Cyclone Sleep

It’s 2am and I am wide awake listening to Hurricane Iselle blowing across the Puna coastline less than a mile away. The Bearded One sleeps next to me like a baby.

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I’ve been wired since 9:30 when I thought the house was crashing in, but it was just the wind blowing out the plywood sheet from one of the big new windows upstairs.


The Bearded One was awake then, too, and together we nailed the storm sheet back up. He fell asleep soon thereafter.


Since then, I’ve listened alone to the wild rhythmic shuttering and slamming of the tin roof, and pondered the fate of our solar panels, installed just two days ago on the upper north roof.


The Bearded One, our son, and our friend Tom worked all day Tuesday hauling the nine 35-pound thin-film photovoltaic panels up two ladders and connecting them to the previously installed framework. The panels are made to withstand wind and rain, but not palm trees falling on them.

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Hurricane Iselle (followed by Hurricane Julio) has been bearing down on us all week, the first hurricane to hit any of the Islands in 22 years, and the first in more than a century for the Big Island.  Because of its cold, deep coastline waters (hurricanes like warm water) and our two gigantic volcanoes, such a direct hit is quite rare. The locals are all justifiably hesitant to get worked up, but Iselle hasn’t veered or weakened, and the schools —

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which just started on Tuesday, were closed today for storm preparation. It’s also two days before the primary election.

After we boarded the windows, we spent the evening listening to the radio – the internet was already out – and eating storm candy I’d bought. We sat on the lanai in the breeze and noticed the lack of mosquitoes. The wind began to pick up and we repeatedly saw lightning that lit the sky up aqua.

Then we came inside to the dining room, where we moved our trusty inflatable mattress again after the solar panels moved out, and went to bed.

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Now the wind is absolutely screaming. I watch the 12-inch diameter mango tree just off our lanai bend and flop like a rag doll.

The head of the mattress is against the northeast wall of the house, looking directly toward the ocean. I turn over and get up on my knees to look out the windows and, unbelievably, in the light of the full moon, see 70 foot palm trees in our front yard blown horizontal, bending like dandelions, the wind is so terrible. The straining, creaking, breaking up sounds coming from the metal roofing are other-worldly. Impossibly big and scary.

“Sweetheart! You have to see this!” I am not afraid for my life, but the irony of this whole situation is killing me. The Bearded One is the storm freak, he who longs to be blasted by immense ocean waves, and he is sleeping through this.

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He groggily agrees and slowly props himself up enough to bear witness. “Wow,” he says.  He watches for maybe a minute. Then he goes back to sleep instantly and sleeps until an hour after sunrise, after I’d been up and assessed the damage. The solar panels are okay! We lost trees —


a beautiful palm, an ugly cedar, a loathsome albizia, and 3 or 4 big ohias.

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A big palm is leaning down against another palm, threatening to just let go and crash down onto the ancient above-ground swimming pool serving still as our water catchment tank. The new one’s been delivered but isn’t all hooked up yet. If the pool gets crunched, we’ll have no plumbing water.


All of Puna is without power, internet and phone, and it will be weeks in some areas before it gets restored. No one was killed or even seriously injured, and the final wind measurement was 70 mph, bumping it down to a Tropical Storm from Hurricane. I can hardly imagine the blinding intensity of a 100 mph wind. The house wouldn’t be standing.  Not in a direct hit.

When I get back inside, the Bearded One is finally awake. He rolls over, then pushes himself up off the floor mattress, an inch, another inch, higher and higher, until he is at last standing. He puffs up his chest and raises his arms triumphantly – ta da! – into the Olympian “V”.

“You survived the storm!” I say.

He beams with his accomplishment and says, “I stuck the landing.”

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26 responses to “Cyclone Sleep

  1. I am so glad you are safe and mostly undamaged! I’ve been holding my breath and sending you lots of good wishes………Isn’t it amazing how BO slept through it all – what a talent!!

