Tag Archives: politics

Punatics

He is whistling and wearing a brown wide-brimmed hat, shorts and sandals. It’s our twenty-something son, aka His Majesty, who is now living in Puna, too, and was just dropped off at our house after hiking at the ocean with 20 other yoga enthusiasts he works with at Kalani Retreat Center, a 40 minute drive south of here. He looks like a hippie.

“Hey, Dude!” shouts the Bearded One from the lanai where he has laid out the gillion pieces of our new barbecue His Majesty has blessedly agreed to assemble.

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I look out the kitchen window and scream, “He’s here!” as if this is the Second Coming of Jesus Himself. It could just be this week, but there’s sure a lot of religion on this island. Native Hawaiians are a spiritual people, and so are the Japanese and Filipinos who live here. Whites or haoles are a minority. There is a small church of some kind on every other corner in Hawaiian Paradise Park.  Nothing big.

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On Tuesday, I meet Emily Naeole in the laundromat, candidate for County Council and as she says, “on a mission from God.”

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She is my age, 57-years-old, native Hawaiian, and full of the Holy Spirit. We talk story a bit, and then we hug and say goodbye before she starts praying with a spiritual hippie couple our ages who we met earlier.

We go to the grocery store and an elderly Japanese man helps me find a coffee dripper cup, and when I laugh and use the word “lucky”, he is horrified. “No luck,” he says and points up. It was God, is all I can understand. But he is adamant.

I finish our neighbor Jim’s novel and return it to him with compliments for his story and spunk. It turns out he is not only a survivalist and a 79-year-old first time novelist, but also a minister of the Ten Commandments and contributes daily on Christian websites.  His truck bumper stickers proclaim his religious beliefs plainly.

Then there are the so-called Punatics — the army of hippies young and old who are socially active for Mother Nature in Puna. The hot issues I’ve detected so far are GMOs and Geothermal energy. Marijuana is illegal, but widely used and minimally prosecuted. Political signs show lots of young politicians. One of the WWOOFers at the farm we stayed at for seven weeks is a Rasta. He actually cut his calf-length dreads while we were there. Fifteen years of growth. He will never ever cut his long beard, though.

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Spiritual seekers really do seem to congregate here.

“Hi, Sweetie,” I say and give His Majesty a huge hug.  He takes off his hat and he’s sunburned, except for his head which is just short of shaved bald.

I cut up a white pineapple,

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which the Bearded One harvested earlier from our acre where there are hundreds, and which our neighbor Jim says are so good you can eat the core.  I agree with him on this.

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The three of us talk on the lanai and munch and watch hundreds of giant black carpenter bees hover around the nearby dead tree that is their palace.  Like flying ping-pong balls. They’re a tropical island bee and not aggressive to humans, just to wood.  We watch them a lot.  “It’s a Zen thing,” says the Bearded One.

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We tell all our news – plans to cut new windows upstairs with Tom on Thursday,

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ordering the water catchment tank, the delay of delivery of the thin-film solar panels and the big generator for the solar batteries until mid-July, and the successful installation last weekend of the Eccotemp tankless propane hot water heater which works great.

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His Majesty will have a shower later, he says. After he assembles the barbecue.

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But before the barbecue, we go back inside and he lays a big baggie of Kalani granola — he works in the kitchen — on the counter for me and starts doing yoga on the kitchen floor. He tells me about teaching his first yoga classes.

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Seven people came to one of his 6am classes. They all liked it, he says, and are spreading the word.

 

Rooster Chasing

I’m at the butchering table and five men run by chasing a little rooster.  There are thirteen of us altogether, down the road from our farmlet at Honey Girl’s farmlet, doing the five-hour circle dance that is chicken harvesting.  This rooster got loose in transport from the pens.

“Get the net!” shouts Honey Girl, who works across the table from me and is nick-named here after her beloved Akita dog who died.  Honey Girl is a forty-something marine machinist at the naval shipyard in Bremerton and good friends with Momma Goose, the neighbor who got us all started on this chicken stuff.  Momma Goose is currently taking a break, huddling by the fire and watching the chase, too.  The fire whips around her legs.

