R
would be appropriate too!

Ha! Ha!

We'd like to think
we are "rare" but right
now RICH would
really be acceptable

(May be a few days
until our next post.)

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

50 years later

Honolulu Star Bulletin - 
February 1969

One of our neighbors in Leilani Estates just posted this ad that ran in 1969. 

Today is my 70th birthday. Looking back to 1969...that was the year that everything I owned could fit in my Volkswagen. Fast-forward 50 years (after the fire of May 2, and the total loss of our home and contents - except for dogs and computer) -- and now, everything we own fits into our VERSA!  Now that's a real mind-bending "trip" isn't it! 

Today we schlep a load up to our new digs in Volcano Village where we hope to have a few months of cool and quiet to recoup and regroup -- body, soul, mind and spirit.

And, yah, except for Phil's reacquired wood working tools, all we now own can all fit into our VERSA car. Interesting that in loading up, his tools take up the most room, followed by my art supplies and our newly collected set of books, followed by three corgi dogs.  Shows where our priorities are.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Lava Update and Economic Re-Building Needs of the District of Puna

At our corner of Luana and Leilani
Aloha blog followers! We belong to a local forum of neightbors on NextDoor where we can access information being posted by our friends and neighbors. In the last week or so, people still living in either the voluntary evacuation or even the involuntary zones are providing some encouraging news -- that, of course, must be taken with a grain (or three) of salt. The main source of flowing lava from Fissure #8 appears to be slowing, but this historic and unprecedented volcanic event remains unpredictable.

Lava fissures slice across the land
From earlier posts there are fissures that slice cross the entire subdivision from the southwest corner to the northeast. There are gas emissions coming up through many of those fissures in many places. We understand that some people want to move back into their still-standing homes.  However, many of the still-standing homes have extensive and permanent damage making them uninhabitable. This video shows the extent of the damage to homes, lives and local farms.

VIDEO:  Fissure 8 reduced flow

Of particular interest to us is at 50 (seconds in) where the 200+ foot cinder cone covers what was our property, also at 1.0. At 1.41 you can see Luana street, and because we know all our neighbors, it is painfully personal. Aloha to Erik and Amber, Helena, Roni and John, Eileen, Harry and Patti, and others whose houses are still standing on our street, but uninhabitable There are other neighbors who like us, where fire burned their homes days before the lava reach them..

Also, at 2.34 you can see a graphic image of a home totally surrounded and inaccessible. At 2.45 you can see the result of lava tubes feeding into the ocean. At 2.58, 3.07 and 3.30 what remains of the local favorites -- Isaac Hale Boat ramp, where the pilot gives a "thumbs up" it is still there. Lastly, perhaps just as an abstract image, 3.03.

Using some of the same footage Hawaii Volcano Observatory provides explanation:

Most people traumatized by this event are worried about where to live, what to eat, how to survive, businesses and farms frantic over loss of income -- while the state and county "discuss" appropriation of money to help this crisis. Frankly, many people don't have the energy or time to devote -- that's what we expect from our government and elected officials..WELL JUST LISTEN to the BLAH BLAH BLAH response to the desperate needs and requests for financial assistance. For example - listen to the fact of the State appropriation of $100 MILLION dollars to Kauai -- when they asked for it through a Special Session and got it in ONE WEEK!-- and NOTHING yet for Puna on the Big Island --- over three months later.

Senator Ruderman and Mayor Kim asking COUNTY AND STATE to help

Monday, August 6, 2018

On The Road Again

During the first few weeks after The Event (which includes the seizure/coma/fire/lava) on May 2nd, I have been unable to tolerate excessive stimulation -- like noise, light, crowds, conversation, traffic, shopping lines, dogs barking, sirens, helicopters etc., etc..  One Sunday early in the process, Phil went to one of our local farmers' markets alone and came back with a surprise gift. As he presented it to me he confessed that he had just spend a lot of money buying a gift for me. Of course, right now, spending money on anything unnecessary has not been part of our MO.

