We spent most of our afternoon today out on our balcony watching the whales out in the bay. There were 3 or 4 of them out there all afternoon, which is pretty unusual. Previously this year, we’ve been luck to catch a glimpse or two of one in the morning, so today was a real treat. Which was nice. because today marks the beginning of the last week we’ll be spending in this particular condo. Our time here is up next Sunday and we’re not quite sure where we’re going to go from here yet. I guess we’ll just let it be a surprise. Isn’t life grand?
As you may have seen in the news, Hawaii has implemented cold war procedures once again and they are doing monthly tests of the nuclear bomb siren, which sounds exactly like the tsunami siren, so if it does actually go off, I’m not sure if we’re supposed to head up the mountain or dig a bomb shelter. Oh well, that will only stump us for about 5 minutes, then we won’t be wondering anymore.
The Civil Defense goes on the radio to tell you this drill is happening. They’ve been doing tsunami drills forever, so they don’t make a big deal about it, but the nuclear bomb ones are more recent and frankly, Civil Defense is wetting their pants with excitement that they are finally relevant. Back when we used to live here 10 years ago, they would break into radio broadcasts to give us a green, yellow or red air quality code update. I’m not sure what they wanted us to do about bad air, they would tell you to stay inside, but isn’t there air inside your house as well. Also, eventually, you’re going to have to go outside regardless of air quality. Besides, it’s a volcano fouling up the air, not a whole lot you can do about it.
Anyway, today, Civil Defense really wanted everyone to take this nuclear thing seriously, suggesting that when we heard the siren, we all drop what we’re doing, go home and do whatever you’re supposed to do at home while waiting for North Korea to bomb your island to smithereens. They don’t tell us what that is, I think we’re supposed to improvise. Of course, I can’t think of anything more sensible during a nuclear attack than to jump in the car and join every other person on the island in trying to drive through the already woefully designed Kona road system in an effort to get home to spend the last second of your life doing your dishes quick so your house isn’t a mess during the Armageddon. I’m joking, you’d never make it home. Traffic is backed up here every day, it’s even got a name, the Kona Crawl, you’d never even make it out of the parking lot at work.
So, I wanted everyone to experience what I did today, people experiencing what millions of 1950’s school children did, A Nuclear Bomb Drill
We moved into this building on November 14th, around that exact same time, they started doing roadwork directly in front of our building. Major roadwork, with giant jackhammers, cement trucks, rock wall building, the works. Yesterday, they finally put down the new blacktop on both lanes, then painted the stripes. I think they’re done finally. It was messy, noisy and inconvenient, and the dirt made the condo filthy, so I’m glad it’s finally over. Of course, we’re leaving here in 2 weeks, but at least we’ll have a couple weeks of quiet…provided the people renovating the unit directly on top of ours don’t do anything major in the next half a month. This wasn’t quite the oasis of quiet we were thinking this was going to be. But at least the roadwork usually ended by 3 everyday and our nights are filled with the sounds of the waves hitting the shore directly across the road. So, life is good.
Not so much for Hammock Guy, who for some reason, was dragging an aluminum bat caveman style down the street the other night. Hubs said he was trying to assert himself as alpha male in the pack, I’m not entirely sure who he was asserting himself against since I didn’t see any other homeless people around except for wheelchair man, and for obvious reasons, he’s not a particularly intimidating guy, unless he hit the back of your ankles, I guess.
The condo where we’re staying is filled with a lot of vacationers with a couple of full-time live-in owners thrown in for good measure. We’ve had John and Ann next door since the beginning of December and they’ll sadly be leaving us at the end of the week. Ann is 15 years older than John, which I guess would classify her as an 85 year old cougar. That’s not how John sees her though, he calls her The Pedophile. I’m going to miss those two when they leave.
