Ten Glugs

The Bearded One is all soaped up in the shower when the generator runs out of gas. I know because I am sitting by the lantern in kitchen with our son, His Majesty, and the electric fan stops. Then I hear the Bearded One whistle for help. “Oh no!” I cry. I spring into action.

This is a clear “Mom” overreaction to the generator stopping, and His Majesty lets me know. “Sheesh, Mom. Calm down.” He is yoga man, but he is also a naturally calm soul whose chill presence in the kitchen at Kalani has gotten him promoted to trainer already. He gets up and turns on his headlamp. “I’ll go fill it up.”


“Thank you!!”

He pats me on the shoulder, says, “It’s okay, really,” and walks through the dining room, which no longer houses our inflatable bed, but is full of solar panels


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which we’d hoped to install today, but Tropical Storm Wali has been bearing down on us all week, the tin roof’s wet and too dangerous to walk on, and tonight the rain is supposed to be torrential.

The Bearded One has been preparing for the storm all week, including building a rain-proof box for the solar batteries. He loves storms. Lately, it’s just been hot and humid. The storm was due at 6pm. It’s 7:30 now. The Bearded One gave up and got into the shower.

I run to the bathroom to let him know help is on the way. I am a bit frantic, I admit. This week, on top of the storm preparations and the solar panel delivery, our tiny electrical system died, so we had no running water in the house for a couple of days until Tom told us how to hook the pump directly to the second generator. For those days, we hauled water from the decrepit old open catchment tank (new one due to be delivered this week) to flush the toilet

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and drove the 2 miles to Tom’s for a shower. I heated potable water on our propane stove for washing dishes. Living off-grid means learning your own infrastructure really well, hauling in drinking water (8+ pounds per gallon…), monitoring the propane supply, and the ethanol-free gas for the generator, and it’s still a bit overwhelming to me.

“How are you doing?” I ask my sudsy sweetie.

“Tell His Majesty that from the small gas can, the generator takes just ten glugs, and then it’s almost full.” His mind is still under the house, where he was juggling fuel cans and engines and electrical wiring all day with His Majesty while Tom installed the fourth window upstairs.

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I spent the afternoon cooking a spaghetti casserole while Tom’s dog Rufus watched me from the lanai and waited for the drippings.


All of us took timeouts to check the radar on the computer to see how the storm was materializing. Up to 12 inches, some said, but it seemed to be dissipating. Still there was plenty of flood risk, which energized the Bearded One. Our house is kind of down in a hole.

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“Once the lava is saturated,” he said to me with absolute earnestness, “all hell will break loose!”

“Got it,” I say, race to the storage room window which is right above the generator, shout “Just 10 glugs!” His Majesty shouts, “Okay!” and the generator is going again in minutes. He comes in and we resume our conversation in front of the fan, which is a lifesaver with no breezes and humidity that turns cardboard limp as tissue. This is the tropics.

Rain drops begin to plunk and then pound on the tin roof. His Majesty’s eyes flicker under his headlamp and he smiles. “I love that sound,” he says.

“Here it comes!” shouts the Bearded One from the bathroom.

We laugh. “He is so funny,” I say.

His Majesty agrees. “His timing is great.” Then he gets his guitar and walks out to the dark lanai. It’s 7:40 and we’re heading to bed before too long. No TV, no lamps. The Bearded One sits on the lanai, too, listening to the rain and the guitar music and even plays some himself. It’s been a long time since he’s touched a guitar. I can feel his happiness.

When the rain stops, we listen to the ocean, which is extra loud, crashing into the lava cliffs of the Puna coast less than a mile away. “Concussive,” he says, giddy. “Want to go to the ocean? See if we can get blasted?”

I say to the boys, “Probably time to go shut down that generator. Save the gas.”

“Almost ready, my sweets,” says the Bearded One. “Just one more glug.”

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16 responses to “Ten Glugs

  1. Love the Glugs! and those new windows. Wow.

  2. You are already calling it a Lanai. You are assimilating. Soon you will be making Spam casserole, and the transformation will be complete.