Then, with his shy grin, he confessed as I opened the gift, that actually he had only spent $10! Opening the gift I was again moved to tears at his perceptive choice -- a tapestry from India -- pictured here. Of course, the meaning was clear; we are "on the road again" in our lives -- in a temporary safe place while knowing we will be moving again before this challenging ordeal is over. To both of us it represented that wherever we go, we take our "temple" with us. And, so it is as we prepare to move ourselves, our furry kids, and our "Temple" to our next safe haven.

It has been an interesting learning experience for me, personally, to have been forced to "drop the reins" struggling with the associated disabilities of PTSD and the loss of our home, and the unknowns of the seizure incident -- me, the Type-A Leo - in charge, in control, multi-tasking person I am. In my letting go, Phil has taken on a new role as Protector and Defender and it is he who has been driving the bus, providing a sense of tender compassion while dealing with his own losses.

Through it all we have had moments of doubt, yes, of course, moments of despair and depression, but we have managed to return to the deepest truths we know for reassurance and hope. And, always with gratitude to the kindness of friends, neighbors and strangers who have aided us in our journey.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

We Found It!

We Found It!

Phil is standing at the path that leads to our new abode.
We just returned from a very comforting experience in finding a rental for ourselves for the next number of of all places, a lovely farm-style place on five acres.  Another diamond we are blessed to have found!

Exactly three months ago today, while Lunel was in ICU for a surprise seizure/coma (for which there is still no definitive diagnosis or prognosis) our lovely retirement home burned to the ground.

As blog readers already know, we have been housed safe and sound since then but have always recognized that this was only a temporary respite. Two days ago we began our search for a new place in earnest, searching on line through Craig's List as well as utilizing other sources. We sent out our introductory letter (including photos of ourselves and of our "kid" corgi dogs) to a variety of realtors, property managers, rental ads, etc..

Our unit is in the back with patio and picnic table in front.
Today we met the owner of a lovely old-fashioned farm/ranch that has a lovely, fully furnished studio unit with covered lanai. The property, in Volcano Village, is surrounded on all sides by giant Sugi pines, housing  mating and nesting pairs of Io (Hawaiian Hawks).

There are a dozen kinds of chickens, ducks, rabbits, goats and a token horse.  Phil's wood shop is -- get this -- a building under an old fashioned functioning redwood water tank!! The woman (our age) who owns this ranch grows and raises nearly all of her own food and runs a farm stand as well. She bakes bread, makes a variety of cheeses and is getting started on making her own soap. Additionally, she runs a charming B&B, separate from our small place. Needless to say, her day begins at 4am.

The elevation is about 3000+ feet, so the air is fresh and cool -- and will be chilly this winter, so we will have, as the song goes, "Three Dog Nights." Volcano Village is well-known for its artists community and it feels like home because we have visited there so many times. There will be some "earthquakes" that are not true earthquakes but tremors from parts of the inner walls of Kilauea caldera that are collapsing -- but after what we have been through -- what's an occasional 3.1 jolt!

Just yesterday we received a generous check from one of Phil's relatives in Michigan that will cover the security deposit and we will be moving in around Lunel's Birthday!! This means of course, that she will have to get some work boots and gloves, but Joan has a full contingency of appropriate tools -- and while Lunel can't wait to get out in the garden again Phil will have a great new wood working space too.

PS Several people from "The Continent" have been puzzled by our move to "Volcano."  And, it can be a little confusing.  No, we are not moving TO or ON a volcano! (The entire island is made up of 5 volcanoes itself.) Volcano is a small town (3000 or so folks) up at the 3200 foot level adjacent to Kilauea National Park. Now, if that sounds crazy, you need to know that all lava activity at the crater of Kilauea has stopped, and is now flowing down and through Fissure #8 -- which, ironically enough, opened in our front yard. So, we are actually moving AWAY from lava activity. Volcano Village is a small subset along Highway 11 -- an artists community with galleries, B&B's, and restaurants. 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

On Off On Off On Off

We have long known that everything is "on loan" and that nothing is permanent, and just when you think you can count on something -- things shift and/or shit happens. The last three months have proven those axioms to be 100% true.

