Tag Archives: Transition

Feet In Your Shoes

NeNe, my swimming buddy, waves from the boat ramp and I wave back from just inside the breakwater. Where’s George? I wonder, and swim to join my friend.

I almost didn’t come. NeNe didn’t answer her phone this morning, and it was pouring rain. But when she called back, said she was running late and let’s go! I bolted for the door.

And got here a few minutes early, so I watched the surfers out in Pohoiki Bay, their boards pointed out to the deep purple-blue sea, waiting for a wave.  The right wave.

Today I’ve lived in Hawaii one year. Off grid, on catchment water. I’ve learned a lot. Water is incredibly precious.

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Modern culture uses a lot of electricity – most everything is plugged in. I’ve learned that propane refrigerators need defrosting.

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I’ve learned that lava flows can just stop. And that hot flashes are real and debilitating. My generation of Boomer women is still a bit radical, but I’ve learned that the younger Millennial generation has a large contingent of counterculture souls, aching to live a bit more in sync with nature.

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The Bearded One and I have seen whales, wild pigs, owls and countless rainbows.

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We have a whole new concept of what “hard rain” is. We have hosted family and friends.

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But the best, for me, continues to be swimming in the ocean. The water is alive.

NeNe pulls her long, thick, white hair into a ponytail.

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A surfer, a white guy about our age who I don’t recognize, slides his board into the water near me as I float in the shallow water off of the ramp.  “Where’s George?” I say.

“In the car!”

The surfer looks at me and I briefly explain George is a wonderful dog, a huge black AKC champion Bouvier des Flandres who is also sometimes a pain, not listening to NeNe and wandering off and eating garbage.

“He was being a poop, so I left him there,” says NeNe, splashing into the water next to me.

“Good for you,” I say.

“I get to decide,” she says, looking as tough as she can.

“Yes, you do,” I say, and then I stand up in the water and begin to recite:

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“You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

The surfer looks at me, eyes wide.

“You’re on your own.  And you know what you know.  And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go!”

“Did you just make that up?!” says the surfer.

“It’s Dr. Seuss!” I say and smile big.

“AH!” says the surfer. “He’s a god.”

And with that, NeNe and I head back out into the waves.

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Getting All Our Ducks In A Row

It’s our last day in Seattle, 45 degrees and cloudy, and a duck sits on top of the high school across the street.

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I can see him clearly against the milky white sky, which is growing steadily brighter as the sun climbs and students parade into the huge building with their bulky backpacks.

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I’ve got my own bulky backpack with my new laptop, camera, mouse and headphones, which will be my carry-on for our 13 hour travel day to Hilo, Hawaii tomorrow. The Bearded One will carry on a pillow and my purse. We’ll check our suitcases, which we are living out of for at least another month, probably more. Until we find a house.

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“He’s looking for his partner,” says my brother-in-law, who along with my sister, is heading off to work.

I laugh, but don’t take my eyes off Mr. Duck. I can see his bright turquoise neck now. “Where is she?” I say.

“They migrate thousands of miles,” he says.

Only to lose each other in the city, I think.

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We left the First Farmlet on Saturday, March 22, spent a week in Texas with the Bearded One’s folks and their six new baby goats, then a week in Seattle taking care of our daughter’s dog Roger while she and her husband were out of town. These last two days we’re with my sister, and tomorrow we fly.

Our truck is already there. It must have caught a fast wave because it got to Hilo on April 2, nine days ahead of schedule.

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Otherwise we’d have left earlier. Heck, we’d be there. Our sweet son-in-law, the Captain, is saving our butts by taking care of shipping the 4 foot cube containing all our worldly goods once we land.

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Yesterday we went on a walk through a wetland restoration project here in my sister’s north Seattle neighborhood. We saw trout, and cormorants and ducks and geese. Two ducks waddled into my sister’s front yard when we got back.

“I wonder if they are brothers?” I said, and then looked at her. “I sound like Mom.”

She laughed. We are family. The nurturing, nesting duck is my sister’s totem animal and they flock to her.

Now the Bearded One comes upstairs and sits on the couch in a sun ray. “How ah ya?,” he says, practicing his Hawaiian with a Texas accent. Hawaiian has only 12 letters – 5 vowels and 7 consonants. “Helloha,” I joke back.