  3. Thank GOODNESS Ms Christi! I thought that the bugs and the tropical balmy warmth had finally taken its toll and you were driven to drink…You know… I don’t think I have met anyone (aside from us) with a more eclectic collection of “stuff” in their dining room…our dining room resembled a bomb site for quite a while when we were renovating the kitchen. All concrete sheets on the floor and frigid cold in the middle of winter. SO glad that’s over! Solar panels you say? Kudos Ms Christi and Mr B.O. :). I know I shouldn’t… I REALLY shouldn’t…but I can’t help myself…”Where’s Wali?” 😉

    I know that it is probably “doing your head in” right now Christi, all of the change and upheaval of all of this newness, but it’s right and proper that you wade through it and learn it as you go so that you are part of it and it’s in your blood. If you build/renovate a house it becomes part of you and you it.

    LOVE that dog…I want to give him a pat and he want’s that casserole! 😉 Your house is in a hole but up on stilts so at least you have that bonus. You are discovering what we Taswegians know, heat is subjective and it’s all about the humidity when it comes to summer. It might not get much above 35C here but that 35C is like living in a sweat box 24/7.

    The B.O. is high on life, Austin is joining him and soon, when you feel safe enough to dabble your sensibilities, when it slowly becomes “yours” you will join them Ms Christi. You are like me…you don’t like change 🙂

    On a small aside…would you be willing to send a little “special” thing to Ms Pauline for her “Dangler of great international happiness?” She has had it in her mind for years now and I want to make it a reality. I am asking all of her dear constant readers to send 1 – 2 small things that can be strung onto string to add to her dangler…buttons, shells, bits of coconut husk with a hole, a nice stone, something that means something to the finder/findee to create something truly international for Ms Pauline to know her community every time she looks at it 🙂

    • Where’s Wali!!!! LOL! Good one, my dear Fran. Wali has brought rain and humidity but no big crashing flooding monster was he. Still, we are sooo prepared for the next ‘un. And you nailed our psyches, too. Working on the house is making it ours. The termite guys just left, after 5 hours of orange oiling the little critters to death. At least the house smells nice in the warmth and humidity! I grew up in Houston, which Kelsey will tell you is HUMID and HOT. In the 90s and 100s F. 35 degrees C like you! YIKES. Here we just get to 82 or 83. The sweat drips off me. This is healthy. 🙂

      Your Dangler for Pauline sounds divine and I’d love to add to it. Can you email me her address, madam? Love you lots, Christi

      • I will do that for you Christi and cheers for being generous and adding to Ms Paulines dangler of great happiness. Remember, just something small, maybe a shell or a bit of polished coconut husk with a hole in it from your property, something that adds your own little “Aloha” to the mix 🙂 HUGS to you and hats off to those brave little orange scented termites that gave their life so bravely for the cause…time to play the last post methinks… 😉

  4. Ross Robinson

    What a cliff hanger! Waiting for the post-strom report. I ordered a Therapik for a recent trip to Canada due to the anticipated mosquitoes. They love my blood and taking extra B1 did nothing to keep them away. I am happy to report that while the Therapik is an after the fact device it does stop the itching and keeps the swelling down. Sounds like you need one too. I ordered two and would be happy to send you the extra one. The upstairs room is becoming a haven. Think of the sounds, views and breezes you’ll have up there. I’m learning a lot about science and physics from The Bearded One. I now know to look for ethanol free gas for the yard equipment. My carburetors will last longer. Thanks!

    • Aloha Ross! Wali was a bit of a Weenie, but we are getting rain off and on today still. Last Sunday we got 3 inches! Wali didn’t bring the 12 inches predicted, but he made the front page of the newspaper. 🙂 Wow, that Therapik sounds good. Leslie mentioned it, too. And Mahalo for the offer. You are so sweet, but I’ll get one here. We have a bug budget for just this sort of thing. Ha!

      And yes, the ethanol in regular gas gums up carburetors…who knew? Like high fructose corn syrup,eh? Hugs from Hawaii, Christi

  5. Learning how to run your off-grid piece of almost Paradise includes understanding the precise measurements that are required to get optimum performance from your machinery doo-dads 🙂 I see you are all well on the way to achieving mastery!