One of the runners peels off to get the net.  It’s the younger one of Honey Girl’s two teenaged nephews, the one who’s in charge of the fire.  His brother has been steadfastly hauling each gutted chicken from us four butchers to the coolers full of ice water.  We’ve got to cool them down fast.  The Bearded One watches from the killing cones where he’s been working all morning as the posse races across the driveway toward the orchard.  “No way,” he says.  “There’s not a prayer of them catching that chicken.”

The rooster is one of the little banties Honey Girl tried to give away with no luck.  She wants them gone.  “They create chaos,” she says, and I laugh.  Honey Girl does not.  “I’m serious,” she says.  “They fight with each other.  They beat up and peck the hens.”

The other two butchers, currently, besides Honey Girl and me are Momma Goose’s husband, Brooklyn Man, and a woman from Spanaway who called the Pierce County Conservation Society where Momma Goose rents the chicken processing equipment.  She asked for a friendly person to learn from.  That would be Momma Goose.  She and Brooklyn Man and the Bearded One and I are the oldest ones here.  They are all introverts.  I’m the only talker.

And I am enjoying the chance to get to know Honey Girl better.  We’ve been friendly — waving — strangers for years.  I have feared she’s been mad at me over road politics.  There’s been disagreement on the road about paving, and I’ve been active in that, but it’s pretty much history now.  Our senses of humor just aren’t in sync yet.  I thought she was referring to the current chaos, shouting and whooping and the flying net.  Turns out she means the roosters create chaos all the time.

The gang cornered the rascal rooster once, but it got away.  That’s when the call for the net went out.  Now the action is over in the orchard, which Honey Girl says, as we resume our butchering, has apple and quince trees.

We talk briefly of what a quince is — a pearish applish fruit that makes good jam.

We talk about chicken feed routines and regimens, how crazy big our Cornish are, and I tell about how two of them rolled over on their backs this week and couldn’t get back up.  Turtled.  One we found dead, so we don’t know if it died because it turtled or if it turtled after it died.  The other we eventually turned over and it was fine.

We talk of the layers Honey Girl has, and how many dozen eggs a day she gets.

“I’m trying to do a really good job for you, Christi,” Honey Girl says suddenly.

I look up from my cutting.  “Thank you,” I say.

None of us wants to stay divided, I think.  We are in the trenches here.  We avoid politics.

The closest I came to politics was when I was introduced to three of the chicken chasers, two exquisite young twenty-something sailors from the Ronald Reagan ship, S and J, and S’s wife K who works with Momma Goose.  This is their first chicken harvest.  They watched the YouTube video last night.  Their respectfulness and eye-contact and beauty reminded me of my personal military loss, and I cried a little as we all talked.  My adopted brother hung himself in the Navy back in 1986.  Someone mentions the current daunting suicide rate in our military.  “I don’t think we are using our military wisely these days,” I said, and they all nodded.  Now, though, they are leading the rooster chase, laughing their asses off, recuperating out here in all this nature.

I accidentally poke the bile sack next to the liver and green fluid spills out onto the butchering table.  Honey Girl calls for the hose — bile and poop must be washed off the table immediately — but all the helpers are still chasing the chicken.

“Let it go!” Honey Girl hollers.  “For God’s Sake!  See what I mean?  Chaos!”  The lesson is clear:  Some chickens you chase, most you don’t.

The Bearded One walks up rubbing his aching neck and says, “Why on earth do those cones hang so low?  You’ve got to put your head a foot off the ground to see what you’re doing.”  I am exhausted and lean into him.

We process 50 Cornish fryers, 10 little roosters, and 6 turkeys.  Dark clouds have formed to the south, and when we leave, the wind is starting to whip around.  The rooster appears in the middle of the road as we honk our goodbyes, and runs furiously off into the wild.

