Tag Archives: Pahoa lava flow

The Land of Ooze

“What time is it?” I whisper to Katherine, the only lady at the monthly Game Night wearing a watch. There are ten of us here at Marge’s and this is our second round of Catch Phrase.


I was first invited by my friend Deborah. I had a great time in October, missed November, and tonight – December 3 – she just got up and demonstrated several 1960s dances (Twist, Watusi, Jerk and Pony) and our laughter rocked the entire 16 mile square subdivision.

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“Eight forty-five,” she says.

“I said I’d be home by 9,” I say and a couple of the ladies across the table just howl at my curfew. We are all wild and whooping it up, sipping wine and munching pupu platters and staying out late. Still, half the women live in other subdivisions, one has an outside job, and yet another’s cat allergies have kicked in and her eyes are watering. Everyone agrees to wind it up.

By 9:30 I’m out the door with my empty cookie plate and a big slab of apple pie in a plastic box for the Bearded One.

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The moon is huge, just 3 days from full. I see the constellation we call The Three Twinkly Ones – Orion’s Belt – clearly and think as I always do when seeing these three stars in a row of our three adult “kids,” all of whom were actually here together last month.

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After they left, unsurprisingly, I felt a bit bereft, pondering life and my navel and badgering everyone for a definition of home.

NeNe, my swimming buddy, says home is where your beloved is. The Bearded One says home is where you don’t want to live anywhere else. Our younger daughter, the Nurse, says home is where her hair products and cat are.

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I climb into the dark truck. It starts right up and stays started. Monday it was with Ed at Kolohe Car Repair on 19th Street getting its fuel pump relay replaced. Hawaii is hard on cars. Lava cinders grind the tires down, salt water and vog eat the paint and feed the rust, and the roads are rough. “Just gonna rattle the truck to death,” says the Bearded One.

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On the other hand, it’s December and the weather is exquisite, in the 60s at night, low 70s during the days with sun rays and a trade wind breeze. These are the reasons we moved here 8 months ago.

I back out the pitch black driveway and swerve to avoid a pothole the size of a toilet. I think how Ed the Mechanic reminds me so much of Virge the Mechanic back in Washington, good guys who come to our house to pick us up since we have just one car. I don’t want to be in Washington, though, I think.

I feel tired as I drive through the dark. I weeded one of the pineapple patches earlier today while the Bearded One weed-whacked.


I can only imagine him trying to stay up for me. It’ll be 10 before we’re in bed. This with a man who went to bed at 2-3am most nights for the first decade or so we were back together.  He shifted his clock for me.

I turn left onto Paradise Drive, past the piles of uprooted albizia trees from Tropical Storm Iselle back in August, and I’m halfway home.

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One of the other Game Night women behind me turns right toward Pahoa, where the lava flow has picked up again after stalling out last month. “The vog set off our smoke alarm last week,” she told us between game rounds and pupus refills. She shrugged and smiled – what can you do?

The lava river has split and is oozing more toward us now, but it’s still miles away. A slow motion, months-if-not-years event.

And the feral pigs. One of which, a small black hog the size of a golden retriever runs in front of the truck as I turn onto our road off of Paradise.

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The Three Twinkly Ones and the moon shine brightly above our house as I enter our driveway. It’s 9:40 and the Bearded One greets me at the door in his jammies – electric blue surfer boy pants. The house behind him is dark.

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“I’m so sorry I’m late,” I say. His eyelids droop sleepily and he mumbles something about being happy that I had fun as he shuffles toward the stairs.

“Here,” I say, “I brought you some pie. Maybe a few days’ worth.”

“Pie?” He looks at my outstretched hand.


He perks up, takes the pie to the kitchen and turns on the light. There is our new microwave oven, the smallest available at Target, but still uses lots of watts. Carefully he microwaves the pie, and then sits down by the window under the universe of stars and eats it all. There’s no place like home.

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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.