    The cliff-hanger of course is did Wali arrive – better late than never, or did he peter out with little more than a whimper leaving the BO pining for more?
    [‘Where’s Wali?’ Ha-ha! Good one Narf77!]

    As a neat freak I am having challenges living with a puppy – I don’t know how I’d go any more living in a house renovation [which is not to say I wouldn’t like to find out …. 🙂 ] Everything is above floor level now and, as he has just learned to jump onto the chairs, is in the process of moving higher….. Nothing is safe!!

    The long shot photo of your house peeping through the greenery, little path curving up to the door makes my heart swell. There is the promise of perfection – when all is to your satisfaction inside and the machinery glugs are responsible for a well-oiled machine type existence – and the animals arrive and the friendships are settled and you breathe quietly every morning and every evening and thank a benevolent universe for that wonderful moment when you both looked at each other and said ‘Yes – let’s go to Hawaii’ …….. When the chaos of preparation and settlement has faded, you will just remember the evening you sat waiting for the storm and listened to the BO play guitar for the first time in Hawaii ……..

    From a cold and grey and wet urban environment – big heart-warmed hugs xoxo

    • Where’s Wali cracked me up, too, Pauline! That Fran is so dang clever, I swear. A born wordsmith. Are you listening, Fran? 🙂

      Oh, my, I am sooo with you on the neat freak business. Like babies, everything must be out of reach or total destruction. I don’t think I can handle a puppy right now. But a kitty? Yes. Soon, very soon. I have been meowing and meowing about it, but so much else is going on, the timing hasn’t been right to go to the Humane Society. I’ve looked on Craigslist, too.

      The house is very very cute, I agree. And your original painting is just inside the front door, the first thing I see when I walk in. “A Gardener Grows Tomorrow’s Joys” — maybe it will soon make one of the blog pictures. 🙂

      Love you and I can feel your warm hugs. xxxoooo

  6. If I close my eyes, I can almost hear the guitars….sigh. I’m so glad everything is getting pulled together in your new home. I hope the solar panel installation goes well. Even though you’re tropical now, it’s still Farmlet, and I’m incredibly grateful for that!

    • Aloha Kathie! It’s so lovely to see you commenting here again. All those comments you made the first year, and I wasn’t responding to them then, just sort of figuring it all out. And now here we are 3 years later. 3-1/2, actually. Thanks for the good wishes about the solar installation. Austin will help, and one of the termite guys is going to help, too.:) Hugs to you and the boys. Hope you’re all having a good summer. Love, Christi

  7. Christine Widman

    Tropical storms and desert monsoons. When they happen, more water pours down than is imaginable!
    Your 4 windowed haven will be heaven – like my windowed studio here. I feel like I am in a tree house…and it is a great viewing place for monsoons and roiling night clouds and bird song.
    We are being measured for solar tomorrow. Great sense of excitement and “feel good”- ness about this change to sustainable energy.
    Cheers and more cheers for all your pioneering in Puna.

    • The computer is going to be upstairs on the other end from our bedroom, actually where the 4th window went in. It will feel a lot like your studio! I love it up there, and will love it even more when it’s got a fan! Congrats on your solar “fitting” — in Tucson it makes so much sense! Good luck with it. You and Den must come here and see these Puna cliffs. The “high lava cliffs” and mist and pounding waves. Last evening they were dark and gray and the air was visible. Alohaxxxooo

  8. Christine Widman

    Den and I would tear out of our apartment in Honolulu and drive to the North Shore – Waimea Bay – when the BIG WAVES began rolling in. We saw them at 31 feet high. Those were the days when you could actually go down to the beach and see the waves/and the fearless surfers.
    (Now you would be lucky to find a place to park much less get down to the beach.)
    We’d also go to Hanauma Bay – often we’d be the only ones there – during a storm and watch the waves crash against the high lava cliffs.
    We were just like the Bearded One…”Want to go to the ocean??!!! See the storm blast??!!!”

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