    I am now the proud owner of an original BO cartoon of the two of you in dark glasses, holding hands and waving happily at me 🙂 I am going to mount it and frame it 🙂 I am also the proud owner of two spiraled palm frond pieces that look amazingly like tiny binoculars – the first pieces for my dangler of international happiness and what a wonderful way to start it off! They arrived yesterday. You two are just so special!!

    I am also reminded of a movie the BO especially will absolutely love if you haven’t already seen it. [Except I can’t remember the name of it right now] It’s Robert Redford in a solo, almost wordless performance of a man in a yacht battling a storm at sea. It should have won an Oscar at the least and is the best movie I have seen in many years! ‘ALL IS LOST’ It’s called ‘All Is Lost’. See it – be amazed! As soon as you get the power back on 🙂

    Love and hugs to you both! xoxo

    • Aloha Pauline! I’m so glad you got the danglers. As the B.O. says, “We are awfully frond of Pauline.” The only explanation I have for him sleeping through the storm was that he hadn’t had a nap all week…with the solar panels and then the storm preparation. He was pooped, storm or no. And we’ll check into that movie. I haven’t seen it. Our actual solar hookup won’t be for a couple more weeks now…but we’re used to being on a generator now. Sort of. 🙂 Love and hugs back to you and the kitty and pooch! xxoo

  2. Amazing that all you lost was a pest species and a palm and no scratches to the photo-voltaic cells? AMAZING! It seems curious that the very first season that you move to Hawaii, they get the first cyclones that they have had in 22 years eh? Is the weather loath to give up on you? Your cold weather followed you down like a lost puppy ;). So glad you guys are well, didn’t lose much and how hilarious that the B.O. slept through it. I would be hailing Mary with 10 sets of rosary beads and I am not catholic 😉

    • Aloha Fran! It is a bit spooky the timing of our arrival, but global warming is real and upon us, as well as El Nino or whatever, and the whole planet is changing. Life without electricity is a BIG change, a shocker, and I feel grateful that being off grid and on a generator for months now, I don’t feel quite so bashed in. The actual solar working is still a few weeks away, but now that the internet is working again, I’m feeling almost normal. lol Hugs to you and Steve and the boys. xxoo

      • Funny how that little touch of humanity via the net is all that we need these days to reassure us that we are whole again 🙂 HUGE hugs for making it through not one, but 2 cyclones! I would have wee’d my pants! 😉

  3. Hey good to hear you came out of it relatively unscathed. Hope you can move the palm before it cuts off your water supply. Must have been an amazing experience, mixed with terror!!

    • Aloha Kym! We are contemplating the leaning palm. Amazing how tricky these things can be; to fell a tree exactly where you want it. Mahalo for stopping by and commenting. 🙂

  4. Good to hear from you. I had been making discreet inquiries. (Page, where’s Christi, she hasn’t posted anything! Find out from Molly how she is!)

    • Mahalo for the concern, Lisa 🙂 and we are fine…Puna’s electric grid (which affects our internet and phone, but not our generator) is all bus’ up. It sure felt good to see the internet light on, though. Molly is contenting herself with emails now, too. She’ll be the first one I call when the land line is up. Hugs from Hawaii. xxoo

  5. So glad, and relieved to find out that everyone is ok! I’ve picked up the phone a few times to call you, but I knew if you had power you’d most likely be talking to family members. Glad that the damage was minor. I can’t believe that the B.O. slept through a hurricane! I couldn’t have done that even if someone offered me a million dollars. Now I can sigh and get on with my regular life since I know you’ve all weathered the storm. Sending all my love across the ocean!

    • Aloha Kathie! Your phone call whatever day that was was one of the last. The land line is still down, and who knows how long that will be. Some down in south Puna won’t be getting their power back for another week or so. Even with solar, there’s so many parts of our lives connected to the electric grid! I don’t know how the B.O. did it, either! Even when I woke him up, he conked back out again! Sending love back, sweet Kathie. xxxooo

  6. WOW! What an adventure…my favorite part though was the stick man dreaming about the storm! HA! So clever…glad that all is well!

