My Solar System

Sunday evening at 6:20 pm, it’s just now completely dark and the little read-out screen in the back bedroom closet says 91.  That’s percentage charge in our solar batteries solely from the sun.


I walk back into the kitchen to report the number to the Bearded One, who records the time and number in our Solar Book of Knowledge (we have other Books of Knowledge), a small lime-green notebook in which we collect these numbers for further study. We record these numbers all day, sometimes every half hour.

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It has to do with learning how to protect the batteries from ever going below 75%.

“Check,” he says. He’s just come inside after his full day of transplanting pineapples,

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stripped off all his clothes on the lanai, and is now sprawled naked in front of the fan in the living room. It’s just the two of us here.

We haven’t had a sunny day since the solar system became operational last Thursday. A foot of rain over the weekend. It’s beyond humid. My posture along with everything else is limp.

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We barely got the percentage up to 94, which is where we need to get it each day, either by free sunshine or expensive propane-powered generator. It’s all new stuff to us. I’m ready to be completely charged by the sun.

My swimming buddy NeNe has been off-island, too, and I miss her and our swimming. I’ve been cleaning and baking and getting the house ready for our younger daughter, the Nurse, who is coming in two weeks. She came two months ago and we talked and swam and she hung out with her brother down at Kalani and took a yoga class. This time she’s bringing another exhausted hard-working nurse with her,


and I hope the sun is shining for them. Rain or shine – two totally different approaches to paradise.

The Bearded One gets up to take a shower and I head in to the kitchen to heat burritos and rice.

I’ve decided the girls (girls? they are ICU nurses!) should have the den area, not the back bedroom where the solar read-out is. The den’s a nicer room, has a better finished floor, and I’ll buy some colorful sarongs for the walls. They’ll need reading lamps, too. Everything is revolving around the kids – a whole ‘nother solar system.

“I want everything to be perfect for them,” I say to the Bearded One when he steps out of the shower.

“Me, too,” he says, and I think of his role as stepdad these 18 years. He’s very good at it. As he puts it, he knows his place — he sees the glass ceiling and embraces it.

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“You do what you can,” he’s said on other occasions. “It’s a good gig if you can get it.”

The phone rings. It’s 8pm. “Who could be calling at this hour?” I breathe a whiff of worry until I answer and hear our oldest daughter’s, “Hiiiiii!” And then, “I’m fine, is this too late?”

My internal battery charges as we talk. She has negotiated a break from her job and if it’s okay here, she’d like to come visit, arriving a day before her sister leaves and staying until just before Thanksgiving. Our son will be here, too.

“So all three of you kids will be here for a whole day!?” I shriek. The Bearded One is listening and smiles wide.

The planets have aligned. The sun is warming us now. Our solar reading soars.

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23 responses to “My Solar System

  1. YAYYYY!! The Kids! “Good morning, SUNshiiiine…” Happy for you.

  2. Who cares about humidity when you have all of your family around you and the sunshine in your heart is on “Blaze” :). I didn’t realise that there was so much pfaffing around with solar stuff. I thought it was “hook it up and AWAY!” but it looks like there is a lot of background plotting and writing and confabulation that needs to be undertaken. I wonder if wind power turbines have the same bampf? I am saving up for a small wind turbine. We get something called “The roaring 40’s” here which basically means we have wind pretty much 24/7 and wind power in a state that is well known for being overcast is a much smarter option in my mind than solar. Might be time to check out whether I need to add “notebook and pen” to that savings list! Have the BEST Thanksgiving Christi and the B.O. and here’s hoping that the volcano doesn’t crash the party although we have stopped seeing updates for is since it decided to stop flowing so that can only be a good thing methinks 🙂

    • Aloha Fran, and yes, the lava flow front has stalled! Gives everyone a chance to think about it all again. Lots of talk about building a bridge over it when it eventually crosses the highway. Not really possible, of course, but it’s hard not to attempt something.

      There are some wind turbines here, too, but not as much as solar. We do get trade winds, but they were gone for much of the summer this year. It does sound like wind would work better there, though. And YES, I’m sure there’s as much bampf with wind! It’s technology, the scourge and sweetness of our times. As you know so well. Hugs to Steve and the pooches. Love you, Christi

      • So glad it has stopped and that you guys live on the other side of it. Keep up those gorgeous posts about amazing things like “transplanting pineapples” and those amazing (jealously inducing) orchids. We poor long suffering “normal” gardeners can only dream of seeing plants like that in pots but you guys have them as weeds! There has to be something to balance out that humidity ;).

  3. Glad finally got it working! Now for some sun.

  4. That’s great that you will have all 3 kids there on the same day! I’m so happy for you! I’m learning so much from your posts. 🙂 I’m impressed! Hugs from Texas!