  • ON -First you THINK you have house insurance, including fire and OFF - find out you don't

  • ON - You THINK you've planned out your retirement pretty well, then - OFF - your house burns down.

  • ON - You THINK you have access to FEMA but find out - OFF -you don't --- because you have not received a denial from your insurance company which then takes 60 days and the cost of an attorney just to find out you are denied -- after 80 days of the loss of your home and 60 days after you filed with insurance

  • ON - you THINK you might be able to apply for SBA loan - OFF - but because your income level is low, you don't because you can't replay the loan.
  • ON - You THINK you can apply for Food Stamps -- and finally do, but OFF - it takes 2 months to process because you "have insurance" but have not received a denial.
  • ON - YOU finally find out that FEMA has offered you grant money OFF -  but you then get a DENIAL for any assistance with housing. 
  • Then, a week later, ON (again) you do have rental assistance but OFF -  finding a small partially furnished rental is nearly impossible because no one wants three adorable corgi dogs
  • ON - We have been so lucky to find a temporary place for three months with gracious folks and,  OFF -- it is really time to take the "next step."
  • ON - You THINK you've lined up back-up and then find out NOPE, OFF -  that just fell through too.
We expect that life offers a lot of "not knows" -- but it has been unnecessary compounded by waiting over 60 days to even receive an answer from our (supposedly biggest and best) insurance company in the world -- who somehow manages to insure rocket ships, football players, space stations and Kim Cardiashian's butt.

If this ain't a lesson for a couple of Punatics who are used to going with the flow -- don't know what is. We will adjust, adapt and press on looking for the next "diamond" opportunity; that's what we do. And, we are not alone in this predicament -- there are others -- many others. If you happen to know if a rental (partially furnished would help) with a fenced yard for really outstanding corgi dogs, and a shop for Phil to earn some money from his wood art (selling at One Gallery in Hilo) please give us full contact information. (We cannot reply to "comments" leave email or phone)  MAHALO

Monday, July 23, 2018

Generosity of Friends and Strangers

Memorial Day Altar to Them (and crystal mala)
Ever since we have been together now, some 32 years, we have always found a special place for our altar -- a treasure of objects, photos and gifts that we use to remind us of our own spiritual path and philosophical truths. And, with the sudden outbreak of the fire that destroyed our home and urgent evacuation, all of these tokens and reminders were left behind. 

Rather than naming all of the objects, here are some of the photos we have taken, some seasonal, and others, like the "Memorial Day" altar, a remembrance of friends and teachers who have guided our journey. Of particular importance, however was the figures of Ganesh, and Tsonghakpa, the hand carved walrus tusk pipe, and quartz crystal mala
that I used to recite my Sanskrit japa for meditation.
Winter Altar filed with white objects (and mala)
Over the past weeks, I have often thought about replacing some things, but it never felt right to just go out and buy them, so I have waited, and gradually items have come one by one. First a Ganesh,  then a Minoan snake goddess, a "diamond" faceted crystal, another Ganesh, rose pedals, hand carved moon, dark quartz crystal, and yet, another Ganesh. But the one thing I seemed to miss most was the crystal mala that fit perfectly on my wrist. I also knew this was something I could not simply buy.

Today, while buying dinner in Foodland for our host family, I noticed that the woman in line in front of us was wearing a mala just like the one that was lost. I tentatively reached out and touched her arm lightly and asked her where she got her crystal mala.

Gifts of Ganesh -- and my new crystal mala
What followed next was nearly unbelievable. I explained I was hoping to replace my mala and she volunteered she was visiting from Maui where she not only made malas, but had a practice similar to mine! She began to ask for my contact so she could send me one, but then hesitated and asked me to wait a moment as she finished her transaction.

We stepped aside and she began to speak Sanskrit words that were immediately recognizable. As she began to unwrap her mala she gently took my hand so she could wrap it around my wrist. With each turn she offered a Sanskrit verse.

With tears flowing down my face I tried to thank her -- but she insisted that she thank ME for the opportunity to make this offering (ho'okupu) to me. And, now, I can't even remember her name -- and also know that it doesn't really matter. Mahalo Nui Loa!