  7. Thank goodness you came out of it all okay. And the solar panels! That is outstanding! Still unbelievable that the storm was headed right for your little corner of the island — wowza! Thank you for putting us all at ease and letting us know you’re all okay, save for a few trees. What an experience — must have been a sight to behold. I think I would have been terrified seeing those trees bent over in the wind…maybe expecting the Wicked Witch of the West to come riding by…

    • Aloha Becky! lol I thought of that whirling house in that Kansas tornado more than once that night! I swear you couldn’t stand upright in that wind, and could maybe even fly. Mahalo. 🙂

  8. Wow Christi! So glad that you and Keith survived the hurricanes. 🙂 they are scary beasties and the power of something you cannot see, the wind, is always frightening. Such damage it can do.

  9. Holy Hurricane, Batman! I was so thinking of you and the irony!!! Even tho had another thing & activities on my mind. :-))
    We were so glad Ian’s group flew out the day before it hit for the wedding! Your daughters were (are) absolutely gorgeous, ferries all messed up, so Molly got there just in time. Jake sure loves to dance, as do I, but M and I ache a bit from it, while those 20-30 s could keep going, I’m sure. So happy all is Aok after the storm! We have so many 200 ft trees, if we get 50-60mph winds, I get a motel! (Which I’ve done twice while here). Love to you both,

    • Aloha Maria and huge congratulations to you on Kali’s gorgeous wedding! I loved the pictures!:) And as soon as we get phone service back (it’s still out), I’m calling Molly to get the full story! She wrote me that she was in the ferry line for 3 hours and was mortified at being late. Kali and Erin are beautiful inside and out and I am still tickled every time I see pictures of them and Molly and Annie together — childhood best friends, and friends forever. Jake is a great dancer, isn’t he?!:) We are no longer in our 20s…I am so clear on this, too. A fundamentally different body these days. Love you, too, girl, and Mahalo for reading these blogs and commenting. I love staying in touch! xxxoooo

  10. You are both living a life out of the book “Swiss Family Robinson.” His Majesty shows a trust of The Universe that amazes me. I’m also amazed that it is rewarded. I save your updates to read like precious gems.

    • Aloha Ross! I know what you mean about His Majesty’s trust. Maybe it’s a 20-something thing? 🙂 Mahalo for reading and taking the time to comment. I love that you do.

  11. Christine Widman

    I read Cyclone Sleep last week but with company here, I didn’t get to comment.
    Wild winds are over. You are safe and sound. I am sleeping easier…gratefulness.
    It is hard to imagine 70 mile an hour winds.
    Our monster monsoons this season are bringing enough thunder, lightning and rain to keep me awake – I can only imagine how wiped out the Bearded One was to sleep through Iselle making her power felt.
    Your little tucked in place made the NYTimes! Apparently, our monsoons are now making the news in NYC.
    The earth is moving under our feet. The sky is tumbling down. (A little hippy music for the Bearded One.) (His sleeping during the hurricane drawing just cracks me up!)
    Hugs hugs hugs.

  12. Glad you are all ok, Christi! I was thinking of you from the time I first saw the storm on the news. Was going to email you and then we had some kind of server glitch and a wee storm of our own, so I shut down the computer and then never did send the note. Still . . . You were in my thoughts.

    Love your son’s faith and perseverance. I have found that when you really connect with that energy, whatever you need does show up; for me, usually at the last possible moment. Not that I need it earlier, but it would allay a bit of the worry I sometimes fee. I suppose for me it’s a lesson in trust, but I seem to be slow in mastering that.

    I, too, love the drawings and esp the sleeping BO one. He, too, must have a high degree of trust . . .

    If you haven’t seen ‘Twister”, you may want to watch that. The Aunty in it is so like me that both my sons and their girlfriends plus a couple of other people called me (all separately) to tell me I HAD to watch it. Then I was anxious, wondering if I would like what they saw in me. But I did and still do! Lots of fun! Stay well and big hugs to you both. ~ Linne

    • “The last possible moment,” so true! The energy of the desire must be very acute. Or, as you say, trust or faith. Mahalo for reading and sharing, as always. Hugs from Hawaii.

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