The Place in Pixels

Right in the middle of our big transition to Hawaii, the old Canon point-and-shoot camera dies.  The last photo I take is of the goats in the back of a man named Anthony’s pickup truck on their way to their new 5-acre farmlet in Port Orchard, five miles away.


Goats to Port Orchard

The photo is blurry and overexposed.  My mental image is sharp, though.

The men bring each goat down the trail from the barn separately, starting with Pearl, the smallest.


All the goats look twice as big as they are because of their thick fleece — Anthony thought they were sheep.  “Sweet Pearl my Girl,” I say to the nervous, shivering goat.  She can hardly take the almonds I offer through the dog crate bars.  These goats haven’t left this place for two years.

Anthony and his brother love the farmlet and would like for one of their family members to buy it.  Which supercharges the Bearded One and me, even as Pearl calms down considerably when the rest of her herd arrives.  The three goats huddle together and listen as we describe the farmlet and neighborhood and give our first sales pitch.  It will be on the market in March, we say.  I promise to email information and pictures.

After the brothers and the goats leave, the Bearded One and I unanimously cancel our planned shopping trip.  He has captured each of the three goats, all wild with two strange men present, then shoved them downhill and helped lift them up into the back of the pickup and into a cage.  “We are so easily traumatized,” he jokes as we slump at the kitchen table.  “Best not to move around fast or talk too loudly.”


I nod.  I want to cry, but cook instead. The goats are really gone!  AND Suddenly I am in the surreal land of selling our home.


Will I make a flyer and have to resize old photos, which I barely did without having a nervous breakdown for the Craigslist ad??  The Bearded One cleans the roof.

Finally after dinner, we replay our images of the day for each other, I finally cry, and we recover.  But our camera does not.  I have to buy a new one.  And capture this place in pixels.

Wide-angle, panorama, fish-eye — these are not the same.  I research and grow weary and find myself spending hours watching a video of the first house we saw with our on-line Hawaii search, an off-the-grid hippie house in Puna less than a mile from the ocean.

Hawaiian Paradise Park House

I work hard to orient myself through the video’s lens, just 45 degrees at a time. I watch it over and over.  I diagram the house.  I stop and study and imagine.  Then it’s time to focus back here on the painting and sorting.

The Bearded One is going through old boxes and we laugh at a picture of him in Alaska in the mid 1990s.


There’s even a panorama of his 1974 high school graduating class, a very big picture.  I ordered a camera with the panorama feature.


On Sunday night, it snows.  And in the morning, as I walk past the hoophouse and compost bin to let the chickens out, I notice a half of grapefruit rind, bright pink on top of the goat hay and potato straw and white snow.  A bright Hawaiian sun.

I let the chickens out, then walk the tractor trail back to the house, stopping to admire the absolute utter perfection of snow falling on cedars.  The silence.  Everything all around me, 360 degrees, is fresh and new and magical.  The surprising gift of snow, and of leaving.

28 responses to “The Place in Pixels

  1. Christi, I have really enjoyed following you adventures the past two + years. As I have read the past few blogs, I’m sad for you and I’m excited for you and the Bearded one in your great new adventure. Thank you for sharing your world through words, pictures and stick figures. I hope you will continue to do so on your new adventure.

    • Thank you, Tara! For your comment and your encouragement. Big changes are strong mixes of happy and sad, and writing helps me to sort it all…I suspect Farmlet will continue indefinitely, although maybe with a different name, maybe not. We hope to have chickens in Hawaii. 🙂

  2. God, it’s just so heartbreaking! This leaving process is so much like dying – you just so beautifully described that poignant moment when all our senses tune in with intensity on a common sight that has magically become one completely focused point of consciousness!

    I have always found the leaving so hard – and then there is a tipping point when the reality of moving takes over and the leaving slips into the background again until the actual event……. Do you know the old song ‘The Leaving of Liverpool’?

    I am so glad – it sounds like the goats have gone to a new happy home too. That’s a blessing right there!

    Thank you for taking the time to keep posting – your NZ friend so appreciates it 🙂

    • Oh, thank you, Pauline! I just listened to “The Leaving of Liverpool”…fare thee well my own true love…thank the gods and goddesses my true love is going too! What a great song. Headed to California on a hella ship.

      The next re-homing will be Garfield, and that’s going to be the heartbreaker. My sister-in-law (my first husband’s sister) and I are good friends and she has expressed interest. The hens might just stay here. We’ll see.