Raccoon Road

Our neighbor stops in his bumpersticker’d Ford pickup truck.  He’s coming home after planting signs for his local political candidate.  He’s in his late 60s, he laughs a lot, he likes to talk about critters, and he is a Minuteman, guarding the border.  “Howdy, Neighbor,” he says.

“How’s it goin’?” the Bearded One says.

“Oh, you know,” says Minuteman, looking wistfully down our dirt road — itself once the subject of politics and majority rule (pavers vs. non-pavers). “Politics these days is a Rat Race.”

“I completely agree,” I say.  Minuteman and I are in opposite political camps, but we often agree, and when it comes to local issues, we’re both non-pavers.  A dirt road is good for the rural soul.

There are no cars coming, so Ruby, aka Elder Dog, decides once again that she is retired from commands.  She’s well into her 70s in human years.  She stands up out of the required sit (a transition to going mobile…) and the Bearded One makes her sit again.

Talk turns to the raccoon invasion.  “I got that newspaper article you emailed me,” I say, referring to the raccoon story of the week where a local woman was attacked by a pack of raccoons as she walked her dog.  She was hospitalized briefly.  A crazy, rare occurrence.  Scary.

Minuteman shakes his head.  “We’ve trapped and released 6 or 7 of them,” he says.  “They’re after the hens’ eggs.”

The Bearded One and I both picture our flock of 5-week-old meat birds, which any raccoon would love to eat.  We’ve lost just one this week, to the standard mystery sickness.  All the rest — 26 — are still spry.  They are big and heavy like grown egg layers already.

5-week-old Cornish Rock meat chickens.

I say,”I saw the picture on your Facebook wall,” and Minuteman laughs, “Yeah, last night we trapped somebody’s cat.”

A car is coming, so he waves good-bye.  Then we talk to the neighbor in the oncoming car about her 5 feral cats and how she fears that she is feeding the raccoons more than the cats these days.  This local raccoon story has caught everyone’s eye.  Soon we are walking again.  Ruby has just about had it with all the road talk.

I want to talk about politics and the voting coming up.

“The goats vote,” the Bearded One says, “and LaLa always loses.”  It’s true.  In their herd of three, Pearl might be the only female and thus the technical boss according to goat lore, even though she has had no babies, but it appears to us that she has power because she teams up with a her sibling, Sage, who is the biggest.  They are definitely all for democracy.

We head home and the Bearded One goes straight to the tool shed area where he has been splitting wood and making winter kindling packets all week.  Bumble bees have taken over the nearby woodpile he’s been working on.  The Bearded One has been trying to convince them to leave, raking out their piles of moss, cussing at them.  He’s not having any luck.

Tractor trail and the covered woodpile where the bees live.

“I think their queen died when I tore up the colony,” he says.  “The drones and workers don’t have a clue without her.  They refuse to leave.”

I scan the area.  “I don’t see any bees,” I say.

The Bearded One is stunned and walks over.  Before my very eyes, he points and speaks in bee language.  “CDB?” he says, and sure enough, there is a bee, then another, and another.  They’re everywhere, just at ground level.

Later that afternoon, I’m at the computer when the Bearded One comes in rubbing a hurt spot on his leg.  “Four raccoons just walked up on me bold as you please,” he says.  “A mama and 3 babies.  I yelled at them, but they just kept coming.  Right down the middle of the tractor trail.  No particular fear at all.”

“Are you okay?”  I look for blood.

He nods and continues.  “I had to act super aggressive just to get them to stop and climb a tree.  I ran up on them hissing and yelling and waving a rake.  I stood there reading them the riot act, trying to imprint on the babies to fear people.  Until suddenly I realized their strategy in one hell of a hurry.”

“Strategy?”

“I was standing right in the middle of the bees.”

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NEWS FLASH:  Here’s a new west coast review on one of my recent books, a novella called A BEAR TALE. http://brianrushwriter.wordpress.com/2012/07/18/a-bear-tale/