I Lava Rock ‘n Roll

It’s 7am and the Bearded One and I sit together in silence at our little card table. I sip Mango Maui tea, he reads the newspaper. Raindrops plop and bong the metal roof overhead, doves coo through the screens.


One of the things I love about our new life here in Hawaii is going to bed together and getting up roughly around the same time. This happens because we have had no steady source of electricity, and when it’s dark the day is over. But it’s also because we have no TV, which the Bearded One misses, especially the football, but he’s otherwise enjoying and adjusting to the TV-free life. He doesn’t want one around. Me, neither.

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I lean over and see a sun in the weather box on the front page, along with the latest on the lava flow. We need sunshine today because Tom is coming with the final final final part to make the sun, not our generator, power the batteries. Our solar installation and Madame Pele each have their own unknown temperament and timing and neither can be rushed or predicted worth a hoot.

The rain picks up and I stand, stretch, and walk to the kitchen for more tea. Jeffrey the Gecko hunts in the window over the sink. He looks at me and licks his lips. “Good morning, Jeffrey,” I say.

When I return, the Bearded One has fetched his boombox, an ancient Sony CD Radio Cassette-corder that he used to crank up for the goats in the barn back in Washington. Now it is our sole electronic entertainment.

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We are a Norman Rockwell painting from the late 1950s as we huddle around the radio and listen to Garrison Keillor on Saturday nights.

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The Bearded One is switching through radio stations.

“A warm, loving God…election fears…referendum in the Crimea…Love, it’s what makes Subaru a Subaru.”

And then, subdued and serene, “This is NPR News…Lava has been flowing toward the small town of Pahoa on Hawaii’s Big Island since June and is oozing closer to dozens of homes. Renee Montagne speaks to Hawaii Public Radio’s Molly Solomon about the eruption and how prepared residents are.”

The Bearded One turns up the volume. Official, worldly reporters are a few miles away in Pahoa, hunting for stories. We are on international news.

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We listen as if we lived in Australia. We hear about residents who are still around after the weeks of waiting, how they have most of their belongings in storage now and will move when the lava actually flows into their yards. Watching the actual destruction will bring some closure, they say. It’s nature and this is a 30 year ongoing flow that’s already covered up 50 square miles down in Kalapana and is now branching out. We live on an active volcano, after all.

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One resident calls it “surreal, a slow-motion disaster, a lava glacier,” another talks about how it “makes people aware of their community and who they live around.” One mother says her kids ask every day, “Is the lava coming?” and today she told them, “Yeah, it’s here.”

As we listen, we smell the sulfur smoke through the rain, since the wind is coming from the south.

“That’s reporter Molly Solomon with Hawaii Public Radio, who’s watching the lava flow heading towards the town of Pahoa. Thanks very much.”

Goodbye, international spotlight, I think.

The Bearded One picks up the boombox, sets it in his lap, and switches stations. I’m antsy. The rain still falls, and it’s looking less and less like a solar work day. We have a few more quiet hours before we need to start the generator.

“I – Love – Rock-and-Roll,” blasts from the boombox.  Joan Jett growls and grinds out the girl beat, and I hop up and start singing and dancing.

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Time to let off a little steam. The Bearded One rocks back and forth with the boombox in his lap.

Then it’s over, and the Bearded One lowers the volume. The rain drops continue bonging the roof, it’s another day in Hawaii, and I sit back down and finish my tea.


34 responses to “I Lava Rock ‘n Roll

  1. You are more like an album cover. 🙂

  2. Christine Widman

    I lava rock ‘n rock too!
    Went for my run with Mic Jagger singing Start Me Up on my iPod Shuffle…when I finished I turned the radio on in my car & -yup – Start Me Up was playing. What was an absolute lol…the DJ, after the song is over, says, “How do the Stones get away with it..”Start me up…you make a grown man cry”…(and a couple other lines in the song that I won’t mention here)…which the DJ quoted…and then groaned himself. lololol
    Your island world is rocking’ ‘n rollin’….Pele showing her stuff.
    I’ve been following her outflow almost every day on Google. So know I’m with you in my hippie spirit.
    It’s always good to dance off a little steam.
    Hugs, hugs, hugs.