    • Hugs back from Hawaii. Technology learning curves are the hardest for me, Susan — sharing it helps me to learn it. Working in a law office all these years, you’ve had your share of tech upgrade angst, I’m sure. 🙂 And that impresses me! Aloha, Christi

  5. SO HAPPY for you!!! Wish I could have some of those pineapple transplants…wouldn’t grow here anyway! HA! Love love to you all!

    • The pineapple leaves are so pokey, Suzanne! But oh, the white pineapple is positively heavenly. My favorite so far. Next year I hope to dry some. Mahalo for the love and hope you are staying warm through the PNW fall storms. Aloha, and hey to Bob! xo

  6. Christine Widman

    Having the “kids” around certainly creates a kind of solar/”soul”-ar energy all its own. Definitely can recharge limp batteries.
    Here even with sunshine every day, I have those limp moments. Missing our sons, daughters, sons-in-laws, daughter-in-law…and of course the two grandkiddos. We are having some fun family gathering time the first week of December. Counting the days.
    So cheers for your solar energy/here we’re cheering for ours too which was just “turned on” 2 days ago! …for exercising the mind muscles learning about solar energy (that is always a whoa limp moment for me/here it is learning new tech stuff for my new laptop computer and my “upgraded” iPhone – aarrgghh)…and especially for the arrivals of the “kids”…..definitely energy is working.
    LOVED the surfing nurses.

    • Congratulations on your own solar system, Christine! And the tech part drains me, too. You’re right about learning being something we can keep doing, even as the body gets older. Just not when it’s humid. lol Cheers to your huge reunion in a couple of weeks. And, I loved the surfing nurses, too. Their legs. lol xo

  7. While my mind is still boggled at the thought you may NOT have been ‘just the two of us here’ as BO lay spread-eagled on the floor, birthday suited and exhausted by pineapple planting, I am with you 100% as Horton [or some other Dr Seuss character] is wont to declare, at the prospect of a day with all the kids! I only have two and it’s such a wonderful event when we all get together – three means it’s even harder to achieve!

    It’s all looking good in the green department despite a lack of sunshine. I’m not good with humidity, just the drawing of you and the palm drooping makes me start to sweat! But my, the lush beauty that surrounds you – what a gift! Hope Jeffrey is doing well and you all are too xoxo

    • LOL Pauline, I noticed that the B.O. didn’t illustrate his nakedness — a naked stick man might be tricky. Full frontal nudity and we wouldn’t even know it! I admit, with the house never getting below 67 degrees, and no one here but us, we both have been known to walk through the living room in our birthday suits. 🙂 It’s the jungle.

      Jeffrey has pretty much healed — his tail has returned — only to have the tip nipped off last weekend in a skirmish the B.O. witnessed. Yesterday he got into Tom’s Mountain Dew. He looked pretty happy.

      Thankfully, the humid spell has passed. Yesterday was absolutely gorgeous. Yay! Hugs and aloha to you and the critters. xo

  8. Brought tears to my eyes Christi. I feel so happy for you. Hopefully our happy waves can be converted into solar ones 🙂 I miss my two boys too. The first year was the worst. I’m into year 2 now, so I’ve hardened up lol. They drive me crazy when they are around, but it’s a feel good crazy.
    I hate humidity, hope it eases up for you, and soon x

    • Mahalo, Kym. I am touched that you felt so moved…missing kids is hard. I went through it when I divorced almost 2 decades ago and had joint custody — I called myself Part-Time Mom. Very hard, but we worked it out and I hardened up, as you say so well. Still, they are in my center, even though they are adults and miles away. Hugs and aloha. Christi

  9. Yeah! A soon to be family reunion….a cirque du soleil if you will 🙂 Congratulations on the solar energy doings and wishing you some clear sunny skies…..we are knee deep in rain, fog and blustery winds. Amidst the dreariness we have the fall leaves blanketing cars, roads and houses in beautiful reds, yellows and orange hues. Love the blog…it’s beautiful story and drawings…and love you both.

    • Circus of the Sun, brilliant description Leslie. 🙂 It was starting to feel like Seattle around here, except for the temperature, of course. The leaves are gorgeous in Seattle. Mahalo for the love and comment and…ah…when are you coming again? Love you.

  10. Terrific news that all three will be there! I am so happy for you! You will have a most wonderful first holiday season, I’m sure.
    Love your posts and your updates on the homestead as well as Madame Pele’s misadventures. And congrats on the solar success!! Things are going pretty well, it seems, even with a little lava bump in the road. Take good care! xoxoB

  11. Hey, Christi: Thanks for following my weird blog. I’ve been enjoying yours for a while now. Peace and best, John

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