      Thanks again for your love-thoughts. Our hearts are nurtured therewith. Kisses, Christi

      • Christi, that would be so good if your sister-in-law would take him, then you will KNOW he is going to be alright and well loved……….. It is so difficult leaving our beloved pets behind in order for us to move on, but that would be just the best outcome!

        I tend to get a song in my head that is attached to life situations [!! my life is a musical :-)] that one always substituted dear friends and pets in place of the lover……

    • I know what you mean about a song associated with a move or a time. My life is a musical! lol I have a song for this transition — Cat Stevens “The Wind.” It’s so short though! I have to keep re-booting it.

      • That’s an intriguing little song! What was it ‘Where I’ll end up only God really knows…’ So true!! Heavens to Murgatroyd, when we look back on our lives and the places we’ve been and the serendipitous occurrences who could ever have guessed that such amazing adventures would be ours????

  3. Made me cry! Thinking of you both during this magical time.

    • I will miss our visits, too, Suzanne. I’ll be back to visit Seattle, of course. Mom, sister and all three kids are still there! You haven’t seen or heard the last from me. 🙂 Love you.

  4. I wasn’t done – so delete or ignore the last one!! Name spelled wrong, verb tense. Sheesh. Here is a redo:

    What an inspiration. You are so brave, Christi. I keep saying to Gary that I need to see Christi and her Bearded One. It just feels really important. If it doesn’t happen soon I will be coming to Hawaii it seems. Hugs, Betty

    • Hi Betty! And thank you. 🙂 I don’t feel brave, but I know what you mean. This move is compelled only by us, no one is making us do this, so the emotional energy is different. Perhaps visiting with dear friends after decades of life is the surprising cream on top. I’d LOVE to see you…could you FB message me your phone or email and we can set something up?? Hugs back, Christi

  5. Oh I love this Christi! Reminds me of David Lee’s (poet laureate of Utah) poem Loading a Boar: You are both laureates of the Peninsula!

    Loading a Boar
    by David Lee

    We were loading a boar, a goddam mean big sonofabitch and he jumped out of the pickup four times and tore out my stockracks and rooted me in the stomach and I fell down and he bit John on the knee and he thought it was broken and so did I and the boar stood over in the far corner of the pen and watched us and John and I just sat there tired and Jan laughed and brought us a beer and I said, “John it aint worth it, nothing’s going right and I’m feeling half dead and haven’t wrote a poem in ages and I’m ready to quit it all,” and John said, “shit, young feller, you aint got started yet and the reason’s cause you trying to do it outside yourself and aint looking in and if you wanna by god write pomes you gotta write pomes about what you know and not about the rest and you can write about pigs and that boar
    and Jan and you and me and the rest and there aint no way you’re gonna quit,” and we drank beer and smoked, all three of us, and finally loaded that mean bastard and drove home and unloaded him and he bit me again and I went in the house and got out my paper and pencils and started writing and found out John he was right.

  6. Well, after reading some of the doom n gloom blogs out there (who are actually on the money, but no fun to read) and having a chuckle at some of the comments and one particularly odd commenter, I came here, where I know I will always find a laugh even as you make me cry.

    I’ve done my share of loading stock (nothing so exciting as that boar of David Lee’s, thank heavens) and of leaving places and more . . . so I can relate.

    I love that the B.O. cancelled the shopping trip . . . traumatized is right, even when it’s a consequence of choice. Not much on this earth is easy, eh? But you two always find the joy and excitement that lurks, waiting for us to become aware of it. Great photos and cartoons, as always.

    I’m so happy the goats found a good home. The chickens won’t mind where they go, so long as they are fed 😉

    I’m still in shock and awe at your decision. You are right, you, Pauline and Fran are definitely triplets! I have had a hard time living so far from ‘home’ for these past years, even when ‘home’ isn’t there, really, and what is there has changed so much . . . I know I could make such a move, too, but I think for me, it’ll be easier to just wait for another life and start fresh wherever . . .