  3. On the slopes of Madame Pele “…where the women are strong, and the men are good-looking…” like the two of you. Rockwell on! xo

  4. P.S. – You and the Bearded One and Christine have got me looking on line for Stones cassette tapes to replace ones I played to death, cuz I still have my Walkman!! Turn it up…

  5. Steve here .. iread your blog out and Fran says i make words up , maybe i like to make it sound different lol … i have seen you on the tele , well not you but where you live , we have the worlds tv press telling us all about your little isle . Be safe be happy and keep on rocking 🙂

    Fran I LOVE rock and roll 🙂 I think I could comfortably live with no television but without music I would flag. I like to listen to songs on the PC and play them through the laptop as I do other things in the kitchen. I love streaming radio stations and my favourite new one is Grooveshark. With a name like that it fits both Australia and Hawaii. We keep seeing news reports every night on the 6 oclock news about your active volcano and Stevie-boy and I strain to look over the horizon and see if we can see you both waving from the boundaries. That crusty over 1000C slow glacier flow looks benign but smouldering and like most benign things, it can pack a punch once it decides to act up. I guess the best thing about this is that there is plenty of warning. It isn’t flowing down like a flood of water in an instant and people can get their things together, their lives removed from it’s path as far as they possibly can. I felt so sorry for those people who have lost their house (see, we Australians watch AND pay attention 😉 ). What a way to go! Once your place of abode, now swallowed up by pungent sulphurous black ichor. I bet you can’t wait to have your solar stability finally nailed into place (or however it is being attached) and I love that you are both now truly in tune with your surroundings. Up at the same time and to bed at the same time. There is something incredibly soothing in being in harmony and in tune. Here’s to that old north wind blowing that sulphurous gas in the other direction!

    • Mahalo, Steve and Fran! So, Steve, you ad lib a bit when you narrate the Farmlets? Hm. I’d LOVE to hear it. LOVE! With your accent and wit, it’d be a wild trip. Fran, I love this: “swallowed up by pungent sulphurous black ichor.” Ichor. Now there’s a word.

      The big news here now is that the solar is hooked up! Yesterday we didn’t ever turn on the generator! Free electricity! Oh, I mean free after the solar system is paid for. Details. 🙂 Love you both, and those pups, too. xo

      • HUGE and most sustainable hugs to you both :). You are truly Hawaiian hippies now, harnessing the suns rays for free electricity. Kudos guys 🙂

  6. Read one article that said the lava, and the threat of more, keeps the developers away – and real estate affordable. Pele – your friend and your enemy

  7. BO’s cartoons are so GOOD!! I can see you dancing away and imagine BO sitting there, nursing the boom-box with a slightly smug look on his face, watching you and swaying just a little with the music……

    TV or no TV…. I think I have the best of both worlds. I have a giant TV set. I have no TV reception [by choice] I use my giant TV as a computer screen, a movie screen [DVD’s] and I watch stuff I want to watch via YouTube and so forth. The only thing I’m missing out on is the nightly news about lava approaching slowly and steadily …… I was updated by you via facebook though a few days back so that was good.

    I received your book in the mail yesterday and the envelope complete with BO’s handiwork now resides with my other favourite things 🙂 I had completely forgotten you had said you would send me a copy so that was a wonderful surprise to find in the mailbox. Thank you so much for sending it and I am really looking forward to tucking myself into bed at a reasonable hour and, as I have electricity 🙂 , turning on the reading lamp and enjoying your tale.

    As Steve says and Garrison Keillor would say if he could, I’m sure – be safe, be happy and keep on rocking! xoxo Arohanui

    • Aloha Pauline! The BO loves a woman with good taste, his own words, and I’ll leave it at that. 🙂 I love his cartoons, too. Sometimes I think that’s why I write the blogs, so he can illustrate them!