Complicated love was in the air in other ways around here as well. When we first moved in here we had a friend stay with us for a week or so until he got a place at a hostel. He’s a 55 year old single guy always looking for a lady. So he and my husband were up on our 5th floor balcony checking out those below and they saw a tall, long-legged young blond begging for money down on the street. From the height and angle, she looked pretty good to our friend, so he and hubs came up with a plan. Hubs was going to walk by her and when she asked for money, he was going to tell her he didn’t have any and she should ask John, who was following behind a few paces. John’s line was: “I’ve only got money for beer, want to join me for one?” It sounded like a solid plan, so they headed down. Hubs walked by and said his line, sending her to John. John got his first eye-to-eye look at her and said, “You’re a dude!” Her response was, “Legally, I”m a woman,” And that, my friends, is how the guys met hubby’s favorite homeless person, Shimmy. Shimmy got her name by us combining ‘she’ and ‘him’ then us jazzing it up a bit by adding the ‘y’.
Shimmy got her shoes stolen a couple weeks ago, so I bought her a cheap pair of flip flops to replace them. Those were stolen within 3 days. That’s how you can tell that though she’s wearing a dress and has long hair, Shimmy is no woman. Any woman worth her salt respects shoes and wouldn’t be so careless. Poor Shimmy’s got a lot going against her, a tranny is only as good as her make-up (and shoes) and when you’re on a homeless budget, there’s not a lot of discretionary income for stocking up on Maybelline, so essentially, she just looks like what she is, a dude in a dress. Life’s rough if you’re a homeless tranny.
I love how people are so different. Earlier this month, one of my husband’s high school buddies came and stayed with us for a week for his vacation. One day the two of them decided they wanted to go parasailing. I looked online at the local parasailing company, UFO Parasailing to check out their rates and their rules. One of the guidelines is that you can go up with up to 3 people together, but the combined weight shouldn’t equal more than 450 pounds, though this was up to the discretion of the boat captain. The guys really wanted to go up together so they could talk, share what they saw etc, things are usually more fun when you’re with somebody. The problem was that together they were just over the maximum weight limit.
The two men have very different personalities. Glen is an engineer, think stereotypical Dilbert, while my husband could be classified as more of a visionary/dreamer. So when the captain asked my husband how much he weighed, he shaved a few pounds off so he and Glen could go up together. Glen on the other hand, added a few pounds to his weight to counteract Indiana Jones’ recklessness. It takes all kinds to run the world, I guess. The captain must have been more of an Indiana than a Dilbert, since the guys got to go up together and had a great time.
Today I spent my morning doing something everyone living on the islands spends a lot of time doing…waiting. Nobody is in a hurry to do anything here, so you learn the value of patience. I spent 2 hours at one of our vendors today returning 6 items and picking 10 up. 2 hours. Fortunately, they had a jar of candy canes on the counter, so I sat and ate candy canes and shot the breeze with the guys working there and the other guys that showed up to wait for their equipment too. I’ll call it networking and figure it was a morning well spent.
Last night the people in our condo units had a Christmas potluck down by the pool. Since we don’t see a lot of our fellow residents, it was kind of fun to go down there and get to know them. We had a lot of delicious food, then the building cheerleader got people singing Christmas songs. So there we were, about 15 slightly drunk residents trying to sing Oh Come All Ye Faithful. I’m not expecting a recording contract any time soon. But, I did make the connection to the building cheerleader being the women in the unit above us by 2 floors. A couple weeks ago I had my head stuck out over the balcony railing checking out the action down on the street, when a leaf came floating by my head. The only trees in the area are either palm trees next to the building or the ones across the street, neither of which are capable of shedding leaves that will float by my head as it’s sticking out of a 5th floor balcony. So I looked up and and saw 2 faces peeking over the balcony on the 7th floor. One of the women smiled down at me as said that they like dropping leaves off the balcony to see where they’ll go. Last night, once I realized that I was face to face with the leaf dropper, I brought up the incident. She’s an older woman who lives with her mother, a very old lady. She said her mother suffers from macular degeneration, one of the only things she’s able to see are the leaves falling from the balcony. So they go on walks, collect leaves and flowers, then drop them off the balcony so her mother has something to look at. How sweet is that? She said that when the construction crew was working directly below us last month, they had fun dropping leaves down on them. If you’re going to drop leaves for fun, you might as well make it a challenge, I guess.