We’ve both been trying to learn Hawaiian words. I want to learn to say and embody the state motto of Hawaii, which the new owner of the First Farmlet (who left Hawaii to come here) wrote to us in an email. He had spent his first night on the farmlet, had bonded with Leah the alpha hen

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and was exploring the land. He wrote:

“I hope that I can continue what you two started and obviously loved so much. I am reminded of the state motto of Hawaii which is “Ua mau ke ea o ka aina I ka pono” which translates to ‘the life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness’ and promise you both that I will be the best steward of this land that I can be (and) in fulfilling my own dreams here do that which is “pono” according to what you have begun.”

I look back at the high school, and see that Mrs. Duck has joined Mr. Duck. As I watch, he sails down off the roof and across the street, heading southwest. Straight toward Hawaii. We’ll be following him tomorrow. Maybe we’ll see him on the way.

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Fairy Dust

It’s the Bearded One’s turn to sign the listing agreement.  We all know it’s killing him.  So Kathi the Realtor  and I sit back and stare out the newly-cleaned windows and marvel at the thick cedar pollen clouds, gusting and swirling like smoke, like fog on an otherwise brilliant spring day.

“This pollen is crazy,” says Kathi.  “I’ve got asthma!”

“It’s falling in Seattle, too,” I say.  “The kids tell me it’s because of these three sunny days.”  This morning the Bearded One used the leaf blower on the truck before rain comes and quickly converts the thick coat of dust into very durable permaculture.

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I groan as I look at the thick new layer on every flat dark surface, inside or out, that I have recently cleaned or painted.  My shoulder aches from yesterday’s work:  turning the compost, cleaning the chicken coop from roost to nesting box, and raking out the berry patch.  I even ordered six seed packages, a gesture that accepts, sort of, our continued presence here awhile.  I’ve been a bit grumpy lately, feeling neither here nor there, courting a beloved buyer who will not call.

We tried to sell the house ourselves for 10 days.  Free ads and Zillow and home-made signs and word of mouth — and got two inquiries from agents wanting the listing, and two from ones interested in owner financing.  A friend advised us to bury a St. Joseph statuette upside-down in the yard and say a prayer, that this did the trick for her.  I didn’t want to buy a Joseph, and the Bearded One didn’t want me to bury the little Christmas nativity statue I have because I’d have to bury Mary and the Baby Jesus, too, and that couldn’t be lucky.

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Now Kathi, my fairy godmother and real estate matchmaker, is taking over.

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Kathi sneezes and her eyes water, the Bearded One passes the paperwork to me to sign and initial, and then the phone rings.  The Bearded One goes to answer.

“This place looks like it’s just loaded with karma,” says a man named Chuck.  They saw our Zillow ad.

“Yes, indeed,” says the Bearded One, and invites Chuck and Amy and their enormous dog Dandy to come see the place.

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“We’ll be there in an hour,” says Chuck.

“How did you do that?” I ask Kathi.  She laughs and shrugs and I say, “We hire you and get our first showing within a few seconds?! Everything is connected to everything, that’s all I can say.”

*   *   *

Kathi leaves and it takes me a half hour to stage the house, hiding stuff, clearing counters and tables, cleaning sinks and mirrors.  None of which makes much difference, but keeps me busy.

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The pollen has stopped blowing for the time being anyway, and when Chuck and Amy arrive, right on time, there’s a glow in the air.

They are roughly our age.  They have just moved from Hawaii, they say, and now live a half hour away from here.  Their 30-year-old son is still in Hawaii, but coming soon and wants to raise chickens and alpacas and live on acreage in the woods.  Chuck and Amy have been scouting houses for him.

“Hi there,” I say to him through Chuck and Amy’s Skyping phone and camera.   Then Chuck carries him with us just ahead of the Bearded One and Amy and me and we walk the nature trail, tour the barn and aviary and hoophouse, and then, finally, the house.  The farmlet looks beautiful and magical and everyone can see it — even all the way over in Hawaii.

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*   *   *

It comes out as a long, high-pitched wail, a hit of pure magical joy that literally pulls me out of the house and through the cat condo onto the pollen encrusted deck — “Yahhhhhhhhh  HOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!” when Kathi calls back (sneezing) the next day with their full price offer.  We are going to Hawaii.

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That Old Bat Magic

It is dawn, I tiptoe down the stairs, and a bat flies across the living room.  I assume it’s a bird, but then it flies back in its herky-jerky way and lands on the wall.  I am making noise now — a gasp and muffled cry and then quiet sputterings of, “There’s — a — BAT — in — the — HOUSE!”