      TV — we might end up doing as you do, just getting the screen to watch movies. A great way to do it. But for now, we need to get real beds first.

      I finally got the book in the mail, and then I sat on it for a couple of weeks before posting it to you. I hope you enjoy it. There might be a few anachronisms in there; I wrote it in 1985. I seem to remember mentioning Michael Jackson in it. lol

      Love you, Christi

  8. I saw a news report about your area tonight. Hope you’re okay.

  9. The lava flow may be an old tale, but you’ve been a wonderful narrator. Hope the solar array gets that final final final part and Madam Pele stays out of your yard. I can’t imagine the poor folks having to witness her destruction of their homes and properties. This volcano’s a bit different from St. Helens, for sure. xoxoB

  10. Mahalo, Becky. The difference in this and St. Helens is mind-boggling! I’m learning so much about volcanoes, let me tell you. Here is a link to 2 excellent videos if you’re interested: http://www.hawaii.edu/news/2014/10/28/puna-lava-flow-hazards-explained-by-uh-hilo-professor/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+UHawaiiSystemHome+%28University+of+Hawai%CA%BBi+System+News+%C2%BB+home%29

    The second one in particular helped me a lot. Hugs to your skinny self. 🙂

  11. Such great “Aloha” Farmlet stories, wow…big news you are, with Pele and the lava. Will the lava eventually cut you off from the town? I guess a writer’s got to have a big adventure so she can spin a few stories, eh? teehee And yes, BO’s illustrations just keep getting better! HA! Love Love

    • Aloha Suzanne! You are so write about writers. 🙂 And yes, the lava will probably eventually cut Highway 130 in half. They’ve already divided the school kids, those going north to Keaau schools, and those who’ll stay in the Pahoa school which is on the south end of the town’s main drag (which is just about to be covered and runs parallel to the highway about 500 yards away. We’ve been doing most of our errands in Pahoa, but can easily shift to Keaau. Those on the other side (including Kalani and Austin!) will have to take a gravel bypass to get north to supplies, plus those bypasses will possibly/probably be cut off, too, once the lava goes to the ocean. (another 4-5 miles) The Land of Adaptability. The BO says Hey! and How’s Bob? Love you both, Christi

  12. Lovely. Just lovely. Thanks and peace, John

  13. Every time I hear anything about the volcano on the news, I think about you. You’re sure having an adventure. It sounds so scary–but you seem so calm. Take care!

  14. Thanks for the updates, Christi. I’ve been reading but not commenting. We have coverage of the lava flow nightly on the news, too, and I always think of you two and your son and all those I don’t know whose lives will be affected so drastically. You’re right, though; better lava than an instantaneous flash flood or the like. Reminds me of the tsunami in Japan not long ago or the earthquakes in SE Asia, which both my younger son and his girlfriend narrowly missed being caught up in. Glad your solar came through. Can you feed the excess back into the grid and thus pay it off sooner? Hope so. In the meantime, sounds like lovely harmony reigns again on the Farmlet and I’m so glad for you. Hugs to you both. ~ Linne

    • Aloha, Linne! The program to feed the excess solar back into the grid is getting stricter and weirder as the various powers that be weaken it. We didn’t go into debt installing the solar because we factored it into the price of the house…which we bought VERY reasonably. We are, or were, in Lava Zone 3, which isn’t very threatening. The last time lava covered this area was 600 years ago. But no doubt all of Puna will be covered again within the next 1000 years. It’s island geology. And I agree, nothing like flash flooding or tsunamis or earthquakes, etc. Locals here call it a slow motion disaster. Mahalo for checking in, and hope you stay warm up there in Canada. Love you, Christi

  15. Great drawing 🙂 What would the world be like without rock’n roll eh. Just discovered this blog as I’ve been away and only just had a moment to look through. Very entertaining x

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