A friend who was here last week visiting from Wisconsin made the observation that about 50% of the people in Hawaii are crazy, and no matter where he went on the islands, that percentage seemed consistent. I had to agree with him. And after meeting our fellow residents last night, I think his observation was, once again, substantiated.
Yeah, I had good intentions about picking up writing again. Making it a daily habit. Yada yada yada. So we all saw how that turned out. So, let me give it another shot.
We last saw our intrepid writer we were living in a condo in Hawaii. Well, we’re still in Hawaii, different condo, same town. The condo we’re in now is a lot more interesting than the last one where the only interesting interaction we had onsite was with the guy who lived downstairs from us who looked like a sloppy, psycho Amish guy and would get mad at us for moving the furniture around on the balcony because we were ‘too loud’. We would hang out with our neighbors across the way and all make up ways we could torment him within the confines of the condo rules. We could get pretty creative, though we very seldom acted on any of our fantasies.
Anyway, now we’re on the 5th floor of a building right in the downtown area looking down onto the main village street and overlooking the ocean. I could tell you about the beauty of the ocean, the palm trees and all that other stuff, but you can read that on any write-up about Hawaii, though we did see some whales last week, which was kind of cool. But to me, the best part about this new spot is that it’s great for people watching. Being on the 5th floor, people can’t really see you from the street unless they’re really trying, I know, I checked, so I know I can spy in relative anonymity. The place also came equipped with a telescope and we have binoculars, so we’re all set.
Sometimes the tourists are interesting, but the best to watch is the homeless/street people soap opera going on right across the street. As our son said, “most people would be upset to have a bunch of homeless people hanging out outside their condo, you and dad think of it as a plus.” I can’t help it, they do interesting stuff.
We’ve even named a lot of the regulars. There’s Hammock Guy, Blond ponytail, Shimmy, Fight Guy, Guy Who Beat Up Fight Guy, Crazy Girl and her predecessor, Crazy Mary, who Crazy Girl will be some day if she lives long enough. There’s also Really Messed Up Dude, Cigarette Guy, Lei Maker and a bunch of old guys who all kind of look the same who I just call the Vietnam Vets. I’m not sure if they fought in Vietnam or are even Vets, but it’s just what they all remind me of.
Most of these people/names have stories behind them that I’ll share with you later, though some of them are pretty explanatory, like in the case of Fight Guy and Guy Who Beat Up Fight Guy. I’m honestly not making fun of these people, I find what they do much more interesting than the ‘normal’ people who are walking around downtown taking pictures of their kids in front of the ocean wall or hurrying back to the pier to get on the launch that takes them back to their cruise ship.
When last I checked in, I told you about our exciting hotel room in Nashville. My next post I was going to tell you about how we escaped hurricane Harvey by the skin of our teeth. But, there’s no time for that, a whole lot of other stuff has happened.
First off, we finally managed to get rid of the last of our stuff and move across the country to Hawaii. There’s a lot of work down here to do and a lot of money to be made, so here we are.
There’s one main thing I want to mention here just because it’s funny and I don’t want to forget it. You meet a lot of different characters in Hawaii that you just don’t run across in small town Wisconsin. Today I was talking to a woman who grew up on Kodiak Island Alaska. She told me that when she was in high school Kodiak Island got its very first swimming pool, this would have been in the early to mid 70’s, I’m guessing. Before that, nobody swam up there because it’s just too darn cold. It turns out she had a real flair for diving and became the first person on Kodiak Island to go to state for high school diving. She was a very good diver but had one tiny problem. She didn’t know how to swim. She would dive off the board, then would push off from the bottom of the pool with her feet to the side of the pool. Until one day she was trying a new dive, botched it and ended up landing flat on her back in a reverse belly flop in the water. It not only knocked the air out of her, she couldn’t get down to the bottom of the pool to push off to the side, so she was just floundering in the middle of the pool, unable to get out. It was then that her diving instructor looked at her in shock and said, “you don’t know how to swim, do you?” So I got to meet a state qualifying diver today who didn’t know how to swim. How cool is that?