Our son is sleeping in the den at the foot of the stairs and he peeks around the curtain-door with a big smile.  “I stepped on that bat last night,” he says.

This is a rare, precious day when two of our three twenty-something kids are here.  The middle-child nurse who works nights and is not a morning person anyway is zonked out in the second bedroom upstairs. Our son is here during his break after summer classes which started at 7a.m. every morning, so he’s still got a bit of the morning habit.

He laughs and whispers the story to me, but I can hardly take in the incredible details yet.  I’m all about the bat on the wall.  It takes off and flutter-flaps, zigs and zags, back and forth and around and down and then up and over my computer and clings to the vaulted wall ten feet up.  Thankfully our daughter’s bedroom curtain-door is closed, or there would be a scream to wake the dead.

Our son is now standing on the stairway landing in his boxers and tee-shirt, staring up at the bat.  “Look at how little it is,” he says.

I must tell the Bearded One, I decide.  We’ve never had a bat in the house before.  He’ll want to know.  Quietly, I wake him from a deep sleep.  “I’m sorry, Sweetheart, but there is a bat in the house.”

He slowly opens his eyes.  “Don’t touch it,” he manages to say, and then, “Don’t let it get in here.”  Then he closes his eyes.

As I quietly close the bedroom door, I notice the bat has moved. I look over the railing and see our son by the front door pointing to it on the entry mat.  “Get a bowl!” I whisper and scurry down the stairs.

He carefully places my green plastic mixing bowl over the little bat.  I slip a cookie sheet underneath and we’ve got it trapped.  It doesn’t move.  We both know that now we can go outside and release it safely without touching it or harming it.

But the moment is too memorable to rush. We stand before the bat bowl in wonder.  “You stepped on this bat last night?” I say, trying to roll back to the moment when I first came down the stairs.

“Yep.  Over by the couch.  It’s really soft.”  He laughs.

I can hardly wait to check my animal spirit book to find out what bat energy is all about.  But first we carry the cookie sheet up the stairs and out on the upper deck next to the cedar tree and release it.  I get the camera.  Our son puts his hand in the photo for scale.

Hours later the nurse gets up.  “Your brother stepped on a bat last night,” I say to her in the kitchen as she pours her coffee.  The Bearded One is reading the paper at the table.  “Where?” she asks.  “Over by the couch,” I say.  “And what pray tell was my brother doing up in the middle of the night?”

Before I can answer, she says, “I’m going to interrogate him.”  Her bare heels come down hard on the floor and we follow her in to the living room where her brother is sprawled on the couch massaging his recently surgerized knee with a special cream.

Even though he got a perfect score from his knee doctor on the healing and rehab, it still hurts and he is taking an official sabbatical from his beloved Ultimate Frisbee team, Mamabird, this year.  He also has almost all new roommates, and he has fallen in love with French, of all things.  His game is changing, he’s in transition, and he probably feels a little lost.

In the hours since we released the bat, I’ve done some reading.  Bats are nocturnal mammals that eat tons of insects.  Most in the Pacific Northwest are very small and don’t suck blood.  Only one in 20,000 carries rabies, and they hibernate.  In the world of animal guides or totems, bats are powerful medicine.  I am giddy to read that bats symbolize Transition — precisely our son’s state.

“Okay,” our daughter says to her brother, “what happened?”

He woke up and remembered that his phone alarm was set for 4a.m., and so he got up in the dark to go turn it off because his phone was in here on the couch where he left it.  Ruby was sleeping by the couch, so he stepped over her and that’s when his foot came down right beside the bat, brushing it with his toe.

It felt soft and furry. It squeaked and flapped away, and our son said he muffled a shriek.  Then he turned off his phone and went back to bed.

The nurse sips her coffee and muses.  The Bearded One says something about the bat having gotten in under the new Magic Mesh screen door to get out of the heat.

I maintain that it is magic, plain and simple.  That animals can help us understand and adapt to what comes our way in life.  This event is hardly mere coincidence.  “He who steps on a bat is in Big-Time Transition.”

“Help!” says our son to his sister in mock exasperation of his mom’s mystical thoughts on the whole thing.  I gently toss the animal spirits book into his hands.

“Not a coincidence,” the nurse pronounces, pointing to the book, “Read it.”

The Bearded One gets up and stretches, smiles skeptically, and says, “I’ve got to go to the bat room.”