    Thanks so much for the updates. I love the vicarious enjoyment of a huge seachange . . . Hugs to you both. ~ Linne

    • The idea of “home” is on my mind a lot these days, too, Linne, and I love what you say about how former homes aren’t really there. I don’t feel as if I’m leaving home now, somehow. I’m making space for newness, but home is coming with me. He’s reading the paper right now.:)

      And as I sort through my books, I’m thinking of the one for you…I’ll send soon, along with the kefir, which has been in cold storage but I’m reviving it this week. Hugs, Christi

  7. We had our big move last year. My husband was promoted to Principal of a country District High School. We call them “District High Schools” when they have primary to high school children. This is usually because of the size of the town. We left our two boys to fend for themselves in the family home, and moved 8 hours away. It was exciting and sad as well. I was excited for my husband and our new adventure, but sad at leaving our boys and being such a long way away. It was quite tricky to tease out the pieces of our life and leave enough of it behind so the boys had bits left too. It was also hard to leave our friends and family behind.
    It has been an interesting year, for us and the boys. We are very pleased with our new “home.” There have been ups and downs but overall we have settled in well.
    Good luck with your adventure. I hope you have more ups than downs x

    • Wow, that is a huge change, Kym! My first husband (we were married for 16 years) was/is a junior high school principal! I know something of your life in that regard. I’m so glad your new home is working out. Sounds like your boys are on their own grand adventure with the changes, too. Thanks for sharing! xxoo

  8. Christine Widman

    “We are so easily traumatized,” he jokes as we slump at the kitchen table. “Best not to move around fast or talk too loudly.”
    The best advice I have ever read about being in transition as the actions of change begin their reality.
    The goats are gone. To a new place in the meadows & trees of Port Orchard.
    I remember – when our house in Edmonds was for sale and we were beginning the actual driving search for a B&B in Tucson – one of my deep heart friends saying, “Won’t you miss me?”
    I remember the sense of being stunned. Not because I would miss her, but because I couldn’t imagine how we could not continue on our quest.
    I can feel the goats trembling. I know the (perfect description) “surreal land” of BIG change. I support with my full spirit your quest.
    Sending love,

    • You words are balm to my soul, Christine. Was I that deep heart friend? 🙂 I could have been, your leaving was such a “jump.” Now I completely understand. You are 10 years older than me; I’m just getting there. I love that you can relate to the “I couldn’t imagine how we could not continue our quest.” That’s exactly it. And look at the beauty and spirit you and Den have created at the Azure Gate. Meant to be. Loving you. Christi

  9. Oh Christi, your writing is so beautiful. I, like others, often laugh or cry. I know it had to be traumatic to see the goats go to their new home. The picture was sad. I am very much in awe of your courage to embrace change and embark on this grand adventure! I wanted to let you know that they last couple of weeks I didn’t receive this in my Yahoo account. Should I hit follow again? I’m sure it will be easy to sell the Farmlet. It’s awesome. I know your new home in Hawaii will be awesome too! I look forward to seeing your gorgeous pictures with your new camera! Big hugs from Texas – Susan

    • Thanks, Susan, and I sure hope it’s easy to sell the farmlet. We are hiring a realtor, which is a huge relief to me. At first we thought we’d do it ourselves, but the negotiating and contracts etc. stress me out — and when the B.O. wears his lawyer’s hat, that makes me crazy, too. lol The new camera arrived and it is sitting on my desk here, waiting. Maybe I’ll touch it today. Hugs back to you, Susan.

      • Oh, and curious about the Yahoo omission. I’d try the Follow again, but who knows…I ended up with Bing as my browser after trying to resize a photo, so I actually entered my Control Panel, so who knows what tremors that caused. I live on the outer fringe of the tech world.

  10. I would have been HOWLING when the goats went 😦 I am SUCH a sookie la-la. I tend to balk whenever large and eventful things happen. I would rather hide under the bed than feel the pain of having to say good bye but you are facing it head on with stoic bravery. It seems somehow fitting that the old camera decided to call it a day. That house in Puna reminds me SO much of the Farmlet. It has the same primal friendliness that seems to wave at the same time as saying “Hippies live here!” ;). “STOP THAT PAULINE!” now you have me crying again 😦 Your Aussie twin appreciates you posting as well and huge big sloppy hugs and kisses from Sunny Sidmouth Tasmania. I bet that snow is magnificent…a fitting portent for a clean, white, fresh new start 🙂

  11. Hi Fran! Yes, the Puna hippie house has my heart, but we can’t just buy it because we can’t qualify for a bridge loan because we don’t have jobs! Perhaps a good thing since ten years ago all you had to do was walk into a bank and you qualified for thousands, and look at the banking system now. Ug. I’d rather be blissfully unemployed than bank approved any day. If the hippie house is meant for us, it will still be available when this place sells, right? Right! And remember, I am moving CLOSER TO YOU. Love you and Steve, Christi

  12. Change is always hard–even when it is taking you in a direction that you want to go.

  13. I love The Wind! I can see it fitting perfectly with your transition. The mind picture of you busy in the house with that song playing (on repeat) makes me smile. xoxoB

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