Sunday, my husband and I began a trip across the country. We started by heading to Nashville for a business meeting, purposely scheduled during the eclipse. A motel room was booked far in advance because we knew Nashville was going to fill up since it was the epicenter of the eclipse. On the other hand, we didn’t know for sure if we were going to go since we’re actually scheduled to move ourselves and most everything we own across the country on September 4th -life is a little busy right now- so we didn’t want to spend a whole lot of money on a prepaid motel room, so we went on the cheap. Of course, this will return to bite us in the butt later.
After a ten hour drive we get to our motel and get our room key. We were looking for our room so we knew where to park. It was soon spotted, it was on the second floor, right above where the pee-stained mattresses were leaning against the wall. This was our first indication that you’re not always necessarily safe going with a nationwide chain, they are not all created equal. Our second indication came soon after, when I decided to wait until the guy was done peeing in the parking lot before I got out of the car to unload our stuff. I’m guessing it wasn’t his mattress leaning against the wall since he seemed comfortable doing his business next to a 2005 Chevy Malibu and didn’t require the kind of privacy mattress peeing provides.
Then we entered….The Room. First off, it was evident we didn’t get a non-smoking room; if the smell hadn’t tipped us off, the cigarette burns on every available surface was a good clue. Do people really smoke in the shower? How does that even work? There apparently was a lot of sitting on the toilet smoking as well, at least I prefer to think it was cigarettes being snubbed out on the wall that make all those brown smears. I just decided to not investigate too closely.
After unloading, I just needed to relax and chill for a bit and for me that means cracking open a book. I take my book, gingerly ease myself onto the questionable bedspread and click on the light. Well, I clicked the light, it didn’t go on. I clicked it a few more times before I looked closer…no lightbulbs in the lamps. Fortunately, there was one bulb in one fixture, so we just moved that one to wherever we needed light the most at any given time. Ironically, since our car was loaded down with stuff we were taking down to our daughters house for our move, I had lightbulbs in the car. But since we also had a ton of other stuff in the car as well, I wasn’t willing to dig through it all to find a couple lightbulbs. The sisterhood of the traveling light bulb worked fine for the 3 days we were holed up in hotel hell. There were also multiple holes in our curtains, which let in some additional light…except for one exceptionally big hole that management fixed by literally putting a bandaid over it.
One of the other guys going to the business event didn’t have the good fortune(?) of getting a room like we did and put out a plea to some of the event goers looking for a place to sleep. Hubs offered our floor, but since I wasn’t even comfortable walking on our floor I was hesitant to offer it to someone for actual sleeping. Fortunately for the guy, he found an overpriced room on the outskirts of town and was saved from getting whatever diseases he would have picked up from sleeping on our floor.
My favorite part of the whole experience was when I was laughingly telling someone else at the business event about our horrific room and his response was, “Bless your heart.” That’s pretty much the most southern thing anyone has ever said to me, second only to another comment a lady in Mississippi made to me while in line at the KFC. “Are ya’ll wantin’ to order?”
This is enough for now, though it’s not nearly the end of our cross-country adventure. I’m sure ya’ll will be wantin’ to hear more on that later.
I was blogging before people knew what a blog was. Back in 2005, someone suggested to me that I try doing on online journal or diary. I was confused, who wanted to read someone else’s journal? And who would possibly want to write stuff about your life that the whole world would be able to see? Me, it turns out. And, it also turns out that people wanted to read what I wrote. I had begun writing one of the very first “Mommy Blogs”.
I wrote in that blog for ten years. During that time, my children went from elementary school children to high school graduates; crazy little monsters to crazy big teenagers. I wrote about our lives, providing stories for my family and friends to relive much more vividly than any picture could possibly provide.
In 2015 I stopped. Feeling that now that my children were grown, I had nothing more to share. But now, two years later, on the day that my youngest child moved out of the house, making me an official empty nester, I’ve realized that life goes on, even when I’m not wiping dirty faces, cleaning up after various pets and making enough food to feed an army plus whatever friends that army brings home.
I’m going to start writing for real, and you get to join me on my journey. Enjoy the ride.